I was about to write my thoughts on this matter, when I came across a recent article on the ReadWriteWeb by Alex Iskold Patent Crisis and the age of open source ideas which I believe says it all concerning the open question of patents yes or no, concluding that yes in some cases to at least have some protection… but I also believe that more and more its meaningless depending on the project considering at the speed the world of developments and Internet is going.
The article is very relevant to some of the questions raised in our ideas4all.com so I invite you to read the complete article as well as some of the comments posted which reflect what many people are thinking today.
To summarize some of the key concepts, I would just extract
- Today’s technology intellectual property system is a failure – unable to keep up with the speed of innovation, it’s fallen apart.
- The patent system is expensive for start ups in money and time, $25.000 minimum per patent filing and more than 4-6 years to obtain the licence, which makes it obsolete with current time to market.
- Filing a patent is no defense. People don’t take seriously patent pending threats anymore.
- We live in an open source ideas world. We borrow and build freely on other ideas.
- Other ideas are inspirational sources. And if someone implements just a piece of the whole process or system differently, the narrow and detailed legal description makes it such that the court is unlikely to rule in your favor
- Parallel Creativity is very common.
- Also shameless copying is very common. Big companies are copying start-ups and many start-ups are copying each other. Today’s innovation clones are everywhere
- “But in today’s tech world, the word fair has been replaced with the phrase fair game”
- The consumer is the winner, in better and faster products independent of possible big Conglomerates interests for delaying technology to reach them. “The benefit is to the users”
Finally he quoted Fred Wilson a VC from Union Square Venture Capital when he quoted his VC Cliché of the week in February 2005 Patents are like Nuclear Bombs
“VC Cliché of the Week
We were in a meeting yesterday and were talking about patents.
We were debating the usefulness of patents as a business matter and I dropped my favorite line about patents on the group.
Patents are like nuclear bombs, you just got to have some.
I have never seen patents make a business, but I have seen lack of patents hurt a business on many occasions.
So this line, given to me by a patent lawyer about ten years ago now, strikes a chord in me.
IP battles are like the cold war. Those who have patents can keep others honest because nobody wants to start a war that might end in everyone’s destruction. But those who have no patents are sitting ducks and don’t have the weapons to keep others honest.
So my advice to entrepreneurs is always file a bunch of patents. But don’t expect that they’ll ever do more than keep others at bay.”
I hope these reference’s are useful to all of you.