Posts from patents

A Big Win For The Patent Reform Movement

If you did a topic analysis on AVC over the past 10+ years that I’ve been blogging, I suspect patent reform would rate highly. I’ve been advocating for eliminating software patents and cutting back patent protection broadly as loudly and frequently as I can. I believe that sharing intellectual property will lead to way more innovation than hoarding and protecting it. I’ve seen a huge amount of pain and agony inflicted on innovative companies by trolls and “inventors” who never did anything other than write their ideas down on paper. Having ideas is not innovation. Making something new and different and putting it into the market is innovation.

So it was with incredible joy that I read these words by Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and possibly the most innovative entrepreneur in the world right now.

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Elon’s post is a short and powerful statement in favor of the idea that innovation comes from a movement and that innovative companies should lead those movements by sharing their intellectual property, not hoarding it.

What is most significant to me is that this is not coming from a software company. It has become generally recognized that software companies are harmed not helped by patent laws. But this is coming from an automobile company. The most innovative automobile company in the world right now. For such a company to say to the world “come compete with me and you can use my intellectual property to do so” is a huge deal. I hope everyone who has a hand in the patent system thinks long and hard about this. We may have reached a turning point in the conversation about patents and intellectual property. At least I sure hope so. Thank you Elon.

The Goodlatte Patent Bill

Yesterday the White House came out in favor of Rep Bob Goodlatte's patent bill. This is a good thing.

The Goodlatte bill doesn't have everything in it that we would like to see in a bill aimed at reducing the pain that patent trolls inflict on the innovation economy, but it is a good start and I think it can get improved in conference with the Senate.

One thing that was taken out of the Goodlatte bill that we would like to see put back in during the conference with the Senate is the broadening of the covered business method patent review process to include all business method patents.

In the five plus years that we have been working to educate government officials about the blight that patent trolls have wreaked on the startup sector, I have seen a huge shift. We have gone from elected officials being ignorant about this issue, to be aware of it, to now being as outraged as we are about the troll issue. That's a good thing and the result, I think, will be better laws and better processes to out bad patents and bad actors in the system. This is long overdue but welcome nonetheless.