Patent Reform Is Only Bad For Startups Who Rely On Patent Law

from the patents-are-not-a-business-model dept

There are some news reports coming out about "small inventors" and "startups" coming out against patent reform, but when you read between the lines, that's not what's happening at all. What's happening is that a few entrepreneurs who have relied heavily on patents as part of their business model are coming out against patent reform. That's not surprising. After all, this form of government protectionism did help them. However, that does not mean that it's good for society or promoting innovation overall (which is the purpose of the patent system). There is no single view from startups. If a startup's business model is going to rely on patents, then obviously they'll want stronger patent protection. However, plenty of startups these days don't rely on patent protections, and focus on other types of business models instead. For them, patents are a real worry -- because even as they innovate, they always need to be wary of some no-name, no-product company suddenly suing them for actually building a product people want. So, while the press and some lobbyists will spin the press conference as "startups" against patent reform or even (as they're trying to say) "startups" vs "big tech companies," it's really "startups who rely on patents" vs companies who recognize they don't need patents to innovate.

Filed Under: dean kamen, inventors, patent reform, patents, steve perlman


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  1. identicon
    Steve, 21 Sep 2007 @ 9:22am

    You're obviously wrong on this

    When we tech entrepreneurs go out and pitch our startup ideas to investors, inevitably they want to see that we have filed patents to provide some measure of protection against larger software or electronics companies simply copying what we've done. Patent filings are a pre-requisite for tech startups. To the extent huge corporations don't have to worry about infringing startups' patents, life gets much harder for tech startups, and investors should and will shy away from investing in tech startups. If there's a legal way to distinguish "real inventors" from patent trollers, or to treat "real technology startups" from guys just trying to stake out IP territory, that's worth exploring, but I haven't seen any attempt to make those kinds of distinctions yet. If we took the extreme position of simply eliminating the ability for startups to protect their inventions, we'll be making a very big mistake.

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