The Wars On Intellectual Property Rights – To What End?
In one of the largest acquisitions – ever – in world history, Google buys Motorla Mobility for USD 12,5 billion. Now that’s a lot of chilli sauce. I will not get into the details as there are probably already a record number of articles out since the press release until today, reporting, analyzing, cross-analyzing, and so on. You can grab a news feed here.
The accumulation of patent portfolios into a smaller number of bigger players, which themselves are locked in a deadly standoff, has the real potential to slow down the pace of innovation. Which is precisely the opposite reason the patent system was created.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, the current pace of technological advances and the multitude of ways one can enjoy music (read: entertainment) is already calling for some sort of reform of copyright and/or copyright enforcement. Instead of limiting the consumer experience to what copyright law dictates is applicable for some sort of revenue calculation to benefit the copyright holder, shouldn’t it be more flexible? Perhaps we all should sign up for Creative Commons, instead of locking our copyrighted work to companies who simply need to limit entertainment channels for better control of profits?
The escalation of patent wars in the past few weeks, currently climaxing with the H-Bomb Google decided to drop on their partners (and harried news editors), shows something else is wrong with the current state of IPR. As Mr. Needleman pointed out and going on a tangent on that, IPR was basically set up so credit is where credit is due, whoever creates or invents can benefit from their work, encouraging more innovation, and creators/inventors/innovators everywhere are encouraged to work more with the comfort of knowing that their work will be worthwhile.
Now IPR has become an offensive weapon: RIAA lawsuits; Apple blocking Samsung tablets; the sordid case of Intellectual Ventures and the like. The merit-based system that IPR is based on, basically bit itself in the ass because patents (and copyright) can be bought and sold, enabling those with the most money to get whatever IPR they want. Currently IPR is at a premium, which is a boon to the IPR industry, but at what cost to the average consumer? Do these IPR weapon silos actually push innovation or inhibit it? These large companies are buying up giant stores of patents to protect themselves from litigation – but what about what comes next?
Hey, I don’t even know how many patents, belonging to how many parties, are inside the whole package of hardware and software of my smartphone. I assume that all parties are paid with a royalty scheme. Which is good, and the way it should be.
But will these patent wars stop us from getting the best technology we want or need?