News.com Opinion Piece On IP: Satire, Trolling... Or Just Seriously Confused?

from the can't-figure-it-out dept

I've had the column by Michael Kanellos of News.com open all day. I keep returning to it and trying to figure out how an opinion piece could have gone so wrong. Officially, it's called "Why I love patents and copyrights" but is so far off the charts bizarre that I can't quite figure out what Kanellos intended the column to be. It may simply be News.com trolling for links and traffic. Or, it might actually be satire. I can understand why some people who haven't looked at the research would say that without IP tech innovation would slow to a crawl (the research suggests the opposite, but that's ok), but to then suggest that the only reason that open source exists is to spite Microsoft's proprietary software shows a bizarre and totally incorrect understanding of the world of software development. But where the column really clearly slips into satire is the following: "Think of Larry Page toiling away on the early PageRank patents. Think of Mark and Colleen Hayward. Imagine all those evenings they had to spend listening to Donovan spout Celtic gibberish or helping get John Bonham out of hotel security custody during those years they amassed their photo and video collection. Surely some reward is in order." Larry Page wasn't toiling over patents -- he was toiling over the actual technology of making Google work. The actual idea behind PageRank was borrowed, copied or "inspired" by work done at MIT by Jon Kleinberg. And the idea that without patents Google wouldn't be in the dominant position it's in today is just ridiculous. Google's position has nothing to do with its patents, but its ability to develop a useful service people find value in using. As for the story of the Haywards... well, that's clearly a joke, right? Please? Either way, it seems like a really odd and confused piece, even if it is satire. Kanellos never bothers to back up his position, uses a few anecdotal examples, ignores the actual problems and constraints of intellectual property and seems to brush off anyone who disagrees with him as never having done anything creative. Of course, it's also doing some damage to News.com's reputation, as many of its readers are smart enough to wonder why the site would bother to publish something like this.
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  1. identicon
    Duke Kahanamoku, 11 May 2007 @ 12:13pm

    Misguided IP Rantings

    Reading your piece I could not help wondering whether you are doing the very thing you accuse CNET of- spectacular ranting for links/ page hits.

    I actually work full time in intellectual property and I can tell you that, like many other issues, it is complex. You absolutely cannot make a statement that there is no need for patents or that nobody every rips off another company's designs/ products/ technology. Many companies deliberately employ a fast-follower business model in which they systematically copy the products/ technologies/ designs of others.

    Patents are a key tool for innovators seeking to capitalize on their hard work. Innovative companies such as Qualcomm, IBM, Philips, Thomson, and many others have made profound technical contributions to the world but may not always capitalize as competitors such as Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and Samsung may have superior marketing, sales, or understanding of the customer that allows them to win in the market. This does not give them the right to use the valuable innovations created by others to serve their customers. In such situations, a patent or technology license is often the solution that allows the innovator to earn a bit from its invention while the sales & marketing leader benefits as well by delivering the best solution.

    Your extreme rantings would be akin to my saying that there is no need for blogs because we already have newspapers and magazines available to publish any useful information so what possible worthwhile material could a blog publish? Blogs should be abolished right?

    This is an issue with 2 sides. Try thinking about it a little.

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