So, Google, the wallflower at the Nortel dance decides to buy Motorola for 12.5 billion dollars. This is good news for those holding patents in the mobile handset space. At 17,000 patents, this works out to $735,000 per patent, plus whatever.
The war of the titans to beef up patent portfolios portends well for systems proposed by this blog where individual patents can ultimately be dissected and qualified like the capital property it is. Right now it is a crap shoot. Google doesn’t know what it is getting. It is relying on the integrity of past Motorola administrators to determine what was worth patenting. Talk about a pig in a poke.
What nobody is looking at is the vast reservoir of expired patents that provide just as much protection and are frequently tied to a knowledgeable inventor. As patents are analyzed, it is not only the company portfolios that must be examined, but the stable of inventors. They are the horses on which the tech industry rides. Apple did not achieve its position in the universe without the help of thousands of inventors and innovators who contributed to the rapid progress of technology that Apple presents on a platter to the world.
A good inventor is not a one trick pony. The art of invention is a lifetime devotion that often spans generations. Patents may be the muscle, but inventors are the brains.
We are entering an age that the mature companies are gaming the system. A monopoly is a monopoly is a monopoly. Whether it is the hard earned limited patent monopoly of a maker’s machine, where one is lucky to get a 7% royalty, or an economic monopoly of a closed system, where one can demand a 30% royalty, a monopoly is a monopoly and must be defined and contained to insure competition.
Are there solutions to the patent mess? Of course, but, all for one and one for all. We can’t stop rewarding inventors (not just first to filers) and we can’t make special exemptions, particularly for the Wall Street banking industry, an industry that has been particularly egregious in its treatment of technology start-ups.
If this country is going to thrive, we must respect patents and inventors. To issue good patents, we must have a rational peer review system to build a matrix of prior art in a form that is easily understood to allow the masses to have input through various crowd sourcing techniques.
There is a discontent and malaise that is infecting our country. We keep trying top down solutions. They work for some industries, but are dismal failures for others. Americans have the will to work. California is a unique state. It has virtually everything except rational management (public or private) of its resources. The only boot strap around is invention. We have got to invent our way out of our present predicament. Let the games begin.