Monday, July 27, 2015

Fortune on Google's patent giveaway to start-ups

Fortune's piece on Google's patent "giveaway", titled Google's new patent plan: how it will and won't help startups does not project big impact for the patent recipients. For example:

It’s a nice gesture on Google’s part, but will two patents make a big difference for the startups? Not really. One reason is the patents Google is giving out are mostly defanged. They come with licensing terms that prevent the new startup owners from invoking them against certain companies and, more broadly, a patent can only be used for defensive purposes – otherwise the startup will have to give it back to Google.

Elsewhere in the Fortune article:

Ultimately, though, receiving a Google patent will not change the destiny of any individual startup. History shows that successful startups – think Uber or Pinterest or AirBnb – get where they are by focusing on innovation and execution, not by mastering patent strategy.

The real significance of the Google Patent Starter Program is instead more subtle, and should be seen against the backdrop of other moves Google is undertaking to change the economic incentives that have made patents such a problem for the tech sector in the first place.

One other such move came in April when Google opened a temporary patent portal in April that let sellers ask if the company wanted to buy their assets. According to Kurt Brasch, a lawyer at Google, the program was a big success. In a phone interview, he wouldn’t provide many details, but did say the company bought numerous patents at purchase prices ranging from $3000 to $250,000.


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