Patent Reform At Amazon And IBM Apparently Means Suing The Crap Out Of Each Other
from the nuclear-war dept
We’ve discussed in the past how many patents are basically an attempt at nuclear stockpiling. Companies try to stock up on enough patents that if anyone sues them over patent infringement, they can turn around and sue the other company right back. It’s a mutually assured destruction sort of thing that helps no one but the lawyers. Of course, the pain, as great as it is in terms of both money wasted and innovation slowed, doesn’t prevent such nuclear battles from happening at times. The latest is between two big patent holders, who both have made statements about how problematic the patent system is and how it needs to be changed: IBM and Amazon. Amazon, of course, got lots of flack for their infamous “one-click” patent, and helped set up BountyQuest, a service that would pay people to bust bad patents. Of course, BountyQuest never got very far — especially when it failed to bust the one-click patent. Soon afterwards, BountyQuest disappeared. IBM, the world’s largest patent holder, has been complaining about the rise in bad patents and has tried to set up a better system with the Patent Office to improve the quality of software patents.
All of that is nice in theory, but it didn’t stop IBM from suing Amazon over a bunch of very questionable patents a couple months ago. Most of the patents used were incredibly broad, and could be used against almost any company online. But, of course, once the nuclear missiles have been launched from one side, the other side has to join in as well. Amazon has countersued, alleging patent infringement on IBM’s part, while simultaneously trashing the various patents IBM is suing over, saying that: “IBM’s broad allegations of infringement amount to a claim that IBM invented the Internet.” They also note that if the patents are valid, it basically means that every one who has a website or who visits a website, has probably infringed on IBM’s patents.
What this means, of course, is that there will be some more posturing, and maybe some battling in court before the two sides settle, some cash exchanges hands… and no one benefits. It’s a net loss for everyone, as two companies who have done plenty of innovating over the years waste their money arguing with each other over ownership, rather than investing it in continued innovation.