Friday, November 1, 2013

Patent Trolling WMDs

The patent reformation working it's way through Washington is too late to prevent a multi-billion-dollar collection of suits from being filed.

Make no mistake, these companies bid on the Nortel patent package with the intention of clobbering Google with it.

In the end, it is the consumer who loses. Each of these companies will spend hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars, products will be more expensive, innovation will be stifled (the opposite of what patents are supposed to do), etc. etc.

New Zealand has recently abolished patents on computer software. The theory is that, unlike in medicine or in machinery where you need a massive investment to develop and research your product once you come up with an idea, the investment between going from an idea to a working product is almost zero in software. Not only that, but consumers actually benefit when there are common interfaces across different software platforms. Example: the shopping cart. Can you imagine a website where you would have to buy something without it? You would have to purchase each product individually. A trillion dollar Internet-based economy down the drain because someone patented an obvious idea.

Luckily, in the shopping cart patent case, one company, NewEgg, decided to fight and won. They found prior art, and were able to get the patents invalidated.

I'm confident Google will be able to do the same thing here. The notion of displaying an advertisement next to information on your website so you can make a profit while sharing information for free has to predate the 1997 patent, even if the patent predates the 1998 company.