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IP, Patent

Don’t Fear The Licensor — Infringement Validates Importance Of Patented Technology

Don't Fear The Licensor

Has one of Paul Allen’s former researchers defected?  Mike Masnick over at Techdirt directs us to comments from co-inventor Michael Naimark (of USP 6757682), claiming that he is “expressing concern about how much money is focused on litigation instead of innovation.” But what he is really saying might be more supportive of Paul Allen and Interval Licensing’s current litigation efforts than Mike let’s on.  First, read the full, unedited comments for yourself, hopefully before Interval’s lawyers convince Naimark to take them down.

Naimark starts out by explaining the motivation behind his patent:

The origin of the patent was an Interval Research project exploring how to find live events as they happen. The project was focused and specific, and led to, among other things, an Interval spinoff venture called Kundi.com, which built a working, publicly-accessible system in 2001. I am grateful for our team and proud of our accomplishments.

Naimark is, like many when first introduced to patent litigation, perplexed about the high stakes:

The creative community needs all the support it can muster, and it’s a perplexing thought that the money at risk in this lawsuit will likely exceed the annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, possibly several times over. It could be hugely significant if all parties commit to something good for the creative community as an outcome.

The last statement suggests that Naimark understands, to a much greater degree than Masnick, that Interval’s lawsuit is far from black and white. But Naimark really drops the bombshell in a portion of his statement that Masnick conveniently neglected to mention in his article:

It turns out, our original venture may have been the right idea, just ten years too early. Recent advances, particularly over the past year (and by some of the lawsuits’ defendants), contribute to a compelling proposition today.

Naimark’s statements here suggest that the work of Google, Yahoo, AOL and the other defendants in the Interval lawsuit validate the importance and legitimacy of his own work at Interval Research, and by extension, validate Interval’s decision to devote resources toward obtaining patent protection for these inventions.

Said another way, the ability of today’s firms to bring applications of this fundamental technology to market (not to mention the reason we instinctively view them as simple and unextraordinary) is because of the work done by institutions like Interval Research and inventors like Naimark. The defendants, however, continue refuse to recognize these early achievements.  Rather than license the technology from Interval and continue developing, the defendants prefer to expend their resources on lawyers to re-investigate the novelty and concoct arguments about why this technology, while apparently second nature to internet content delivery, are nonetheless worthless.

The market was unkind to Interval Research, possibly because, as Naimark suggests, it was just too early. However, if we are to have a system of patent rights, then why is that any reason to deny the Licensor the ability to obtain compensation for the advances its inventors was apparently first to discover?

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