Episode 94

Josh Montgomery and the Patent Trolls


October 8th, 2021

30 mins 21 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Josh Montgomery


Eric Berry | Alyssa Wright | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

**TRIGGER WARNING: **There is mention of blood in this episode.

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Today, we have an amazing guest, Josh Montgomery, who is one of the co-founders of Mycroft AI, which is a private open source voice assistant and smart speaker, that customers could access, change, hack, and customize. Josh has also written a children’s book called, Mycroft and the Patent Trolls, that relates to open source sustainability. Josh takes us through the process of how Mycroft AI came about, we learn how it’s different than the other voice systems out there, and more about their goal, which is to provide value to customers in a way that makes them willing and eager to pay for it. He goes more in depth about the book he wrote which started because they realized there wasn’t a lot of innovation on the defense side, and Josh explains the ways the patent system needs to be reformed. Download this episode to find out much more!

[00:01:42] We learn more about Josh and the story behind founding Mycroft AI.

[00:04:20] Richard wonders how Josh builds this without having huge amounts of data to access.

[00:06:04] When Josh talks about “us” he explains who “us” is, how large the community is, and what kind of people are in it.

[00:08:21] Josh tells us about the challenges he faces trying to maintain that ethical boundary, but still be competitive.

[00:12:37] Alyssa wonders if the business development model that Josh was talking about has been in any other space.

[00:13:40] We hear a pitch for Mycroft AI from Josh.

[00:15:20] Josh mentions giving back to the community and Richard wonders how that would work and who in particular would get the investment back.

[00:18:18] Josh goes more in depth about how far they support people and what their focus is right now with Mycroft.

[00:20:21] Richard brings up “Patent Trolls” and ask Josh to talk about the eleven law firms that he hired and the children’s book he wrote.

[00:22:02] Josh explains how he feels about patents. TRIGGER WARNING. He shares an example about the guy who invented the “SawStop” and patented it.

[00:25:46] Find out where you can follow Josh and Mycroft AI online.


[00:03:19] “You know, we went and decided to do it an open way.”

[00:05:26] “So the way we get access to data is by being good stewards of our customer’s data and then giving customers the choice of how that data is used.”

[00:07:35] “You know our goal is to make it easier for those people to contribute and then to do as much of the heavy lifting as we can, you know, using company resources.”

[00:09:31] “Many of the Silicon Valley giants, I mean for example, Google is under indictment by all fifty states in the United States.”

[00:11:49] “And then from a sustainability perspective, you know, the next step to that is to take that revenue and share it with the people in the community who are building the skills that power the technology.”

[00:12:31] “You know what I would argue is take the easy way out, which is you know, spying on people and it’s just something we’re not willing to do.”

[00:12:50] “Plex is a great example of a company that took an open source stack, XBMC, right, or I guess it’s called Kodi now, took that and built a sustainable business where they provide some additional features for people who are paid.”

[00:20:35] “So, one of the things that we realized when we started battling a Patent Troll was that there wasn’t a whole lot of innovation on the defense side.”

[00:22:11] “A patent is a quid pro quo. It’s a deal between the general public and the inventor.”

[00:23:42] “And so, you know, the patent system needs to be reformed in a number of ways.”

[00:23:47] “But I think the two biggest things that need to happen is number one, it needs to be much, much harder to get a patent in terms of obviousness and in terms of people who have expertise in the area being able to reproduce it. So that’s number one. And then number two, they need to create a process that makes it extremely inexpensive and easy to challenge patents as they’re going through the process to get them revoked if they’re bad.”

[00:24:24] “And so I think we need to restore the patent system back to what it was originally intended for.”

[00:29:28] “You know, we’ve given open source a voice.”


  • [00:26:47] Alyssa’s spotlight is reflecting on how valuable open source surveys and polls have been in her journey.
  • [00:27:38] Eric’s spotlight is a back massager by Comfier.
  • [00:28:20] Richard’s spotlight is Greg, who is the unsung hero behind Peakbagger.com.
  • [00:28:54] Josh’s spotlight is the context of gratitude to Steven Hickson.



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