Patent Law Choking Innovation

– Nick Bilton, An Explosion of Mobile Patent Lawsuits

Within the last year, for example, Apple was sued by the Taiwanese company Elan Microelectronics over alleged infringement of touch-screen patents. Nokia went on a lawsuit spree, suing Apple, Samsung, LG and a variety of other mobile handset companies. Kodak sued several  companies over patents related to the companies’ digital-imaging technology. And on Wednesday, Apple sued HTC, the Taiwanese handset maker.

Although patent litigation is not new in the technology world, these suits, specifically around mobile, point to the drastically changing mobile landscape. Lawyers I spoke with explained that mobile technology was still in its infancy and these large computing companies were trying to stake their claim to the future of computing.

Worst of all are the ‘patent trolls’, companies that buy patent with no intention of using them, but only to make money though suits.

Sounds like selling complex financial instruments to governments and betting against their currencies. Parasites.

Our society has enacted laws for the benefit of the whole, including inventors, so that investments can be made and recouped. But when these laws are used to choke off innovation we are allowing oursleves to be harmed.

We need to rework patent law so that those that wish to be protected by our common agreement to not copy patented ideas and processes cede some degree of ownership – perhaps slowly increasing – into a common pool of ownership. If Apple or HTC wish the American judicial system to recognize a patent on touch screen technology, we would exchange that for 5% ownership of the patent per year. After 20 years, the US patent would be ‘owned’ by the US Patent Commons, which would release the patent to the world. And at the point that a majority ownership of the patent rights were under the control of the patent commons, we could license them to others even if Apple objected. This would mean the parochial interests of a single company – perhaps even a single individual – could block innovation that might benefit the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s