Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I hate patent laws. I think 99pct of the time they are anti-competitive, corruptive, impede creativity and innovation and can kill small businesses. I think the ratio of patent law doing a good job protecting company IP vs it being used purely to negatively impact competitors or to troll for un-earned revenue is probably 1000 to 1, or worse.
When I read that Yahoo was suing Facebook my immediate reaction was disdain. As I thought more about it, I came to realize that this case could be the water shed moment that causes enough people to recognize just how horrific our patent law is.
I am not saying that there is zero value to patents. There are plenty of examples out of the however many patents that have been issued where the patent was put to legitimate use to protect a company from a large predator. It’s the law of big numbers. When there are enough of anything issued, some good will be done. Look at the patent that some individual has for a BCS Playoff System. Im sure he was the first one to think of it and of course he should be protected from the BCS. Does patent law get any better than this?
Seriously, there are industries where patents are used fairly to protect intellectual property. The technology industry is not one of them.
Change is needed. However, its not going to come from our government. The lobbyists have taken over. One of the symptoms of the illness patents have caused the technology industry is the explosion of lobbyists pushing the agenda of big patent portfolio holders. They are not going to let our lawmakers give an inch.
Rather than originating in Congress, its going to take a consumer uprising to cause change. What better way to create a consumer uprising than to financially cripple and possibly put out of business the largest social network on the planet ?
If Yahoo were to be awarded 50 Billion Dollars from Facebook, I think consumers may take notice. And don’t think that 50B should be an impossibility.
If Yahoo’s patents truly are valid and recognize that they got Google to pay money for their Pay Per Click patent (acquired from Overture), then there is absolutely no reason why the same Patent shouldnt be valid against Facebook. The company looking at an IPO with a 100Billion dollar market cap !
The same with the patent for personalizing pages. My.Yahoo.Com was way ahead of its time when it was introduced. Facebook is built on personalized pages. If ever a patent in this patent environment should be valid, these two should be valid in today’s world.
Which is the exact reason why Yahoo should do everything possible to use the patents to tear apart facebook with as large an award as it possibly can get. 1 Billion. Peanuts. 10 Billion, Peanuts. Start at 50B. After all there is no way Facebook gets as large as it is without use of Yahoo’s Patents. No personalized pages, no PPC, no Facebook IPO. No Facebook as we know it.
This is what patents are for, right ? To protect companies with original IP from smarter, faster, aggressive companies who catch the imagination of consumers and advertisers. What else could patents be for ?
I hope Yahoo is awarded 50Billion dollars. It is the only way that consumers will realize what is at stake with patent law as is.
Then maybe we can get it right and further innovation and competition in this country.
100 thoughts on “I Hope Yahoo Crushes Facebook in its Patent Suit”
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Did you buy into VRINGO based on their patents?
Several years ago I looked into creating a similar mobile app service. Upon researching prior art, I came a cross VRINGO (the only way I think anyone would have discovered they were in business at the time). Their relevant patents and owner/investor profiles dissuaded me from the mobile app project I had in mind. Anyway, I’m sure VRINGO’s patents played a big role in your investment decision.
I hope and believe you will do very well with making a modified VRINGO a success — there’s a lot of untapped opportunity there for a simpler service.
Comment by steveoreno (@steveoreno1) -
Mark don’t you also own companies that have patents? I personally want to see Facbook fail because I have had too many fail loves from Facebook 🙂
Comment by Alireza Sefati (@asefati) -
Thanks for all your insights. Are you still accepting applications for your “Stimulis Package”
Comment by Bill Johnson -
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I hope they don’t. I would rather see Google+ take down Facebook and leave them looking like MySpace. Not as enjoyable as observing a patent law fiasco… a bit more like watching a Python devour an Antelope.
Great…. now I’m hungry.
Comment by Daniel Batal (@FPRenovations) -
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I saw you on Shark Tank and was shocked at your disdain for IP. You mentioned “….however many patents that have been issued where the patent was put to legitimate use to protect a company from a large predator “. What you don’t seem to realize is that the large predator’s strategy is to ‘crush’ the little guy with attorney/court fees – regardless of their innovation. The small inventor does not have the deep pockets to defend against the 800 lb gorilla, hence, the troll industry was developed…I’m not a troll but I am a small inventor that needs to protect my IP…
Comment by Rick Triola -
Indeed, the area of software patents looks to be the next frontier of extensive intellectual property legal battles. While I’m not against the idea of patenting software, I wouldn’t be surprised if these coming fights eventually led either to new limitations on software patents, or even to their elimination altogether.
Comment by Gena Mason -
after reading the points you made. It makes perfect sense that patents on generalized technology (like PPC) only hinders technology development on what other sites can do.
Comment by bankherald -
Good morning Mark My husband and I would like to reach you about our business and get your imput on how to help make it successful.
Comment by kathy frazier (@frazier3378) -
Great post, MC! Speaking of patents, we’ve often wondered if the Founder/CEO of The Dynamic Foundation should obtain a patent on their intellectual property…take a look at http://www.thedynamicfoundation.org and let them know what you think. A billion dollar plan could help millions of families…
Comment by algorithmicmind -
Totally agree with you Mark. This reminds me of how upset you got on the Shark Tank when that guy came in with the headphone wire management patent, lol. Patents like this do nothing but hinder growth and innovation.
Your comment about the faster moving, large companies taking advantage of the little guys brings up a good point. I can understand where a patent could be used fairly for a limited amount of time to give the originator of the idea a first mover advantage at least. I could see granting patents for perhaps a 1 year period, maybe less in the tech world. It’s not a perfect solution, but would definitely be an improvement on the current system
Comment by USA Process Serving (@Serve_Logic) -
This sounds like a reasonable option. I also understand, to a point, patenting other aspects of a business, such as preventing the use of unique branding.
Comment by Debra Contreras -
This is an interesting experience, the prospect on reaching the infamous Mr. Cuban.
My name is Damien Darby,. I just finished writing a mini-biography on you for a client. I am a web content writer and ebook author. I have probably published a quarter of a million words in the last four months or so, but to be honest, that job left an impression.
To be frank, when I was first given the assignment I cringed. I have seen you on liberal shows, but really the only thing I knew about you was that you are some rich guy.
However, I must say, you impressed me. That’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, from where I am sitting, accomplishing that in many respects was harder than making your first couple million from Yahoo.
Throughout the research what impressed me the most was the look you keep, that composure that can be traced through nearly every decision. The one thing I found odd was the lack of readily available information on your mother. For me it would be the opposite, my dad didn’t have the work ethic yours did.
Anyways, I just wanted to thank you. I was uplifted and inspired more than once and these days its rough to get that in my world. Also, thanks for the hard work and the rational/pragmatic approach to economics, let’s hope it catches on.
Comment by Damien Darby -
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Mark, you just bought into a Stand Up Company and we just got uspto registration on the three letters SUS™/ Stand Up Spike™ and have a pat pend on the world’s first SkateBoard Spike™ pat pend, the only way by which you can go up serious hills on a skateboard in stand up position. SUS™ is going to dwarf SUP and not because it is in any way better. Simply put it is Core out you Door™ and beats SUP hands down as far as barrier to entry for the athlete and speed with which it can be practiced. In no way am I advocating for less SUP! We love SUP and we wish we were taping out the rhythm on water every day. But that is not our case nor will it be for most of our customers. They will do SUS™ at night, on their way to work, in rain and up hills and cold fringed days in warm dry boots. All the while getting massive stand up core, lats back and arms. By now everyone knows Stand up rips you and does not melt your brain. Core for 90 minutes , no problem.
Now that said. I’d have to imagine that you would see some validity to our pat pend on the SkateBoard Spike™ which is registered with USPTO as well. It is the only device ever on earth by which you can use one handed as well as two handed with a carbide steel tip. So the next time you find yourself in NYC and itching for a stand up session. Look us up and we will tap out one or two laps of Central Park in 40-50 minutes and get ripped. Stand Up Spike™.. look it up, not to hard to find. skateboarding just grew up into the fitness market once and for all.
Ok so I left out SPIKEBOARDING™… now that rocks big time.. as we saw you buy into that sup company.. well, we just thought you might also have an interest in possibly partnering with the folks that will dominate globally the land, in Stand Up and let you know about our patent and see if you found it of any merit seeing as you don’t for tech. We are feeling pretty happy about the moat we have going now.
Comment by Central-Park LongBoarder -
Sarcasm is genius.
What patents do is — NOT allow others to improve and create progress in our world. Period.
As a side note — in brief glance why does it appear that I am the only or only one of a few women to comment on this issue? Come on – women are much better represented in small business….they should care!
Comment by Rachel Blaufeld -
Mark, you may be interested in reading our report on the Yahoo! v Facebook lawsuit, found here: http://www.m-cam.com/patently-obvious/defriending-facebook-intellectual-property-analysis-yahoo-inc-v-facebook-inc
All but one of the patents Yahoo! is asserting against Facebook underwent extensive claim amendments AFTER Facebook was incorporated in 2004. In other words, the asserted Yahoo! patents have the dual benefit of a pre-2004 application date and a post-2004 visibility into technologies that Facebook had already reduced to practice.
However, Facebook faces a Catch-22. Should the company elect to prove that they “invented” what Yahoo! amended into their patents, they may prevail, but the proof of inventorship would then be ammunition to invalidate their own too-late-applied-for portfolio (you only have a year of commercial use before you’re disqualified from seeking or gaining patent protection).
Comment by M-CAM Inc. (@MCAMInc) -
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I came across this yesterday, it’s hilarious and completely relevant here – addresses the mathematical distortion used by IP attorneys and the like:
Comment by Chris Zimmerman (@cpzimmerman) -
Mark, I agree 100% with you here. I think the bigger worry in patent law though is in gardening, specifically hydroponic gardening. Now the big companies are going to patent these different methods of growing food in small spaces and then disable the little people from being able to produce their own food.
A Hydroponic garden can be made very simply and cheaply and used to feed a large number of people. Patent Law can stop this. If corporations own some obscure patent, they will be able to come after small time farmers just trying to help their neighborhood or community. Obviously the cost of a pre-made hydroponic garden from a major corporation is more than the cost of me finding directions on youtube and piecing it together from the local hardware store.
I’m glad to see a billionaire like yourself is looking out for us little guys who don’t have the power or money to fight massive corporations.
Comment by Keith Green -
And now we have TQP Development LLC claiming it owns the patent to “HTTPS://” (see https://www.cipherlawgroup.com/blog/tqp-sues-another-round-of-companies-on-cryptography-patent/)
Lord help us.
Comment by Joey Joey Joey -
I love Mark Cuban! Way to be for funding Kisstixx, my local peeps. I am here running my B2B lead generation and appointment setting company http://launchleads.com – we also are helping some great clients with their INBOUND lead qualification and verification, so they can focus on selling to the golden prospects that hit their site.
Keep on rocking, and teaching young entrepreneurs how to make it.
Comment by Brandt 'Bubba' Page (@brandtpage) -
Sunlight Foundation has the numbers to back up your assertion about the patent lobby: http://snlg.ht/yxSDh1
Comment by Kathy Kiely (@kathykiely) -
Be careful for what you wish for; a Yahoo win would mean more students going into patent law. Sarcasm aside, how to fix the patent bloat?
Getting a new anti-patent law has a political roadblock. Too many politicians are lawyers; they are hammers that treat every problem like a nail – where every problem can be solved by more lawyers.
May I a propose a modest solution? It’s called “Petition to make special”. It is a special provision in the patent application process to speed up review with the claim that you can’t make it (or get funding to make it) without first getting patent protection.
I was CTO of a software company that filed one of my patents under “Petition to make special”. They never made the product. After I left, they tried to shake down another company for license fees. But, discovered that because of the “Petition to make special” and no product, they had a lot less leverage. I thought that was pretty cool!
So, why not extend that to all Patents: use it or lose it. That solves a part of the problem, but not all of it. There are plenty of Apples in the world that both innovate and intimidate with IP. So, it’s an incremental improvement. But it is one that might survive the political prices, because it still involves lawyers – though hopefully fewer lawyers whom hang out in a certain county of West Texas.
(BTW, the spell checker wants to replace correctly spelled words with mistakes)
Comment by Warren Stringer -
When a company becomes publicly traded, their patents should become public domain. Also, businesses shouldn’t pay taxes unless they’re publicly traded.
Comment by Keith Partly -
lol @ being able to get a patent on a PPC platform – something that most large advertising networks use. This is worse than when Smuckers tried to patent the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Comment by thefreeresumebuilder -
So you think that “there are industries where patents are used fairly to protect intellectual property. The technology industry is not one of them.” Why do technology companies not count? Maybe you want all patents to go away and treat this country like China where we can do whatever we want at will? Good luck with that.
Comment by B+W Engineering (@bwengr) -
I agree that business method patents are particularly obnoxious, and that was an unfortunate path that patent law went down at its own peril.
I wonder what you think of copyright suits, however, such as the one brought by Verizon against YouTube (Google) claiming that YouTube built its business by purposely encouraging users to upload copyrighted content illegally (as revealed by e-mail messages among its owners who knew exactly what was going on). That strikes me as an unfair way to get a business off the ground.
— Sandy Thatcher (former university press director)
Comment by Sanford Gray Thatcher -
As an IU business technology major and an aspiring to be tech law contract/IP lawyer my opinion on patent law in technology varies. When it comes to cases such as Apple v. Samsung, Apple should win in a suit over the swipe to open feature, along with the general design of the phone. These features are core components and create identity for the iPhone and their image. On the other hand I hate patent trolls. The fact that you can buy patents like a venture capitalist and wait for someone to violate and sue over it is disgusting. This destroys innovation. If you are not actively pursuing the development of your patent, if it is not a core part of your revenue stream or if you have not sold it to a competitor or firm to be implemented in the market it should be dead.
Comment by dasthart -
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I agree with Mark, but it would be devastating to my company and cause us to rework everything we do. Facebook is our bread and butter and without it, or a close version of it, we would be dead.
Comment by Chuck Scroggs -
I just hate when I make mistakes (spelling errors), but I was in a rush this morning to make a Dr’s app’t for one of my children. I wanted to add a few things to my previous post.
I wanted to elaborate on something in my business summary. A huge opportunity within my jewelry business is that I want to get into licensing. I have sold a tremendous amount of items in Saints and LSU colors here in south Louisiana and I have whole line of specific items that can be tailored to any team colors.
I feel your “pain” about the copyright/patent/licensing issue. When marketing my items to local sports stores, I hit the proverbial wall because they refuse to carry an item that the NCAA, NFL or NBA licensing entities will target. Even though my items have no logos and are only using team colors, they will not buy them because they are not licensed. I suspect the stores are getting advertising $$$ to onoy sell licensed product, though I have not been able to get a confimation of this.
One of the “other” ideas I have can add to the sales of the above items. It is a tool to get women who may not currently watch football, basketball and other sports to gain an interest (without bothering their male significant other). Would like to tell you more…An idea I have had for over 20 years since watching football with my mother.
Can’t wait to hear from you. Pam
Comment by Pam Kirkland Garvin -
@danieldirico: My answer is the rules need to be overhauled to mandate the USPTO apply tests to applications to meet specifications that determine if there is genuine innovation that justifies the existance of the patent system itself. Look at a patent (application) and ask “How likely is it that someone educated and trained in this field could have invented this, if posed with the need to have it and funding equal to one person’s median income?”. If that is more than 50/50, then reject the application.
Comment by motre -
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Could you put a “+1” button on your posts, Mark?
Comment by mirek2 -
You sound like bit of a cock Mark.
Comment by What's New in Green? (@whatsnewingreen) -
While you make vaid point, I believe it is absurd to demand 50% of a largely inflated IPO valuation based on two patents that, while critical, could in no way account for Facebook’s enormous success in the market place. If Yahoo had the technology and the know-how to develop a Facebook-quality product, then they should have done just that. As one esteemed in business, you should know that it takes more that a few building blocks to build a successful company, just how it takes more than a pile of lumber and a blueprint to build a house.
I do not mean to say that Yahoo is not entitled to some compensation from Facebook, but perhaps in a licensing arrangement, but surely not in an absurdly large lump sum payment.
Comment by Steez McGinty -
What is the solution though? No patents? I agree with this post, but I’m not sure what the answer is..
Comment by Daniel DiRico (@danieldirico) -
Hi mark. As I more of a football fan, you have been somewhat off of my radar, with the exception of media “highlights” over the last few years. I am a fan of the SHARK TANK and before THE BIG IDEA on MSNBC. I can see something in almost any investor pitch and that can be tailored it to my business
I am a business owner in New Orleans an have been aggressively trying to find and investor for my business. In addition to the business I am initially approaching you about, I have several other products/ideas. Now, this statement may say many things about me to you. Please don’t make the mistake my now ex-husband did. He once called me “scattered”. I should have knew then that he did not know me at all. It’s just that my mind is always moving, forward if things are going well and dodging and ducking left or right if I run into a wall. Well I am at a wall. I have a profitable business, but in order for me to turn it into the success I know it can be I need help.
I am posting a link. My computer spills are beyond “literate” but not yet “saavy” so I hope the link works. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=3462168995526
Thank You for your time. Pam Garvin
PSI read something that led me to believe you might be in New Orleans in the near future. If that is the case, I would love the opportunity to meet with you. Thanks again.
Comment by Pam Kirkland Garvin -
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A fundamental mistake that our legal system has made is in treating intellectual expression the same as physical property. Physical property is finite and subject to supply and demand, becoming more valuable the more scarce it is. The value of knowledge is in direct proportion to its usefulness & area of distribution. The more widespread, the more valuable. So it would follow that it is in the interests of society to disseminate knowledge as widely as possible. Copyright and patent laws should be redesigned to encourage creation and distribution of knowledge, not limit it. Mark, any ideas on how to get this movement energized?
Comment by rwcipod -
Thx for the post!
Comment by Nathan Edmundson -
I hope the LA Lakers Crush the Mavericks
Comment by bkerensa -
A billion isn’t cool. Do you know what’s cool? A bajillion!
Seriously, this lawsuit from Yahoo is well-timed and I would love to see Yahoo make some kind of search comeback.
Verbase.com, my “Google-killer”, isn’t going to wait around. It’s inspired by the raw innocence of Yahoo’s early days when just searching for anything was a “wow” experience.
Comment by Antoine Sorel Neron (@antoinesoneron) -
The last patent that Yahoo were suing for is the seamless email messages integration.
I don’t remember any Yahoo product which does this or can do this, and if they actually copied the idea, then it’s I guess it would be fair to sue them.
But the fundamental idea of someone thinking about a cool idea which Facebook also thought about and made money on it would cause that troll to make money out of the other’s success is disgusting.
Most software patents today don’t deserve to exist. Those who do deserve to exist shouldn’t be general ideas. They should be complex algorithms which actually had thought invested in them.
Comment by Ron Reiter -
Patents are technically a government sanctioned taking of (intellectual) property. If I invent it, it should be mine. The theory of patents is that if there is no incentive to invent so many inventions would not happen. Also, if one does invent something really great, others will copy it (if it is unable to be kept as a trade secret). The patent system is, in theory, intended to create an incentive through exclusive rights for a period of time, for the first to invent and disclose, taking away any rights others may have. It’s a balancing act between discouraging invention and encouraging it … between preserving IP rights, and taking them away. The principle behind the balance is for the net good of the nation. So if I invent it, but I was not first (even though I did it independently), it can be taken from me by someone else who gets to the patent office first.
I do believe this principle is the right one. I also believe it has been extremely abused, mostly so in the past 50 years or so.
I do think Mark’s figures of 1000 to 1 is a very good estimate. I’ve called it 10000 to 1 at times.
A couple hundred years ago, when the founders of this country made sure this was in the Constitution, we had very few inventions being made, and those few were deliberately made to be inventions. Today, we have lawyers with some tech background scraping through all the software code, blueprints, CAD files, for anything that looks to THEM (the lawyers) like something THEY (the lawyers) would not have thought of. That becomes another patent filing that the USPTO is almost certain to just rubber stamp and issue a number. Never mind that over 9999 out of 10000 of those creations could be made by typically 10,000 to 100,000 engineers or programmers if they had the need to do so. And probably dozens already have.
We (mostly) do not even need the patent system today. There are some legitimate patents for things that cost a huge amount of resources to develop, or were the inspiration of nearly one of a kind genius.
I agree with Mark. We need an example setting case that shows that today, the patent system of 2 centuries ago is more destructive than helpful.
Comment by motre -
Entrepreneurs are a in a Catch 22. On one hand investors understandably want IP. On the other hand a utility patent takes up valuable early resources and will have as much teeth as you are ready to defend.
At the same time, big companies use the system to file endless minute things that get through the system.
The US is the greatest economy in the world partly because of its IP system protecting the R&D that goes with inventing something new. However, personalizing pages is not exactly Facebook.com and to protect a kernel of an idea and use it to attack millions of tangents is not the value of protecting IP for a nation. The value is in protecting unique specific IP and not derivatives that are clearly different with examples of use cases on how the IP was used. Use cases to show differences should carry weight, period.
It also bothers me that Facebook would be attacked so late in the game when Yahoo could have filed their protest much earlier. Extremely unfair to build an empire then get legs taken out by a cry baby.
The patent system has evolved into a Rich Man Poor Man system of trolls with patents that like to play the same dirty game because they don’t make the rules, they just play within them.
Comment by Ace (@nojuicegaming) -
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This is not sarcasm, this is a plea and a desire for the success of Yahoo in litigation in order to reveal to the public the ludicrous nature of patent law. An excellent explanation of how the system works now is here at everything is a remix: http://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/
Comment by Franco Iterum (@FrancoIterum) -
Just think of the countless millions spent by Polaroid, Kodak, record labels etc. to protect their now-irrelevant technology. What a waste. Imagine if they instead poured those millions into new delivery platforms, technologies, etc. Hell, they could have bought Napster!
USA is on the fast decline unless we can reconnect to innovation, industry and production. Most IP law is manipulated to PREVENT innovation by unnaturally extending market dominance for technologies that would have otherwise been weeded out via natural selection.
Truly dominant brands should become and remain so by virtue of superlative quality and service at attainable prices. That’s free market economics at its best.
These patent jockeys and their virtual domain-squatting cousins are just parasites…gatekeepers on the road to progress. Screw ’em.
Comment by Chris Zimmerman (@cpzimmerman) -
@ thecampustv The idea is to leave everyone no choice but to campaign hard against current patent laws.
Comment by Mikko Mindanao (@mikkomindanao) -
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Just caught on to your blog…It’s thoughtful and well-written!
I want to invite you to check out BlastFace.com — I think you should write something for us!!!!
Be A Hero!
BlastFace: A Hero’s Magazine
Comment by blastface -
What makes me sick is to see the millions flushed down the legal toilets fighting this case – on both sides. Tech is a new legal industry.
As a Shark Tank competitor, I would be interested to hear what you think of our patent? – http://tinyurl.com/6lru7sr
Comment by qubitstoy -
I always love a good bit of dripping sarcasm. What people always forget is the reason our government granted the monopoly of patents in the first place. The reason is “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”, i.e. advance the overall knowledge of the industry. The way they thought best to do this 250 years ago was by “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. I would argue that securing exclusive rights to software and business process patents, never has, and never will, help promote the overall progress of the software industry. In fact, it has the opposite effect in my opinion. Unfortunately, we now have a 50 year history of the efforts of aggressive patent attorney (trolls) to undue. Also, the primary goal of patent laws was never meant to provide the inventor a way to make money. If you really feel it is necessary to protect your software then do so through copyright, intellectual property agreements and obfuscation. Trying to run a software business through a misguided government monopoly is just lame.
Comment by Jim Ritchie (@jimritchiesf) -
Actually, I’m still not sure about it. This would sound as sarcasm, but I think you’re right. Most of startups come with no innovation at all. Facebook is a collection of other sites and Apple (not a startup) has nothing of “new”, not even their design.
And maybe this would help in any case to slow down the social media bubble.
As I repeat, I’m not sure about if this is positive or not, I just know I have to read a couple of more pages to post my final thought about it.
Comment by Rolando Peralta -
I can understand peoples thoughts on patent trolls, but really how are we defining this? there are companies out there who do nothing more than buy IP and sue companies without even making a real consumer product. In this example, Yahoo actually has a consumer product available, for which they have been awarded several patents based on their technology. If indeed Facebook has violated these patents then should they not be held responsible? I don’t understand why, just because this is in the tech space, should we allow companies to violate other peoples IP. Is it because it affects wildly popular programs? Patent law isn’t based on what’s popular, it’s based on factual evidence.
Earlier, Chris Shaw made a comment that he is part of a tech start up and said that his company would be “screwed” if he had to license patents immediately. Sorry to say this, but perhaps you need to create a new technology, or factor the costs of these licenses into your budget. You are basically admitting that you are stealing IP to start a business with the hopes that you will make enough money later to pay it off.
I say all that to say, that perhaps it’s not just patent law that may require some reform but perhaps also they way people view the legitimacy of patents as a whole.
Comment by Kwixo Jones -
Patents can be beat with one case of ‘prior-art’. Personalizing pages? PHP was created in 1994, is open source, and literally means “Personal Home Page”. PHP can’t sue Yahoo over this because PHP is released under a freeware open source license. However, it does mean that Yahoo can’t possibly win it’s personalization patent against Facebook because PHP is obviously ‘prior-art’.
Comment by Brent Batstone (@BrentBatstone) -
It will take something big like this for everyone to open their eyes. Its getting beyond control!
Comment by Rits -
Contact me with a perfect solution for a college football playoff system. My company is already working with major networks and distribution partners for our March Madness, World Cup and other products. Our products encompass advertising and sponsorship solutions that will solve the ultimate issue with those opposing playoffs – money.
And yes, as pioneers, we have plenty of patents to support our endeavors, and are attempting to put them to real good business use as intended and we have for years. However, if the bigs try to steal our IP products and livelihood as they typically try to do, then we would have no other recourse than to devolve into legal action – which I agree sucks for all.
Instead of all of the lame ideas (yours included ;))I read on your other post on a College Football playoff, why don’t you team up with us and put your money where your mouth is. Not only will you look like a hero on both fronts, but you will also make tons of money.
BTW, you have already done successful business with our company in the past back in your younger days. Step up like we stepped up for you then… sit back and reap the rewards, we’ll take care of the rest.
Comment by doppal -
Reblogged this on the random palette and commented:
Must read. I couldn’t say it much better!
Comment by Rits -
When I read this piece of news about Yahoo, FB my instincts were telling me to be waiting for an email from Mark Cuban’s blog. Haha. I’ve read your entire blog history/book and enjoy your passion for living and engaging in the world. So Thank You for that.
And, the heading of your blog surprised me until I got till the end of it.
So let me simplify the argument: (agree or disagree)
1.Steve Wozniak/Apple should get royalty for any letter ever printed on a screen from a keyboard.
2. Xerox should get Apple.
3. Apple/Xerox should get Microsoft.
4. We should all the be paying royalty to Yahoo for Instant Messaging of any sort.
I am trying to exaggerate and (although I don’t think) its quite possible I’ve misunderstood some facts in the technology industry. But there really needs to be a big victim that demonstrates the complete absurdity of patent laws. In my law class here in college, we were shown some absurd patent filings. Surprisingly, I wasn’t surprised at the stupidity of those ideas.
However, Intellectual Property is going to be a sensitive issue over the next decade if not more. Mostly because as lawmakers, they need to define a line which separates the illegal from legal in order to judge. If Yahoo’s claims are non-technically (?) fluff, how do you determine that or draw a line to determine that. I don’t think many people would argue against the fact that there are too many of these fluff lawsuits being filed, but looking at it from the position of the lawmaker, it does pose a difficult question.
Unfortunately, the nature of political process and the efficiency of it only make things worse to accomplish. Politics along with most charities are probably worse ways capital is allocated. I guess the real devil in this whole situation is inefficient political capital allocation. Only if as politicians we could all sit down and hash things out, not scared to fail in order to improve ourselves (ie: what I admire about Microsoft) then this great country that is USA would be so much greater.
Thanks for sharing your insights regularly.
Comment by lohiaaditya -
I couldn’t agree more, Mark. As a former (better part of 4 years in Dallas) lawyer turned software guy, I’ve seen both sides of this. Software patents are generally speaking absurd and incredibly wasteful of time and money. They create the need for entirely artificial “defensive portfolios” of patents and all the costs associated with that.
My take on it is that the first person to encounter a problem (usually by happenstance) will be able to file a patent on the “inobvious and novel” solution. The problem is, give that problem to 100 halfway decent software engineers, and 90 of them will come up with the patented solution. The Patent Office examiners are utterly incapable of making a judgment about a software patent (partly because of the sheer number of them, and partly because what is obvious to a software engineer will be goggledegook to someone else), and will naturally grant the patent. At this point, possession is 9/10ths of the law and the patent holder has the rest of the industry by the balls.
Remember that patent that made Microsoft remove the ability to embed XML tags in word documents (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/examine-the-patent-that-made-selling-microsoft-word-a-crime/22595)? It was an obvious solution to an obvious problem. Anyway, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but if we can use an absurd result to educate the public about this, maybe it will change things the way the insurance companies leveraged the McDonalds hot coffee result to change public opinion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Restaurants).
Comment by reskeptic -
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Yahoo is a laughable company, but really, they did this with Google when Google was JUST about to go for their IPO as well. And hey, now look at Facebook. Nice timing Yahoo, let’s just wait it out for right before their IPO. I hope Yahoo fails and stays as a dying company, Facebook should not be the sacrificial lamb.
Oh, do I sense a hint of sympathy for his former client.
Haha, I joke.
Comment by omgsorrythatsiteexists -
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Mark, I’m a huge fan, really I am. I talk about you to my family with respect and admiration. I don’t do that for, well, pretty much anyone else. And I agree that there are lots of patent trolls out there, like the one you recently encountered on Shark Tank that patented putting holes in clothing to string wires.
I did have a personal experience at VMware that pertains. VMware created software to virtualize servers based on the Intel processor, something that no one had done before (at least for Intel processors) and many (mistakenly) said couldn’t be done. Once the software became popular, imitators came along, looking to sell there companies to Microsoft. VMware had to use their patents to protect the company from the biggest software company in the world. It didn’t stop them completely, but it slowed them down, because they couldn’t simply copy what VMware had done and then give it away for free.
I fell there is a place for patents, but agree that many times they are used inappropriately.
Comment by vmjfk -
@eastsidescott: wouldn’t the first to invent require one patent, and the first to find a use be two different patents? Also, wouldn’t there be at least one patent to cover the manufacture of wheels? If you chose to break the process down into individual steps, you could actually patent each step as a process. Would the next step be to patent packaging, then branding(or is that the same?). If you can patent processes, would that make the next step patenting how it is marketed, as well as how it is sold?
Please forgive my naïveté: I am only familiar with patents as a word with a dictionary definition, not an actual process. Enlightenment would be appreciated from those more knowledgeable than I. Thanks!
Comment by la63senora -
I don’t think a case like this would spark much consumer outrage- the BCS patents might though. Yahoo vs. Facebook deals in numbers too large for average consumers to feel any real sense of outrage, it’s just two corporate behemoths going at it. If Yahoo or Facebook were trying to stick it to some upstart innovator by hiding behind a vague technology patent, you may see outrage. In RE: Yahoo v Facebook the winners are the attorneys.
Comment by hotdogman -
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I find your position interesting.
Do you think people should be able to buy real property (i.e., land), with no intention of building on it, and then sell it for a profit if the value of the property goes up? Would such real estate speculation be ethical? Should real estate developers be protected from such people?
Comment by jimmydddd -
Love your work on the Shark Tank!
Comment by todd4253 -
I actually did a double take on the headline when I saw that you said you wanted Yahoo to crush Facebook in this lawsuit. Now that I see where you are going with it I’m ok. I was a bit worried you switched sides.
On a side note, I hope they don’t get crushed because I’m in the middle of writing a facebook app, that would be a waste of time 🙂
Comment by tomlight -
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Reblogged this on ramblingbog.
Comment by ramblingbog -
How realistic is the possibility that Yahoo does serious damage to Facebook? I’m thinking not very high?
Comment by miami -
There is no place for software patents. Period. They should be banned forever.
Comment by jeffself -
The first thing I thought when I saw Yahoo suing Facebook on patent infringement was “What would Mark Cuban think?” I’m with you on this one – if Facebook can grow unfettered for eight years into the most popular website in the world, only to be brought down because it borrowed some *concepts* from an existing website, then the system is definitely broken. At the very least, patent holders should be limited to a reasonable time period after infringement during which they’re allowed to sue.
Comment by joshdunk -
I agree with you on how ridiculous this whole patent thing has become and would love to see real change. I know you have been asked about Uniloc before and you have clearly stated that your investment is with BlueCava and their honest product. However, is your position one in which you are able to stand up and say/do something if you find that Uniloc has crossed a line?
My closest friend is the owner of his own small one-man business that is currently being sued by Uniloc over a patent they purchased. This patent covers the process of distributing right-protected material over the internet and providing the purchaser with the rights to use the product (Stock music, footage, photos,etc.). How was this process even granted a patent? The entire e-commerce system will take a hit if their case holds up.
Uniloc is strategically suing a couple different small businesses in East Texas where patent holders win 80% of the time and logic seems to have little to do with it. What is next? Are they testing the waters by seeing if they could bankrupt a few small businesses before going after the big dogs like iStock, Corbis, and the entire licensing arm of the music and film industry?
I see your passion for the issue and I can’t help but cheer you on as you rip into the patent trolls on Shark Tank. Your voice is loud and clear here on your blog. I hope people are listening. Thank you for being a voice of reason concerning such a messed up system. I am assuming that there isn’t much you can do. But after watching my friend’s heart break over the possibility of being unable to provide for his family because of something so unjust, I guess I felt I should at least ask.
The issue is now very personal. No matter happens in this court case, I am on your side and will continue to direct people to your blog to read about how things should be.
Comment by jimzarbaugh -
Best Jersey Ever, need help!
Comment by cowcamel -
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I hope the Mavs crush their post All-Star Game Funk!
Losing ground…bling-bling may be weighing them down.
Comment by JuanLoco -
I think Yahoo had a better choice, let me explain.
In my backyard I have an example of this bonehead type of moves called EarthComber. If you do not remember, before Loopt got their current set of patents they were sued by Earthcomber.
If Earthcomber had chosen to instead of suing to compete it might be that GreenDot would have picked up EarthComber rather than Loopt right now. The screwed up patent system gives wrong economic set of decisions to those who want short-term gains rather than reward truly innovative research taken at great risk.
Some better economic choices that Yahoo had:
-Buy smaller social players such as Posterous, etc.
-Gut the middle layer management staff by 75%
-Put the leaders of the start-ups they buy in the management seat. Not for management exp but for product expertise. Okay, I did borrow that from JC..
Okay, back to work..building some start-up its more challenging than working for firms that have patents. Hoping I have the long-term courage to never to decide that a short-term gain is more important than long-term gains.
PS Yeah I did point out to the Earthcomber CEO/founder that he is somewhat an idiot. I must have been very polite as he is still reading and answering my emails 🙂
Comment by Fred Grott -
If Facebook won’t go dark to protest SOPA/PIPA, maybe they will for this…
Comment by Kurtosis -
I’m torn on this one. It sort of like the first person that invented the wheel vs the first person that figured out how to put it to good use…..
As a small guy working on getting his first product patented I do now that the patent laws and processes are completely against the small guy, which I believe is one thing you would like to fix????
Mark what are your thoughts on first to file vs first to invent?
Comment by eastsidescott -
I see your point Mr. Cuban, but the media has the power to spin any patent issue how they see fit. A perfect example would be Kodak. Kodak was put in the strange position of having to topple their own film empire and replace it with a digital technology that would eventually leave them little room for profits and intense profit from other camera manufacturers.
And yet, every camera manufacturer out there has benefited from their association with film before video was even around.
Kodak just kept along with their superior film product, even as it took digital manufacturers almost 20 years of lying that that their product was as good as film when it was not.
Ironically, film still looks better than digital and if you don’t believe me, take a look at The Middle airing on ABC on Wednesday nights. It is still shot on 35mm film and it looks absolutely fantastic. Modern Family, which airs an hour later, looks good, but it would look even better if it were shot on film.
What accelerated Kodak’s demise was film camera rental profits have been subsidizing the digital camera research and development market for the past 20 years!
Instead of the media at least painting Kodak in a sympathetic light since it was film camera rental profits that has led to the development of digital cameras that can approximate the look of film, (although in contrasty situations I think motion picture film is still better), the media has been at the front of the charge to dismiss Kodak even though Kodak’s top film product is still better than a digital camera.
So in the instance of Yahoo vs Facebook if Yahoo wins, the media will just spin it. Heck, I won’t even be that saddened frankly as facebook REFUSED to let me advertise my own consulting business on their site because I linked it back to my alexlogic page. Facebook also continues to move forward on a one size fits all plateau, and I think many people are not happy with that aspect of facebook as well.
So it’s all about how the media will spin the result of the lawsuit more so than the lawsuit itself.
Comment by alexlogic -
lol brilliant clickbait mark. in case this whole NBA thing doesn’t work out for you and if you somehow blow it all and end up in the poor house, you got a future in search engine marketing.
all the problems in this country are related and they all go back to money. for those who still believe the country can actually be reformed, candidates who make monetary policy reform are the only option. there is only one candidate for president who has both a clue and the integrity needed to operate on this issue.
for those of us who know political reform is hopeless because the world has moved beyond the nation-state as an effective model of governance, because the constituency is not sufficiently educated regarding the political reality we are in, and because the entrenched powers in washington are already firmly in place and displacing them is an effort of epic and nearly impossible proportions, it is time to think of how american revolution 2.0 goes down. there is no need to make the mistake of equating revolution with violence — rather it is those who support the existing governments that are pro-violence, as the non-stop fraudulent wars illustrate.
the true purpose of the internet is to revolutionize how the world is governed and to take us beyond the nation-state. so we have hte weapon we need — that’s the good news. now let’s see if we can find the will to use it.
Comment by kidmercury -
I agree completely, Mark. I’m hopeful the absurdity of these claims can make it easy for a typical consumer to understand how broken patent laws are.
We’re a tech startup operating as three guys out of the Harvard iLab (innovation lab) and if we had to litigate or license these patents immediately after showing any traction; we be screwed. We need to be able to invest resources in people and product, not pay the Internet tax that would result if these patents are deemed valid and prosecutable.
At LexSpot we’re building a better way to find the right attorney and we would easily infringe on Dynamic Page Generation and Social Networking as written in the original patents as would, oh I dunno, 1,000,000+ other sites. #obvious
Comment by Chris Shaw -
Love the sarcasm here. Awesome post!
For a moment, I looked at the title, and wondered if you had a change of heart about the patent industry overall. Made me look in detail, only to concur with you. There needs to be a huge event / payout, that will make everyone stand up, take notice and action against some of the patent laws.
Comment by mparekh22 -
Absurdity works. Fingers crossed.
Comment by rablm3 -
maybe I’m missing something here but on the one hand you are saying you’re anti-patent, specifically in the tech field, yet you hope Yahoo wins in its patent infringement suit against Facebook?
Comment by thecampustv -
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