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Feministki padają ofiarą zgłoszenia terminu "Dziewuchy Dziewuchom" jako "znak słowny":

Z jednej mam bękę, jako że nie lubię feministek jak diabli. Ale z drugiej strony to jest straszne, że można taki numer wyciąć zgodnie z prawem. WTF?


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Jakie tam straszne? Norma przy własności intelektualnej. Przecież do tego właśnie powołuje się taką instytucję do istnienia - aby wykolegowywać innych z dóbr w sumie niezawłaszczalnych w sposób naturalny. Kto knagą wojuje, od knagi ginie.


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Od jakiegoś czasu dyskutuję na pod artykułem:

Zabrałem głos, ponieważ profesor Wielomski uznał, że okazja do interwencji państwa pojawiła się dlatego, że facebook i inni giganci intenetowi zdobyli prywatne monopole w swoich dziedzinach, sugerując, że osiągnęli swoją pozycję bez prawnej osłony. To oczywista bzdura, ponieważ patenty i prawo własności intelektualnej są monopolami nadawanymi przez państwo, o czym mówi ono samo, zarówno u nas w kraju, jak i w USA. Zatem to państwo ostatecznie przydziela tę prawną osłonę, nadaje monopol.

Rozmowa jednak poszła w takim kierunku, że mój dyskutant zażądał, abym mu udowodnił, czy bez patentów facebook z całą pewnością nie zdobyłby pozycji monopolisty, co okazało się trudniejszym wyzwaniem, którego się jednak podjąłem. W poszukiwaniu źródeł mogących poprzeć moją argumentację, znalazłem niesamowity tekst, który czyta się jak sprawdzone proroctwo.

Kevin G. Rivette and Henry R. Nothhaft and David Kline

From the Magazine (January–February 2000)

Richard Thoman is not your typical chief executive officer. Most Fortune 500 CEOs, when asked how they intend to increase shareholder value, will talk about increasing sales, creating new leading-edge product lines, or pursuing mergers and acquisitions. But Thoman, who was appointed CEO of the $20 billion Xerox Corporation last summer, isn’t content with such conventional strategies. He believes one of the strategic keys to Xerox’s future is something so intangible, so invisible to traditional bottom-line thinking and corporate practice, that it doesn’t even show up on the balance sheet.
“My focus is intellectual property,” he declares. “I’m convinced that the management of intellectual property is how value added is going to be created at Xerox. And not just here, either. Increasingly, companies that are good at managing IP will win. The ones that aren’t will lose.
Intellectual property? Five years ago, that phrase wasn’t even in the vocabularies of many CEOs, let alone a part of their business strategies. Indeed, many chief executives still regard patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property as legal matters best left to the corporate attorneys to fuss over while the CEOs concentrate on the truly strategic stuff of competitive warfare.
Not Thoman. Where others see mere legal instruments, he sees business tools. And where others see obscure pieces of paper gathering dust in the corporate legal office, he sees “Rembrandts in the attic” waiting to be exploited for profit and competitive advantage.
To understand why Thoman thinks that way, you have to go back to his days as chief financial officer at IBM. There, he saw firsthand how an aggressive intellectual-property effort boosted annual patent-licensing royalties a phenomenal 3,300%—from $30 million in 1990 to nearly $1 billion today. This $1 billion per year, it should be noted, is largely free cash flow—a recurring net revenue stream that represents one-ninth of IBM’s annual pretax profits. That money goes straight to the bottom line. To match that sort of net revenue stream, IBM would have to sell roughly $20 billion worth of additional products each year, or an amount equal to one-fourth its worldwide sales.
Thoman is taking a similar approach to IP management at Xerox. He plans to boost the copier and document management company’s patent royalties from just under $10 million to more than $200 million annually within two years. And that’s not all. Just as IBM now leverages its patents for strategic and economic gain—Big Blue used them as the currency for $30 billion worth of new component sales in 1999—Thoman also believes that Xerox’s rich portfolio of patents could become passports to lucrative new market opportunities. He believes patents could help the company regain its leadership role in the global technology industry.
Thoman’s concentration on intellectual property marks him as one of a new breed of chief executive. These IP-savvy business leaders believe that, in a world where battles are increasingly being waged not for control of markets or raw materials but for the rights to new ideas and innovations, the management of intellectual property must become a core competence of the successful enterprise. Though still a minority among their peers, they nonetheless lead some of America’s most successful companies, including Microsoft, Lucent, IBM, Dell, Dow Chemical, and Gillette. These leaders all recognize that the knowledge economy has given rise to a new ecology of competition in which intellectual assets rather than physical assets are the principal wellsprings of shareholder wealth and competitive advantage.
Therein lies one of the next great corporate challenges: figuring out how to unlock the hidden power of patents. In this article, we will demonstrate how companies can manage and deploy their patents not just as legal instruments but also as powerful financial assets and competitive weapons that can enhance their commercial success and increase shareholder wealth. We use the terms patents and intellectual property interchangeably in this article, but patents are actually only one type of intellectual property (or legally protected intellectual assets); others include trade secrets, trademarks, and copyrights. We focus on patents for two reasons. First, patents are the most tangible form of intellectual property, they enjoy the strongest legal protection, and (except in the media and entertainment fields) they have the greatest effect on the commercial success and market value of companies today. And second, patent databases are a virtual Alexandrian library of information. When combined with new automated data-mining and visualization software, these databases can be powerful sources of rich competitive intelligence.
We recognize, of course, that patent strategy is not some Holy Grail for business success, and it is certainly no substitute for quality products, excellent operations, or effective marketing. But the strategic management and use of patents can significantly enhance a company’s success in three broad ways: by establishing a proprietary market advantage, by improving financial performance, and by enhancing overall competitiveness.

Establish a Proprietary Market Advantage

Patents enable companies to stake out and defend a proprietary market advantage. That is their most powerful benefit. Properly deployed, patents can translate into category-leading products, enhanced market share, and high margins. In some cases, they can even serve as the foundations for a new industry. (Chester Carlson’s original xerography patent comes to mind.) This is true even in the emerging e-commerce industries, where it was once thought the advantage simply belonged to those who got to market first. The collapse of competitive barriers and blurring of industry boundaries on the Internet suggest that patents may become one of the most effective—and sometimes even the sole—means of creating a proprietary, defensible market advantage.
Barnes & Noble, for example, discovered to its dismay that because it lacked any proprietary advantage or patent defense against on-line rivals, its market share could be easily “Amazoned” by the upstart bookseller of the same name. itself may have faced a similar threat from its ever widening circle of on-line competitors if it hadn’t received a patent for its “one-click” system for processing customer orders, which is now widely copied by other Internet retailers. In October 1999, Amazon deployed that patent as a competitive weapon; it filed an infringement suit against Barnes & Noble. Similarly, is using its “name your own price” auction patents as a shield to keep rivals at bay, as its recent infringement suit against Microsoft demonstrates. Let’s look at three ways patents can help companies secure a proprietary advantage.

Protect core technologies and business methods.

To the extent that they have a patent strategy, most companies focus it on protecting the proprietary technologies that give their products and services an advantage over those of competitors. The aforementioned seminal xerography patents, for example, allowed Xerox to legally monopolize the copier market for nearly 20 years; double-digit margins and earnings growth were the result. But when Xerox was forced to license those copier patents under the terms of a federal consent decree in 1975, the company saw its market share, margins, and industry dominance quickly erode. (Court rulings later overturned the presumptive view at that time that patents were inherently anticompetitive.)
But what if the true source of a company’s competitive advantage lies not in its products or services but in its innovative way of doing business? For example, Dell Computer owes its success in the PC business not to the technological superiority of its products—though of good quality, they are made mostly with off-the-shelf components—but rather to its innovative “build to order,” direct-sales business model. In other words, Dell’s advantage lies not in its computers but in its system for selling, distributing, and providing after-sales support for those computers. In similar fashion, Wal-Mart owes its $138 billion-a-year retailing success not to its products but to the sophisticated purchasing, marketing, and distribution systems that enable the company to operate more efficiently, maintain lower prices, and achieve higher rates of customer satisfaction than its competitors do.
But notice the difference in how Wal-Mart and Dell have attempted to sustain and leverage their respective competitive advantages. Dell has secured 42 issued and pending patents on its innovative business model. The patents cover not only the customer-configurable on-line ordering system but also the methods by which that system is integrated with Dell’s “continuous flow” manufacturing, inventory, distribution, and customer service operations. No one knows if Dell will ever use the threat of a patent infringement suit to block a potential direct-sales rival, such as Compaq, from copying its system too closely; the company says its plans in this area are confidential. But Dell has already leveraged those patents to bolster its market advantage: in 1999, the company used its patents as the collateral for a $16 billion cross-licensing deal with IBM that provides it with lower-cost components. Dell is freed from having to pay IBM tens of millions of dollars in royalties, which makes Dell more price competitive.1 Wal-Mart, meanwhile, hasn’t patented its business systems; it is relying instead on the notoriously ineffective protections of trade-secret law. As a result, the retailing giant couldn’t even prevent key employees from walking out the door and taking their knowledge of Wal-Mart’s proprietary systems to potential on-line rivals such as
The critical point here is that companies must ensure that they protect and leverage whatever it is that adds the most value to their business and whatever represents the most vital sources of their competitive advantage.

Boost R&D and branding effectiveness.

Patents can help companies build category-leading products as well as enhance the branding efforts devoted to those products. Hitachi, for example, tries to develop only those products for which patents can help it establish market-dominant share. These aren’t necessarily the most technically complex products, either. Hitachi’s automotive airflow sensor would be easy for rivals to copy, for example, but the company has built such an effective patent wall around it that rivals were forced to look for more complex and expensive—and therefore less competitive—design approaches in their own airflow sensors.
Smart biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies also think about the potential strength of patents when setting their research and development priorities. The biotech firm Genetics Institute decides which version of a drug to develop partly based on which iteration shows the best results in clinical trials but also according to which version can command the strongest patent protection. Genetics Institute’s patent counsel says the strength of the potential patent position is “a leading factor” in deciding what research to pursue.
But few companies (and certainly no consumer product company) can top Gillette’s use of patents to secure and sustain a market choke hold, as the development of its Sensor shaver a decade ago demonstrates.
According to John Bush, Gillette’s former vice president of corporate R&D, the first challenge in developing the Sensor was mapping out the patent landscape surrounding the shaver’s key performance attribute: its ability to deliver a closer and more comfortable shave because of its twin, independently moving blades. The technology behind this innovation was called floated-angle geometry, and it involved mounting tiny springs to twin blades within a cartridge in such a way that each blade moved independently along the contours of the user’s face. The engineers had developed seven different designs for mounting the blades, but it wasn’t immediately clear to the engineering team which design the company should use. Aided by Gillette’s patent attorneys, the R&D team undertook a full patent analysis of all seven versions of the design, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the patent positions for each design compared with those of potential rivals. In the end, Bush says, “We chose the design that competitors would have the most difficulty getting around.”
That was only the first of 22 patentable inventions that were eventually incorporated into the shaver. According to Bush, the next task was to determine which of the product’s features best communicated the shaver’s brand personality and performance advantages to consumers—and then patent them. “We patented the key design features in the cartridge, the springs, and the angle of the blades,” he explains. “There were also patents covering the handle and some of its characteristics. We even patented the container that had the proper masculine sound and feel when it was ripped.” In the end, he says, “We created a patent wall with those 22 patents. And they were all interlocking so no one could duplicate that product.”
Building a patent wall around a product—clustering, as it’s sometimes called—is not the only way to hamper competitors. Sometimes it’s possible to use patents to hem in a competitor’s initial market lead through a process called bracketing. Imagine that your competitor has invented a new, high-intensity light and has patented the filament. But it turns out that the filament requires a more durable glass bulb and socket housing to absorb the added heat, as well as more heat-resistant shade construction and electrical connectors. New manufacturing processes are required, as is new packaging, because the new-style bulbs can be ruined by the oils from human hands. Your competitor may have patented the filament, but if you patent everything else, then the competitor is locked out of much of the market. That’s the essence of bracketing.

Anticipate market and technology shifts.

Even the best-laid product development plans and market strategies won’t prevent loss of market share and margin erosion if a company is unprepared for shifts in technology or market demand. A patent strategy can help companies anticipate those shifts and then respond with new products and services.
That is precisely what Texas Instruments did in 1997 when executives realized that demand for higher-speed Internet communications made a technology called Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) a leading contender for next-generation modems. TI moved quickly to acquire a small company called Amati Communications for $395 million, which TI believed held the seminal DSL patents. That was an unprecedented price to pay for Amati, which had lost $30 million on barely $12 million in sales. But in buying Amati’s patents, TI gained more than just the exclusive rights to the technology. One advantage of owning intellectual property is that it lets companies develop very favorable partnerships and licensing relationships (as Dell and IBM have done recently with their patent portfolios). Another advantage is that it helps to keep costs down, which TI will need to do to develop affordable DSL modems.
Owning intellectual property lets companies develop very favorable partnerships and licensing relationships.
To sum up, whether we’re talking about products, technologies, or business methods, patents can significantly enhance a company’s ability to secure and defend sources of marketplace advantage, even in times of rapid technological change.



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Improve Financial Performance

Companies’ biggest assets today are intangible ones like patents. And that’s not true just in technology-intensive industries. The asset base of U.S. manufacturing firms has also shifted dramatically during the past 20 years. In 1982, physical assets such as plants, factories, and equipment constituted 62% of manufacturing companies’ market value. Today they represent less than 30% of their market value, according to economists at the Brookings Institution. Thus even for manufacturing firms, the bulk of their value now lies in their intellectual assets. Given that fact, it’s appropriate to ask how well these assets are being managed and used. The answer, in most cases, is not very well at all.
A 1998 survey by the technology transfer firm BTG International reported that 67% of U.S. companies own technology assets that they fail to exploit. The study noted that these companies on average let more than 35% of their patented technologies go to waste simply because the technologies have no immediate use in products. BTG put the value of those wasted technology assets at more than $115 billion. But that estimate is surely too conservative; it assumes that $1 invested in R&D yields a return of only $1. Economic data indicate the return is more like ten to one, thereby suggesting that corporate America is wasting a staggering $1 trillion in underutilized patent assets.
Given the pressures on companies these days to maximize shareholder return, this underutilization of technology assets represents either a stinging indictment of corporate myopia regarding intellectual property or the greatest opportunity to be handed to chief financial officers in a generation. Indeed, the current run-up in intellectual asset values—demonstrated not least by the growing gap between the book and market values of public companies—suggests that patent rewards may be as great as the rewards the leveraged buyout kings obtained 20 years ago when they capitalized on the undervalued real estate and pension holdings of corporate America. Let’s look at ways to realize the hidden financial value of patents.

Tap patents for new revenues.

Revenues from the licensing of patent rights have skyrocketed in the last ten years, increasing from $15 billion in 1990 to more than $110 billion today. Companies are slowly realizing that intellectual property can be among their most valuable and flexible assets. And the licensing market is still in its infancy; experts say revenues could top a half-trillion dollars annually in ten years.
Yet most companies remain completely unaware of the earnings potential of their patent holdings. Those few that do begin licensing efforts tend to do so only when pressed to the wall financially or when struggling to turn around their competitive fortunes. That was certainly the case for IBM when, in the midst of its early-1990s restructuring and revitalization efforts, it began to systematically mine its patent portfolio for revenues. (As we noted earlier, it now nets nearly $1 billion a year from the effort.)
Texas Instruments is another company that began portfolio mining out of desperation; it launched its patent-licensing effort in the mid-1980s, when it faced bankruptcy. Since then, TI has earned a phenomenal $4 billion in patent royalties, and its current licensing revenues are thought to be in the neighborhood of $800 million a year. Last May, TI signed yet another licensing pact for its semiconductor patents—this time with Hyundai. That deal added 12 cents to TI’s second-quarter 1999 earnings and is expected to net a total of $1 billion in additional royalties over the next ten years.
Some companies take a more enlightened approach and treat portfolio mining for revenue as a business in its own right. Under Rick Thoman’s leadership, for example, Xerox has established a new business unit to create profit and competitive advantage from the company’s patent assets. “If you only use your patents to protect your products, which is the old paradigm, you’re missing all manner of revenue-generating and other opportunities,” explains Jan Jaferian, vice president of intellectual property at Xerox.
Lucent, too, recently centralized its patent assets in a 266-person business unit and reportedly already earns several hundred million dollars a year from it. But with 12% of its $30 billion in annual revenues now invested in R&D, Lucent is reportedly stepping up licensing efforts in pursuit of even better returns on that investment.
In some cases, patent-savvy companies have taken advantage of other companies’ underutilized patent potential. For example, in the mid-1980s, semiconductor vendor SGS-Thomson (now STMicroelectronics) saw a major revenue opportunity in the patents of chip maker Mostek, then owned by United Technologies. It bought Mostek for $71 million and within seven years managed to squeeze out more than $450 million in licensing revenues.
The critical point here is that once issued, a patent becomes a sunk cost. One can either leverage that sunk cost as a source of R&D funding or bottom-line revenue, or one can simply ignore it. We believe patents just like any other business asset, should be required to generate returns.

Reduce costs.

The proper management of patent assets can also yield significant savings in the form of reduced portfolio maintenance costs and taxes. Perhaps the best-known example of reducing costs through patent management involves Dow Chemical. In 1994, as part of a corporate cost-cutting effort, Dow initiated a year-long audit of its IP assets—an audit that became somewhat legendary in intellectual property circles. (New automated technology tools can now do this in days.) Each of the company’s patents, 29,000 at that time, was valued and assigned to one of 15 major business units. The units thereafter assumed financial responsibility for the patents’ use. “Intellectual-asset managers” from each business unit met regularly to review patent activity company-wide and to identify licensing, commercialization, and joint venture opportunities for individual patents or groups of patents.
The proper management of patent assets can yield significant savings in the form of reduced portfolio maintenance costs and taxes.
As a result of its audit, Dow achieved immediate savings of $50 million in taxes and maintenance fees on unneeded patents that were pruned from the portfolio and donated to universities and nonprofit organizations. (Last year DuPont followed Dow’s example and earned a $64 million tax write-off when it donated 23 patents to universities.) Licensing revenues have also risen since the audit, from $25 million to more than $125 million. And according to Gordon Petrash, the former director of Dow’s Intellectual Asset Management team, if one factors in the commercial benefits of more effectively aligning the company’s technology assets with its business goals, the audit probably produced “billions and billions” in new revenues. (For more on patent audits, see the sidebar “Auditing Your Patent Portfolio.”)

Attract new capital and enhance corporate value.

By thinking creatively, companies can often repackage their patents to be highly attractive to investors. The aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, for example, over the years had assembled a large cache of 3-D flight simulator patents that gathered dust in the corporate legal office. But in 1997, the company used those patents as the foundation for a new venture called Real3D that it spun off to compete in the PC graphics and video game business. Real3D attracted investments from Intel and Silicon Graphics, and it’s currently valued at several hundred million dollars. Lockheed was able to take a group of fallow patents valued on its books at exactly zero and transform them into a strategic presence in a potentially lucrative new market. It also gained a 40% stake in a high-flying start-up.
The same approach can be used by hidebound industrial age companies to move into high-growth, new-economy businesses—provided they have patent assets that can be used to establish beachheads into those new markets. Even bankrupt companies can find hidden opportunities in their patent portfolios: TM Patents, for example, was split off from the defunct Thinking Machines Corporation two years ago precisely in order to realize several hundred million dollars worth of untapped royalty potential in its patent holdings.
Then there’s Walker Digital, an intellectual property laboratory modeled after Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park inventors’ laboratory. In exchange for giving its first spin-off company,, the rights to 19 of its e-commerce business model patents, Walker Digital received 7.5 million Priceline shares. Those shares are now worth a phenomenal $1 billion to Walker Digital.
Patents are also useful in bolstering corporate financing efforts. In the first-ever use of patents as vehicles for off-balance-sheet financing, a San Francisco-based investment banking boutique called Global Asset Capital last year said it intended to securitize the future royalties of drug company patents and sell the notes to investors. IP securitization is unlikely to become widespread until risk factors are more easily quantified, but this example is indicative of the expanding role that patents are playing as financial instruments.
Patents can help companies communicate their asset picture and earnings potential to investors and the financial community. Indeed, Wall Street is slowly waking up to the asset value of patents, spurred in part by research from economists such as Professor Baruch Lev at New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business. Lev and doctoral student Zhen Deng recently studied the stock performance of hundreds of companies over a ten-year period. They found that companies whose patents were more frequently cited in the patents of other companies saw their stock prices rise far more rapidly than those of companies with less frequently cited patents. As Lev recently told Forbes, “Hardly any financial analyst on Wall Street takes patents into account when they study a company, [but] if they knew about the correlation between patents and profits, they might change their approach.”
In point of fact, however, some stock analysts have begun looking at companies’ IP capabilities when evaluating earnings potential and competitive prospects. This is partly the result of the effects patents sometimes have on stock prices—like the one-day 28% jump in Affymetrix’s stock price after it settled its patent infringement suit against rival gene technology firm Incyte Pharmaceuticals. But analysts are also becoming more aware of the effect that patents have on companies’ financial and competitive prospects in today’s knowledge economy.
For example, James Oelschlager, fund manager of the White Oak Growth Stock Fund, uses patents “as a measure of productivity”—and to fairly good effect apparently, because the fund has beaten the market with a five-year 32% annualized return. Oelschlager believes today’s economic climate and pace of technological change are similar to the rapid growth phase of the industrial revolution. “Patents accelerated then, and patents are accelerating now. Many [investors] missed the first industrial revolution, and I think many will miss this one, too.” As more money managers and investors adopt this view, the effect of a well-managed patent portfolio on a company’s market value will only increase.

Enhance Competitiveness

The value of patents as competitive weapons and intelligence tools becomes most evident in the day-today transaction of business. Indeed, whether a company is trying to block a competitor’s product development plan, gain entry into a hotly contested new market, find the most attractive acquisition opportunity, or reduce the risks involved in a high-stakes merger, patents can be potent weapons—and quite possibly the greatest source of competitive intelligence on earth. Let’s look at some ways that companies are bolstering their competitiveness by using patent strategies.

Outflank competitors.

In early 1998, S3 was a small chip-design firm with a big problem. The company knew that Intel’s patent wall would eventually stall its high-performance graphic chip business. So S3 hatched a plan to fix the problem. Acting anonymously, S3 outbid Intel to acquire the patents of bankrupt chip maker Exponential Technologies for $10 million. In doing so, S3 obtained a patent that predated Intel’s Merced chip patents and, according to analysts, could potentially hold Intel’s next-generation processor business hostage. S3’s bold IP gambit paid off when it revealed itself as the buyer and forced Intel to cross-license its patents to S3 in exchange for the rights to that “hostage” patent.
Over in the tool sector of the chip business, meanwhile, Quickturn Design Systems also had a problem. The company had sued rival Mentor Graphics for patent infringement and had gotten an injunction that blocked U.S. sales of Mentor’s key product. Quickturn then faced a hostile bid by Mentor to acquire the company and thereby scuttle Quickturn’s injunction. Quickturn resisted, of course, and the two companies battled through the summer and fall of 1998. Quickturn knew it could not fend off Mentor’s advances forever, so it dropped its intellectual property hankie (as it were) in front of white-knight Cadence Design Systems, which responded with a $253 million buyout offer that the much-relieved Quickturn happily accepted. Its flanks no longer exposed to hostile M&A action from Mentor, Quickturn continued to press its infringement case until Mentor agreed last June to withdraw its SimExpress product from the market.

Exploit new market opportunities.

Patents can also give companies patent-protected entry into lucrative new markets. The $3.5 billion Avery Dennison Corporation offers a case in point. In 1994, one of Avery’s embryonic business units developed a new film for use in product labeling. The film unit had already won an important contract to provide the labels for Procter & Gamble shampoo bottles, and corporate managers thought the unit had considerable growth potential. But an analysis of patent activity indicated that Dow Chemical was also beginning to move into the business. Should Avery commit the huge resources needed to exploit the market opportunity for the film unit, especially when it looked like Dow might become a formidable competitor?
Paul Germeraad, the former vice president and director of corporate research at Avery Dennison, describes what happened: “We saw that we had the more fundamental patents in this area,” he recalls, “and we strengthened those with additional patent filings. Then, with the support of the CEO, we went to Dow and basically told them that they couldn’t manufacture that film anymore. They had to shut down their team, dismantle it, and withdraw from the market. And that’s exactly what Dow did. Thanks to the strength of our patents—and to our CEO’s willingness, based on that IP strength, to bet our total resources on building the unit—we were able to stop Dow in the market and have it basically all to ourselves. As a result, that unit became one of the fast-growing, highest EVA units in the company.”
One might also consider the Machiavellian M&A maneuverings over patent rights in the stent business. Stents are tiny wire-mesh medical devices that keep a coronary artery open after it has been cleaned out through angioplasty. Until 1997, three companies—Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, and Arterial Vascular Engineering—had divided the spoils in this $1.3 billion-per-year market.
But all that changed in October 1997, when Guidant Corporation received FDA approval for its new Multi-Link stent. Horrified at the thought of having to divide $1.3 billion by four instead of three, Johnson & Johnson filed a patent infringement suit. Guidant responded three days later with a surprise maneuver: rather than file a patent countersuit, Guidant bought EndoVascular Technologies. The deal surprised analysts because EndoVascular doesn’t even make stents. But reporter Herb Greenberg, then writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, revealed Guidant’s logic in his October 8, 1997, column: “What nobody talks about is patents. [Guidant] will also be getting its hands on a potentially lucrative patent that could give [it] control over the superheated U.S. coronary stent market.”
It seems the Guidant deal was really aimed at acquiring an unused EndoVascular stent patent that may prove to be a legal bombshell. The patent in question was issued two years before Johnson & Johnson’s patent was issued. Does Guidant now hold a winning weapon in the stent wars? It remains to be seen. But doubtless Guidant already feels that the $170 million it paid for EndoVascular and its key stent patent was money well spent: in its first six months in the stent business, the company sold $350 million worth of the devices.
IBM has chosen a slightly different and very enlightened approach to seizing an opportunity in the telecommunication components industry. Because of users’ voracious need for routers and networking equipment, this market is exploding. But rather than spend buckets of cash to enter the market or cut component prices to rock bottom in the hopes that users would buy its products, IBM used its patents to structure a win-win deal with Cisco, the market leader. The $2 billion pact guarantees the sale of IBM’s components to Cisco for two years and gives IBM a substantial foothold in a new market for its products.

Reduce risk.

As a vital source of competitive intelligence, the information contained in patents can also help companies steer their R&D and M&A programs around infringement and due diligence potholes.
The most famous example where a company failed to use patent information to reduce its risk involves the great patent war between Polaroid and Eastman Kodak over the instant photography business. Kodak ignored the “patent thicket” that its much smaller rival Polaroid had erected around its fast-growing instant-camera business. In 1975, Kodak launched a line of instant cameras and films that many people—including key Polaroid executives—felt bore too close a resemblance to Polaroid technology. The patent case that resulted finally concluded in 1990 with a judgment that Kodak had indeed infringed on Polaroid’s patents.
The total cost to Kodak of its misguided patent strategy? The company was ordered to pay Polaroid a staggering $925 million in damages. Kodak was also forced to shut down its $1.5 billion manufacturing plant, lay off 700 workers, and spend nearly $500 million to buy back the 16 million instant cameras it had sold to consumers between 1976 and 1985. Legal fees during the 14-year-long court battle cost Kodak an additional $100 million, and a decades-long R&D effort had to be written off as a total loss.
Kodak’s $3 billion market disaster may be the most expensive example of IP mismanagement in the history of corporate R&D, but it is hardly unique. In 1991, Minolta was ordered to pay Honeywell $127.5 million after a court ruled it had infringed on the latter’s autofocus camera patent—a patent that Minolta may have thought it safe to infringe upon because Honeywell was not using the technology in any products. More recently, tiny Fonar Corporation hauled General Electric into court for infringing on Fonar’s patented MRI technology, which is used to detect cancers and other diseases in the human body. To its great shock, GE was forced to pay Fonar $128.7 million—an amount equal to ten times the little company’s annual revenues at the time—which Fonar distributed to its shareholders in the form of “patent infringement dividends.”
Many executives consider it unnecessary to spend the time and money to map out the patent landscape and avoid infringement dangers. After all, they say, in today’s fast-paced economy, the life span of a new product may be shorter than the time required to obtain a patent for it. But that kind of thinking is extremely risky. Who has the time (or the millions of dollars) it takes to defend against a patent suit? And who can afford to devote a year or more to the research and development of a product, only to have to abandon it later because of an infringement problem that could easily have been spotted and designed around early in the process?
Another consideration is the emerging threat of board liability and shareholder lawsuits regarding patents. Failing to make best efforts to steer R&D away from potential infringement problems could be seen as the intellectual property equivalent of negligently building your factory atop a seismic fault. Indeed, the prospect of shareholder lawsuits over “IP wasting” is very real, according to Steven Bochner, an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the California-based law firm that represents more Silicon Valley boards of directors than any other.
Besides protecting research efforts, patent mapping can also reduce the risks inherent in mergers and acquisitions. And here, unfortunately, many managers would be surprised to discover just how abysmal most due diligence efforts regarding intellectual property actually are. “I’d say—and I’m speaking very generally now—that patent analysis is usually just a pro forma component of the due diligence process in most M&As,” admits a senior executive at one of Wall Street’s leading investment banks. “Most M&A companies, including ours, simply don’t look closely at the patent portfolios involved, either for valuation issues or for exploitation possibilities.”
Most investment banks have teams of accountants, tax advisers, management consultants, and regulatory affairs experts to structure their deals to a company’s greatest advantage. But one would be hard-pressed to find a major investment bank that employs even one individual with experience in evaluating patent portfolios. Doubtless this will change as corporate America and Wall Street become more attuned to the financial and strategic value of intellectual property, but as matters stand now, “due diligence” regarding patent assets is usually more myth than reality.
That is sometimes true even in the drug industry, where companies live or die on the strength of their patent holdings. According to Cynthia O’Donohue, principal information specialist at global drug company Allergan, businesses don’t always look closely enough at the patent issues involved in a merger or acquisition. “A company may see that the firm it wants to buy has all these wonderful patents,” she explains, “but sometimes they don’t ask when those patents expire. And especially if they’re acquiring a smaller firm, executives have to ask if the company has maintained its patents. If the maintenance fees are not paid, then those patents have elapsed. What’s more, can those patents be invalidated? Are there loopholes or improper claims or prior art errors in them? If you can invalidate them, so can someone else. And what about the engineers and key executives? Are they going to remain once the company is acquired? It’s not just the patents, but the human expertise behind them that you want.”
Those are only a few of the due diligence issues that need to be addressed in M&As that involve the transfer of intellectual assets. Are the acquisition candidate’s patents being cited less often by other companies, suggesting that its technology is not as innovative as it once was? Are its own citations of other companies’ patents older and less frequent, indicating that its innovative pace has slowed? That is just a small sample of the intelligence that can be gleaned from patent data.
In the examples in this article, we have tried to spotlight some of the benefits to be gained by treating patents not just as legal tools but as business assets of enormous financial and competitive value. The power of patents to influence and even determine competitive outcomes will only grow—especially in the booming e-commerce industries. History shows that after the initial race to innovate and grab market share in an emerging industry, there is a period of shakeouts and consolidation—precisely the period we are entering in the Internet’s life cycle—and patents then often become decisive. As one observer of the history of U.S. patenting has noted, “The ultimate winner in the race to capture the lead position in a new industry is often determined by the outcome of a patent shoot-out.”
Indeed, the first shots in what will likely become one of the Internet’s most important battles were fired in October 1999: filed a patent infringement suit to prevent Microsoft’s Expedia group from deploying a “name your own price” auction system similar to Priceline’s. Two weeks later Amazon filed its own suit against its chief rival in online book retailing, Barnes & Noble. Whatever the results in these particular lawsuits, the wars over e-commerce patents are sure to become increasingly common—and increasingly bloody—in the knowledge economy.
Tapping the financial and competitive rewards of patents will require top-level involvement and enterprisewide organizational muscle; that means building a structure in which patents and the information they contain are available throughout the organization and are managed by senior executives as strategic assets of potentially enormous value to the enterprise. Companies that treat their patent portfolios as a strategic asset and a new core competence will enjoy a big advantage over those that don’t.
The effort is made easier now by technological advances in patent asset management. There are now automated systems that provide platforms for organizing, analyzing, and visualizing patents across an industry, for conducting patent audits, and for uncovering competitors’ strategies. Patent-mapping efforts that used to take months can now be done in hours or days. Once-unintelligible text documents can now be presented in 3-D reports that highlight patterns and relationships in technology development. The scope of change that these new tools make possible is comparable to the changes we saw when electronic spreadsheets were introduced to the public two decades ago.
If patents are the “smart bombs” of tomorrow’s business wars, then companies that fail to develop offensive and defensive strategies for their use will do so only at their peril.
1. The IBM side of this deal may be even better. By using its patents to forge a win-win deal with Dell, IBM has turned a competitor into a customer. The deal lets IBM lock in a long-term opportunity for reducing costs and increasing sales. Enlightened companies in the future will use this type of patent leverage not just to collect short-term royalties, as they do now, but to drive the business.
Read more on Intellectual property or related topic Innovation
  • KR
    Kevin G. Rivette is cofounder and chairman of Aurigin Systems in Mountain View, California. Aurigin develops software for intellectual property management.
  • HN
    Henry R. Nothhaft and David Kline are the authors of Great Again: Revitalizing America’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.

To się czyta niesamowicie z jednego zasadniczego powodu - oni już wtedy dokładnie wiedzieli, jaki będzie skutek stosowania patentów, czy IP w ogóle. Wiedzieli, że skończy się to tak, że w każdej z kategorii zastosowania Internetu powstanie jakiś potentat (category-leading product) i tak też się stało. Społecznościówki – Facebook. Krótkie wiadomości – Twitter, wyszukiwarki – Google, streaming wideo – Youtube. Pornosy - PH, muzyka - Spotify. I tak dalej i dalej.

Trudno zresztą uznać to jedynie za przewidywania. W zasadzie mamy do czynienia z udaną realizacja planu, aby rynek właśnie wyglądał w ten określony z góry sposób. Aby każda nisza znalazła swego monopolistę dla każdego zastosowania Sieci i dawała mu łatwo bronić swojej pozycji, utrudniając rynkowym siłom jego obalenie, dzięki środkom politycznym, nadanym in blanco wyłącznościom patentowym.

W zasadzie odkrycie takiej narracji tworzonej wewnątrz środowiska popierającego IP, potwierdzającej skutki o jakie oskarżamy patenty i własność intelektualną, to ideowa żyła złota. Jak przyłapanie z dymiącą bronią w ręku. Nie można już utrzymywać, że taki kształt Internetu, to nieszczęśliwy wypadek, naturalny skutek działania popytu i podaży. To celowe działanie. Morderstwo na leseferyzmie z pełną premedytacją.


sprzedawca niszowych etosów
Członek Załogi
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Taka ciekawostka, związana może bardziej właśnie z samym kształtem Internetu niż patentami, ale w sumie potwierdzająca powyższe konkluzje.

I teraz wybierajcie między dżumą, cholerą, HIVem i rakiem.

Piotr Rosik 03 lut 2021, 08:00 Giełda USA

Internet jest coraz bardziej podzielony, to źle wróży spółkom technologicznym

Wielcy gracze ze świata biznesu i polityki zmierzają do tego, by podzielić internet na suwerenne części, które będą ze sobą w pewien sposób konkurować. To może utrudnić działalność transgraniczną przedsiębiorstw i pogorszyć ich wyniki finansowe.
Podział internetu na części podlegające lokalnej władzy politycznej czy wybranej władzy korporacyjnej może mieć coraz większe znaczenie dla inwestorów kupujących akcje spółek technologicznych – ostrzegają analitycy Aviva Investors w tekście(link is external) „What a carve up! The future of internet”.

Internet bez wolności, za to z korporacyjnymi ogrodami

Analitycy Aviva Investors przypominają, że u zarania internetu postrzegano go romantycznie: jako wolnościową oazę. Dziś niewiele zostało z tego marzenia. Pandemia koronawirusa podkreśliła doniosłość internetu jako wynalazku, ale też ujawniła właśnie ten fakt: że internet w wielu krajach nie jest już oazą wolności.
„Wielkie korporacje tworzą swego rodzaju ogrody, otoczone siatką albo i murem. Gdy użytkownik takiej przestrzeni do niej wchodzi, może korzystać z jej uroków, ale jednocześnie jest bombardowany określonymi treściami, obrazami, reklamami. Na tymi wydzielonymi przestrzeniami z kolei starają się zapanować rządy. Efekt? Internet w coraz mniejszym stopniu jest platformą wolności, a w coraz większym królestwem podzielonym na księstwa. Globalne korporacje mają coraz więcej pracy przy dostosowywaniu swojego biznesu do praw obowiązujących w poszczególnych jurysdykcjach. Rządy starają się coraz wyraźniej zaznaczyć fakt swojego panowania na danej cyberprzestrzeni. To wszystko rodzi niepewność i poważne wyzwania dla inwestorów” – podkreślają analitycy Aviva Investors.
Zauważają oni, że firmy nie mogą już działać w internecie tak swobodnie, jak jeszcze 20, czy nawet 10 lat temu. Nie mogą tak łatwo skalować biznesu. Przedsiębiorstwa działające w cyberprzestrzeni stały się bardziej podatne na przepisy prawne i podatkowe, nakładane przez rządy.

Zarówno rządy, jak i korporacje „bałkanizują” internet

Jak zwracają uwagę analitycy Aviva Investors, nowa era internetu – jako miejsca, które jest coraz mocniej kontrolowane przez rządy – zaczęła się w 2013 roku, wraz z aferą Edwarda Snowdena. Wraz z jej wybuchem okazało się bowiem, że internet jest przestrzenią, nad którą czuwa wielu „Wielkich Braci”, a wśród nich są wywiady, rządy i wielkie korporacje. Sieć jest coraz ściślej kontrolowana, pod płaszczykiem walki z przestępczością, ale tak naprawdę wiele rządów chce dzięki monitoringowi uniknąć takich zdarzeń, jak Arabska Wiosna z lat 2010-12.
W Chinach Partia Komunistyczna zbudowała „Wielki Firewall”, który limituje społeczeństwu dostęp do stron www wedle widzimisię członków jej kierownictwa. Chiński internet jest też na różne sposoby „chroniony” przed firmami z Zachodu, co pozwoliło rozwinąć się takim graczom, jak Baidu, Alibaba czy Tencent. Podobnie jest w Rosji czy Iranie – tam też internet jest w dużym stopniu „cenzurowany” i dzięki temu wyrastają lokalne potęgi (jak czy Yandex w kraju rządzonym przez Władimira Putina). Wedle raportu Freedom House, pandemia koronawirusa stała się pretekstem do rozszerzenia zakresu monitoringu internetu przez wiele rządów.
W Unii Europejskiej pojawiło się prawo Digital Services Act, które wymusza ochronę prywatności oraz godności użytkowników internetu, jednak – co oczywiste - na warunkach dyktowanych przez UE. To wywiera presję na Big Techy i może stać się przyczynkiem do „zimnej wojny internetowej” z USA – wskazują analitycy Aviva Investors.
Jednak nie tylko rządy, ale i wielkie korporacje przyczyniają się do swoistej „bałkanizacji” internetu. Skorzystały one na globalizacji i rozwoju sieci i nauczyły się monetyzować swój internetowy biznes. Teraz tworzą „zamknięte ogrody”, których użytkownicy nie mogą się kontaktować z innymi. Przesłanie wiadomości z Weibo na Facebooka jest niemożliwe, a takie przykłady można mnożyć.
Wedle badania Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network aż 95% instytucjonalnych użytkowników sieci uważa, że w ciągu 3 lat pojawią się duże problemy związane z prawodawstwem. Aż 79% ankietowanych odpowiedziało, że widzi za mało starań ze strony instytucji międzynarodowych w zakresie zapewnienia dobrych standardów działalności w sieci.

4 wizje internetu i walka na linii USA - Chiny

W 2019 roku ukazała się praca naukowa „The Four Internets: The Geopolitics of Digital Governance”, autorstwa Wendy Lee i Kieran O’Hary. Zawarto w niej tezę o istnieniu 4 typów internetu:
  • Otwarty internet Doliny Krzemowej (nacisk położony na wolność).
  • Komercyjny internet świata angloskaskiego (nacisk położony na handel i zysk).
  • Chiński internet autorytarny (nacisk położony na kontrolę).
  • Europejski internet burżuazyjny (nacisk położony na ochronę wybranych wartości).
Każdy z tych internetów jest narażony na ataki Rosji. Te typy sieci mogą koegzystować, a żaden nigdy nie upadnie, ale też nie stanie się dominatorem. Największy bój toczy się między USA a Chinami – napięcia eskalują od 2017 roku, gdy na wojnę na różnych polach z Państwem Środka poszła administracja Donalda Trumpa.
Te napięcia geopolityczne utrudniają funkcjonowanie korporacjom, szczególnie tym chińskim na terenie USA. Jednym przykładem jest Huawei, a świeższym: TikTok – serwis streamingowy, który został rozwinięty przez chińską firmę ByteDance. W sierpniu 2020 roku USA chciały zmusić ByteDance do sprzedaży amerykańskiego oddziału TikTok, ale sąd się temu sprzeciwił. „TikTok to innowacyjna platforma wspomagana przez sztuczną inteligencję. Jest to w gruncie rzeczy pierwszy tego typu biznes z rynków wschodzących, który zaczął podbijać rynki rozwinięte. Niestety, trafił na zły czas napięć geopolitycznych” – wskazał Alistair Way, szef działu akcji rynków wschodzących w Aviva Investors. „TikTok umie doskonale wydobywać dane z użytkowników, więc nic dziwnego, że stał się obiektem ataku ze strony rządu amerykańskiego. Wydaje się, że takich pojedynków jak rząd USA kontra ByteDance będziemy w najbliższych latach widzieli coraz więcej” - dodał.
Warto dodać, że Chiny starają się budować dla siebie pole do cyfrowego rozwoju. Powstała koncepcja Cyfrowego Jedwabnego Szlaku, który powstaje w Azji i Afryce. Chińskie banki i firmy technologiczne występują do azjatyckich i afrykańskich graczy z niezwykle atrakcyjną ofertą ( nisko-oprocentowanych kredytów czy dostępu do najnowszych rozwiązań technologicznych) w zamian za pozwolenie na w miarę swobodne działanie na ich terenie.
Reżimy internetowe
Źródło: Aviva Investors

W co inwestować w dobie podzielonego internetu?

Analitycy Aviva Investors wskazują, że inwestorzy coraz bardziej muszą przyzwyczajać się do tego, iż Big Techy będą ustępować pola lokalnym firmom, gdyż horyzontalnie zorientowane giganty – pozyskujące klientów z ruchu z Google - będą przegrywały walkę z mniejszymi graczami zorientowanymi wertykalnie.
„Rozczarowaniem ostatnich lat dla wielu inwestorów jest chińskie Baidu. Wielu myślało, że ta firma powtórzy tempo wzrostu Google, ale tak się nie stało. Inwestorzy muszą rozglądać się za wertykalnie budowanymi biznesami na wczesnym etapie rozwoju, które potrafią przyciągać klientów bez pośredników. Tego typu trend widać już w branży restauracyjnej, dostaw jedzenia, usług finansowych” – podkreślają analitycy Aviva Investors.
Dodają, że firmy technologiczne będą też ponosiły coraz większe koszty dostosowywania się do przepisów. Będzie to szczególnie widoczne w Europie, a ofiarą padną Big Techy z USA. To będzie wpływało negatywnie na wyniki finansowe tychże spółek.


Open Source Boy
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Jednak nie tylko rządy, ale i wielkie korporacje przyczyniają się do swoistej „bałkanizacji” internetu. Skorzystały one na globalizacji i rozwoju sieci i nauczyły się monetyzować swój internetowy biznes. Teraz tworzą „zamknięte ogrody”, których użytkownicy nie mogą się kontaktować z innymi. Przesłanie wiadomości z Weibo na Facebooka jest niemożliwe, a takie przykłady można mnożyć.
a gdy zwracałem na to uwagę, bagatelizowano problem ;)
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