Reading IAM issue 54, two quick observations.
Twitter’s patent policy is the subject of the Insights section. It’s not clear who wrote this but it may just miss one key point, which is why Twitter has put its Innovator’s Patent Agreement in place. To summarise, Twitter’s VP of Engineering Adam Messinger has implemented an agreement and policy that puts some control of how a patent is used in the hands of the inventors. IAM, correctly, argues that this may place restrictions on Twitter’s abilities to use the patents in question for offensive purposes or to raise finance by selling the patents, to trolls (I like the word troll, it is sufficiently descriptive for me of all models that create wealth from licensing patents, however implemented, NPEs is too kind, and as the IP Hall of Fame now has its first troll….stop it Andrew), or for any other purpose other than defensive.
Why are these restrictions important? Well stop and pause for just ten seconds and imagine that you are a software engineer. Don’t read on until you imagine this for at least 10 seconds.
So Mr Software Engineer. You read Slashdot (notorious patent haters) and other technical journals and literature. You may have worked at organisations like Gemstar and IBM where pots of wealth were and are being created using your inventions. What do you feel about patent licensing as a business model? How do you feel about your precious inventions, the emotional equivalent of your children so they say, being used by lawyers to force another company to defend against your invention. You may, or may not, philosophically, believe in software patents. But that is not the core point. Other people, probably lawyers, are taking your babies and forcing others to pay money to make use of them. Emotionally that’s hard to imagine, and what’s worse is that they don’t even ask your permission to do so or pay you a fair reward for their privilege.
If those hard-bitten beliefs are to be reversed and the opposite behaviours encouraged, Twitter like IPAs will be part of the solution. Does IAM think that Mr Messinger will have implemented this blind without asking engineers for their opinions and views?
I also liked the “Seen & Heard” section in general and this quote from Ron Zink of Microsoft Europe in particular.
“Negative fringe stories about multi-billion dollar patent wars and anti-counterfeiting treaties are tainting the image of IP”.
Too right. Though I think, ending the week on the same theme as which we started it, that removing the words from “and through to treaties” and replacing the word “IP” with “patents” would be more accurate.
Time to rest, a hard week.