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Study: Patents Not A Top Priority At Software and Internet Start-Ups

SAN FRANCISCO, June 28, 2010 – Patents are deemed by executives at software and internet start-ups as the least important way of boosting competitive advantage, according to a forthcoming survey of more than a thousand companies by the University of California’s Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.



SAN FRANCISCO, June 28, 2010 – Patents are deemed by executives at software and internet start-ups as the least important way of boosting competitive advantage, according to a forthcoming survey of more than a thousand companies by the University of California’s Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

The study, due to be published sometime this summer,  surveyed chief executive and technology officers of more than 1,300 software, biotech, medical device and computer hardware start-up companies founded in the past decade.

The survey found that executives at the internet and software start-ups valued first-mover advantage much more than patents. Medical device and biotech firms valued patents much more highly and are a top priority for those firms.

“Biotech and medical device start-up companies regard patents as key for attaining competitive advantage from their innovations,” said report co-author and Berkeley Law Professor Pamela Samuelson. “Software entrepreneurs, on the other hand, find it’s much more critical to move fast in the marketplace and to use copyright and trademark protections. Patents take a back seat.”

The finding is significant as lawmakers in Congress continue to struggle along trying to reform the patent system. The effort is stuck because of an impasse between the different industries on how key changes would affect companies in those industries differently.

The authors of the study note that a key finding of the survey is that patents are seen as more of a way to limit competition and to attract investment capital rather than to innovate, which is the key economic assumption powering the patent system.

“The capital formation finding is noteworthy, because it’s an aspect of the patent system that has not been systematically established and explored in prior research,” said report co-author and Berkeley Law Professor Robert Merges.

The study, “High Technology Entrepreneurs and the Patent System,” with these and other findings, is scheduled to be published sometime this summer in the Berkley Technology Law Journal.

Sarah Lai Stirland is the Director of Digital Community at Broadband.Money. Sarah previously worked with Breakfast Media's CEO, Editor and Publisher Drew Clark at National Journal's Technology Daily. She has covered business, technology, government and civic engagement, finance, and telecommunications and tech policy from New York, Washington and San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Personal Democracy Media's Civic Hall, Wired, Red Herring, and She's also a radio and podcast producer, and she's worked at KALW Public radio in San Francisco. She's a native of London and Hong Kong, and is currently based in the Bay Area.


How the Trump Administration’s Trade Politics are Slipping into the Fiber Broadband World



BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: The Trump administration’s protectionism is already having significant impacts on many American businesses and industries, and may begin to have significant impacts on the fiber broadband world. This post by Doug Dawson outlines some of the moves in Washington against both Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunications manufacturing giants. Incidentally, I had a chance to visit the headquarters to both of these companies during my visit to Shenzhen, China, at the 2006 International Telecommunications Union conference. (Note: Rep. Liz Cheney is the sole member of the U.S. House of Representative from Wyoming, filling the seat once held by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.)

Fiber Electronics and International Politics, from POTs and PANs by Doug Dawson

In February six us Intelligence agencies warned Americans against using cellphones made by Huawei, a Chinese manufacturer. They warned that the company is “beholden” to the Chinese government and that we shouldn’t trust their electronics.

Recently Sen Liz Cheney introduced a bill into Congress that would prohibit the US Government or any contractors working for it to use electronics from Huawei or from another Chinese company ZTE Corp. Additionally, any US military base would be prohibited from using any telecom provider who has equipment from these two vendors anywhere in their network.

For anybody who doesn’t know these two companies, they manufacture a wide array of telecom gear. ZTE is one of the five largest cellphone makers in the world. They also make electronics for cellular networks, FTTP networks and long-haul fiber electronics. The company sells under it’s own name, but also OEMs equipment for a number of other vendors. That might make it hard for a carrier to know if they have gear originally manufactured by the company.


Source: Fiber Electronics and International Politics | POTs and PANs

(Photo of Huawei booth by Kārlis Dambrāns used with permission.)

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Broadband's Impact

Alexander Graham Bell Received His Telephone Patent 142 Years Ago Today



BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Think of all that has transpired over the past century and a half!

Remembering Alexander Graham Bell, from Commscope

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his revolutionary new device—the telephone. Since then, telephony has evolved in ways even this great thinker could not have imagined. After connecting the world with telephone wires, we moved to wireless for voice services and eventually mobile data, i.e. the internet. The GSM Association (GSMA) says there are now more than 5 billion mobile subscribers globally. Mobile technology dominates the telecom industry.

At GSMA’s recent Mobile World Congress event, CommScope displayed our latest technologies that help enable the next generation of wireless, 5G. From antennas that boost current network speeds to 1 Gigabit per second to new solutions for in-building wireless and fixed wireless access, CommScope continues in the innovative spirit of Bell. Here’s a quick video from the show floor summarizing our latest work. To stay abreast of our news throughout the year, sign up to receive our press releases and blog posts.


Source: Remembering Alexander Graham Bell

(Photograph of Alexander Graham Bell by Moffett Studio in the public domain.)

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Intellectual Property

At Technology Show, A Palpable Interest in Legislation to Curb Actions by ‘Patent Trolls’



LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2013 – One of the biggest public policy challenges facing the information technology industry is the ability for patent holders to sue entrepreneurs, according to a panel on “patent trolls” here at the Consumer Electronics Show.

A panel of entrepreneurs, non-profit groups and attorneys for major technology companies and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said that patent trolls cost more than $29 billion, a number produced last year by two Boston University professors. The professors were attempting to quantify the cost of patent litigation instigated by “non-practicing entities.”

Such non-practicing entities, derisively called “patent trolls,” are seen as purchasing intellectual property rights to patents, and then suing to stop businesses from developing products, applications or services that could be construed as infringing their patent.

Suzanne Michel, senior patent counsel at Google, took care to distinguish the business model of a company like Qualcomm, which owns patents on chipsets, which it then licenses to foundry companies to produce, from entities that she considered as a “troll.”

“Companies that come up with an idea, patent it, and license it is great for innovaiton and consumers.” By contrast, an undesireable situation occurs when “Somoene went out, bought a patent, and asked, how can I broadly construe this patent? It is simply a tax on innovation,” she said.

Morever, said Michel, the opportunity cost of distracting patent litigation imposes costs far greater than the $29 billion.

From the perspective of Rep. DeFazio, getting the attention of Congress is an uphill battle because Congress completed a signficant patent overhaul legislation with the America Invents Act of 2011. As DeFazio is not a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he said he had to struggle even to find a co-sponsor for his legislation addressing the issue of patent lawsuits.

In August 2012, he introduced his bill, Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act.

An attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation urged the technology industry to flex their new-found political muscles against the entertainment industry.

“One year ago [at CES 2012], we were all taking about [the online piracy measures Stop Online Piracy Act, or the PROTECT Intellectual Property Act], and we all thought that SOPA and PIPA was going to become law,” said Julie Samuels, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. A few short weeks later, the tech industry was instrumental in defeating those bills.

“We weilding a lot of power last January, and we are still sitting on this,” Samuels said. “While there are a lot of roadblocks, now is the time; now is a moment” for legislation against patent trolls.

Lee Cheng, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Newegg Inc., urged measures that would limit the damages that non-practicing entities could obtain from patent lawsuits.

Google’s Michel urged the patent office to implement “better procedures for challenging these over-broad patents.”

Even though US Patent and Trademark Office procedures permit challenges of this sort for financial business methods, she said those measures should be extended to all software patents.

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show at Our goals for #CES2013 are to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.

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