“Nathan Myhrvold, formerly Microsoft’s chief technology officer, retired six years ago from the software giant with a fortune that, it’s safe to say, runs well into nine figures. But instead of taking early retirement as a chance to relax, travel, and maybe dash off a unified field theory or two, Myhrvold has founded a firm that has produced almost as much rage, terror, and ominous speculation as Microsoft once did.”
Who’s Afraid of Nathan Myhrvold?
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2006-06-28 11:05 amxiaokj
Yes, I’ve also read that, if Nikola Tesla had more money or less ambitious altruistic nature, his patent portfolio will far surpass Edison’s (since Edison’s methods are really just brute force and slow)
The true thing is that the economics of science always kicks in. Thus it is important for really scientific people to have assistants who are altruistic economists. This will free them up for real work.
And, shamelessly, Edison still has a very nice PR image. IMO that is disgusting.
Here’s a story according to Steve Schramm, former General Manager of the Magic Cap division and CEO/President of DataRover/Icras:
Andy [Hertzfeld] strived to open Magic Cap at the time of the GMGC bankruptcy. If I remember Andy’s explanation correctly, Nathan Myrvold, formerly of Microsoft, used the bankruptcy process to capture the IP after Andy Hertzfeld working with Andy Rubin had won two previous decisions to get the Magic Cap IP. Nathan mostly wanted the Telescript agent patents for his dead startup patent collection, though.
Afterwards, Andy H. continued to work with Nathan to pry the Magic Cap IP loose, since Nathan allegedly didn’t care that much. But Nathan kept putting more and more restrictions on Magic Cap’s use to the point that few would have been able to use the Magic Cap technology for anything practical or interesting even if it was open source. So Andy finally stopped trying.
The bottom line is that even though no one is using Magic Cap, we can’t make it available as open source. And thus, and incredible amount of creativity, investment and hard work is effectively lost to the world (except for what people remember in their heads).
Well, his former boss made a lot of dough by stealing. No surprises here, except that these people always seem to feel they want MORE.
I am working on a invention that can tell if someone is arroused or not. Which could dramatically increase their chances of getting laid. I wonder if I could talk all those companies into giving me millions and millions while I blow smoke up their butt with my next great idea all the while sueing anyone that isn’t paying me.
These types of companies are just proof on how desperately the US needs an overhaul on the patent process. It’s saddening seeing how much some of these companies can extort from legitimate businesses through their patents of overally broad ‘research.’
It reminds me of the saying ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, critique.’
Applied to this, those who can, invent, while those who can’t patent.
2006-06-27 10:15 pmtransputer_guy
I think you got the idea quite wrong,
The saying I know is those that can, do, those that can’t, teach!
Not very nice to teachers though, and the best teachers certainly don’t deserve that saying.
Those that can invent usually must also patent, part of the job of working for a hitech company, done that myself, thats usually okay.
Those that can’t invent can still buy up dusty but not too old forgotten patents (like the JPEG stuff) from the inventions of dead companies.
Personally I would like to see judges recognize the full value of patents only in the hands of those that actually developed and filed them ie real hitech companies. If a company goes under with its patent fortfolio or can’t develop the patents value, I would wipe its value out to prevent collectors from trolling the patents when they take none of the risks to develop it.
Could you imagine if you could patent literary devices. Imagine someone patented the style of writing in the third person, but couldn’t really afford (or care) to enforce the patent. Luckily for our broke friend though, patents are a form of property, so evil company X buys the patent from the original holder, then puts the screws to all the other writers out there who’ve dared to write in the third person ignorant of the fact that a patent existed covering such writing.
Man, that’d be a horrible world.
2006-06-28 2:01 amelsewhere
Could you imagine if you could patent literary devices.
Somebody has already filed for a patent on the concept of using time travel as a plot device in screenplays.
Man, that’d be a horrible world.
2006-06-28 4:38 amtransputer_guy
Doesn’t HG Wells “The Time Machine” or Dr Who’s Tardis count as prior art?
Do you have the patent number?
You know, if I had a billion some dollars, what would everyone here think of the moral justification and dubious benefits of a company I create that goes around removing intellectual property from the market and producing nothing for society?
That isn’t what capitalism is about.
I could see if the guy had a “Great Product” and was investing his cash into a major new medical device, or building the worlds fastest computer to explore cancer research, and drug research.
But no, he isn’t satisfied with locking up information and sending people to jail, he wants to reproduce the “Robber Barons” of old, he has to insure nobody else either can lock up that information or produce anything from it without a huge toll to pay first.
Putting morals aside, what is the practical value of one individual owning that much cash when huge sectors of our technology industrial base are being destroyed and systamatically dismantled for lack of cash?
Is it any wonder when very few numbers of people own most of the cash that innovation is slow, skills evaporate from lack of opportunity like what is happening in the science and technology fields in our country? If you took half the cash Microsoft is hording and started 12 or so different cancer research companies, in 10 years you would have cures for cancer instead of “treatments” where cures are considered “bad for business” and eliminate cash flow.
The real moral of the story is what happens when too much cash is held in the hands of too few people. Tons of cash that doesn’t move, doesn’t produce anything, and is locked up so others can’t use it to fund innovation.
Thats the real tragedy here.
The first step toward philanthropy.
The patent trolls can sue, but can never be sued since they don’t make anything that can lead them to be sued. It is one sided.
It seems the widget guys and the drug companies are on opposite sides here, the widget guys often have hundreds of patents involved in any complex product so a single suit on 1 patent can kill that product so patents are mostly a huge nuisance. In drugs, only a few patents for the whole drug so they are more critical or focussed.
Despite all the whining, many of the attacking hitech companies end up investing in the outfit, guessing it won’t bite the hand that feeds it.
I hear Thomas Edison spent lots of time in lawsuits as opposed to inventing. He even distorted facts trying to promote DC distribution as opposed to AC by claiming AC was more dangerous. He made a point of having the electric chair AC.
Real artists and inventors are not monitarily successful in their lifetimes. Money comes at a price.