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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Companies: amazon

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

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hfbs (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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”.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

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.

Donnicton says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:


“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.

staff says:

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-

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.

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