If we lived in a more sane world, patent lawsuits would not be a growth industry. But we don’t, and they are. In fact, they’re an extremely high growth industry, as illustrated in a new report (pdf) from PricewaterhouseCooper.
Remember the days when patents were to help spur innovation, new developments, startup businesses? Your Uncle Dave used to be a software engineer once upon a time. I was employee #4 at Intuit in 1984, and started my own little software company and helped start another in the 90′s. But while I’ve toyed with the idea of writing apps for iPhone and Android, the patent BS that exists today means I wouldn’t even try. You’ve either got to be very rich to defend against the patent trolls and ‘legitimate’ patent holders or a fool to even try. Here are just two recent examples:
Minecraft developer Mojang is being sued for alleged patent infringement in the development of the Android version of the popular game, Eurogamer reports. The lawsuit is being filed by Luxembourg-based Uniloc, a group which specializes in copy protection technology and has a history of suing small companies on the basis of patents.
Here is a GENERAL description of the concept of a “Patent Troll.” (I intend this for general information only, and am not trying to accuse any specific party of fitting such a description.)
Does Uniloc plan to sue anyone ELSE that sells Android or iOS Apps in the future?
Friday, I went to the courthouse for jury duty and was brought in as a potential juror on a civil case (not patent related). One of the reasons I was excused, I believe, was during voir dire when one of the lawyers asked if anyone thinks there are too many lawsuits. I almost laughed out loud while I raised my hand and said yes. Suing has become, too often, simply a way to make money rather that producing anything, and patent lawsuits are the fad of the day.