Amazon The Latest Tech Company To Realize It Needs To Waste A Ton Of Money Buying Patents

from the this-is-not-healthy dept

In the last few years, the "nuclear war" of patent fights -- especially in the mobile phone space -- has woken up a bunch of big companies to the need to amass giant patent portfolios which they know they won't use for innovation purposes, but solely as weapons to fight back when other patent holders attack them. This is why we've been seeing so many high profile patent auctions lately at insane prices (Nortel, Novell, Kodak, etc.). Amazon is now joining the fray as well, as it's trying to hire a bunch of folks to buy up patents to boost its portfolio.
Amazon has hired executive recruiting firm Argos Search to help the company hire an intellectual property "Acquisition and Investment Leader" to "identify and evaluate strategic IP acquisition and licensing opportunities," according to a job description obtained this week by Reuters.
What an incredibly sad job. It's a role designed to waste a company's money on pieces of paper that will never be used for actual innovation, but merely as tools for the possibility of a patent battle with others. What a broken system.


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  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 3:19am

    intellectual property "Acquisition and Investment Leader"

    That must be a job that is up there with an Actuary in terms of boredom.

     

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    hfbs (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 3:58am

    Argos Search? Shit, they better have those patents in stock.. Maybe the job is check on those little machines and see how many there are? If they find one they want, do they get to write it on the little slips of paper with the little pens and take it to the till? Then wait for a few minutes while a staff member gets the patent, a few minutes more while the staff member moves some stuff out the way to get to the patent in that huge storeroom at the back of the shop..

    Or wait, maybe they're the staff member? I used to have that job and can remember having to lug heavy flat pack wardrobes down stairs.. No patents though (they must be kept in the office or the secure room - I was never allowed in there).. maybe they're in their new catalogue?

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 4:39am

    Get over it.

    it's what companies do, they do things that in the long term will make them money, it's called business, I know you dont like the idea of companies wanting to do business, but it's a choice that is not yours.

    Ofcourse, you can cry about it, and have. but clearly and for good reason, these companies do not listen to you.

     

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  4.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 4:48am

    The Peacock’s Tail

    Maybe this is the corporate equivalent of sexual selection.

    The puzzle of biological evolution is not that it happens or how it happens, but why it takes one path and not another. Why are certain organisms more “fit” to survive than others? Darwin first proposed the idea of “natural selection”, which means that those best able to take care of themselves will survive.

    But this doesn’t explain bizarre developments like the peacock’s tail, which quite plainly reduces the ability of the creature to take care of itself, by requiring extra nutrition to maintain, potentially hampering its ability to escape from danger, and so on. The explanation for this one is called “sexual selection”: such a gaudy show attracts a mate, by demonstrating that its owner is so physically superior that it can afford to waste energy on such a display without compromising its own ability to survive.

    Maybe all these multi-billion-dollar acquisitions by large corporations serve a similar function: by demonstrating their ability to wantonly squander such large sums of money, their (male) bosses get the girls.

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 4:57am

    Good, the sooner everybody starts spending shitloads in patents and then having nuclear wars over them breaking up everything the better. Sometimes destruction is needed for things to change.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Patents are a major force for good, if you had all these companies innovating faster they would be making more machines to do stuff and robots would become self aware and take over. Is that what you want, robots on the rampage suing everyone?

     

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  7.  
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    asmaloney (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Re: Get over it.

    I think what's being lamented is that the culture has become business through litigation rather than business through innovation.

     

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  8.  
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    Donnicton, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    It's so absolutely stupid that patents can even be traded as a commodity to begin with. Patents are meant to provide some measure of protection to the one who invented the item to begin with. They have no business in the hands of anyone else(particularly if they had no hand in its creation), and should be invalidated the moment the inventor sells their ownership of the invention.

     

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  9.  
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    Bryce, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 5:39am

    1-click?

    When did Amazon stop being part of the patent problem?

     

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  10.  
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    I_am_so_smrt (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 6:24am

    Re:

    Just give me my time-machine, dammit!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 6:33am

    Not quite sure how you are reading this, but I see something more like a company looking to license patents from others - not just buy them. They seem that they can move ahead much more quickly by licensing from others than perhaps doing it themselves.

    Why do you always see the negative? Are you that jaded and that angry?

     

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  12.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    looking to license patents from others - not just buy them.

    Either way it is still a waste of money on pieces of paper and lawyers that could be better spent on actual innovation, product development, or lowering costs to customers.

     

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  13.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Re: Get over it.

    Would you say the same about bribing politicians? Just curious.

    (Either way, I'll award you a 7/10. It's a pretty obtuse post, and thereby challenges people to respond effectively, but I didn't quite feel the contempt. You might try adding a "Mikey" next time.)

     

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  14.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:03am

    Re: Get over it.

    it's what companies do, they do things that in the long term will make them money, it's called business, I know you dont like the idea of companies wanting to do business, but it's a choice that is not yours.

    I love companies doing business. What I don't like is a legal regime that forces them to throw away money in non-productive ways that don't contribute to the business of providing more value for its customers.

     

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  15.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    Is that what you want, robots on the rampage suing everyone?

    Umm... they already reached that point. Automated systems suing dead grandmothers ring a bell?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    Josh, don't be narrow minded. Would you prefer to (a) license from someone else, or (b) spend the R&D money hoping someone comes up with something?

    Licensing basically gets you past the initial research and "thinking it up" costs, and moves you more directly onto either making a new product, or improving an existing one.

    Mike never talks about that. It would disprove so many of his theories about the "monopoly" boogieman.

     

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  17.  
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    agalvan (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Should have seen it coming.

    They should have seen it coming when they patented one click shopping.

     

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  18.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:32am

    Re: Get over it.

    No, what we can do is take it out back and shoot it as not being fit for purpose. Because the current crop of IP laws in the US are so far beyond FUBAR that it makes SNAFUs out of other SNAFUs, gives them some meth, and then sends it out to the general public.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your (a) and (b) options don't relate the the article. I'm sure Amazon would have little concern in licensing from someone else.

    "Strategic IP acquisition" means buying patents, not licensing them. That's only useful for 2 things - attacking other companies or defending themselves against attacks.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "
    "Strategic IP acquisition" means buying patents, not licensing them. That's only useful for 2 things - attacking other companies or defending themselves against attacks."

    Don't be so narrow minded. One side of licensing is deciding to buy the patent outright instead. Yes, it can be to obtain control of a marketplace, but normally for companies like this it is not to lock up the technology, but to in fact use it.

    You and Mike both make the assumption that it is either entirely defensive, or entirely lawsuit oriented. You don't seem to think there is anything else.

    How narrow minded of you.

     

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  21.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's official: "Narrow-minded" is the buzzword of the week.

    Trolls, start your engines!

     

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  22.  
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    Niall (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 8:45am

    Re: Get over it.

    Swap piracy, etc., for patents and right backatcha! It's a cost of doing business...

     

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  23.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Re: Get over it.

    When you get to the point of mutually-assured destruction, you know that the patent system has failed.

     

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  24.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    If we really reached that point, the automated system would have sued the grandmother when she was alive for infringement in the future.

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Get over it.

    I don't think that comment should have been flagged, but that's just me.

    it's what companies do, they do things that in the long term will make them money


    But that isn't what's happening with these patent wars. They are doing the things that will make them money in the short term, and that money is coming by cannibalizing future markets. They are, in effect, eating their young.

    This is not what healthy businesses do. This is what dying businesses do. Healthy business engage in activities that will enhance their profitability over the long term, which means growing markets.

    These companies are engaging in epically bad business practices. It's called "cashing out".

     

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  26.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re:

    Apple asked for $40 per device from Samsung for a licence to cover patents Apples says are being infringed by Samsung. With the broad wording in most patents these days, it is no stretch of the imagination that a smartphone may be accused of infringing on hundreds of patents. If every patent troll or tech company wanted a licence, that cellphone would cost $1,000 or more.

    When Microsoft makes more money from Android phones than Google does without actually making anything for the Android phone, then there is something wrong with the patent system.

     

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  27.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You assume that each and every patent required lots of R&D and lots of money. If a patent can be easily copied, then perhaps that patent shouldn't have been approved in the first place.

     

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  28.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How many people is Google laying off at Motorola Mobility? So much for using that IP.

    Kodak is a bankrupt company, yet their IP is supposedly worth billions of dollars. If the IP is worth that much money, then Kodak should have been able to do something with their government-approved monopoly. Same thing with Nortel.

     

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  29.  
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    rubberpants, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "How narrow minded of you."

    If you open you mind enough anything terrible can be rationalized.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Get over it.

    it's what techdirt does, it reveals company and individual activities in the areas of patents and innovation, it's called reporting, I know you dont like the idea of companies reporting such news, but it's a choice that is not yours.

    Of course, you can cry about it, and have. but clearly and for good reason, these companies do not listen to you.

     

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  31.  
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    staff, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    more dissembling by Masnick

    It is not innovation that patents hinder, but the theft of.

    Not all competition is fair. When the courts permit a larger competitor to use an invention without the inventor's permission, it's like having a duel where your challenger has your gun and all the bullets. Think again...or just think!

    It’s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I’ll show you a weak economy and high unemployment.

    Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-
    https://www.insightcommunity.com/cases.php?n=10&pg=1

    They sell blog filler and "insights" to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world’s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don’t have any.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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