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
    Xiera, 21 Sep 2007 @ 2:12pm

    Progress over innovation, open licensing over pate

    Firstly, everyone seems to be forgetting one very important aspect of this discussion: progress. Innovation is not the same as progress. Innovation describes the creation of a new product or idea from an assortment of existing products or ideas. If we limit our discussion to this, patents work fine. But progress is also very important, and generally more so. For those who have not yet made the distinction, progress is the adaptation of existing products into another form (for better or worse).

    It may be cliche, but certainly we can agree that "two heads are better than one". Patents limit new products and ideas to one head. While this definitely helps the company with the patent, it does not help the consumers. With multiple companies working to improve the new product or idea, progress can be made much more quickly and much more broadly.

    Logically, then, it would follow that multiple companies working to progress the evolution and development of the base product could end up with two entirely different final products, two entirely different applications, and two entirely different markets. Yet this diversity is lost (or at least slowed) with patents.

    Open licensing, on the other hand, encourages people to not only work on the same product concurrently, but also to collaborate on the product (or products, if different groups are working on different paths).

    So, then, where does protecting the inventor come in? To be honest, I don't know, but it seems pretty obvious to me that patents are not the answer. (Perhaps they were at one point, but that does not seem to be the case any more.)

    Perhaps patent laws have been patented so long that they're now immune to progress...

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