Patentable business antipatterns

Patentable business antipatterns

I am a great believer in karma. If you are generally nice then generally nice are the events that you get back. Being the school bully is only short-term fun. As you get older and your bones become more fragile then others will take over your role and trample on your head. This is also true in business. Sure you have to be hungry and competitive, but not at the cost of losing your native support along the way. Let this blog be a warning to you... wag, wag my finger is wagging.

A businesses priority must first be the effort of adding value for the customer and then profit will surely follow. Sadly, sometimes idiots and the selfish come along and generate generic lessons that we can all learn from. Quick profit, inflating share prices and a grab for the collective purse is not a practice that is ethical or sustainable in the real world, away from the PowerPointed hype presentations of air-conditioned sky-rises.

A greedy self-seeker may consider cutting and running with Intellectual Property rights. The idea is quite primitive and brutal, definitely a shock and awe tactic. You obtain an over generalized patent and start suing competitors, noise is made and the startled pheasants fly out from the bush. An easy shot you may think. In the short term, this set of dubious actions may be profitable. However, karma tends to intercede. Customers tend not to like this type of disruption and drift away from you; business relations even more so. Worst still for the alleged business: you may increase the negativity of the cycle by suing the very same customers. Where is the customer value in that? Profits drop and the decision makers jump ship, leaving only a gutted burnt out core. No survivors, but hey! at least the captain is smiling. The captain’s car is big and the captain had a few nice ego pampering sound bite moments with the media.

From the above reasons, you would never guess that I like the Electronic Freedom Frontier. The organization keeps hitting back hard and has a consistent effort to erode the worst away. What I personally find shaming is that the patent system does not have such a relatively neutral internal body and self-regulation. Or, if it does, I don't see the effects of it. I am sure that if such a grouping did exist then it would remove some of the overtly obvious cases and leave the EFF and other like minded interest groups to focus on damaging second level ethically challenged businesses.

If I were a government advisor, I would bring the EFF to top-level discussions on how to reform the patent system and listen until everything they suggest has been enacted.

One final point: sometimes the law feels like a slot machine, there is a degree of randomness that does not always filter out unfair patents. Notice, if the claim is big enough and the backer consistent enough then occasionally the bad guys will win. The only way to push back against the economic pressure of doing the unethical is for every influenced group to participate in defense as soon as the issue arises. It is generally not a good idea to wait for someone else to do the lifting work, as you will be painting a target on your head for the next round. But, hey that is my two pennies worth, is that patentable?

**Cut end of sound bite.**


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Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

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