HBO News Blog

Silicon Valley: “Patent Troll”

By Jason Godfrey on Jun 6, 2017 to Silicon Valley

The episode starts off with Richard visiting his medical “professional”. Let’s face it. Nobody that Richard interacts with could be considered professional. His doctor is no exception. While Richard is concerned about the possibility of getting an STD, his doctor is concerned about how Richard lost an inch off his height since last year he saw him. I wonder how much shorter he actually is because he didn’t even take his shoes off.

Erlich tries to secure a job at Bream Hall after landing them a big client. In true Erlich fashion, he does whatever he can to get what he wants, including playing the sexism card. This leads to one of the most cringeworthy terms in the feminist dictionary: mansplaining. Before this episode, I avoided learning the definition of this term and even hearing it from the mouth of TJ Miller, delivered ironically, did not win me over that the term should have ever been conceived.

Richard learns that shortly after his app makes the top 500 list of utility apps, someone is claiming that his company is infringing on his copyright. He goes to meet him and we quickly learn that he knows nothing about tech. He’s such a scumbag that he is by uses underhanded legal tactics to steal a piece of the intellectual property of people that work much harder than him. It’s so easy to hate this guy. Richard is advised to pay the patent troll the $20,000 to avoid paying more in legal fees. I can’t say I blame Richard for refusing, even though I disagree with his decisions a lot and it would be the smarter move to pay and get it over with it.

Jian-Yang’s smart fridge arrives and he shows it off to Dinesh and Gilfoyle. When Gilfoyle learns that the settings are password-protected, it seems to egg him on to jack into it. He spends the episode obsessing over it and pushing more and more brute force into cracking the fridge. When he finally does, he trolls Jian-Yang by among the fridge insult him. I can’t help but think that this is the passing of the torch from Erlich to Gilfoyle to fill the shoes as the target for Jian-Yang’s antics. After all, with TJ Miller leaving the cast, we need someone to bring out the best Jian-Yang moments.

Richard tried to rally other top 500 app developers together to fight the patent troll. Of course, he makes the situation worse because the other companies decide to settle which raises the price that the patent troll charges him. I love it how it this plot comes full circle to the origin of Pied Piper when it was a search app for music copyright. He uses this to muscle his way out of paying a license. Of course, this is Silicon Valley, where victory doesn’t come easy. Richard ends up paying more in legal fees than he would have paid the troll in the first place.

The Erlich plot for this episode seemed somewhat underwhelming. I’m not sure why. It could be that there seemed to be a little investment into it. He wanted to be a part of the VC boy’s club, despite knowing nothing about basketball or even how to use tools to put a hoop up, but never expressed why. The best I could figure was that he is always about relations and reputation so networking with other VCs would help further him. Either way, his scenes were one of the least entertaining of the episode, which is a rare thing.

I wish more screen time could have been spent on Jared. His “Ed Chambers” was entertaining to watch because it was like seeing the other side of the Jared coin. It was too bad that Jared claimed that Ed had to go because it’s nice to see the range of Zach Woods’s craft.

Here’s a preview for the next episode.

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