Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patent Misconceptions Promoted in Media Dominated by the Patent Microcosm, Not Actual Innovators

Wong way



Summary: Examples from the media where popular myths have been promoted over the past few days, taking advantage of passivity and silence among those who actually create and invent

THE POPULAR media does not always inform readers/watchers. There's agenda to pass along and it dominates broadcast/papers. As we have been saying for years, it's rare to see actual technologists writing about patents; instead, it's typically law firms that do so.



Some days ago we saw this press release [1, 2] about new videos. To quote the opening paragraph:

Prof. John Rizvi, Esq, renowned AV-rated and one of the first board certified patent lawyers in the United States, and creator of the inventor platform, The Patent Professor€®, has released a groundbreaking educational animation video library designed to simplify arcane and complex aspects of patent law for entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate and win patent approval with the United States Patent Office (USPTO) for their ideas.


So what we have here is once again patent lawyers. They try to get the message across.

Over at Watchtroll, Shai Jalfin published an article on Friday and it was about cross-licensing -- a practice by which 2 or more very large companies cooperate to exclude smaller rivals, in essence bringing together patent portfolios to erect a bigger fence and ensure no litigation among them. Jalfin himself admits that "the duopoly profit attained by cross-licensing can be greater than the profit from a monopoly scenario." So yes, it's about exclusion and domination. To quote:

According to a study conducted by the Boston University School of Law, in 2011 patent litigation by so-called patent trolls cost US software and hardware companies a staggering $29 billion. Although that staggering figure has been discredited, few seriously doubt the reality that patent enforcement through litigation campaigns create risk for technology users and imposes a financial burden on industry. Even more modest assessments suggest a figure that is still over $7 billion.

One of the most common motivations, therefore, for cross-licensing agreements is to avoid spending valuable resources on suing and counter-suing for alleged patent infringement. Cross-licensing allows companies to reach an out-of-court settlement in which they barter their respective IP value and rights. The infringer/competitor now becomes an ally.

But cross-licensing is not just a barter to fend off intellectual property lawyers or reduce licensing fees – it can and should be the basis of forward-looking alliances that encourage knowledge flow and spur post-licensing innovations. Studies have shown that the duopoly profit attained by cross-licensing can be greater than the profit from a monopoly scenario.


"A patent gives a right of ownership on the invention," said another new blog post from the patent microcosm, but a patent is a monopoly, it is not an ownership. The blog post is titled "All you need to know about patents and how to protect your idea," but it's full of misconceptions too. From the introduction:

A patent gives a right of ownership on the invention. As an inventor, a patent gives you the exclusive right to control uses of your invention. You can either stop others from making, using or selling your invention without your permission, or you can choose to commercialise your right by letting them use your invention for a fee.


We saw some other examples in recent days, including "Meet the Patents: Where Signiant Leads, Others Follow" and "Patent Power 2017" from IEEE, which merely helps the large monopolies with patent glorification such as this. To quote:

Two household names—Amazon and eBay—are new additions to this year’s Patent Power Scorecards. It’s not that they hadn’t had valuable patent portfolios previously, but they had been omitted because their primary industry was retailing, which fell outside the tech-sector scope of the scorecards. However, as Amazon has branched out into Web services, its patent portfolio has become increasingly dominated by patents related to technologies such as networking infrastructure, Web transactions, and server hardware. The same is true for eBay, making both companies a natural fit for the Communication/Internet Services scorecard. Indeed, Amazon enters the scorecard straight into first place, knocking Google off the top spot. This makes Amazon the first company ever to rank ahead of Google in the Communication/Internet Services scorecard.


IEEE (Spectrum in this case) has long been problematic when it comes to patents. We wrote a great deal about that. It also promoted software patents.

The lack of objective coverage regarding patents (not attempting to sell services etc.) is a serious problem as it serves to reinforce profound misunderstandings.

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