Cracks in the Patent Wall

Patents have been broken for 30 years since the rise of software and the improper extension of patent law to the digital domain.  The dysfunction has accelerated with the rise of the Internet and mobile access that make the digital realm a fundamental part of modern life.

The large  incumbent tech companies have been so bureaucratized that they’ve integrated IP in their operations, much like companies in other countries think nothing of paying bribes or playing whatever regulatory, legal, or illegal games are part of the cost of doing business.   Patents are amassed by the thousands and deployed like troops in offensive and defensive formations as a strategic weapon against hostile or encroaching enemies. Companies continue to form to buy patents or outsource their management and prosecution.

And so the status quo has continued, while lone wolfs like the EFF howl in protest. Renegade billionaire Marc Cuban says your company’s largest risk is that you WILL get sued and not once but by dozens or a hundred lawsuits.

This permissive business-as-usual attitude is changing. Startups are starting to adopt ‘patent hacks‘ that give individual inventors certain rights.  The goal is to share and use patents purely for defensive purposes so that companies can compete without the overhang of legal action.

If you’re an entrepreneur I urge to incorporate these patent provisions in your IP docs.

Twitter has signed on to this practice. VCs are jumping on board as well.  So perhaps this is a growing trend and not a brief fad. There is hope yet that a  tech industry that finally united to kill SOPA and push the JOBS Act can continue to work together to contain, if not reform, an innovation-stifling part of the legal system.

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