Nathan Myhrvold's Delusions: Patent Wars 'Vindicate' The Importance Of Patents
from the economically-clueless dept
Not only do you have to be willing to fail, you have to be willing for people to ridicule you and call you names. And most great endeavors have exactly that.... When you change the status quo, people get upset, and there are very powerful vested interests that feel threatened by the idea of people who will just go an invent a lot of new stuff, and ask you to pay for it. Here’s the interesting thing: When we started Intellectual Ventures, it was even more true that there was all of this, and big technology companies were publicly saying, patents are terrible... If you look today, some of the most active litigants are big tech companies. Apple is out there very actively trying to protect the iPhone.... Intellectual property is actually more important to big companies every day, and I think that actually is vindication.Let's unpack that a bit. Intellectual Ventures isn't "changing the status quo." It's doing the opposite, it's taking the "status quo" -- a completely broken law that gets lawyers and investors rich but massively hinders actual innovation -- and scaling it up to massively harmful proportions. Intellectual Ventures has done nothing to help drive innovation forward. It has only taken money out of the innovation economy. No one is threatened by inventors inventing new stuff. They're threatened by companies wielding a virtual nuclear weapon allowing them to demand money for doing the obvious. Patents that are broadly worded, having little to do with actual inventions, are wielded against the companies that actually innovate.
The fact that big companies are involved in patent battles doesn't vindicate Myhrvold. They've always been involved in patent battles. The only reason patents are important in the tech industry is because everyone else has them and you need them to avoid a bogus lawsuit from a competitor. Or, as Joel Grus insightfully paraphrased in the comments to the Geekwire article linked above:
"All those big companies that said patents were terrible? Now they’re trying to destroy each other with patents. Which somehow demonstrates that patents aren’t terrible!"Using patents in lawsuits and patents being "useful" are two totally different things. Myhrvold must understand this. Either he doesn't care because scamming the system is making him filthy rich, or he's completely out of touch with how patents impact the tech industry.