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08.06.15

The Rise of Patents as Just a Marketing Tool

Posted in Marketing, Patents at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“There was even an unofficial competition to see who could get the goofiest patent through the system. My entry wasn’t nearly the goofiest.” –James Gosling, father of Java (context)

Summary: Examples where patenting of simple ideas can be viewed as clever PR ploys rather than actual inventions

THE patent hype is largely manufactured. It’s the outcome of brainwashing, to which patent lawyers (the opportunistic parasites) contribute a great deal. In reality, as we have shown before, terms like “patented” or “patent-pending” merely serve to give the impression of inventiveness and advancement. It’s marketing, geared towards respect from rival companies (counterparts or potential partners) and maybe customers too, especially if they are gullible.

The use of patents for marketing was demonstrated (again) by Steph the other day. “What you are seeing here is a measuring cup with a handle,” she wrote. “How, on any planet anywhere, is that patentable? You can’t throw a dead cat without hitting something similar-looking. I mean, honestly.” Steph previously showed how this is done by so-called ‘beauty’ (cosmetics) giants. They’re not alone when it comes to such charades as in the field of software (and gadgets too) this is done sparingly. Earlier this week IP Kat debunked what it called “the myth of the lone inventor.” Corporate image and senseless PR is what many patents are really about. Acquiring patents by applying for them is not hard (almost everything gets accepted at the end), it’s just expensive.

Let’s look at some recent examples where patents are used for little more than marketing. A week ago The Register wrote that “at the time of writing, 13 EVO:RAIl jobs are open at the company and patents for the software powering the appliances recently emerged.”

What will these patents be used for? Looking at the details and context of the article, they won’t be able to defend themselves from giants in their field, so these patents cannot be used defensively (nor offensively). VMware/EMC would eat them alive because of disproportionate portfolio size.

Here is another example. It’s a press release describing MacroPoint as “creators of patented freight tracking software designed to give 3rd party visibility into load status” (as if being “patented” makes it better).

We recently wrote about Fitbit and patents [1 2 3]. One potential competitor from Korea is hoarding patents rather than focus on development. To quote a puff piece about this company:

He adds 54 patents in haptic technology to Dot’s existing five, providing a strong head start over potential competitors for the company, founded only one year ago.

What exactly can this small company do with those patents? These products are designed to help spy on people even in their sleep and the patents above serve this agenda in no way whatsoever. It’s another example of (mis)use of patents for marketing, perhaps in an effort to find venture capital.

Last but not least, consider imperialism and the turf wars long fought between superpowers. Nuclear submarines (powered by a nuclear process in the US before nuclear missiles were loaded on board by the Soviets), space missions, etc. have long been used for political propaganda, giving the impression of military might and superiority. Idealogical wars (communism, capitalism and so on) have long been fought on grounds like patents, inventions, “firsts” (e.g. reaching space, landing on the moon), not just games of Chess. It’s now rather similar in the industry because many companies try to prove their supposed ‘superiority’ by hoarding patents and bragging about the number of patents they hold under their name/belt.

Here is a Pentagon-leaning site coming up with the headline “Navy’s reign in patent rankings continues”. Well, the Army wants monopoly and power; using patents in this case is just marketing. It’s not as though the Navy is going to take some foreign nation to court (which sovereignty anyway?) over patent infringement. To quote the military propaganda: “The value of military technology research can be looked at in a variety of ways, with protecting lives on the battlefield likely the most commonly cited goal. Another, easily quantified metric, though, might be the number of patents generated by the military’s research labs.”

No, that is just marketing. Calling it “research labs” is in itself propaganda, relying on two nonsensical words that are associating war and militarism with science. The army does not like science, it likes power and domination. It is Free software-hostile (except for the practical purposes), back doors-friendly, and it now leans towards yet more proprietary software, based on this news which claims: “Being able to select a commercial-off-the-shelf software package and customize it as little as possible for a project this massive is the reason that DoD has given all along for not opting to use the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ proprietary and open source VistA EHR.”

“Accenture is f*ed up,” explained iophk to us (he had served in the Army). “This will be another mess with enormous overruns like with the stock exchange. $9 billion, that’s what, 45,000 man-years at $200k salaries?”

Well, considering the love of patents (for marketing purposes), why not love for proprietary (secret) software too? Protectionism is what it’s all about.

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