One of the chapters in my next book is on how attorneys have in some respects become more important than engineers in the tech industry.
Couple of extracts:
“If there is a poster child for a regulatory agency which is overwhelmed by technology advances it is the U.S. Patent Office. Even though a quarter of patent applications come from California, it does not have a branch office there. The office is so backed up applications don’t get looked at for years. It is not uncommon for patents to take 3 to 5 years to get issued. Till recently, the Office which should be tech savvy itself would not accept digital applications.”
“Many technology lawsuits end up in Marshall, Texas, because “In the rough calculus of intellectual property litigation, [its] tough judges equate with speedy cases — and that’s exactly what you want if you’re a plaintiff with limited cash, but potentially big - time settlement payments or damages from a company you claim is infringing on your patent.
So the town of 20,000 “with more pottery manufacturers than software companies” has become famous around the world. It comes complete with its folklore of a “rocket docket” for the speed of its cases and of lawyers making “rattlesnake speeches ” similar to the loud posturing the local venomous species does to warn of its presence.
Willie and Waylon and the boys put Luckenbach, TX on the map. Technology attorneys have done even better for Marshall.”
And quite a bit of the chapter focuses on the whole slew of skirmishes around Google’s Android. Ironically, Microsoft makes more from Android lawsuits than its does from Windows Phone. IBM which is not a major mobile player just traded a bunch of patents to Google.
So it’s unfair to Motorola’s engineers, but the math suggests the Google bid is to get access to its 25,000 existing or in-process patents. It could have paid $ 4 billion for Nortel’s 6,000 patents a few weeks ago. Now it gets X times those patents, and the engineering talent and access to Motorola’s high-definition set-top box space to boost Google TV.
It should also allow Google to defend its fast growing Android ecosystem (and those of Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone) like Apple has jumped in to the Lodsys action against its App Store developers.
But most importantly, it should allow Google and its partners to spend precious dollars on strategic components (like the $ 4 billion Apple spent earlier in year) for their devices and data centers rather than on attorneys and more patents and “rattlesnakes”
Which is why most of Google’s Android hardware partners welcomed – yes, welcomed the news instead of fretting about now having to compete with Google. See quotes here from Samsung to HTC seeing it as “defending Android”