and… Speaking of the Innovation Gap…

From Techdirt… this image was captured at the Republican National Convention.

At the Republican Convention, Matt Yglesias catches a funny picture of an AT&T poster touting the company’s enthusiasm for the patent system. It reads: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of more patents. AT&T: Averaging 2 patent applications per day. Proudly connecting political supporters in Minneapolis.”


Photo by Matt Yglesias at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

It’s interesting that AT&T is bragging about its pursuit of “more patents” rather than, say, more R&D spending or more innovation. AT&T isn’t exactly known for its record of high-tech innovation, so it’s a little surprising to see it hold itself out as a poster child for the patent system—particularly when we remember that AT&T and other telco incumbents have used the patent system to extort tens of millions of dollars from companies like Vonage that are actually innovating.


[From Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of More Patents?]

Aside from the “companies like Vonage that are actually innovating” bit Timothy gets it right. Patents are not innovation. They are a construct designed to protect innovation, but sadly have become a business model unto themselves.

Klausner Continues To Sue Everyone Over Visual Voicemail Patent

From Techdirt today:

You may recall stories involving a small patent holding firm called Klausner Technologies, which claims to hold patents on the concept of “visual voicemail.” It seems to have interpreted these patents pretty broadly to the point that it considers anyone who offers any graphical interface to voicemail as infringing. Over the years, that’s meant lawsuits against AOL, Vonage, Apple, eBay, AT&T and others. Apparently, suing one by one was too much trouble, because Klausner has now sued another bunch of companies including Google, Verizon and Embarq. Of course, the company is playing up the fact that all those other companies it sued settled, but we’ve seen that game before. There’s not much new here as this scenario is all too common. We have a company with an overly broad patent on a concept that was a natural obvious progression of the art, suing pretty much every company that actually innovates, thus making actual innovation more expensive.

[From Klausner Continues To Sue Everyone Over Visual Voicemail Patent]

<sigh>

It isn’t that I don’t like patents… it is simply that a patent without the innovation required to make it a useful product or service should have NO CASH VALUE.

A patent of this kind is simply a documented idea. Ideas are great… executed ideas are better… ideas which generate revenue are a business. When your business becomes owning (broad, vague and easily malleable) ideas and suing people for using those ideas in a business you are simply a parasite.

You generate no value – you wait for others to generate value and then leech some off because they “used your idea”. The fun part is, they don’t even have to really use your idea… they just have to come close enough to some overly broad idea you wrote down 5 years ago to allow you to sue them. If it is a big company, and you make your claim reasonably valid and for a reasonable dollar amount… they’ll just pay you off to avoid the court costs.

Congratulations – you’ve added nothing to the world and made everyone else’s job harder.