7 reasons we’ll never solve the software patent wars
As I’ve noted in other posts, the SXSW conference is generally an optimistic event, so it was no surprise to see a panel called How to Fix Patent: Trolls, Innovators & Reform. Unfortunately, actually attending the panel left me with a very different impression… more along the lines of “abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
The panelists – Julie Hopkins, Intellectual Property Practice Chair & Partner at the law firm of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP; Google senior counsel Lee Dunn; Russ Merbeth, chief policy counsel for Intellectual Ventures (the patent house headlined by former Microsoftie Nathan Myrhvold); and moderator Reihan Salam, senior fellow at the R Street Institute think tank – came from such vastly different perspectives that it seemed impossible they could ever find common ground.
…Patents involve conflicts between legitimate needs: On the one hand, the goal of patent law is to protect inventors and spur innovation, but it also wants to protect the rights of patent holders. Worse, the players’ needs can change over time. “Small entities have one set of interests,” said Salam, “but when you become large entity, your interests change.” Google’s Dunn agreed: “Your perspective has to change when you’re sued, as often as we are.” Google started with many innovations that were open source, she added, but “we’ve been forced to become more defensive, as everyone has.”