July 24, 2011

Patents: True Innovation or Trolling?

When I first started working in the Silicon Valley, I held patents in the highest of esteem. I was in awe when I would see inventors' walls speckled with plaques, and believed they reflected true innovation. Later, the companies I worked for went through the somewhat arcane system to have their own discoveries recognized. But in 2003, NetApp acquired a set of patents from Auspex and sued BlueArc (where I worked). Though our products were obviously very different and we were not infringing, the battle took lots of our employees' time, the case was used against us with customers, and millions were spent in legal fees, before it was dismissed in 2007.

Now, the words I think of after patent are either "suit" or "troll". I see how Apple, a company I once held in the very highest esteem, is attacking companies like Samsung, HTC and others with patents made well before the devices in question were created. I see others defining basic elements of Web services and cringe at suits to come. The system is broken. +Chris Sacca talks about one firm, Intellectual Ventures, who will probably be at the center of some of these future fights, in a detailed article on NPR.

(See: When Patents Attack)

Interested to your own thoughts around patents, invention, legalities and innovation, or what experiences you've had.

/via My Google+ Profile.

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