Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Oct 2012 09:24 UTC
Legal The failing US patent system is getting ever more mainstream - The New York Times is running a long and details piece on the failings of the system, especially in relation to the technology industry most of us hold so dearly. Most of the stuff in there isn't new to us - but there's two things in the article I want to highlight.
Permalink for comment 537906
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: Personal experience
by Alfman on Tue 9th Oct 2012 04:36 UTC in reply to "Personal experience"
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I had aspirations to write & sell my own DVD editing & authoring software back around 2000. I had purchased several entry level commercial video packages, but there was an obvious gap in features. I saw it as an opportunity to write my own software and market it. I started prototyping and playing with my own ideas, which was fun, but at some point I'd need to license numerous multimedia patents in order to be compatible with the files & media at the time. I don't remember the specifics, but authoring licenses were typically a magnitude more expensive than playback licenses. I specifically wanted to support surround sound, but I was horrified when I discovered that dolby's DVD surround sound patents alone would cost several times more than I wanted to ask for my video authoring software. Apparently most commercial licensees could pay a couple million for a flat license, but this was obviously out of my range.

I learned that the reason entry level software packages were lacking features had nothing to do with the difficulty of incorporating them, but that the patent licensing fees made it impossible to incorporate them at those price points.


I also learned since then that researching patents (trying to do things the "right way") could lead to triple damages if you are sued in court and found to infringe, so I've never looked up patents since to see whether something I've written infringes or not. Luckily patents are poorly enforced, and most software shops fly under the radar; we're just not worth suing over until we're worth a few million anyways.

Reply Parent Score: 3