US Patents : The next great American Institution to Fail
In recent decades we have watched the housing market fail, the auto market fail, the textiles industry disappear and the financial markets slip into insanity.
Now we are watching one of the great American institutions, The Patent Office (USPO) , begin to slide towards destruction. As recently as 1990, the USPO did not recognize “process patents” because they knew it would be to ambiguous to ever protect. Prior to then, in order to have a patent, you needed to create an actual machine or invention. It was something that was identifiable and securable.
In 1998, an American court upheld a decision pushed by AT&T to protect a method , instead of a straight forward invention. Since then the USPO applications and law suits have gone crazy. Just this year we are starting to feel the fallout. It is only a matter of time now until the USPO is deemed completely useless.
This year a group of investors including Apple paid 4.5 billion USD, not for assets or for any real invention. They paid all that money simply for the ability to avoid litigation from any “new owners” of those old process patents, AND for the ability to lock out other companies from competing in their industry.
In news today, HTC, the #5 largest smartphone manufacturer in the world was one of the first to feel the pain of doing business in America. It is not hard to see where Apple is going with these new Nortel patents. Apple will seek to gain an even stronger monopoly on the American market. We will all suffer from the lack of competition.
Watch over the next few years. Watch how more and more court battles become blockades to new businesses and inventions. Right now it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to bring in a new advancement in software OR hardware in the computer industry. The bloodthirsty corporate lawyers of the few large and powerful companies in America are just waiting for a small startup to raise its head. Then comes the meeting where the big company says “cease and desist” OR sell us your company.
Right now it is happening daily, and the American public does not even know about it. The great American dream of building your own technology company is dead. The ability of the USPO to protect small inventors and businesses from the large bankers and corporate giants is gone.
Here is what to watch for in the next decade:
1) Increased black market trafficking of products that “violate process patents” of American corporate giants shipped to the US illegally.
2) Inventions and innovation to increase overseas where invention is not rewarded with a lawsuit against your startup company.
3) World class products to be sold everywhere EXCEPT the United States.
4) American consumer prices to be higher than any other country in the world.
The best way to look at this is to consider our pharmecudical industry. We pay more than any other nation for our medicine. We also have to go through more red tape and approvals to have access to modern medicine. Soon this insanity will spread to our technology companies due to the collapse of the USPO
Only then will we realize how important our USPO was to our society. Only then will we realize how much we lost when we let corporations patent vague and ambiguous processes to protect themselves from competition.