D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Patent This!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 6:51 AM

Seriously, this whole patent thing is getting out of hand, and I hope someone in the US government is realizing this.

Recently there was the whole Blackberry issue, where a patent holding company was sueing based on “infringement” blah blah blah...but the patent holding company did just that: HOLD PATENTS. They weren't interested in helping improve the lives of people, create jobs, or deliver a new technology...they were just looking to cash in on a legal loop hole, plain and simple.

And most recently, Netflix is sueing Blockbuster for patent infringement because they “infringed on their business methodology”. So let me get this straight: you can patent the process of people going online to rent DVD's and have them shipped out...so does that mean I can patent writing software with Visual Studio 2005 and no one else can do that? Does that mean that Mc Donald's can sue Burger King, A&W, etc. for “business methodology” infringement for how they cook french fries? Maybe a deodorant company can hold an application patent...y'know, like “Our deodorant will be applied by removing the cap and rubbing the deodorant stick onto the armpit”. I guess we'll be down to one deodorant.

Patents are there to protect innovators from having their hard work and investment be ripped off by someone who just steals their idea, but it needs to be something tangible and it needs to be something that doesn't hinder competition in the marketplace. Netflix, by doing this patent lawsuit, is basically saying that if you want to rent DVD's online, you should go with us because we thought of it first. Well, no...its nice you thought of it first, but now execute it better than Block Buster and I”ll go with you.

I know that the argument can be made that there was hard work and investment that went into the business plan for the company and that Block Buster is just “ripping off our idea” so they can get bigger...but that leads to the next discussion of what is truly “innovative”. Last time I checked, getting movies in the mail is nothing new (hello Columbia House). Returning them or having the discs self destruct, that's new...but there's really nothing innovative here. Now, if Block Buster had stolen documents detailing what internal systems Net Flix used, how their internal process flow worked, etc., THAT I could see them having a case over. But from the slashdot article, its only based on renting movies online.

Gotta jet...I'm going to patent the business methodology of making coffee...you'll all get my legal papers tomorrow morning.

D




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