Russel Winder's Website

Big Money vs Innovation

I can't remember how exactly I got there, but I alighted on this webpage: Enough is Enough, by Fred Wilson. The article is a reaction to the ongoing cases brought by Lodsys against Apple and Google and, more terrifying, against individual applications developers. Lodsys appears to be a patent holding company that does nothing but licencing patents, i.e. it is the archetypal patent troll.

Wilson opens his article with:

_ I believe that software patents should not exist. They are a tax on innovation. And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. Patenting software is like patenting music. _

So here we have a venture capitalist (VC), i.e. a person who buys innovation for a living, saying that software patents should not exist. He is not the only one. Most VCs I know think patents are a waste of time for startups unless you want to get into the patent trolling business. If you actually want to create, market and sell innovative product, you are far better off using copyright and commercial secrecy as tools to protect IPR.

Big Money will of course object to this since patents have become an integral part of their business model. Fine if you are Big Money, useless if you are a small startup generating innovation. And everyone agrees startups are where innovation happens not in big organizations. So a patent-based business model is pro Big Money and anti startup, and hence anti-innovation.

Sadly I fear the patent system is so deeply enshrined in Big Money's view of business that it will not allow the system to be changed, no matter how much the VCs complain. To those that have I guess.

Copyright © 2017 Russel Winder -