Being Pissed Off Doesn't Mean You Have A Legal Claim

from the repeat-this-over-and-over-again dept

One of the common themes we see over and over again is people filing lawsuits just because they're upset about something (to a lesser extent, this also applies to DMCA takedowns). We just wrote about Judge Posner's shredding of Apple's patent litigation strategy, noting that just because you're "really annoyed," it doesn't mean you get to sue. Famed venture capitalist Fred Wilson has riffed on this idea, talking about how he loves investing in innovators rather than copycats, and he feels a visceral emotional anger when he sees an innovator copied, but that's no reason for a lawsuit:
I have often felt that "palpable sense of injustice" when our firm is an investor in the innovator and a copycat competitor shows up. But there is a difference between being pissed and having a legal claim.
Indeed, as we've written before, we recognize the emotional response that comes about when this happens. It's natural to get angry when someone copies you. But is it a reason to go legal? That's much more difficult to justify. In fact, as Wilson notes, often someone copying you can be a good thing:
Knockoffs create competition for the innovator and keep them honest. And they provide an opportunity for those that cannot, for some reason, work with the innovator.
And, as he notes, if the original company is a true innovator, they'll keep innovating and stay ahead of the competition anyway:
If the innovator keeps innovating, as Apple and [YCombinator] have, they will do fine and will enjoy the spoils that come from creating the category and leading it.
And that's really the key in all of this. Competition is not a static snapshot. Time doesn't stand still. Innovation is an ongoing process. Copycats are often a bit behind the leader, but as long as the leader truly understands its market, it's in a much better position to continue innovating and leading. The copycats act as incentive to increase that innovation, and that seems like a pretty good thing, if we believe that greater innovation is a good thing. People have a natural reaction where they think that "copying" is bad -- but if you look at the overall impact, and the fact that it results in greater innovation from the leader as well, it turns out the opposite is true.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    SujaOfJauhnral (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Sometimes the "rip-offs" are better than the one that spawned them.

    I'd hate to be stuck with only one option.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:31pm

    But Apple, and other tech companies, are innovating new ways to sue one another. Isn't this a good thing? =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:31pm

    what a shame that the courts dont realise the same thing about the entertainment industries and their attitude towards file sharing. if they could be educated as to the benefits and took notice of them instead of expecting the world to stop sharing just because they get the ache over it, what a more pleasant place we would all be living in. it would make a nice change for those industries to listen to others instead of keep forcing their outdated attitude all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    I'd hate to be stuck with only one option.

    Only one option = NO option. I think you meant "with no options".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    SujaOfJauhnral (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Is that how it's said? Then no options it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    sehlat (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    But ... but ... innovation is evil!

    It means David Lowery doesn't get his pony!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    xebikr (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

    Apple innovation...

    If the innovator keeps innovating, as Apple and [YCombinator] have, they will do fine

    Which explains the lawsuits. I haven't seen a whole lot of innovation from Apple the last couple years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    AC was wrong in correcting you. Only one option = No choice of options, not no option. Abstaining is still an option.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson's_choice

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Apple innovation...

    I guess that would explain Apple patenting a shape. Hmmmmm... I think I'll patent... oblong!

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/apple-patents-the-macbook-airs-wedge-design-bad-ne ws-for-ultrabook-makers/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Jordan (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    palpable sense of injustice

    Am I the only one that read that as a "Palpatine sense of injustice"?

    Now that's injustice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: But ... but ... innovation is evil!

    He could get an eDonkey though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: But ... but ... innovation is evil!

    He doesn't need it. He's already shown himself to be an ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Prashanth (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    I'm angry

    [sarcasm]
    I'm angry at TechDirt for pointing this inconvenient fact out, so I'm going to slap TechDirt with a DMCA takedown!
    [/sarcasm]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    anon, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:59pm

    really

    Until patent law is completely overhauled it will cause problems for any manufacturer and prevent innovation. But there are those in the market that survive from doing nothing but claiming patents have been infringed. Only those that use a patent should be allowed a limited use of that patent to generate funds. Patents should not be transferable and should only be valid for 2-3 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:54pm

    I've been damaged

    I'm pissed off that someone dares to say that being pissed off doesn't give me cause to sue. My lawyer will contact you soon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2012 @ 1:50am

    Re: I'm angry

    I'm angry at you for being angry, Imma sue you for $234,764,633,636,252,636,262

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    wilkinsy (profile), Jun 26th, 2012 @ 3:36am

    as Eddie implied I'm blown away that a person able to profit $7977 in four weeks on the internet. did you look at this site http://thinfi.com/7py

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2012 @ 4:34am

    Re:

    If I wasn't text browsing I'd so flag you.

    Then I'd sue

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jun 26th, 2012 @ 10:07am

    Copycats

    When Edison first started inventing, he was quickly seen as someone who "had it right", and copycats came out of the walls. He was not very wealthy, and depended on funding from his inventions to proceed onward.
    But in Mr. Wilson's opinion, Edison should have spent his scarce funds to invent, had the result taken by a better funded copycat, used more of his scarce funds to invent, had his invention taken ... so when his scarce funds ran out (all output, little or no input), what would he do? AND, would we be better off in a world with no electric lights?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Kwas (profile), Jun 27th, 2012 @ 12:58am

    foteliki samochodowe

    hie hie hie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2012 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Copycats

    Edison was a litigious asshole, anything trying to paint him as a victim is rather darned false.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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