Facebook Has To Waste Money On 750 IBM Patents Just To Ward Off Other Patent Lawsuits

from the play-the-game,-waste-money dept

It's been a pretty open secret for quite some time that Facebook is actively in the market to buy a bunch of patents, and now it's done its first big deal, scoring 750 patents from IBM to add to the 56 patents it currently has (some of which it purchased, and some of which it applied for). There's been plenty of talk about people who don't really know much about patents about how Facebook "needs" more patents, and the ridiculous Yahoo lawsuit only increased the attention the issue is getting. Plus, there are some investors who still -- for whatever reason -- think that the number of patents in a portfolio are a reasonable proxy for innovation or the ability to control a market. Of course, none of these patents will help Facebook against its most common legal foe: the patent troll. They're really only useful either against other operating companies (to ward off patent nuclear war cross-suits) or if Facebook decides to become obnoxious like Yahoo and start suing others offensively.

What this really shows is just how broken the patent system is. Facebook basically just had to waste a large chunk of money on a bunch of patents that have nothing to do with innovation, which won't help Facebook provide a better product for its users and which will only serve to create more money for lawyers somewhere down the road. That's not a healthy system. That's not an efficient system, and it's not one that's good for innovation or economic growth.

Filed Under: defense, inefficiency, patents, waste
Companies: facebook, ibm, yahoo


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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 23 Mar 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Abolition FTW

    I am saying that, without a patent system, there may be less desire to "push the envelope" into new areas, and rather everyone would be taking the current solution and optimizing the hell out of it.


    I think you misunderstand the fundamental purpose of the patent system. There was no lack of "pushing the envelope" before patents were a Thing, and patents don't affect invention in that way at all. Inventors invent for a lot of reasons -- many having nothing directly to do with money -- and the patent system doesn't affect those reasons much.

    The reason that the patent system exists is to encourage inventors to actually tell others about their inventions in a way that the others can learn from and build on them. The problem the patent system was trying to solve was that inventors tended to keep everything secret and their knowledge could not be used by society at large. Think da Vinci and his secret codes.

    In other words, this statement:

    Basically, why do any research or really develop anything, when you can take someone else's work and go from there?


    expresses a sentiment that is exactly what the patent system is trying to change. The whole point is to allow you to take someone else's work and go from there.

    The current patent system in the US is so broken as to be an abomination, but the rationale for patents makes good sense: information sharing.

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