Friday, August 17, 2012

Wild Dogs and Patent Meat

Do you remember the old western movie bar fights? One jerk starts it and then its a free-for-all. You sort of wonder how in the world everyone got into this fight. It seems staged and absurd. But then I reflect on the current round of lawsuits between just about every wireless manufacturer in the world! But to me that resembles something even more animalistic, like wild dogs fighting over a kill--that's my patent! No, that's my patent! No, that's his patent!

There has been much discussion on the web (I follow PhoneDog, DroidDog, PhoneScoop and a few others) about who the winner will be and what the losses will be. Everyone seems to agree that the biggest losers will be the consumers. After considerable thought (and I'm sure someone will refine this), what really needs to happen is:

1. The patent system needs to be overhauled.

2. Vague and/or generalized patents (square device, swipe gesture, etc) need to be revoked. At some point the whole issue of "look and feel" needs to be re-examined and refined. If a potentially patentable item has truly unique characteristics apart from shape, texture or color, consideration needs to be given to just how truly new, unique and inventive the item is. I've seen episodes on Shark Tank where people come in with little more than pencil with a twist--and the Sharks immediately point out the absurdity of it.

3. An arbitrator needs to be delegated by the various international trade commissions and that person(s) needs to sit down with ALL the players & decide an amicable solution to the remaining REAL patentable inventions. Since this is a world market, standardization needs be reached to keep the world players (device OEMs) on a fair playing field across the globe.

4. Fair compensation for any true infringements that doesn't kill any of the game players is determined and distributed over a l-o-n-g course of time, reducing the weight of the load.

5. A new competition business-model is created by the arbitrator and all players are required to sign it. This will include a new international consortium of technical operations that is developed to review claims of abuse going forward.

At some point in the process above, pending patents need to keep flowing through the process. In order to accomplish that and yet not be undone by future decisions as the arbitrator's office gears up, a task force can be assigned that works closely with the arbitrator's office. (For example, I know that recently one vendor submitted a patent request addressing the design of flexible screens. I don't know where that is at in the process.)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article, I agree with you. I think it's time for International Community to hold a convention that will create a conclusion for this issue. The United Nation will be the great arbitrator for this.