Today’s WSJ has an Op Ed from Bruce Sewell, general counsel for Intel, about "patent trolls."
"Our patent laws are supposed to be about proliferation of technology. If there is actual competition between patent owner and infringer, an injunction may be appropriate — it protects the patent owner’s right to exclusivity and does not deprive society of the benefits of the technology. On the other hand, if the patent owner has not commercialized the invention, blocking others from using it is a loss for all of us. The right to an injunction also needs to be tempered by a commonsense look at how much real value the patented technology adds to the whole commercial product. A fundamental invention deserves greater value than a relatively minor tweak to work that went before it. A broad application of the injunction remedy makes all patents "crucial," whether they are or not."
The great irony, apparently lost on Mr. Sewell, is that the Intel Corporation was built in large part upon abusive patent prosecutions versus competitors such as AMD. At least, thats according to the book Inside Intel.
The book is a tech investor’s must read. If you think Redmond is the evil empire, well then brace yourself — Intel was every bit as abusive a monopolist as Gates & Co. The key difference is Intel seems to have adapted faster than Microsoft. If you haven’t read Inside Intel, go get yourself a copy (50 cents used at Amazon); Its an utterly fascinating history of technology.
Despite their own longstanding use and abuse of the patent system, that Intel’s counsel would pen such a blatant hypocritical commentary is simply beyond funny to me.
My own view is colored by being a little guy: I’m on the BoD of a small public company, one with great IP that was ripped off by everybody. So I am talking my book. (We settled with Microsoft last year, and Apple filed for a declaratory judgment action against us). But, jeez, really, Intel’s position is so blatantly laughable, especially given their storied history of patent litigation.
Is this something that simply happens to most very large organizations? Not just companies, but, any huge group organized for a specific purpose? At a certain point, do they simply become so full of shit that they lose their way, start believing their own PR, and forget how they got started? This eventually has to impact their performance.
No wonder AMD is kicking Intel’s collective asses . . .
WSJ, March 6, 2006; Page A14