Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wozniak is NOT against the idea of patent trolls

In an interview with Scarlet Fu on Bloomberg, Steve Wozniak (now of Fusion IO) makes clear that he is NOT against the idea of patent trolls. Futher, he noted that patents are at the heart of our innovation system. Of Paul Allen, Wozniak stated that Allen had a big impact on what Wozniak decided to invent.

In terms of "when" a lawsuit is filed, Wozniak noted that patents can become valuable at a later date, and that such patents should be respected.

In the short videoclip, Wozniak gives short, direct answers to questions, and doesn't opine on things outside his knowledge base. Although one suspects he would not be interested, Wozniak probably could do wonders as Director of the USPTO.

**Separately, see Larry Downes (UChicago Law, '93) on Paul Allen: When a Patent Troll is an Enigma :

Maybe Allen is not the world’s most famous patent troll. Maybe he’s out to become the world’s most famous patent reformer. Maybe he doesn’t want so much to win as to publicize how dangerous his patents are.

Perhaps in asserting these patents, with their potential to unsettle so much of what is taken as settled business practices in the digital economy, he hopes to force leading tech companies and Congress to acknowledge that the system is broken and fix it. If he wins, or even if he just wears down the other side, perhaps he’ll demand not financial tribute but actual reform of a system that gives patent holders like him the power to disrupt digital life.

UPDATE***In a display of tiresome predictability, Mike Masnick at TechDirt begins his post, Say It Ain't So, Woz: Steve Wozniak Says Patent Trolls Are Okay :

Via Joe Mullin, we learn the rather unfortunate news that, when asked about Paul Allen's decision to sue lots of big tech companies over questionable patents, Wozniak comes out in favor of "patent trolls" and patent holders suing companies who actually innovate.


So, wait, patents are the heart of the system, but there's a ton of ambiguity. Can someone ship Woz a copy of Bessen and Meurer's Patent Failure quickly, so he can learn about the stacks upon stacks of research that have shown that "ambiguity in the system" now costs society a hell of a lot more than any innovation created by it?

Bessen and Meurer's drivel might be suitable as fuel at Burning Man.


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