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Intellectual Property, Technology, and the Law
With that said, I would like to introduce the first installment of what I hope becomes a regular feature on this blog. I am calling it “Mobile Madness.”
We are currently witnessing a historic and ubiquitous migration in technology. Not too long ago, in the late 1980s, personal computers were becoming commonplace in the American household. Yet, only two decades later, a major shift has started from these PCs to smartphones. My brother recently told me that he goes days without using a PC (whether desktop, laptop or netbook), because he can do all of his work and surfing with his iPhone.
With this migration, we see conflict. But the conflict is nothing like some of the skirmishes we saw in the PC days. The dynamics of the mobile market are multilayered and include a myriad of players, interests, and technology spaces. Battles loom over hardware, software, look and feel, just about anything. And they involve just about every single IPR (intellectual property right) imaginable. These are exciting times for an IP practitioner.
And thus, Mobile Madness. Since I’ve been scarce with time lately, I’ve got a bunch of issues to cover. I intend to have shorter blog posts in the future. But whatever, here you go! Without further ado…
Our accounting department recently sent me an email, asking for approval to pay an invoice relating to a patent application that we have. She named the company, which didn’t sound familiar. The scenario, however, was all-too familiar. I asked her to send me a copy of the invoice, but I had a pretty good idea of what it was before I received it. Here it is (with redactions):
“You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking.” – The Wizard of Oz
I have to admit, I got a chuckle out of the latest comments from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was at the Embedded System Conference here in the Silicon Valley:
“A lot of patents are pretty much not worth that much”
Um, well, yeah. Not exactly groundbreaking news. I know some people who believe only 5-10% of their patent portfolio will ever be useful in any manner. But it’s that 5-10% that keeps companies afloat.
“In other words, any fifth-grader could come up with the same approach.”
Well, ok. My son’s in the 5th grade and I am pretty sure he has come up with several novel and nonobvious ways to annoy his sister.