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Doug's Mailbag: Rewriting Patent Laws

Readers give their suggestions on what needs fixing in corporate patent laws:

I do not believe we can fix the legal system. We have reached a point where we elect lawyers to go to Washington to write laws that only lawyers can read. No one wants to admit to being immoral so we have to accept that every company is working on the right hand of god. Perhaps someday Microsoft will learn to be creative and imaginative again but it will be after most of us are dead. Monopolies never create anything. They will always give you the substandard version and charge too much for it. Perhaps if they spent as much on R&D as they spend on lawyers and marketing, they could actually make a real name for themselves as innovators.

Instead we get the great pretenders and phones that work poorly and tablets (Microsoft told us they would never matter 10 years ago) that are garbage. This is a company that openly and freely uses the legal system to crush competitors it does not know how to beat. If you do come up with a better way to do something, it is not in your best interests to market it because the mindless minions from Redmond will come and crush you with legal expenses. Even if you win, it will tie you up 'til you go broke. This is how we do business in this country now.

A company that is trying to survive through patent suits instead of making great products is already dead.

But you already knew that.

I actually interpret what has occurred  between Microsoft and Google as a very good thing. First, I don't want to see the free market stymied in any capacity (God knows it already has been enough). So creating additional regulations on why patents are purchased or how they are used would not be a good thing in my opinion.

Second, and more importantly, Google actually proves my first point for me with how it handled this situation. If you recall, Microsoft actually contacted both it and Apple about going in together on purchasing these patents so they could all protect themselves from patent claims. Google essentially told Microsoft to get lost (then denied it, but Microsoft released the original e-mails that exposed Google in its lie).

In free markets, the cream rises to the top. Google's awful decision to ignore Microsoft's offer has come back to haunt it in a big way. Meanwhile, Microsoft is being generously rewarded with its great decision to purchase all of these patents – its products are all protected from claims on infringement, while, at the same time, it can generate revenue from its competitor's products and help drive that product out of the market.

Bottom line, this wasn't an issue of deep pockets (certainly Google's pockets are just as deep as Microsoft's). This was an issue of good decisions vs. bad decisions -- and as always, good decisions has won. I would really hate to see another instance of good decisions punished by the government and bad decisions rewarded by the government in the form of some government 'patent regulation.'

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Posted by Doug Barney on 02/24/2012 at 1:19 PM


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