While there’s no such thing as a stupid question, there is, apparently, such a thing as a stupid patent: Louisiana Tech University’s patent for the “method and apparatus for automatic organization for computer files” was designated “Stupid Patent of the Month” by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Per an Ars Technica report, US Patent No. 8,473,532, which was invented by a Louisiana Tech computer science professor, “describes little more than a system of sorting files into folders” — and yet the university partnered with the Micoba LLC, part of a major patent-trolling network, to enforce it. Of lawsuits filed against 11 companies over a patent for “automatically sort[ing] files into folders based on the names of the files and the folders,” seven have settled and four remain in litigation.
How, asks Ars, does a patent for something so basic as well as partnering with a known patent troll “square with” Louisiana Tech’s mission statement? Good question. EFF’s smart new campaign attempts to address the issue by asking universities to pledge “to assess the business practices of a third party before licensing or selling patents to them.”