The Patent System Has Abandoned Inventors
The American patent system was hijacked by large tech companies, who have become so unstoppably big that the government is stepping in. Yet it didn’t need to happen this way.
They are not patent trolls. They are inventors. They are innovators. They are founders. They are individuals of scientific brilliance. They are not trolls.
They worked long hours; spent their lives coming up with innovations and inventions. Invested their own money. Invested their own time, sweat, tears. Some of them built successful businesses around their innovations. Others focused one the invention side and poured their creativity and their brilliance into it; they didn’t have the knowhow or the desire to focus on the business aspect. And we abandoned them.
The deal we made, all of us, was tell us what your idea is and how to do it, and in return we’ll allow you to decide who gets to use your idea and who doesn’t for a limited period of time. That was the deal. That was the pact we made from the very early days of our foundation as a country.
But then big tech companies became too big. They started creating, and growing, and using, and stealing, and innovating themselves. They never knew what was an innovation and what was theft, but they never quite seemed to care. They created amazing companies, and they stole incredible ideas, and they were unwilling to spend the time to decide which was which. They left smaller innovators with little choice. They left them with nothing.
Then another group came in. A market corrector always does.
These innovators were in need of someone to support them and the only people they found that had their backs were the patent licensors. Were these licensing groups and litigation firms opportunistic and capitalistic? Of course they were. But that’s the way of capitalism. It’s no different than the VCs, incubators, investment banks, and lenders in the startup community. It’s all capitalism. And the patent licensors seemed to be all that patent inventors had in their corner. The big tech companies certainly weren’t interested in listening.
Instead, the big tech companies coined the term patent troll. They derided those looking for compensation for their years of hard work and recognition for the spirited investment in their inventions. The big tech companies depicted them as money grubby and slimy.
But they’re not. They’re hard working, innovative, brilliant individuals and companies.
Are there bad players? Yes. There are always bad players in any industry. Are there those looking to take advantage? Of course. But there’s far more individuals and small companies just hoping for fair compensation for their years of time and investment. But many tech companies don’t want anyone to see the nuance of the different actors in the patent market. They want the entire market to hate anyone looking for compensation on their patents. And they convinced the public that they’re right.
They convinced the courts that patent licensing is dirty business. They convinced Congress that patents are hurting innovation. They convinced entire industries that they’re better off without intellectual property. And while everyone jeered at the patent innovators and cheered on the ever-expanding tech startup community, the big tech companies that fed this narrative to the public became behemoths.
And so here we are. The DOJ is suing Google. The FTC is suing Facebook. Most every government acronym is considering how and when they should be approaching Amazon as well. We’ve finally realized the big tech beast has gotten out of control.
If only there were a system to help protect against this. If only there were a system that allowed for inventors and innovators and the creative scientific minds of our society to focus on creation and inventive growth, rather than bottom line profits and quarterly revenue cycles. If only over the last decade we hadn’t allowed the big tech companies to neuter our patent system right before our eyes, maybe then we wouldn’t all be sitting here wondering how these companies got so big that they can crush any truly inventive and innovative company.
They sold us the story. But we all bought it.
Vitek IP’s blog provides active thoughts on the state of the patent market. The words written here are not intended to be legal or investment advice, nor should they be taken that way. We know you are an intelligent, rational human being and you are not considering an opinion blog to be anything more than that–an opinion. Glad we all agree.