Friday, June 25, 2010

Patents and Laws in a Global Economy

In a global economy is it desirable for laws and patent offices to keep pace with innovation? Setting aside, for the moment, the idea of it even being possible.

My initial though is that A) it’s NOT desirable and B) it’s NOT possible.

Why? Innovation would be hampered by the attempt to create laws that keep up with the torrid and impossible to predict pace.

imageThis post started because of the countersuit filed by Salesforce.com against Microsoft. I tweeted this out. I think in most cases like this the only ones that win are the lawyers.

For the record – I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television. Also, I have nothing against lawyers or making money. I am a capitalist (and no that is not a dirty word --- look it up).

Then Top Peters replied with this and got me thinking and writing.

imageDo the delays and market inefficiencies of the legal system (including the patent offices) allow and enable the creation of a new segment of the economy?

I have no problem with the idea and concept of suing for personal and corporate rights. However, I find it disconcerting that a sub-segment of the economy exists to support this effort with seemingly no connection back to shareholders. There is (almost) always the implied hue and cry that this is for the shareholders, for the public, for the underdog, etc. But I’m not so sure.

image It seems only the lawyers get rich and because of this they have no real desire to shut off the money flow – thus the lawsuits will continue… until no one has any more money to continue the fight. I guess it’s capitalism at it’s finest. So, I shouldn’t get too worked up by it. But I do.

I don’t have an answer or broad based suggestion to get past this. I don’t think the idea of making everything open source is the answer. I also don’t think that tightly controlled intellectual property is the answer. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My Answer to the Initial Question

I don’t think it is desirable or possible for laws and patent offices to keep pace with technology.

What do you think?

  • Do laws designed to protect intellectual property inhibit innovation?
  • Should Patent Offices add staff with expertise in new technologies? If so, which technologies (software, sustainability, genetics, ???)
  • Should we leave the system as it is and let “market forces” and the courts work it out? 

Please share your comments here or drop me a line at any of my contact points below.

clip_image002About The Author:
I have spent the last 20 years working in various aspects of the ECM industry. I am currently with
Kodak as a Director of Business Development. In my past I have spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and at Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Image Source: CNN

1 comment:

autom8 said...

thanks for drawing this to my attention Jeff..it's a muddled situation isn't it..my concern is always the long-term health of innovation against all odds..and ultimately is the value of IP overrated? will open-source partially address the issue?..in an ideal (idealized?), future-based scenario it would pretty much be what we see as sci-fi now, where the pursuits of money has been replaced by that of science, space exploration, technology..

but for a new we continue to weave a tangled web.. let's hope its can be undone or woven into something useful, efficient and sustainable

hah! how's THAT for dodging the bullet haha ;-)

thanks Jeff