Punishing Criticism

Yet another example of how the State censors speech by punishing you for making your views known. The potential liability in employment discrimination lawsuits makes businessmen reluctant to speek freely about gender matters, for example. And the potential for an IRS audit tends to make the wealthy careful about vocally criticizing the tax system’s legitimacy, I would think.

A recent patent case, Nilssen v. Osram Sylvania (N.D. Ill. 2006) provides another example of how criticizing the state’s legitimacy can come back to bite you. In this case, the district court found Nilssen’s patents unenforceable on the grounds of “inequitable conduct,” because, among other reasons, Nilssen had intentionally, falsely declared “small entity status” in order to pay lower fees than were really due for a “large entity status” (the large entity fee was due in this case for a technical reason, since there was a license to a larger company that triggered that status). What is interesting is that, in determing that Nilssen made the wrong entity status claim intentionally and not as a good faith error, the court stated: “Nilssen also admittedly opposes government fees, taxes, and the present legal system which, further demonstrates an incentive to avoid payment ” (see p. 31; emphasis added).In addition, the patents were also held to be unenforceable due to “unclean hands,” because of a failure of decorum and courtesy in interactions with the PTO. Regarding Nilssen’s unclean hands, the Court cited a petition to the Commissioner that reads as follows:

a) [The Examiner] cannot be characterized as being skilled in the arts to which subject applications pertain . . .
b) [The Examiner] is severely deficient in his understanding and use of reason and logic . . .
c) [The Examiner] has an inadequate command of the English language . . .
d) [The Examiner] has repeatedly shown himself to be overtly non-cooperative and non-caring.

The moral of the story? Don’t criticize incompetent Patent Office examiners; don’t declare the State’s tax gouging to be unjust. Shut up, pay your taxes, take your medicine, put up with whatever they do to you. And don’t even complain about it.


10:31 am on July 7, 2006