Patents, Killing Innovation for 100 years


*Updated version of a post originally published in August 2009 at You Want an Opinion?

Apparently a company called Techradium is suing Twitter (read about it at the Inquistr and ARN) I read it with a mixture of concern and contempt.

Concern because, even though Twitter often makes me feel shortchanged, I use it on a daily basis. It has become the ONLY way I communicate with some people and it has allowed me to meet a huge number of great people along the way.

Contempt because, as I wrote as a comment on the ARN site;

Someone has done something better in an open way, which beats what someone else has done. That’s called capitalism…if you haven’t monetised your system already and made it essential, shut up shop and move on

So with respect to Techradium, and without deepdiving into the specific Patent, I almost wish they would ‘go away’. This is because I believe any company which relies on Patents to make money in their business really shouldn’t exist anyway. Patents appear to me to have become something which have changed from being a protector of innovation to a killer of innovation.

From reading the technology ‘press’, it has become my understanding the majority of the Patents which are being granted these days, especially in the USA, appear to be for something so minor as to prevent any form of innovation from possible competitors – real, imagined or even unknown.

Specifically, with so many patents being granted or having been granted in the past, what is any company supposed to do with their start-up or R&D cash? There must be some concern among VC people that much of their investment will be spent on legal fees to search out any or all tenuous or actual patent conflicts there may be. I prefer an environment where if you create something, patent it and bring it to market, you should only be protected for the patent in the case where someone deliberately breaks your patent in a way that directly impacts your business.

In the case we are referring to today, and of course I’m not a patent lawyer, neither of the above seem to be the case. Indeed the Techradium rent a sue writes;

“It appears that Twitter’s core functionality is squarely within the technology described by TechRadium’s patents.”

Nothing about deliberately seeking out and reusing Techradium technology there or even Twitter directly going after Techradium’s business.

It seems to me Techradium were once the popular kid in one corner of the school yard. Now some other kid has appeared in the other corner and has attracted all his fans cos he’s a bit ‘same but different’. And they are pissed because they’ve lost all their cred and want to get the other kids back. But they’ve moved on and its too late.

Bottom line, Techradium, enhance your service, make it more desirable to your existing and potential customers. Either that, and just like in every business – Local Coffee shop to Nortel, move on and find something your customers want to pay for.

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2 thoughts on “Patents, Killing Innovation for 100 years

  1. Here is the deal with the TechRadium patent trolls.

    (no, I have not been affected by them! I just hate maggots!)

    They monitored existing technological methods and processes which were not patented and started writing patent applications while delivering an industry inferior product which was stricken by loss after loss in bidding opportunities.

    Low and behold, some moron examiner grants them a patent on methods and processes which have been in existence for 20 years prior (including in educational materials dating back to the 70’s) and what does TechRadium do?

    They launch suits against every company they had lost bids to.
    Is this the original design intent of a patent process?

    Here we have a company with a very very low yearly sales record (might that infer an inferior product??) and a busy news page which has recitation after recitation of patent information in news releases.

    Look at this link: http://www.techradium.com/about/pressReleases.cfm

    All the markings of a well thought out subterfuge by a pond scum company.

    i.e. If we cannot beat them, let’s leverage a bogus patent to extort licensing agreements.

    One moronic company, BlackBoard Connect, went ahead and settled with these idiots for a cross licensing agreement!

    Wanna know why?

    Simple.

    PondScum Inc. is not trying to extort each company for a LOT of money…..just a few points.

    As in a few points times thousands of companies. Classic Troll behavior.
    Turns out, BlackBoard joined up with TechRadium, ahem, excuse me: PondScum.
    TechRadium Reaches Agreement with Blackboard Inc. to. Cross‐License Notification Patents

    http://www.iptoday.com/pdf/2009/10/TechnoBytes_Oct09.pdf

    You gotta just KNOW that TechRadium gave up the farm to get this agreement and then used it as a bully pulpit to attack numerous companies.

    Give them credit….they chose a good victim in BlackBoard. PondScum knew if they arrived at an agreement with BB, even if it was 1/10000th of a penny on a dollar, it would bolster their troll subterfuge.

    Oh, the reason BB settled? Ha! Easy. They saw that the patent was bogus, but with a near free licensing agreement….they themselves could participate in the patent advancement (and defen$e) and guess what?

    PondScum agreed!

    Now you have BlackBoard and PondScum commiserating and joining on co-patent technology!

    So the other player the industry needs to REALLY take a look at is BlackBoard Connect!

    They are sitting back, executing NDA’s with companies and reporting back to PondScum which companies are viable candidates for the next lawsuit.

    Ya just can make this stuff up.

    Okay. I feel better now….

    • I feel quite restrained. Thanks for the extra info. I republished this article from over at my other blog as I felt it tied in with the current Apple v Nokia V Apple V HTC patent slugfest. The key problem here, in my opinion is the USPTO. It seems to give out new patents for new ways of executing a shutdown command. Insane really…or perhaps just laziness

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