Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 15:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless I'm currently reading Jerry Kaplan's excellent book "Startup: a Silicon Valley adventure". In this book, Kaplan, founder and CEO of GO Corp., details the founding, financing and eventual demise of his highly innovative company, including the development and workings of their product. What's so surprising about this book is just how timeless it really is - the names and products may have changed, but the business practices and company attitudes surely haven't.
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To add to this, I don't think I have ever really posted what I think the solution to the patent problem should be - and my previous post might by misleading.

It don't believe ideas should be free in an absolute sense. There is definitely a need for some way to monetize them on their own - because they are often valuable.

My approach to patents would be simple. If you come up with an idea for something, you are free to "patent it", but a patent would be a very different thing from what it is now:

1. A patent would not disclose the idea at all initially. What it would do is create a binding legal construct that would allow you to negotiate its use with companies who might want to purchase it.

2. A company who chooses to negotiate with a patent holder is essentially barred from using or disclosing the details of the patent with any 3rd party. If proof of such 3rd party disclosure is found - the patent holder can sue for damages. In essence it becomes an NDA but with much stronger penalties and government oversight and such negotiations are required to be recorded as part of the patent record.

3. As a patent holder, it is your responsibility to keep the idea secret from anyone you are not on record negotiating with. If someone else uses your idea and there is no documented negotiation tying them to your patent it is assumed that the idea was independent and your patent has no power over that implementation. If there IS a documented negotiation the government has power to investigate whether the party your negotiated with and the 3rd party has dealings - if so see 2.

4. Until purchase terms are agreed on and settled, companies can not execute on an idea in a patent, again with the penalty of severe damages if they violate this trust.

5. Once a patent is "sold", regardless of terms, it becomes null and void and all legal ramifications of violating the terms fall under existing contract law. The patent is simply a protection during negotiation.

6. You cannot resell a patent - it becomes null and void once sold. Part of the process of selling it is at the time of the sale it becomes public record so that those wishing to patent an idea in the future can determine whether or not their idea is actually unique.

7. It is up to the buyer to determine whether a patent is actually unique during negotiation. Once terms are reached and the patent goes on record as sold, the seller is legally protected from any and all legal recourse concerning originality. I.e. buyer beware.

There is of course a lot to work out, but that is the basic framework. How is this different form existing law?

1. If you have an idea and you choose to productize it yourself (as in a company that makes products comes up with the idea) patent protection simply does not apply at all. Patents are a way to create a marketplace for ideas, not a way to protect products from competitors.

2. Once the ideas in a patent are sold, it is completely up to the buyer to decide how and if they want to disclose that idea. The idea itself is no longer protected legally - only the terms of the sale are protected (and only under contract law).

3. This form of patent offers no legal protection at all in the market place. It is simply meant as a way to protect inventors, not manufacturers.

Anyway, something like this would be immensely better imo.

Edited 2012-03-23 22:00 UTC

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