I have played the game myself. It's useful when you're writing a blog. But honesty demands that you use the extrapolation as just a possibility, a question for the reader, a point for discussion. Playing the reader for a fool, running around assuming the worst when you haven't even done your homework yet, that makes me mad.
While the TV heads have taken to specializing in this kind of laziness, spending last weekend telling us Apple was about to sell our trips to the highest bidder (or give it to the police so they could spy on us) – as if either cares – the players on my open source beat were having some of the same game on with Google's loss of a Texas patent suit.
As half an hour of Googling would have told anyone, juries in the Eastern District of Texas are notorious for enabling bogus patent awards. Many companies have built offices in and around Tyler, Texas specifically so patent trolls can sue over nonsense. Even the judges who hear these cases sometimes tire of the antics.
This did not stop some from taking Florian Mueller's Oh Noes as gospel. Florian's German, not Texan. He knows there are courts there who can be as loony as any in Texas, but the appeals process there is shorter, and what happens in Germany usually stays in Germany. (He's also a very nice guy, as I learned when I visited him in Munich last year, where this picture was taken.)
But American reporters have the Google. Use it. Especially when Google itself is a defendant.
Instead we have lead sentences like this. “In a decision that could have consequences to many of Google's businesses.” The plaintiff, “Bedrock Computer Technologies LLC,” is described uniformly as a “small Texas company,” Google as the equivalent of Tom Wolfe's “Great White Defendant” from “Bonfire of the Vanities,” and they're going to take your Android phone away from you.
First, as I reported Friday, “Bedrock Computer Technologies LLC” is not “a small Texas company.” It is a shell, created by attorney David Garrod and located in east Texas specifically to pursue suits over this patent, originally granted to a Pace University researcher in 1999. Garrod bought it, and is suing to make money for himself. There's no “incentive for innovators” involved here – just a lawyer trying to keep busy.
Second, remember the record of the Eastern District of Texas. Anything a jury there does must be taken with a grain of salt. Same with any opinion issued from the bench by the judge who heard this case, Leonard Davis.
There are many venues that are a lot less friendly to patent holders, and all of them are quite ready to have their say about what goes on in Judge Davis' court. The US Patent & Trademark Office can rule patents invalid (and does, after nonsense verdicts are rendered against them). Appeals court give facials to Davis' opinions almost as regularly as Dwight Howard dunks. Davis himself might invalidate the jury award. All these things have happened in the past. It's part of the game.
But don't let that stop a reporter from scaring the pants off people. Especially a lazy one. Don't spend a half-hour with the Google, guys. Write first, and ask questions later.