Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 10 - Patents - full transcript

John discusses patents, Earth Day, and doomsday, with a special appearance from Martin Sheen.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -

Season II, episode 10

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.
I am John Oliver.

Thank you for being with us.
A quick recap of the week.

We begin with Vladimir Putin,
the man most likely to be

staring at a poster of a wolf
while doing hammer curls.

Putin addressed his people
in what has become an annual tradition.

Vladimir Putin is holding his 13th
annual question and answer marathon.

He invites members of the general
public to ask questions live on TV.

Who would not feel comfortable asking
a question to that friendly face ?

Putin did Q&A for four solid hours,
pre-empting hit Russian TV shows

such as, "Bear vs. Tiger:
Who is Most Strong ?"

and their famous sitcom "How Dare You
Claim to Know My Suffering ?"

He took questions
about Ukraine and the economy,

but a free and open dialogue
was never really the point of this.

It's well choreographed.
Those questions are selected

to highlight Putin the statesman,
his wry sense of humor.

This was really a showcase for
Putin's world-famous sense of humor.

He got a chance to use it during
one of the stranger questions.

Would you like to clone yourself ?
We have so many officials...

No. Next one.

That's it. Just no. Classic Putin.

You get the sense that he would be
the worst improv partner ever.

Vlad, we're here at the bakery.
No !

We are at steel mill that proves
the might of Russian industry.

I am me and you are Oprah.
And scene, scene.

The best moment was when
a woman asked Putin

if he would tell her friend's husband
Boris to let her get a dog.

A total softball to set him up
for a humanizing moment.

All he needed to do was say yes
and not get all weird about it.

You and me
could ask Boris together,

just request him in a friendly
way to allow Yelena

but Yelena might say,
okay I don't need a dog.

I'll do as you say,
my dear husband.

I am sure after that he'll present her
an elephant as a gift.

It's just the issue of the right time
and the right place.

Maybe a fur coat...

I'm not sure about a fur coat
but maybe a dog.

We'll just ask the person Boris,

What the fuck was that ?

To answer whether someone
should get a pet dog,

he mentioned marital submission,
the possibility of a pet elephant,

suggested the skin of a dead animal
as a potential dog substitute,

before finally just
deferring to Boris anyway.

That is a fascinating window
into his thought process

and it also suggests Crimea might
be about to get a pet elephant.

Let's move on to Oklahoma,

where this week
was some distressingly familiar news.

A volunteer Tulsa County deputy
is now facing a man slaughter charge

in the fatal shooting of a black
suspect during an undercover operation.

Prosecutors say 73-year-old
Robert Bates was negligent

for shooting Eric Harris
with a handgun instead of a Taser.

There is a lot to unpack there.
How do you mistake a gun for a Taser ?

What is a 73-year-old volunteer doing
in an undercover operation ?

We got an answer to the second
question, and it was not good.

Many wonder if Bates' close
relationship with his sheriff

led to this assignment.

Robert Bates has donated several
vehicles including a Dodge Charger,

a Crown Victoria
and a Toyota Avalon.

Giving away cars should not qualify
you for law enforcement.

At best it qualifies you to host
"The Price is Right". At best.

This is clearly a tragic story.
It was not made any better

when Bates decided to apologize in
the most uncomfortable way possible.

First and foremost, let me apologize
to the family of Eric Harris.

This is the second worst thing
that's ever happened to me,

or first,
ever happened to me in my life.

I've had cancer years ago.
I didn't think I was gonna get there.

I was able to go to a hospital
where I had hours of surgery.

I rate this as number one on my list
of things in my life that I regret.

So it was either the worst
or second-worst thing,

after that time you got cancer,
but then got better.

The only thing you're a victim of
is a creepy six-hand massage.

Bates is not the only one at fault.
It's also on the Tulsa sheriff's office

for letting a 73-year-old man act
as backup on a firearms sting.

There are many things we should
allow 73-year-olds to do

without putting up a fight,
like use the phrase "the Hispanics",

or get into fights
over cribbage matches,

or sign their name at the end
of Facebook comments,

but when it comes to law enforcement,
to paraphrase Danny Glover,

a 73-year-old man
is literally too old for this shit.

And finally this week,
I'd like to talk about Earth Day.

Don't worry, you didn't miss it,
it's next Wednesday.

So you still have a chance to think
about the problems facing the planet

and brace yourself
for inane TV segments like this.

- What are we doing here ?
- An Earth Day birthday party.

You take your old cereal boxes
and you make... Like my little hat ?

It's adorable.

Making craft projects out of garbage
is not how you save the environment.

It's what you do on a first date
with Zooey Deschanel.

But let's give them credit:

they're trying to get people
to engage in environmental issues,

which is increasingly difficult,
we've become immune to shock.

Look at that classic image of a polar
bear balancing on a block of ice.

That used to horrify people,
but now, it's lost its power.

It's like looking at pornography
from the 1840's.

I don't care how much shin
that woman is showing,

I just feel nothing.

Things have got worse
for polar bears.

A study showed that environmental
toxins could potentially cause them

to be at risk of
increased risk of species extinction

as a result of weak penile
bones and risk of fractures.

In layman's terms, pollution could
cause polar bears to break their dicks.

I know what you're thinking:
"John, wait, John !"

Polar bears don't have dick bones.
It turns out, you're wrong.

Let me introduce you to the wonderful
world of polar bear lovemaking.

It's the male's thrusting penis
which causes her to release an egg.

But it could take up to 2 weeks.

To help her conceive,
he's got a trick up his sleeve,

a bone right in the middle
of his penis.

It's called a baculum and it doesn't
just help to stimulate ovulation.

It keeps him hard.

Yeah. Now you understand
why those Coca-Cola bears

have to hold bottles
in front of them.

They have raging erections
all the time. Always.

This story is upsetting.
But it's also an opportunity.

For at least half the population,

having your dick bone snap in half
is viscerally upsetting.

I would suggest that we retire
the "polar bear on a chunk of ice"

as the face of global pollution,
and replace it with this image

of a polar bear
clutching its shattered penis.

That will get people's attention.
And don't just take it from me.

Take it from the new face of Earth Day,
my friend and yours,

Marshmallow, the polar bear
with a broken penis.

Marshmallow, are you sad ?

Because your chemically-weakened
penis bone snapped in half ?

That's why you're sad ?
What specific action do you think

the international community should
commit to prevent this ?

You don't know ? Are you
struggling to think of a plan

because of how much
your penis hurts ?

So, c'mon, everyone !
This Earth Day,

I want you to think of Marshmallow's
devastated penis.

Because while it may not
be salvageable,

others still could be !

So clap your hands
if you want hard polar bear penises !

We can do this !
Happy Earth Day, everyone !

And now this ! You're okay.

The most patient man on television
endures the American public.

I don't know what's going on
in this world right now.

Obama's a Muslim
and that's all I gotta say.

Obama is not a Muslim
but thank you for your comment.

I watch all 3 of your channels 6 CSPAN,
CSPAN 1 and CSPAN 2.

CSPAN 3, I'm sorry.
And it's heavily Republican.

I thought this was a free country.

We've excluded God from everything
and look at what's happening to us.

We should probably send in
special forces, similar to Rambo.

I don't know enough
about the military.

Just scare them off, tell them or else
I'll blow your head off.

Having our government do nothing,
it's treason.

That's what brings us to idiocracy.


Moving on: our main story
tonight concerns patents.

They're legally binding dibs.
And they're important.

If you invent something and
it's approved by Patent and Trademark,

the rights to that idea
then belong to you.

They're essential to business,

as you would know,
if you've ever seen "Shark Tank".

Why aren't you telling me about
something proprietary or a patent ?

I hope you do get your patent
and I wish you good luck.

Without having it,
you're gonna have a struggle.

Don't have a patent, a finished sample,

Unless you have a patent or proprietary
technology, you're in trouble.

I'm out.

Arriving at "Shark Tank" without
a patent is like turning up

to "America's Next Top Model"
without knowing how to smize.

You take that shit to catalog !
You're not editorial !

I don't know what that means
but the point is,

if you don't have a patent, you don't
have a prayer on "Shark Tank."

Unless you've got a once-in-a-lifetime
investment opportunity like this guy.

You go to my site. You describe a cat.
I draw it, I mail it. As easy as that.

I'd invest if I were you.
I want to draw a cat for you.

His business got funded.
Presumably because he holds the patent

on whatever the fuck
he's doing with his shoulders.

The patent system
has been prone to abuse.

A man named Austin Meyer
made a popular flight simulator app.

One day,
received a frightening letter.

It said that a company called Uniloc
was filing suit against me.

The company is suing Meyer
for patent infringements.

Uniloc says it owns the idea
of a computer program

checking a central server
for authorization.

It is the technology upon which
all Android apps are based.

- All Android apps ?
- Every one I know of.

This company, Uniloc, is claiming
it's entitled to a piece of every app.

That means they could show up
at the headquarters of Tinder

and demand a cut of everything
Tinder has created.

Which I assume would be a pile
of STD's, sad orgasms

and shards of human self-esteem,
that's the business model.

This became so common, there's
even a name for companies that do this.

So-called patent trolls don't invent
or sell anything.

They buy patents and make their
money by threatening lawsuits.

Most of these companies
don't produce anything,

they just shake down
anyone who does.

So calling them "trolls"
is a little misleading.

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.

Those lawsuits add up.

Of the 4 700 patent lawsuits filed
in 2012,

3 000 were from these so-called
patent trolls.

The White House claims during
the last 2 years,

the number of lawsuits brought
by patent trolls has tripled.

This type of litigation cost investors

half a trillion dollars since 1990.

Half a trillion !
Let me put that in context:

to lose other people
that amount of money,

Johnny Depp would have had to star
in "The Lone Ranger"

over 100 times a year
for 25 years.

That's a horrifying amount !

And patent trolls target everyone,
from Apple and Samsung,

to tiny ones.

You don't need to make something
to be targeted.

You just need to use something.

A business couldn't believe it when
someone threatened to sue them

for using
their own copy machine.

We provide employment services
for people with barriers to employment,

mostly people with disabilities.

FolNer LLC threatened to file unless
Hurley forked over $1 000

for each employee who uses the scan
to email function on this copier.

FolNer says it's entitled
to this licensing money

because it owns
the patents for that process.

When you are threatening to sue
a company which helps

people with disabilities find work
for using their own photocopier,

you're not just on the road to hell,

you have your own parking spot
right next to the fucking devil.

How exactly did we get
ourselves into this mess ?

In part, it has to do with the types
of patents that have been issued.

The patent office is supposed
to certify inventions

that are "new, useful,
and non-obvious".

All the adjectives Tom Cruise would
say he's seeking in an ideal mate.

But during periods
of big technological change,

they get overwhelmed
and certify patents they shouldn't.

This happened in the 19th century
with railroads,

and recently,
with the development of software.

The number of software
patents has skyrocketed.

The issue here, say experts,

is that while patents for machines
tend to be fairly specific,

software patents can be so broad
that they may give someone

the ability to later claim ownership
for inventions they never dreamed of.

And that is the seed
of our current problems.

If a troll can get
a vaguely-defined software patent,

they can demand payment for
anything that fits that description.

If they'd thought to patent
"computer thing that never works",

they'd be currently getting rich
off of "Facetime".

Very rich.

Patent trolls have this process
down to such a science.

They figured out a way
to almost never go to trial.

90 percent of cases are settled
for a very practical reason.

It's an extortion game
because it costs

between 2 and 5 million dollars
to defend a patent suit.

So the patent troll says,
we'll settle for 100 000.

Many decide to pay out settlements
because it's cheaper than the lawsuit.

So they work out the maximum
amount you'd be willing to pay,

rather than go to court
and negotiate for that.

They pick a number the same way
airlines pick a cabin temperature

perfectly calibrated
to make you miserable,

but not so much that you'd
actually do anything about it.

Sometimes it's hard to know
who's behind all of this.

They often have vague company
names like IP Nav, Empire IP

or Pragmatus.

Pragmatus sounds like the most
boring mythological Greek hero.

I am Pragmatus ! I shall not battle the
hydra, for it is much larger than me.

So I shall go home
by the farmers' market,

for the bruised vegetables
are cheaper at the end of the day.

Pragmatus bids you farewell.

Patent trolls found the friendliest
place to file their lawsuits.

Almost a quarter of last year's
US patent cases were filed

in this Eastern Texas federal
court district.

Marshall, Texas.
Population: 24 000.

A quarter of all patent cases
are filed in Marshall, Texas.

It's not because the people there
are inventing like a meth-head.

I combined a wheel with a nail.
It's a nail-wheel !

New invention ! Patent !

Here's four feet of PVC piping I can
use for a big straw ! Patent !

I'm a genius !
Gimme more meth !

Patent trolls have figured out that
east Texas judges and juries

are sympathetic to plaintiffs.

It has been so effective
that big companies are having to go

to absurd lengths to pander
to the people of Marshall.

Tech companies know the value
of a good PR campaign here,

where almost anyone
could be on your next jury.

Samsung sued here multiple times,
has spent almost a million dollars

on community projects like
this ice skating rink.

Samsung was so frightened
of patent lawsuits,

they felt forced to build
an outdoor ice rink in Texas.

Do you know
how hard that is to maintain ?

It's like building
a bowling alley in space.

This situation is insane. There is
cross-party support in Washington

for fixing this problem,
a bipartisan bill was introduced

two years ago
called "The Innovation Act",

encouraging judges to make patent
trolls pay court costs if they lose

and forcing patent trolls to be more
transparent about their identities.

I'm not saying that bill was perfect,
but it would've helped.

It's like when parents of
teenagers lock the liquor cabinet.

I know this isn't going to stop you,

It will make it harder for you
to fuck up the neighborhood.

While the bill passed the House
by an overwhelming majority,

it never even made it
to a vote in the Senate.

Why would that be ?

What do you make
of this bill getting killed ?

I know this is news but trial lawyers'
influence in Washington is alive.

Lobbyists for groups including trial
lawyers managed to prevent the bill

from moving forward.

You cannot let trial lawyers decide

whether there should be
more baseless lawsuits.

That's the equivalent of trusting
raccoons to make laws

about garbage can placement.

They should be easy to reach
and left slightly open !

All in favor say...

That's a good impression
as far as you know.

There is a glimmer of hope here,
that bill is making the rounds again.

Even if it doesn't pass,
something has to.

We have to do something or the only
viable business left in America

is going to be one that relies
on no patents.

I can only think of only one
business that fits that description.

I'll draw you a cat, whatever the vibe.
I draw the cat that you describe.

I guess all I'm saying is, hit it.

Let's reform our patents quick
or we will all be in the shit.

And now, this.

The continuing adventures of the most
patient man on television.

- You can hear me ?
- I can, go ahead, Paul.

- This is Paul Beach speaking.
- You're on the air. Go ahead.

Blacks need to take a little bit
more responsibility for themselves.

This government has a habit
of putting labels on people:

jap, kraut, Indian, VC.

Brutish, brainless, bloated,
blackmailing, bribing,

bamboozling bureaucracy.

Zionist neocon Jews
are behind all of this.

The Jews that run the media.

The Jews are great people.
It's just only the big time ones

that control all the finances
in America.

- I'm not prejudiced.
- I'm not racist. I'm not sexist.

I'm not a hater.

We need to get rid of every Muslim
out of the country

because they
are sent here to kill us.

Okay, we'll leave it at that.

Finally tonight, let's turn to some
lighter news: the end of the world.

The news is constantly full
of potential causes,

whether it's nuclear Armageddon
or environmental destruction.

I told you ! That bear is
the new face of Earth Day !

As we learned earlier this year,
one news network has planned

what they'll show
during humanity's final moments.

If this is ever on CNN, it means
the world is coming to an end.

It's called Turner Doomsday Video.
Something Ted Turner produced

to air on Doomsday
when the world's ending.

The restriction says:

"hold for release till end
of the world confirmed."

That's great, CNN, so you're going
to wait till the end of the world

to confirm something.

I will admit, I'm intrigued by this.
I'm intrigued by the idea

so tell me, what is the last thing
CNN wants all of us to see ?

That's it ?
A band playing a slow dirge ?

When the world ends,
it would be comforting to look

at any marching band and think:
"at least they'll all die too."

If the music they were playing rings
a bell, might be a reason for that.

Armed Forces Marching Bands
play "Nearer My God to Thee",

the hymn that, as legend has it,
was played as the Titanic sank.

That was not the music that played
when the Titanic sank. This was.

The last thing those
drowning people heard

was some sort of French-Canadian
space mermaid.

That's a history fact.

If humanity's time is going to end,
this cannot be the last thing we see.

A doomsday video shouldn't be sad,
it should be celebratory.

We've produced a new video
for the end of the world,

for CNN and anyone else to use.

Enjoy !

Hello, I'm Martin Sheen

and I'm afraid if you're watching this,
the end times are upon us.

Whether because of war, disease
or a genetically modified dinosaur,

our world is now only moments
away from total annihilation.

So, let's take these last few moments
to celebrate the greatest things

about humanity's time on earth.

We had a good run, didn't we ?

We harnessed fire,
invented languages

and engineered transparent
underwater tunnels

we felt like looking at shark tummies.

We were the first species
to evolve to walk on two legs

and then invented a way not to.

Perhaps humanity's greatest
achievement of all

was our total domination of every
other species.

Nice try, lions.

Unless we are all dying because lions
evolved and conquered the human race.

In which case, well played, lions.

Humanity sometimes failed to live up
to our potential

as evidenced by our blooper reel.

It seems our time together
as a species is drawing short

and life on earth
is about to end.

Before we all embrace
whatever awaits us,

I have something
important to show you.

It's a model of an old West saloon

filled with cat bartenders
and cat cowboys.

Cats. In conclusion, don't be sad
over what we're losing.

Instead think fondly
of what we had.

So let's give thanks to peanut butter,
to waterslides, to the night sky,

to the Beatles
and the Pyramids.

To that YouTube video of
Kelsey Grammer falling off a stage.

The UN interpreter... Good lord.

We did things few thought possible.
We mastered the art of the yo-yo

and had a cereal
that was nothing but cookies.

We invented the automobile
and then invented an automobile

that could drive
over 20 other automobiles.

We made backpacks that looked
like animals

and had those same animals
wear them.

We set pointless world records,

we mastered relative time
and hammer time.

We developed string theory
and string cheese.

We went to the moon.

So now before we're all
vaporized or whatever awaits us,

it's fitting that the last thing
we all see

is this sick basketball shot.

We did it.
This is Martin Sheen, over and out.

That's our show !

Thank you so much to Martin Sheen
and those cats. Good night !