September 22, 2012
News - IP Obesity
about 2 years ago
Sorry–one more comment. I would cease suing Canon as a contrast to Kodak. The reality is that Canon is also one of the top ten patent filers every year. So you could argue that Kodak v Canon was more on strategy, quality and execution than patent filings as Canon was largely kicking Kodak’s butts in the patent game for most of the last decade.
First, I do think patents are less applicable in industries where innovation is incremental. While I love your concepts and product ideas, I would put your offerings in the category of incremental innovation. I would put most online and web services in that category as well.
Second, as with ANY function that is not relevant to innovation, spending on it will “take away” from innovation funding. Whether that means marketing expenses, sales incentives, bloated salaries, and other expenses.
Third, it is always easy to find examples supporting your claims. Yes, Kodak heavily patented as do most companies in mature markets (which are the markets most likely to be disrupted by smaller competitors) but I would bet you can find just as many companies that were knocked off that had no IP at all. They just sucked and likely because they could stay alive without any protectable ideas–either become a marginal player with a much smaller workforce or were slowly bled to death by a thousand cuts. Personally, I would rather go big or go home.
Fourth and finally, I do generally agree that we over patent things which is why I view value as being qualitative and not quantitative. So while you argue that Instagram had no IP that was protectable, I would argue that MOST of their IP was their brand equity and not their technology at all (which you rightfully point out, Facebook could have built over the course of a few weeks or months at 1% of the cost). That too is intellectual property and is an exclusive right even if it is not patents.
In sum, I think your model works for some industries, I think small companies in incremental markets should heed your advice but I also think that your fairly simplistic (and likely culturally popular) analysis fails the test of true research and instead points out a few losers, panders to the cultural sentiment of too many patents (which again–I largely agree with) and in the process simplifies what I think is a far deeper intellectual debate that can be presented in ten slides at TedX. :)
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