Blackberry Users Cross Their Thumbs

from the time-to-reform-the-patent-system dept

Nothing particularly new, but a good overview of the legal case between RIM and NTP, which threatens to force RIM to stop selling Blackberries in the US. As the article points out, the chance of RIM really being forced to stop selling the devices is fairly slim. If they lose the appeals in the case, they’ll probably end up just licensing the technology to keep going. The more interesting issue is whether or not NTP will then start going after other wireless email providers. Once again, this is an example of why current patent laws need to be reformed. Here’s a situation where a company came up with an idea, but did nothing with it, while another company that actually innovated completely independently has to pay them a licensing fee. That’s not encouraging innovation. It’s encouraging people to file for patents and be lazy, while they wait for more savvy companies to actually innovate.

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Comments on “Blackberry Users Cross Their Thumbs”

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anonymous says:

My idea, my patent...laziness is irrelevant

Laziness has nothing to do with patents, people. If I have an idea, and I want to make sure no one else uses it–regardless of whether I want to do anything with it–then I protect it with a patent. Who’s going to be the judge of whether someone has done a “good enough” job of utilizing their patent? I’d guess that the VAST majority of issued patents have NEVER resulted (directly or indirectly) in a product sitting on a shelf somewhere. Cry “it’s not fair” all you want, but the system works, and a few unfortunate circumstances won’t stifle innovation–believe me.

thecaptain says:

Re: My idea, my patent...laziness is irrelevant

The problem with that is that you can sit around and write vague patents all day and do nothing…then I come around with an idea on my own…do something with it, then you call your lawyer, dig through see which vague words can apply and cash in on MY hard work. This is now a standard business model….a few centuries back I believe we called that leeches, or parasites.

Sorry. This system does NOT work.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: My idea, my patent...laziness is irrelevant

Cry “it’s not fair” all you want, but the system works, and a few unfortunate circumstances won’t stifle innovation–believe me.

Big words from an anonymous coward. How can we believe you if you don’t even have the guts to show us who you really are?

So, if it works so well, why are patents continuously given for ideas which have obvious prior-arts, such as the method for swinging on a swing, or menus on a website?

Show me one patent in which the patent holder who didn’t sell any products or services based on the patent, and sued everyone else who did, actually innovated anything. I don’t think you’d be able to find one.

The patent system may be “fair”, but it is broken, and it needs to be reworked. The ultimate motivation of a patent is to reward, for a limited time, the innovation of a “new” idea (or atleast a new implementation of an old idea.) While there are an awful lot of good patents out there, there are just as many patents given for old implementations of old ideas, specifically designed to be used in making money off of others and not innovating anything.

Munich says:

Not Perfect, but Working

Mike has been hammering on this topic for a while, and he makes some good points – I think most of the biz patents are ridiculous (a patent for one-click buying? one on the Priceline “reverse auction”?).

And granted, there ARE abuses of the system – there are several companies that do nothing but sue people. And the he reverse is also true. There have been great innovators who have been granted patents only to die as business failures (there is a great article on the Wright Brothers in this month’s Invention and Technology magazine)

But having a patent being viloated is not an instant cash machine – my father has one being violated by a large multinational, and he’ll never see a cent. Years of litigation and a questionable payout don’t make it work while. Under Mike’s reasoning, since the multinational is making a product, and my father’s company went belly up, this situation is okay since they are the ones actually using the patent. I don’t see it this way, but in practice this is what happens MOST of the time.

The bottom line is if you look around you (assuming you live in the U.S.) there is innovation, great products, a vibrant VC community and entrepreneurs all over the place. Much of this is driven by the patent process as we know it. While there are a few bad apples out there, the overall effect has been to generate enourmous wealth while creating products that make people’s life easier.

No process is going to be perfect, and while ours could use some tweaking here an there, it is the best in the world if you look at the aggregate results.

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