For the past several weeks, our office has been following the buzz around patent wars – most notably the infamous Apple vs. Samsung battle. Every day we seem to hear snippets of who won what war and the millions of dollars lost (or gained). Hearing about these showdowns has become similar to celebrity gossip – something I glance over in passing and forget a day or two later.
However, a recent article published by the NY Times The Patent, Used as a Sword brought this issue to a larger stage for me. It went beyond the ins and outs of each individual case and had me thinking about the bigger picture of how these patent wars are limiting the prospects of talented people.
What impact do patent wars have on job creation? Do these wars discourage entrepreneurs from creating new businesses? Is there even room for future generations to innovate if they have to face legal battles from giant companies?
Let’s take a look at the current patent landscape:
- The US patent office had an estimated 540,000 patent applications in 2011
- IBM holds the most patents (and has for the past 19 years) at 70,715 patents
- Samsung owns over 47,800 U.S. patents, Canon owns over 46,300 U.S patents and Sony owns over 36,500 U.S. patents
- There are an estimated 200,000 patents covering the software industry today
- As of 2011, Asian firms account for 50% of the top 50 US patent-grant recipients
What does this mean for innovators?
Patents are supposed to protect inventors so they can safely bring their original ideas for new products to market and realize a profit. But now start-ups are faced with a battlefield of tech giants – protected by broad patents they use as weapons to tear competitors down. As a result, patent laws are being used to beat down the people they were originally designed to protect.
- IT seems that among the current patent laws – if you can dream it, you should patent it – or someone else will (or might have already).
- Even if you know you might not get it approved, you should keep trying until it passes (Apple tried 10 times before Siri was patented).
- Innovators are being forced to spend their dollars on legal fees and lawyers rather than research and development.
- It seems that for future generations, when creating a new product, they will have to spend more time researching potential patents that might apply to their creation than actually developing their product.
Patent wars are a job killers
Patent wars are creating a huge barrier that makes it much harder for people to realize their dreams and start new companies. This means less job opportunities for engineers, developers, programmers and designers with the technical skills to make new product ideas a reality and bring them to market.
Innovators can be great employees
At Stafflink, when we notice a job candidate with a patent or start-up experience on their resume, we take a second look. Even if a start up doesn’t take off – it says a lot about the candidate that they were willing to take a risk!
Innovators make great employees because they tend to be creative, persistent and they are super hard workers. Plus they tend to be great at troubleshooting and solving problems. They know how to make a career out of riding the waves of change, which means they can help your business do the same.
So if you are an innovator, but you are hesitant to bring your idea to market due to the patent wars, don’t lose hope. Your creativity and innovation can be a great asset to you as you look for employment.
What are your thoughts? Is it possible for technical experts and innovators in today’s society to bring their ideas to market without spending a huge part of their financial resources on managing patents?