There are plenty of discussions about the problem of patent trolls, but if you think that's the only problem with the patent system, you haven't been paying attention. There have been a ton of major
clashes going on between big companies, spending billions buying up patents, suing each other... and not putting that money into innovation or lower prices. So it's nice to see Cisco CEO John Chambers speak out against the patent system by calling out both the trolls and the big tech companies
for abusing the system and hindering innovation. Yes, he sees the problem with trolls:
"It is a mess; There are patent trolls everywhere," said Chambers, noting that patent problems impose huge costs on every company.
But he didn't limit his comments to just trolls:
But Chambers was also critical of the trend by tech companies of suing one another over alleged patent violations. He didn't name names, but, speaking to the audience, he said for "his peers" in the room, "you shouldn't be suing your peers."
Patent litigation, he added, slows down innovation.
Given that he's criticizing basically everything, when asked what should be done, he's apparently come around to the conclusion that the system is completely broken:
"completely throw out everything, and start from the beginning."
In the same talk, he also passed on an easy chance to attack one of Cisco's biggest competitors, Huawei. You may remember that a Congressional investigation had warned that doing business with Huawei was dangerous
, and hinted at possible industrial espionage by the company (which Huawei denies). In response, some had suggested that the report was really the US just trying to create protectionist policies favoring Cisco. Given that, it would be easy for Chambers to go with that easy story and knock Huawei while it's down. Instead, he suggested the whole story was overblown, telling a questioner "no" to a question about if the US should be suspicious of Chinese companies, and later noting that Cisco partners with a ton of Chinese companies, and "China should and will be an ally to the U.S. in my opinion, and you will see us interface with a number of Chinese companies."