Mutually Assured Patent Destruction

from the wonderful dept

We’ve been talking about the process by which patents are being used in the same way that governments stockpile nuclear weapons — just to point them at each other to make threats. If one company waves a patent saber, the other can then wave their own patent portfolio back. Occasionally, though, nuclear patent war breaks out with both sides suing each other. It’s happened recently between Symbol and Intermec in the RFID and WiFi space, and now it appears to be happening in the DVR space. Last year, TiVo sued EchoStar over DVR-related patents, and while it took some time, EchoStar has now turned around and sued TiVo over other DVR-related patents. The only people doing well out of such lawsuits are the lawyers.

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Comments on “Mutually Assured Patent Destruction”

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Tim (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Good question. If you had no IP laws at all, no copyright, everything effectively be public domain. That’s not an area in which we see much activity these days. If you just have copyright, that can be more or less fair: it says “I made this”, and stamps out all further distribution or modification, so you need licensing as well. What you don’t need is patents: unlike copyright and copyleft licenses that permit you to do things, patents exist solely in order to *threaten* you not to code something in the privacy of your own home. Application to motivation level should be obvious – with no patents around, I’d be considerably more motivated to write more code than I do; without licenses, I probably wouldn’t be; without copyright, I might be happier again.

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