A Danish woodcutter named Thomas Dam carved the first troll doll as a birthday present for his daughter in 1959. When other kids in the village clamored for trolls of their own, Dam began mass-producing them out of molded plastic.
The dolls caught on throughout Europe and became a sensation in the United States in late 1963. Unfortunately for Dam, a copyright error left the door open for cheap imitations and the authentic doll lost much of its market to knockoffs.
Though the troll and its evil twins appear to have been modeled on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Reid was an unknown 19-year-old Nevadan when Dam carved the first troll. The uncanny resemblance is purely coincidental.
And that resemblance doesn’t help explain why Reid provides persistent protection for patent trolls. Perhaps a person who looks like a troll and acts like a troll could have a fetish-like fondness for trolls of all kinds.
In his most recent service to patent trolls, Reid blocked Senate consideration of a bipartisan patent reform bill sponsored by fellow Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Two months ago, an exasperated Leahy reluctantly removed his Patent Transparency and Improvements Act from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s calendar.
“We have been working for almost a year with countless stakeholders on legislation to address the problem of patent trolls who are misusing the patent system,” Leahy said at the time.
“I am furious with what happened,” he told the Burlington Free Press. “We worked so hard to get a coalition. Harry Reid and a couple of others said, ‘We won’t let it come to the floor.’ ”
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, also on board for the bill, likewise blamed Reid.
“It’s disappointing the Majority Leader has allowed the demands of one special interest group to trump a bipartisan will in Congress and the overwhelming support of innovators and job creators,” he lamented.
It’s especially disappointing for us in southeast Texas, where trolls rule.