Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Legal Reality: Growth By Patent Exploitation

from the but-isn't-that-bad-for-innovation? dept

A somewhat painful-to-read editorial has shown up over at where an intellectual property lawyer who's trying to drum up more business talks about this wonderful trend of companies that hoard patents, but don't do anything with them, suing the companies that actually innovate. To him, it's all about the money. He describes it as a game, where the patent holders don't need to worry about whether or not the lawsuits they're filing make sense - just whether or not they can convince some companies to pay enough so that they can sue more companies. He, of course, expects this to continue, and seems to think it's good that these "Davids" are taking on the "Goliaths". While I have no problem with such cases where there's clear patent infringement on a non-obvious idea - I do have serious problems with the way most of these cases actually work. They're not about patent infringement. They're about multiple companies coming up with the same obvious idea, and the one that just happens to file the first broadly worded patent gets to sit back and sue the companies who actually innovate. To this lawyer, it may be a great trend because it increases the wealth in his bank account - but for most real technology companies, it increases the cost of doing business and slows down innovation.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2004 @ 9:31am

    No Subject Given

    tsk tsk tsk
    Mike, you know as well as I do that patents are not about innovation. If any of this was about innivation, why would you start handing out monopolies to people who haven't even proven they can implement what they are claiming to have invented. It's stupid. If you really wanted to encourage innovation, we would retire the patent system all together. There's no need a reasonable society in the information age would need such a thing to begin with. What good does it do? What good has it ever done?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    thecaptain, Jan 22nd, 2004 @ 8:27am

    No Subject Given

    Patents started out with a good protect the work and profit of a creative inovator and give him a chance to earn rewards for his ideas before someone else can duplicate it for his own reward. This makes sense.

    Problem is, like in many areas of society today, is that while the "intention" is still clear, its been co-opted by lawyers and corporations. On the one side you have the lawyers who make money on every case...they LOVE these patent-hoarding little useless companies who generate so many legal fees on either THEM to fight ANY change tooth and nail. On the other side you have the bigger corporations who see the situation as an ideal bludgeon against competitors...someone comes up with a way to take some marketshare? Sue them...

    They all win except us. Nothing will change because there's too much money and power involved. Surely you don't think a big corporation will want to deprive itself of a major weapon "for the good of society" do you? Do you think any lawyer's going to do it? What about a politician who counts on his "campaign contributions" from both sides mentionned above?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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