Patently Obvious – has common sense finally overcome business sense?

by Guest on January 6, 2010

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R&D to create new and exciting product – $6 million

Value of time and money spent on marketing new and exciting product – $25 million

Holding approved patents on new and exciting product – priceless worthless

Legal fees to protect company from non-practicing organizations, suing for patent infringement from ancient patents                 – priceless

It doesn’t seem that long ago that it was ok to think that any good idea should be protected by a patent.  And this is still a good plan – providing the good idea is able to be protected from the scum people that troll the patent offices, looking for older patents that they can buy and then use against successful companies.  These ‘”non-practicing entities” (NPE) find a patent that a successful company owns, and then they will try and hold the company hostage in court, waiting until the company gives up and pays out, or the judge finds in favour of one side or the other.

This story in techdirt caught my eye when they shared their interpretation of Cisco’s decision to pull out of the “arms race” of collecting patents.  Previously, Cisco filed over 1000 patent applications per year, but with belt-tightening and self-analysis, they are filing less than 700, and these are “only breakthroughs in market adjacencies or the most critical inventions,” according to businessweek.com.

With companies launching products faster than ever, and the market digesting, and then discarding, these products just as fast, wasting time and money on patents just for the sake of having a patent doesn’t make good fiscal sense.  If you have come up with a new widget that is the best widget in the world, employing a revolutionary change in widget design – file for your patent.  But if your widget is really just a collection of other widgets, but you’ve just made a small change to one screw to hold it together – do you really need to file for a patent that is likely not worth the paper it’s printed on?

Bottom line, in today’s market, it’s better to spend more time innovating and less time litigating.  Now – go make something useful!

Or read about some less than useful patent ideas here.

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Written by: Jason Finnerty. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Identi.ca, or Friendfeed

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