You Succeed By Executing Well, Not By Gathering Patents

from the rembrants-in-the-garbage dept

Patent attorney Joe Root sent us a link to an interesting essay on how companies became way too focused on intellectual property over executing sound business strategy in the late 90's, thanks in large part to the book, Rembrandts In The Attic. Root points out that the poster-children in that book were companies that focused too much on patents alone, and failed to execute in the marketplace, leading to failures. At the same time, the company that was held up in the book as missing out on the patent train was Amazon.com, which the book predicted would lead to Amazon's downfall. Amazingly, the authors of the book even focused in on Amazon's failure to patent its "one-click" ordering system:
"Amazon's commercial fortunes would have been far better served had it patented technologies truly strategic to its business, such as the one-click ordering system that the company pioneered and that is used widely by on-line retailers today. That was a real business method choke point... that Amazon could have controlled to no small advantage. But as it is, without that proprietary advantage and with its brand strength eroding, companies like Virgin Records and PetSmart are unafraid to compete directly against the giant on-line retailer. Don't be surprised if Amazon's stock market fortunes head south when investors realize this fact."
Of course, as most everyone probably already knows, and as Root highlights in the essay, Amazon actually was in the process of patenting the one-click feature. Yet, rather than helping the company, that one patent (to this day, actually!) has become a symbol of just how screwed up the patent system has become. It also created tremendous ill-will towards Amazon until the company was forced to back down from attempts to enforce it.

The key realization that comes from Root's essay (which also dips into military strategy) is that, in the big rush to focus on the value of "IP" and patents in particular, many companies out there forgot that patents are rather meaningless if you can't actually execute on a business strategy providing something that the market actually values at a price they can afford.
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Filed Under: execution, patents
Companies: amazon


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 6 Mar 2008 @ 12:57pm

    Re: angry dude lying as usual

    Heck, no, he is just shilling for his big corporate masters,

    As angry dude well knows, my personal position is not supported by any of Techdirt's customers. In fact, many of them actively and loudly disagree with my position on patents.

    Furthermore, we do not, and never have, done any business having to do with public advocacy. Companies do not, have not, and will not, hire us to push any kind of message in the public. They hire us to give them insight for internal use, and much of that insight and analysis is in telling them that we disagree with their position and strategy.

    So, the claim that any of these posts are for the sake of propping up someone's position is a clear lie. Angry Dude has admitted that he's just making stuff up about me in the past, but given that he has no actual evidence or reasoned argument to respond to my points, he resorts to repeated lying.

    My statements are my own and that's it. They have nothing to do with Techdirt's customers. As far as I know, not a single customer believes in the same policy that I believe in -- though I'm trying to convince them that they would be better off if they did recognize this.

    executing an assignment to create grassroot support for anti-patent agenda when patent "reform" is losing steam in US Senate...


    This part is the funniest, because I am publicly on the record as being very much against the patent reform plan as offered up. Angry Dude knows this, but still makes claims like this.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070418/161925.shtml

    Seriously, angry dude, if you're going to lie and make up stuff about me, at least try to be creative in coming up with lies that aren't so easily disproved.

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