Friday, October 05, 2007

Vindu's view: the Cheshire cat comments?

Earlier on Oct. 5, IPBiz tried to review the (mostly negative) comments to the Vindu's View piece titled: Let's hope senators pass patent reform. They were gone, but they are back now. With the possibility that this Vindu's View may end up like Vai [Sikahema's] View: Rutgers is Wrong, IPBiz posts a few of the negative comments:


I think this view is a little too easy. Assuming a 'hypothetical' patent on the touch screen of iphone, is it's value realy just the cost of the touch screen or does it play a bigger role in the value of the phone itself? If the problem is questionable patents are being issued, then why not hire a few more examiners instead of decreasing the value of patents themselves. It is kind of similar to a restaurant shooting its patrons because they don't have enough cooks.

But the real question here is not whether a couple of people ding a large company like M$, it is an issue of property. If the laws of a country make it easy for squatters to take over my house/garden, then the value of the house in the market goes down. Similarly, if laws weaken the protection of private property (in this case intellectual property), then its corresponding value (ROI) goes down. What may be at stake here is not just a couple of court cases but a whole lot more. Is it possible that if one devalues innovation sufficiently that trillions of dollars of investment may migrate to the lowest cost producer? I do not really know what to think but I do feel that in a decision of such importance, the people taking the decision should be able cite hundreds of carefully conducted analyses showing that this is the best way rather than relying on people's emotions to guide their judgment.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

Devajyoti Sarkar,


Vindu-Sorry that you had to cancel our call to meet your press deadline. 10 days ago Dean Kamen (inventor of Segway, portable insulin & dialysis devices) and I (QuickTime, WebTV) I presented to the Senate Majority Leader and Senate Judicial and Technology Staff on this issue. (The slide deck is on the Rearden home page.) The debate is not between high tech and small inventors/biotech. It's between companies that rely upon patents and those that don't, of all sizes. E.g. some large tech tech companies, like Texas Instruments (for DLP) & Qualcomm (for CDMA) rely on patents and are against the Act. Comments on your editorial: 1) You cite the Microsoft/Alcatel $1.5B award. It was reversed. Doesn't that mean the system works, not that it's broken? 2) While the Supreme Court "eBay" certainly "saved" the Buy-it-Now feature, the much bigger impact it had was to eliminate presumed injunction for patent infringement. As you cited in the NTP/RIM case, the threat of injunction has been patent trolls' biggest weapon. If the NTP/RIM case were to happen today, they could not shut down Blackberries, the patents would be invalidated and they would get zero. 3) According the Patent Act's supporters (see my Senate slide deck) 66% of the patent awards >$100 million from 2000-2005 were in non-high tech industries, all who are AGAINST the Act. Only 17% of awards involved companies FOR the Act (just Intel and HP). 4) Startup companies that rely on patents will be devastated by this Act, which is why tech startups and the National Venture Capital Assn. are aggressively opposing it, particularly in regard to NOT weakening damages for infringement. Ironically, almost all of the companies supporting the Act were once startups, but today, either because of the nature of their business or their market power don't rely on patents. E.g. Intel, when it was smaller, aggressively asserted its patents and became the powerhouse it is today. Now, given its market power, it does not rely on patents and the shoe is on the other foot. If Silicon Valley expects to mint new "Intels" in the future, we need a strong patent system, either by voting down this Act, or by dramatically modifying it to maintain protection for companies that rely on patents. -Steve Perlman, President & CEO Rearden Companies, San Francisco

Posted by: Steve Perlman, Palo Alto, CA


All this talk of a need for patent “deform” is but a red herring fabricated by a handful of large tech firms as a diversion away from the real issue...that they have no valid defense against charges they are using other parties' technologies without permission. It’s not about reforming the system. It’s about legalizing theft!

The objective of these large firms is not to fix the patent system, but to destroy it or pervert it so only they may obtain and defend patents; to make it a sport of kings. Patents are a threat against their market dominance. They would rather use their size alone to secure their market position. Patents of others, especially small entities, jeopardize that. For example, the proposed change to eliminate the use of injunctions would only further encourage blatant infringement. Any large company would merely force you to make them take a license. They would have little to lose. Everything would be litigated to death -if a small entity can come up with the cash to pursue. That's what these large multinationals are betting against. This legislation in regressive, not progressive.

Sadly, some legislators and other parties have been duped by these slick firms and their well greased lawyers, lobbyists (some disguised as trade or public interest groups), and stealth PR firms. Don't be surprised to find the Washington lobbyist scandal spreading into the patent deform proceedings.

When corporate America agrees to not use our inventions without consent, American inventors and small entities will agree to stop suing them.

Stephen Wren


At the moment, comments on the Vindu Goel article are posted. IPBiz notes that comments made to the Boston Herald and the Southern Illinoisan were NOT posted. When the going gets tough, some newspapers (and in Sikahema's case, tv stations) simply bail.


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