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Patent Warning

Patents close open markets. If a company has invested signifcantly to develop a physical product, patents are important. In this case, patents are stated up front…and everyone knows where things stand (sort of). The company holding the patent is essentially saying, “This product/pill/design is ours, we invested in it, you can’t use it.”
Online, patent holders wait until their “intellectual property” has gained acceptance (and in some cases has become integral to certain online activities)…and then rights are asserted. Obviously, if the intellectual property is not being used, it has no value. It’s like getting broadsided…you think you’re building on an open technology…and suddenly it’s pulled out from under your feet. Who can innovate in this environment?
Bill Gates sums it up nicely: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”