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Various strategies in dealing with patent trolls are succinctly discussed in this article on Patent Trolls and Bad Patents.

"...companies that complain about patent trolls don't really want them to go away. Patent trolls are extremely valuable to these big tech companies because they are an identifiable and unsympathetic villain. They can be paraded about as evil and help these large tech companies pursue legislative reforms that would cripple other industries but which would eliminate the patent troll problem."

The large software companies recognize their advantages are:

  • platform lockin - once a customer selects and implements a system they will have great inertia not to migrate away from the platform or vendor

  • brand name - customers factor a brand name and company into their purchase decisions. For example, how many potential GM customers have turned away recently due to the risk of GM not being around to service their warranty's?

  • resources - spending at conferences, wining and dining potential customers, etc... The smaller the company the smaller the cash flow, the harder $dollars are to come by before making a sale. Larger companies simply have more cash available to spend to land a sale.

Once patents are harder to come by or even destroyed, large entrenched software companies can infringe whatever patents they want, whenever they want, without having to pay the patent owner. At that point the larger software companies most cost efficient strategy stops being to lure in new users with features and functionality and instead becomes to scan the horizon for innovative technology and either acquire it or copy-and-paste the technological advantages. Typically, the cost of acquiring the technology or company would be higher than simply spending the man-hours on code monkeys to perform the copy-and-pasting.

"Of course, the goal is not to eliminate the patent troll problem, it is to make the patent system weaker, have fewer patents granted that cover less ground and make it all much more expensive. You see, the goal is to make it difficult if not impossible for small companies and start-ups to obtain patents, thereby ensuring the market dominance of the mega-tech companies. Brilliant really, and if it didn't mean that pharma companies and companies that actually build real products would be devastated mega-tech would have already achieved their agenda."

And without patents the small innovative companies have zero leverage. Without leverage, soon small companies would stop innovating, probably either die or assimilate with the borg.

Large companies best strategy has become obvious:

  1. Destroy the only protection small innovative companies have (e.g. patents)

  2. Entrench themselves with customers

  3. Cut expenses by reducing R&D headcount/overhead (read: layoffs)

  4. Scan horizon for the best innovations

  5. Copy and paste the best innovations into next product, release, or patch

  6. $Profit

Large software companies are afterall corporations that seek to maximize shareholder profits. Software engineers best move is to either:

  1. Accept the fact they can be code monkeys and be ready to compete with China and India salaries

  2. Do their part, let their voice be heard for the fight to allow innovation to continue in America

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay.

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