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Financial Perspective of Patents Misses the Reality of Patent Monopolies

Posted in Patents at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obsession with shares instead of sharing


Summary: Deviation from the mentality which says ideas should be patented and ‘protected’ (meaning that others are prevented from using similar ideas) based on new examples from the media

THE world of MBAs is vastly different from that of engineers. When all that matters is oneself (financially), then the notion of sharing makes little sense, as long as one can exploit or hoard others’ work (the selfish approach). This is why, despite engineers’ spirit of sharing (wanting to show their achievements), many companies continue to embrace secrecy and isolation.

Bloomberg (Wall Street-friendly press) gives its press platform to a famous patent troll, Jay Walker. This grooming piece is highly disturbing as it helps the likes of Walker (patent trolls) and the USPTO make patents seem almost synonymous with innovation (classic lie). Monopoly and protectionism are being spun as a wonderful thing. That’s what corporate media likes to do. It’s repeated so often that many people actually believe it without questioning.

“Monopoly and protectionism are being spun as a wonderful thing.”We recently countered the marketing nonsense that associated/conflated de-weaponising patents with becoming “open source”. Tesla did not open up designs of cars and make them downloadable or anything, but the corporate press sure helps Tesla’s marketing by stating that “Tesla founder has given away patents on electric car technology” (not given away actually). This is shameless PR for reasons that we highlighted before. “Elon Musk took the decision to invest heavily in patent protection. Without patents, Tesla won’t have any control over the commercial opportunities of its inventions,” says this generally poor coverage from the financial press (equating patents with currency). A Red Hat site did yet another article about this, saying that “Elon Musk and crew at Tesla Motors made some big waves last week. In case you missed this recent news roundup, it was announced that Tesla is effectively relinquishing their patent portfolio—particularly around charging stations.”

Here is a VC (venture capitalist) who opposes software patents (Fred Wilson is one of several) weighing in again. To quote: “If you did a topic analysis on AVC over the past 10+ years that I’ve been blogging, I suspect patent reform would rate highly. I’ve been advocating for eliminating software patents and cutting back patent protection broadly as loudly and frequently as I can. I believe that sharing intellectual property will lead to way more innovation than hoarding and protecting it. I’ve seen a huge amount of pain and agony inflicted on innovative companies by trolls and “inventors” who never did anything other than write their ideas down on paper. Having ideas is not innovation. Making something new and different and putting it into the market is innovation.”

So basically, several VCs too want to see a society that shares ideas. Patents may not be needed at all. Even investors can reject them. Patents are a threat when counterparts and trolls use them. Here is a post titled “What If Drug Patents Were Written Like Software Patents?” To quote: “Not happening, that one, and it’s a good thing. But stuff nearly that vague and idiotic is all over the software patent landscape. Such patents list a superficially impressive amount of detail about how their “invention” is to be implemented, but all too often, that scheme turns out to mean something like “Someone uses a computer to contact a web server” or “Someone turns on their mobile phone”. It would be as if we in the drug industry could enable our compounds by citing a few synthetic organic chemistry textbooks – that’s how you make ‘em, right there!”

In general, much of the whole patent hype is inherently bad, as it encourages isolation. Tesla is at least realising this after it wasted a lot of money patenting a lot of stuff. For that Tesla deserves some credit. It acknowledges its wasteful mistakes now, grasping a culture of sharing instead. The lesson we should learn from Tesla is not patents giveaway; we should learn from Tesla’s error and avoid this error by never patenting stuff in the first place. Tesla merely gave back what it took away.

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