John Oliver destroys the outrageous practice of patent trolling: “You have your own parking spot right next to the f**king devil”

Patent trolling has cost investors half a trillion dollars since 1990. John Oliver thinks the games need to end

Published April 20, 2015 4:52PM (EDT)

    (Last Week Tonight)
(Last Week Tonight)

If you're not a business owner, you might be most familiarized with the concept of "patenting" through ABC's reality television show "Shark Tank," in which contestants are constantly slammed for arriving without one.

"Arriving on the set of Shark Tank without a patent is like turning up to America's Top Model without knowing how to smize or booty-tooch," John Oliver said in his patent segment on Sunday's "Last Week Tonight."

But, in this day and age, there's another unfortunate entry point for understanding patenting: Patent trolling. That is, the act of creating a vaguely defined patent so that you can later demand payment for anything that kind of, remotely, fits the description of what you laid out on your patent. Classic example: Uniloc, the software company that once claimed they were entitled to every Android app.

"Calling them trolls is a little bit misleading," Oliver said. "At least trolls do something: They control bridge access for goats and ask people fun riddles. Patent trolls just threaten to sue the living shit out of people."

Watch the clip below:

By Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email

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John Oliver Last Week Tonight Patent Trolls Shark Tank Trolls Video