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.

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  1. identicon
    Ed French, 21 Sep 2007 @ 7:10am

    Patents and small companies

    As someone who works on making very small investments in early stage companies I'd urge people not to generalise here! Outside software, and outside the US the patent system works well, maybe not perfectly, and genuinely helps innovative small companies. Sure there's often "prior art" issues, but that doesn't stop the good companies making money and the patent protection is really helpful in negotiating deals with the large partner companies and follow-on investors.
    Within software and within the US that's a different matter! It'd be really short sighted to look at the undoubted problems with rubbishy US software and business method patents and project from that that "patents are evil"! I'd be really happy to introduce you to a dozen or so CEO's of really small and innovative tech companies who, universally, would like to see the US patent system reformed, but not removed!

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