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IP, Patent

Top Infringers Agree – Patents Waste (Y)our Money!

I recently became aware of an outfit called QuikPitch, which offers this advice about seeking patent protection for your inventions:

If you’re a entrepreneur, save your two most important assets, time and money. Instead of wasting valuable resources trying to secure patents, invest any money you have on what matters the most (R&D and innovation).

Via QuikPitch’s Want To Patent Your Idea?

QuikPitch believes that patents are expensive (and they are), that they are no good without lawyers to enforce them (which are even more expensive), and they may make you a target for lawsuits (go ask a litigator if you can sue a company for infringement based solely on a technology description in a later-filed patent and let me know what answer you get).

There’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of QuikPitch’s advice, but first examine some of their other claims.  For example,

Business Leaders Agree that Patents are a complete waste of Entrepreneur’s Time and Money

This claim comes complete with endorsements:

“The cumbersome patent situation works against everyone who is trying to build business … We spent more money on patent disputes, patent fights than all our technology development put together.”

CEO, [TOM TOM]

Cisco changed its patent strategy three years ago…The arms race approach doesn’t pay off… It doesn’t do you a lot of good to have a lot of patents.”

Senior VP, General Counsel, [Cisco]

A quick perusal of QuikPitch’s website reveals that this “advice” comes from former employees of Intel, HP, IBM, and Cisco. Curiously enough, each of these companies also makes the top 25 list of the most prolific patent infringers.

So, follow the advice of the big boys at your own peril … but a world in which you innovate, and they copy with impunity is fine by them.

I know what you’re thinking… Isn’t this the same website that repeatedly promoted John Smith’s Don’t File A Patent book? The answer, of course, is “Yes. Yes it is.”  So why am I down on QuikPitch?

John’s book is an anecdotal example of one man’s experience with the patent office, and offers real-world, sobering facts that most of the public probably doesn’t know about the actual mechanics of the patenting process. In addition, his book and his advice is highly likely to be misunderstood and misinterpreted (as it was recently by Inventor’s Digest), which is one of the main reasons I decided to support John.  I have always maintained that the fact of the book’s existence is far more compelling to me than anything else.

Having spoken directly with John Smith, I believe that his intentions are genuine, and that he simply wants his story told (and wants to make back some of the money he spent in his failed attempt to get a patent).  I don’t believe he’s a “plant” by industry players to torpedo the patent hopes and dreams of inventors across America.

Conversely, QuikPitch is advising start-up businesses to pursue a potentially disastrous strategy including creating a business plan, investing absolutely no money into intellectual property protection, and then telling as many people as possible about your invention! Here, verbatim, is their “recommended strategy” (emphasis mine):

If you’re a entrepreneur, save your two most important assets, time and money. Instead of wasting valuable resources trying to secure patents, invest any money you have on what matters the most (R&D and innovation).

1 Be agile
2 Create your business plan
3 Get your idea in front of thousands of accredited investors (VC’s and Angels) ready to invest in new ideas

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Top Infringers Agree – Patents Waste (Y)our Money!

  1. Seeking (or not seeking) patent protection is a strategic, cost-benefit analysis. There is no one-size-fits-all advice. An entrepreneur that spends his or her entire budget seeking patents is certainly doing it wrong. On the flip-side, an entrepreneur believing that they have something inventive and patentable who forgoes applying for a patent is also probably doing it wrong.

    My biggest qualm about these debates, and the anecdotes held up for behavior one way or another, is that they mostly miss on the fact that early counseling of clients as to their likelihood of success is a significant function of a good patent attorney. In many of the never-get-a-patent cases, early counseling as to the likelihood of obtaining anything of economic value is noticeably lacking often to very sad results.

    I actually think that entrepreneurs entering a crowded space or a field where first movers gain the most advantage, are probably wise to consider shifting $30k to advertising or internal investment. Of course, this analysis requires a lot of up-front work and consideration and advising.

    Posted by MadisonIP | March 22, 2011, 12:13 pm
  2. MadisonIP,

    Thanks for the response.

    I agree, these decisions are highly nuanced, and there’s very little “black and white.”

    I do think that a patentability opinion is a good investment if the opinion includes an exemplary “broad” claim that your patent attorney believes would be allowed over the prior art identified. If there’s synergy between your claimed point of novelty and the benefit of your invention, then a patent is more likely a good call … if the benefit of the invention can easily be achieved while avoiding the point of novelty, the value of the patent would be considerably less …

    This discussion also highlights my opposition to the patent reform movement .. as you point out, these decisions take time, thought and advice … Because of the pitfalls of first-to-file, how many attorneys will take the “Don’t think, just file” approach knowing that any delay on the part of the lawyer could come back to bite him/her down the road…

    Posted by Patrick | March 22, 2011, 12:27 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Top Infringers Agree – Patents Waste (Y)our Money! « Gametime IP - March 22, 2011

  2. Pingback: Top Infringers Agree – Patents Waste (Y)our Money! « Gametime IP « Law Yarns - March 22, 2011

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