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by Mike Masnick

Nathan Myhrvold Confusing Innovation And Invention

from the what-good-is-that? dept

Nathan Myhrvold has received plenty of attention for his idea to create an "invention factory", but the company seems to be much more focused on buying up and hoarding a bunch of patents. In other words, they're acting like many of those little patent hoarding firms that go around demanding what amounts to legalized extortion from the companies doing the real innovating. In a new interview, Myhrvold answers questions about the issue of patent hoarding, but the answers are pretty weak. On the issue of why he's forming the company, he talks up the myth of the lone "crazy inventor" of the 19th century. The problem is, that's not really accurate. The names we all associate with inventing certain products were usually just those who innovated in an ongoing area to make a product that made sense in the marketplace. Myhrvold goes on to explain why inventors shouldn't be so focused on marketable products -- but it's the marketable products that are the real innovation. Real innovation occurs when someone sees a need and figures out how to fill it. That's not what his company is doing. It's trying to invent things out of thin air -- meaning that it's trying to invent needs out of thin air. Myhrvold also swats aside complaints about the patent system by saying that only a few people are really complaining about it, so it can't really be a problem. He also says: "The overall number of lawsuits for patents is growing, but so is the overall number of patents. So explain that to me." That's quite easy to explain, actually. Because of litigation and patent hoarding companies, everyone feels they must have their own patents, just to defend against such practices, or at least to settle with a little horse trading. It's just nuclear stockpiling basically. Build up as much as you can just to scare off the other guy. The only people who really benefit, though, are the lawyers. All that patent filing money doesn't get to go into actual innovation.

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  • identicon
    John Wiley, 29 Apr 2005 @ 3:02am


    You are right.

    Also, many inventions are bought by large companies buy up inventions just to keep them off of the market (although this is happening less and less)because they would ruin the market for an existing product.

    It is also a large "risk" to try to market a totally innovative product.

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

  • identicon
    knight37, 29 Apr 2005 @ 9:02am

    My Lawer Will Be In Touch

    I p4tented the letter 'e'. I get 4 nickle for every time someone uses it. You owe me $25.60 for this 4rticle 4lone. I'll h4ve my people talk to your people. Th4nks for the buisiness.
    Unfortun4tly, Myhrvold be4t me to the letter 'a', 4nd that ph4t greedy b4st4rd w4nts 4 buck 4 shot, so I'm trying to cut down on using it.

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

  • identicon
    Juan Carrillo, 17 Oct 2006 @ 6:59am


    The term "patents hoarding" is totally ridiculous. Each company has their own interests in patents and theoir valuable applications. The value of utility patents is priceless and have the potential for innovation. many concepts don't make it to the market place for reason that they are at a stage of ownership by inventors themselves who more than likely have an awsome idea that has no legs. meaning that they are conceived but then where can inventors go to find the right attention and resources, materials and reputation needed to propel the concept forward. As arrogant as a reputable well know company may be they dont have all the answers to innovation and fresh perspectives on significant concepts. They invite reviews for confidential non patented items and believe that they can grow from that instead of buying patents they steal them with biased confidential documents that take from the inventor who does not have a patent on the disclosed.

    Anyway Nathan Myhrvold God Bless you in your venture because if it takes off, and it is solely up to you to see that it does, many companies with existing investment in certain items that will be over thrown by your particular items will either be looking to lobby you out or give in and buy patents from you. Kick ass and while your at it visit my website where I try to sell my prototype bike seat along with the patent as well. Let me know at jrcarrillo@jrcarri.com
    Juan Carrillo

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

  • identicon
    johnson wu, 1 Nov 2007 @ 3:30pm


    Nathan is just an arrogan wind bag trying to find another way to pat himself on the back. This is just a patent shop pure and simple. But it allows him to indulge in the fantasy that he's some great inventor or innovator or...let me step out on a limb...intellectual...

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

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