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. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2012 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Patent Abolition FTW

    One of the purposes of patents was to make the underlying ideas public, rather than trade secrets. The patent system was established in a time when reverse engineering was either unknown or very limited.

    In todays world reverse engineering is common and readily available. The innovators could keep their new ideas as trade secrets until they release their product. Then the whole world would reverse engineer it and come up with their version of that product. The original innovators however have lead time, they already have the product (no need for reverse engineering it) and can spend their time and resources listening to the market and improving the product, to stay ahead of the competition. That first to market and lead time for improvement is a much bigger economic incentive than the protectionist 'build it, protect it, sit on it and stop innovating or listening to the market' that the patent system provides today.

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