Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bruce Sunstein on patents: get out the sword

From an interview with Bruce Sunstein at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com:

How important are patents?

Sunstein: Patents are all about leverage in business. If a patent is really well crafted, and if the company's technology is good enough, a patent can give disproportionate leverage to a company and its business. A well-crafted patent can make a big difference.

How are IP conflicts most often resolved?

Sunstein: You give each one a sword and let them battle to the death. Well, most cases are not litigated absolutely; they're settled by doing a license deal that everybody finds okay.

[Ask the Wright Brothers and Integra about how their licensing went.]

On patent insurance:

Do companies need to purchase IP insurance?

Sunstein: There are a couple of different kinds, and none of it is particularly cheap. One kind will allow you to defend against claims of patent infringement. Patent insurance is a funny beast. You can actually get patent insurance working in the other direction. You can buy insurance for that instance when you might be asserting a patent downstream. Typically you can get insurance like this by interacting through the company with a patent lawyer or two and an insurance company that knows about it. But companies that know about this are few and far between. And even when they do know about it, it tends to be relatively expensive stuff.


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