The Patent War to End All Patent Wars
I was somewhat flabbergasted by Microsoft’s cries of Motorola’s patent abuse since Microsoft has traditionally responded bitterly to insults by other companies that whine to the European Commission about its business practices. Now, I guess Microsoft decided it was a good idea and has chosen to complain itself, about Motorola Mobility, which is now owned by Google.
In a blog post, Microsoft argues that a few of the Motorola patents it needs to license are too expensive. Many people see this as part of what will be a never-ending battle between Google and Microsoft over all sorts of things. I, on the other hand, see it as a popping of the patent pimple, which will result in a disgusting mess.
At some point, one must wonder if the whole business of patents is just some sort of idiotic game. Do patents even protect inventions like they are supposed to?
If they indeed protect inventions, then why do they have to be licensed at all? Seriously, if I invent something, the patent system is supposed to give me a 26-year monopoly on the invention, after which it is passed into the public domain for all to use.
It’s always assumed that it will probably take a decade to get the product to market, then a few more years to improve upon it with modifications and to start making money.
If I do not want anyone using my patent, don’t I have the sole rights to it? Apparently not. As far as I’m concerned, a patent is a patent. Why should I be forced to license my patent to some bigger company so it can make money off it? Where is my monopoly?
This whole idea of actual inventions and the monopoly is over. Around a million patents are granted per year worldwide and most are unique and often obvious ideas that are not an invention at all. Rather, they are new ideas for a process or unique twists on old notions. None of them can be turned into nice little monopoly businesses.
Except if the ownership of the patent is the business in itself.
So, this is what it is all about. Patent some little idea and then license it so someone else can make or finish making the product. That is your monopoly. Patent attorneys have told me that any two-bit patent should net the owner around $50,000 a year for the life of the patent. This would be for what I would consider dumb or trivial patents and this assumes that I license the patent at some reasonable price. I could instead decide to license the patent for an outrageous $1,000,000 for one-time use. I’d get no takers and make no money, of course, and the potential licensee would find something else to finish his or her product.