Uh Oh: US Postal Service Wants To Better 'Monetize' Its 'Intellectual Property'
from the this-will-not-end-well dept
Via Clay Johnson we learn of a “solicitation” from the US Postal Service for help in finding better ways to “monetize” its “intellectual property.”
The purpose of this solicitation is to procure services to obtain a supplier who possesses specific subject matter expertise in the areas of intellectual property (IP) strategy, the monetization of IP portfolios and the development of Intellectual Asset Management practices. The purpose of this contract is to evaluate the U.S. Postal Service’s (‘Postal Service’) current IP strategy and define the steps, based on current industry best practices, needed to develop a comprehensive strategy for developing, managing, and monetizing IP.
Now, the US Postal Service is in this weird space where it is not quite a full government agency, but not quite a fully independent operation (or it can be seen as either depending on how you squint). However, it is supposed to be serving the public, and becoming a patent troll (what this is really about) hardly seems like it will serve the public’s interest. As is established under <a href=http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/39/101″ target=”_blank”>39 USC 101, the Postal Service is supposed to be about serving the public interest:
The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.
Separately, the law notes:
In determining all policies for postal services, the Postal Service shall give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail.
I can’t see how shaking down competitors like UPS and Fedex will serve that well.
And, of course, that’s likely what this is all about. Everyone knows there is tremendous controversy over the US Postal Service and its financial situation (which is distorted by the way it is required to handle its pensions). So the USPS is desperate for alternate ways to get money in. From the brief quip in the solicitation, it certainly sounds like it’s looking for ways to jump into the patent game and seek licensing revenue from others. The last thing we really need is the US Postal Service waving around patents, demanding payments from more innovative competitors, but it sounds like that may be what we’re about to get.