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Google Claims Patents Block Innovation


Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course
Posted: July 26, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

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In an interview with Tech Crunch published yesterday, Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, proclaimed: “A patent isn’t innovation. It’s the right to block someone else from innovating.”  How someone who has achieved such a high profile position with one of the tech giants of the world could have such an erroneous, even myopic, view of patents is nearly astonishing.  It is self evident to anyone who objectively looks at the patent system as it relates to innovation that patents do not block innovation, but rather they encourage innovation.  That has always been the case.  Obviously there is more to Walker’s statement than meets the eye.

Earlier today Florian Mueller (FOSS Patents) published an excellent article critiquing all of Walker’s statements in the Tech Crunch interview.  Although Mueller explains that he largely agrees with Walker’s viewpoint on much of what he says, he seems to put his finger squarely on the matter at hand: Google is currently suffering from numerous patent problems.  This leads Mueller to conclude:

I can’t help but view all of their criticism of the patent system as being motivated by their current problems. Looking at how their position has changed over time, and how self-contradictory it is in some ways, I guess Google’s position may easily change again as soon as they’ve managed to buy a large patent portfolio in some kind of auction or other transaction.

Indeed, it seems quite apparent that Walker’s statement about patents preventing innovation displays more frustration than comprehension of complicated issues.  If you read further into the Tech Crunch interview you see that he then starts to discuss some of the very unfortunate realities currently plaguing the patent system.  He correctly points out: “An average patent examiner gets 15 to 20 hours per patent to see if it’s valid. It can take years to go back and correct mistakes. It has become a kind of lottery.”  Any fair minded observer has to agree with the first two sentences, and understand why someone would come to the conclusion in the third sentence.  There are not enough patent examiners, they don’t receive enough time to work on applications, even with inadequate time per application the patent backlog is still unacceptably out of control and Congress continues to be almost arrogantly unwilling to fix the USPTO.

But this still doesn’t explain exactly why Walker thinks patents prevent innovation, at least not directly.  The truth is that the mantra of many of the tech giants today is that patents block innovation and should be abolished or at the very least limited.  Of course, all of these tech giants have enormous patent portfolios, which should lead start-ups and small businesses to question a business strategy that doesn’t include obtaining at least some patents.  If it is a good strategy for Google and others then why not for you?  In any event, the Google anti-patent opinions in the face of an enormous patent portfolio can in part be chalked up to the business reality that you must have patents to survive in the technology industry.  As Tech Crunch explains, despite Walker’s loathing of the patent system (at least for the moment) Google continues to hunt “for some nuclear warheads to build towards mutual assured destruction, and eventually détente.”

The mutually assured destruction approach to patenting can explain in part why large companies continue to patent at the rate they do, but the justification completely misses the point that these large tech giants were not always large.  They were, at one time, rather small companies that pursued an aggressive agenda of innovation.  A big part of that innovation strategy included obtaining protection for said innovation, largely in the form of acquiring patents.  That undeniable truth makes it hard not to question whether the tech giants that lament the failings of the patent system and want to limit or abolish it are simply engaging in good old-fashioned protectionism.

The tech giants of today innovated, protected, grew from small to giant size and now want to make it harder for anyone else to build a small company into a true competitor.  The easiest way to do that is to prevent or limit patenting activity.  That starves small businesses from investment capital (because investors love patents) and means that tech giants could simply copy (i.e., steal) the innovations of others without fear of consequences.

Of course, the fallacy being peddled is that a patent blocks innovation.  Patents do not block innovation, they block copying.  By preventing copying (i.e., infringement) the existence of a patent makes it necessary for companies to engineer around patented technologies, which pushes the envelope of innovation.  Throughout history whenever a patent or patent portfolio has been claimed to be blocking a careful consideration of the facts shows that industry wanted to copy rather than innovate alternative solutions.  Lethargy is largely to blame for lack of engineering around, not a patent.

Of course, it is true that patents indirectly block innovation for some companies, but this has nothing to do with a patent grant that is too strong or a dysfunctional patent system.  Any particular company that is indirectly blocked by patents finds this to be true for one of two reasons.  First, the company itself is not an innovator and can only engage in copying the success of what other, truly creative innovators have done.  Second, the company does not actually respect patent rights and doesn’t care to look to see what has been or is being patented by others.  If you fail to look to see whether what you do is going to infringe you simply keep blinders on and do whatever you want.  Then you wake up and realize that you are doing what someone else has patented.  That shouldn’t lead to a temper tantrum that causes one to rail against patents, rather it should lead to self examination relating to why you proceeded so recklessly.  Yes, moving forward with conscious disregard for what others are patenting or have patented is hardly appropriate business judgment; it is reckless!

Mueller sums up what I refer to as Google’s reckless behavior by pointing out: “Google’s track record in respecting intellectual property rights is problematic to say the least. Think of YouTube or Google’s aggressive approach to its Google Books project.” Knowing as we do that Google has a track record of innovation that means that if Google is being blocked by patents it is because they simply do not respect intellectual property rights owned by others and, as a result, engage in wholly inappropriate and reckless business activities.  I guess shareholders are content with Google presently, but I would love to see a shareholder lawsuit someday against a tech giant that simply refuses to respect intellectual property rights.  Keeping their head in the sand, wasting thousands upon thousands of hours developing products that will ultimately infringe and then paying large damage awards or licensing fees because they chose not to engineer around is just bad business, and a waste of time and money.

Reinventing something means it is new to you, but not new to the world.   By its very essence the patent system forces invention, not reinvention, which is just another word for “infringement.”  The fact that Google frustrates its own ability to innovate isn’t a patent system problem, but rather a Google problem.

So the truth isn’t that patents block innovation, but rather that the business practices of Google and other tech giants block innovation.  Rather than push the envelope forward into new territory, building upon the contributions of others, Google and many other tech giants simply close their eyes and do what they want.  That has never been a strategy to advance innovation. Innovation thrives, as does scientific advancement in general, when creative, intelligent and motivated minds seek to build upon the work of others.

Of course, the patent system can and should work better.  It shouldn’t take so long to get a patent and patent examiners should be given more time to work on patent applications.  In a perfect world the problem of patent trolls would be adequately addressed.  Of course, there are easy solutions to the problems faced by the USPTO and the problems presented by patent trolls.  With respect to patent trolls, for example, there are rules on the books that would prevent the egregious actions of the bad actors if only actually utilized by district court judges (see Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure).  Of course, the mere fact that a patent infringement action is brought does not mean the plaintiff is a patent troll.  Rather, it typically means there is infringement of a valid right and that deserves to be compensated by the tortfeasor / infringer.

The failure of Congress to fix the USPTO and the failure of the Courts to prevent shake-down litigation in the patent litigation arena lead to many fair and valid criticisms.  Unfortunately, those valid criticisms tend to feed an anti-patent agenda and lead those who should know better to condemn the patent grant itself.  Patents are not the problem, the system is the problem.  Until we fix the system the problems endemic within the system will be used to support illogical arguments that sway public opinion and capture the imagination of uninformed leaders in Washington, D.C.

Patents don’t block innovation, those who capitulate and run around like chicken-little block innovation.  It really is just that simple.

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Posted in: Anti-patent Nonsense, Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, Google, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Technology & Innovation

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

21 comments
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  1. Gene:

    Nice article. Google is beetchin because the patent system is (currently) not working in their favor. For example, had they been able to buy Nortel’s patent suite, I think their tune would be different today.

    The sad part of this story is that we’ll have this quoted back to us for the next 20 years from the anti-patent folks who don’t appreciate the context in which the statement was uttered. Google is NOT a disinterested party. In this instance, they see patents (and other intellectual property, e.g., copyrights) as a threat to their business model. As such, it is natural they would make the comments they did.

  2. Maybe he just wanted his Nortel Pi and to eat it too.

    Big glass of Kool Aid gratis (no seive required). I would be lning if I said this may lead to a harmonic series of such comments…

  3. kick ‘em in the jujubees.

  4. JV-

    I agree with you regarding the Nortel assessment. That was a big point of Mueller’s argument on FOSS Patents. If you haven’t read his article I definitely recommend you do. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes, but what I do read from him strikes me as fair, balanced and well reasoned.

    As for the quote backs… yes… now the anti-patent community can say that both Google and Microsoft say patents block innovation and are unnecessary. Of course, they will never dig below the surface to understand why.

    Cheers.

    -Gene

  5. Your bias as a patent attorney is just as clear as Kent Walker’s bias. You said “Yes, moving forward with conscious disregard for what others are patenting or have patented is hardly appropriate business judgment; it is reckless!”

    And how exactly as a small, independent software developer am I to examine all of the patents that are being applied for or have been granted? How realistic is it that any application I write today is likely in violation of some obscure patent that was created years ago for a product that is not even available today? This is not longer a protection for the IP a company developed and wants to protect, simply a way to extract money (and legal fees) from anyone trying to participate in the creation of software.

    How much would a patent attorney charge to conduct a review of a piece of software I develop to ensure it is not in violation of some patent? And once violations were found, what would my costs be to change the software to ensure it was not in violation? And even then, you as an attorney can offer me no guarantees, merely a measure of confidence that the software is unique enough that in the event I am sued for violating a patent you would be able to charge me significant money to defend me against a lawsuit from any one of a dozen patent holders?

    What if published written text (say this blog post as an example) was subject to similar requirements of review. IPWatchdog has paid advertising on it so it’s safe to assume this is a business. Would you ever write another blog post if you knew that you had to review every single blog post written on this topic (or even a vaguely similar topic) that has a registered copyright? Not the entire text mind you, but snippets of text. Would your massive advertising revenue be capable of covering those review costs?

    This is what you are asking software developers to do.

    Your statement that “Lethargy is largely to blame for lack of engineering around, not a patent.” comes from a patent attorney that would love for every single piece of commercial software developed to be vetted by a highly compensated patent attorney.

    Innovation in software? What if every single application written (there are hundreds of thousands written every year) had to have a completely unique user experience? I’m sure someone has a patent on some aspect of the user experience for every single application written today. Can you imagine the usability of an application that had to be completely different?

    This system is significantly more broken than you appear to think.

  6. A Software Engineer-

    You ask: “how exactly as a small, independent software developer am I to examine all of the patents that are being applied for or have been granted?”

    Answer: Do a patent search or have one done for you.

    You ask: “How realistic is it that any application I write today is likely in violation of some obscure patent that was created years ago for a product that is not even available today?”

    Answer: You will never know if you keep your head in the sand and operate in a irresponsible way. You need to do a patent search. The fact that it takes time or would cost money is ABSOLUTELY NO justification for being reckless with respect to the PROPERTY RIGHTS of others.

    You ask: “How much would a patent attorney charge to conduct a review of a piece of software I develop to ensure it is not in violation of some patent?

    Answer: It depends. In some cases it can be extremely easy to tell, in other cases it is more difficult. The focus is on the patent claims. The patent claims are the only part of the patent application that define the exclusive right. Did you even know that? If you are not doing something in a claim then you cannot infringe. Infringement requires each and every element of the claim to be in the accused infringing product. Did you know that?

    You ask: “And once violations were found, what would my costs be to change the software to ensure it was not in violation?”

    Answer: I assure you wit would be cheaper to make changes than to infringe and be on the losing end of a patent infringement case. Of course, many folks in the software industry simply complain that they couldn’t ever really be expected to operate in a business responsible way LIKE EVERY OTHER BUSINESS MUST DO, and then they complain when their irresponsible actions cause them to get sued… as if they are victims. Keeping your head in the sand brings with it risks that those activities get you in trouble. Every decision has consequences.

    You ask: “Would you ever write another blog post if you knew that you had to review every single blog post written on this topic (or even a vaguely similar topic) that has a registered copyright?”

    Answer: I always comply with all copyright laws. This question shows an acute lack of understanding of the copyright laws. Independent creation is an absolute defense, and also allows me to have a copyright of my own. You only get in trouble regarding copyrights if you COPY. No copying, no copyright infringement. Patents are another matter. I myself have a patent application pending on an invention, and in that space I have to make sure I am not infringing.

    You ask: “is what you are asking software developers to do.”

    Answer: I am not asking you to do anything. You just need to come to terms with the consequences of your decisions. If you want to flaunt the law then fine. If ignoring valid property rights held by others is your business model fine. Just be ready to be sued, and be ready to hit hard if/when it is demonstrated that you showed reckless disregard for the rights of others.

    You ask: ” I’m sure someone has a patent on some aspect of the user experience for every single application written today. Can you imagine the usability of an application that had to be completely different?”

    Answer: Your understanding of what it means to infringe is challenged to say the least. Perhaps you should study up on the law before you jump to erroneous conclusions.

    You state: “This system is significantly more broken than you appear to think.”

    Response: Not true. I know the system is broken, just not in the ways you think. You want to be absolved from responsibility. You want to have a special carve out that treats the software industry different than every other business that has to respect rights of others. You really need to look yourself in the mirror. As a businessman you also really need to educate yourself on the law far more than you have done. Operating in an industry without understanding the law or hiring experts to assist you is either extremely reckless or extremely arrogant. You might know software, but you sure don’t understand law, and your understanding of business seems lacking as well. Complaining about things, pretending they are a particular way or just wishing things were different and behaving as if they are different is not a responsible way for any business to operate.

    -Gene

  7. “They were, at one time, rather small companies that pursued an aggressive agenda of innovation. A big part of that innovation strategy included obtaining protection for said innovation, largely in the form of acquiring patents. That undeniable truth makes it hard not to question whether the tech giants that lament the failings of the patent system and want to limit or abolish it are simply engaging in good old-fashioned protectionism.”
    Google doesn’t appear to have sought any real protection. They have had some patents, but as far as I know, have never used them. Microsoft and Oracle also did not have significant amounts of patents until they were large companies. So who exactly ARE you talking about?

    “I assure you wit would be cheaper to make changes than to infringe and be on the losing end of a patent infringement case. Of course, many folks in the software industry simply complain that they couldn’t ever really be expected to operate in a business responsible way LIKE EVERY OTHER BUSINESS MUST DO, and then they complain when their irresponsible actions cause them to get sued… as if they are victims”
    That may be true (although a practical solution outside the coverage of a particular patent may not exist), but there’s also the very high probability of going under the radar of a patent holder, or hoping that the patent in question is for defensive purposes.

    Given how often the biggest software companies, who have more resources to spend on playing by the rules, get sued for patent violations, it seems quite evident that as a general rule, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. There are some areas where there are fairly well established rules, such as the licensing pools of existing video codecs.

    “Any particular company that is indirectly blocked by patents finds this to be true for one of two reasons. First, the company itself is not an innovator and can only engage in copying the success of what other, truly creative innovators have done. Second, the company does not actually respect patent rights and doesn’t care to look to see what has been or is being patented by others.”
    You left out another important case. They have an innovation that is dependent upon another innovation (which is true for virtually all innovations), but the existing innovation is still covered by patents. This is a particular problem with software, where 20 years is practically an eternity.

    I’m not quite sure why you want to paint things in such a black and white manner. Patents aren’t a silver bullet that magically makes innovation happen. If you are going to even hope to get net innovation out of a system, you are going to have to finely craft rules that separate the wheat from the chaff, and change those rules as the environment changes.

  8. @Gene’s dialog with the Software Engineer:

    In times past when inventions were mostly electrical, mechanical or chemical, one virtually never did a freedom to use search because they were so expensive and ultimately gave no full assurance of safety. Most new products come out with a relatively modest investment behind them, and if a cease and desist letter shows up, you sacrifice that investment and usually the patentee is content. I was involved in one freedom to use search in the first 20 years of my practice, and that was triggered only by the fact that the client was about to invest millions in a new plant dedicated to the technology. Reducing the likelihood of having to pull the plug on that upon receipt of a cease and desist letter made the investment in a freedom to use search worthwhile.

    How do you think the logic of my experience applies in the field of software patents? I think software is more like the cheap investment item than the multimillion dollar factory.

    Even a new release of Windows, gargantuan as it is, is likely only to have a few lines of code that infringe any one patent. Microsoft sends out weekly updates virtually automatically and could make the switch to the non-infringing alternative and easily end the infringement. Will the patentee be eager to milk Microsoft for the infringement? Yes, that is a common human propensity, but if Microsoft actually took the posture of respecting the patentee, instead of treating him like an annoying fly to be swatted, the courts would not let the patentee get away with it.

  9. Bobby-

    Glad to see you come back! And already you are off to an erroneous start!

    You say: “Google doesn’t appear to have sought any real protection.”

    If you go to Freepatentsonline.com and search “an/google” you find that Google is the assignee of 729 patents. That is, of course, real protection. Similarly, Google sought the Nortel patents and since they lost out on those there are now rumors that Google is interested in acquiring InterDigital or their patent portfolio. According to InterDigital’s amended 10-K: “As of December 31, 2010, our patent portfolio consisted of approximately 1,300 U.S. patents (approximately 150 of which were issued in 2010) and approximately 7,500 non-U.S. patents (approximately 1,200 of which were issued in 2010).”

    The big problem I have always had with you Bobby is you say things without any consideration as to whether they are correct or not. You let your assumptions, which are frequently incorrect, drive your analysis. It is no wonder you reach such wild conclusions that are provably false on such a routine basis.

    As for going under the radar, that is a fine business strategy. It just needs to be done with eyes open knowing that someday it may be necessary to pay the consequences of that decision. Many who see infringement or turning a blind eye to infringement as a good business strategy then cry foul when they are sued as if the patent system is to blame for their decisions, which in retrospect turned out to be poor.

    Of course, many small businesses are sued based on specious claims. For them they should cry foul. They don’t infringe and shouldn’t be victims of bad actors.

    -Gene

  10. Gene,
    Sorry if I was unclear, but I meant that Google doesn’t appear to use these patents in anything other than a defensive manner for countersuits. In other words, Google’s focus on patents seems to be mostly spending money so they have a better chance of being left alone, not preventing competitors from copying them (at least via legal means). They’ve even taken steps to protect others, such as buying out On2 so they would have the authority to at least try and make VP8 royalty free.

    Also, you left out my mention of Oracle and MS. When Oracle wrote a letter to the USPTO in opposition to software patents, they were the third largest independent software vendor, and according to freepatents, were the assignee of 12 patents. Microsoft also had a very small portfolio until about 1992, and they were hardly a small contender at that point in time either.

    “It just needs to be done with eyes open knowing that someday it may be necessary to pay the consequences of that decision. Many who see infringement or turning a blind eye to infringement as a good business strategy then cry foul when they are sued as if the patent system is to blame for their decisions, which in retrospect turned out to be poor. ”
    You are assuming that the decision actually did turn out to be poor. However, big tech companies don’t seem to be changing their tune that much, so it might still be the wisest option for them, even though it has drawbacks. The occasional major blows from ignoring patents could very well be less costly than a million papercuts from proactively licensing patents.

  11. Bobby-

    Big companies proactively license patents all the time. That is why they participate in enormous patent pools, licensing from Intellectual Ventures, RPX and others.

    It is so amusing to hear software purists cite the good hearted and clearly benevolent Google, Oracle and Microsoft to support their positions. Indeed! Those companies ALWAYS look out for the little guy! LOL.

    -Gene

  12. Gene,
    They proactively license patents where they know they have a high risk of being sued, but they clearly don’t proactively license all of the patents a patent search would find.

    As for my mention of Oracle, Google, and MS, I didn’t intend by any means to paint them as angels. I am saying that from the time from when they were the little guys to when they first became big scary companies, patents weren’t a significant of their business model. You certainly can’t reasonably claim that MS and Oracle’s early success had much to do with patents.

  13. Bobby-

    You say: “They proactively license patents where they know they have a high risk of being sued, but they clearly don’t proactively license all of the patents a patent search would find.”

    That is simply not true. The patent aggregators have thousands of patents and companies get blanket licenses. Intellectual Ventures, for example, has 30,000+ patents.

    I think you would be surprised as to how long software has been patentable. Creative patent attorneys have been getting patents on software since at least the 80s, but likely the mid-1970s. You just protect the machine that does a certain thing. So Microsoft was built on control of the platform by agreement, but plenty of the large companies have been patenting software for decades. You cannot reasonably argue that Apple’s success isn’t owed to an aggressive patent policy. So again, I think it is naive to say that the tech giants wanting the abolition of the patent system are altruistic.

    -Gene

  14. “That is simply not true. The patent aggregators have thousands of patents and companies get blanket licenses. Intellectual Ventures, for example, has 30,000+ patents. ”
    I’m not sure how that’s related. A patent search would term up patents other than those held by IV. The size of IV’s patent portfolio pretty much ensures that they would be infringing on some patents, so that would be a high risk.

    “I think you would be surprised as to how long software has been patentable. Creative patent attorneys have been getting patents on software since at least the 80s, but likely the mid-1970s. You just protect the machine that does a certain thing. So Microsoft was built on control of the platform by agreement, but plenty of the large companies have been patenting software for decades.”
    I was talking specifically of MS, which you say claims that patents block innovation. They do not owe their early success to patents.

    “You cannot reasonably argue that Apple’s success isn’t owed to an aggressive patent policy. So again, I think it is naive to say that the tech giants wanting the abolition of the patent system are altruistic. ”
    I didn’t say that the aforementioned companies were altruistic. I just said that patents weren’t a big part of their early

    I also didn’t mention Apple, who doesn’t seem particularly interested in patent reform, and was and still is largely a hardware company, which is a very different ecosystem. That said, it’s fun to note that Steve Jobs famously said in a 1994 interview that “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” There probably were a lot of instances in which they benefited from the relatively permissive patent environment in their early years that allowed them to act ‘reckless.’

    I don’t want to get off on to much of a tangent here, but recklessness would seem to me to be an element that is very strongly tied to innovation. Small companies often have to try hard to find a way to make money, so they take big risks that would be reckless, while big companies are concerned with maintaining stable income, so they tend to act more reserved. Youtube and Google Books were both reckless from a legal standpoint, but they were also very innovative, and likely wouldn’t have been innovative if they had tried to strictly play by the rules and not make waves.

  15. “And how exactly as a small, independent software developer am I to examine all of the patents that are being applied for or have been granted?”

    How does the small, independent XXXX designer do it when XXXX = all other technologies? They’ve been doing it for a couple hundred years now. Why is that the software developers cannot overcome this problem?

    I’ve presented this advice many times, and I’ll present it again. Produce something both valuable and novel/non-obvious (i.e., patentable). If you have something that is valuable and you have IP on it, someone will pay you for it – regardless of whether or not you are infringing somebody else’s patent. What most people don’t realize is that (1) the average small, independent software developer is WAY TOO SMALL to even register on the radar screen of most patent holders; (2) the vast majority of patents don’t get asserted; and (3) even if you pop up on someone’s radar screen, a patent holder likely isn’t going to want to prevent your from practicing the invention –they are just want to get a cut of the action. All that being said, the chances of you being prevented (via patent law) from doing what are you are currently doing is very small.

    “Google’s focus on patents seems to be mostly spending money so they have a better chance of being left alone, not preventing competitors from copying them.”
    One doesn’t have to assert a patent for it to be valuable in preventing somebody else from copying them. This is the same issue that “A Software Engineer” was complaining about – the chilling effect of these patents – asserted or not.

  16. Bobby said:

    You certainly can’t reasonably claim that MS and Oracle’s early success had much to do with patents.

    But this is going off topic because the focus of our discussion is GOOGLE

    and you absolutely can say that :

    Google’s survival and early success had everything to do with patents.

    Without their search algorithm patent, Google wouldn’t exist.
    They would have been just another crushed bug on the floor along 800 Pound Gorilla Highway

  17. JV,
    “One doesn’t have to assert a patent for it to be valuable in preventing somebody else from copying them. This is the same issue that “A Software Engineer” was complaining about – the chilling effect of these patents – asserted or not.”
    The chilling effect of a patent is worth considering, although it is certainly not an easy thing to measure. However, the chilling effect of a patent is strongly related to the likelihood of a lawsuit, as well as the position that

    step back
    “But this is going off topic because the focus of our discussion is GOOGLE”
    They are the central focus, but Gene’s larger theory seems to be that a company likes patents when they are small and need them, but then has disdain for them when they are big and allow new competitors to get a leg up. The examples of Oracle and MS are almost the exact opposite, with MS’s calls for reforms being mostly in regards to NPEs, who are by definition not competitors.

    [quote]Without their search algorithm patent, Google wouldn’t exist.[/quote]
    Despite PageRank technology playing a large role in Google’s formation, the PageRank patent isn’t even held by Google, but rather, Stanford University. It’s also probably quite difficult to tell how effective Stanford holding the patent was as a threat against other search engines, particularly since a great deal of search engine technology is covered by trade secrets (as PageRank likely could have effectively been)

  18. “Despite PageRank technology playing a large role in Google’s formation, the PageRank patent isn’t even held by Google, but rather, Stanford University. It’s also probably quite difficult to tell how effective Stanford holding the patent was as a threat against other search engines, particularly since a great deal of search engine technology is covered by trade secrets (as PageRank likely could have effectively been)”

    WRONG WRONG WRONG – even though Stanford owns the patent, Google had an EXCLUSIVE LICENSE for many years. So noone else could license the technology. Google “got theirs” and now they want to stop others doing what they themselves relied on. Hypocrites.

  19. Google says: “Patents block innovation.”

    Google means: “Innovation blocks Google.”

  20. Nice Steve! It sure does seem that Google has a “personal” agenda here that is driving them. Have to wonder whether they would be saying the same things if they actually were successful in acquiring the Nortel portfolio.

    -Gene

  21. In the context of recent events, Walker’s comments do sound a lot like sour grapes over Google’s epic mishandling of its Nortel patent bid.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/poltorak-says-nortel-auction-may-spark-patent-wars/2011/06/27/AGWzLWnH_video.html