“All fine and dandy until you get megalomaniac corporations like Microsoft, IBM, etc. in the software business that have departments devoted to copyrighting anything that may ever be remotely useful. For the SME an IP challenge from one of these megaliths can destroy your business, even if subsequently proved baseless. I can’t see that level of reform happening this epoch… hence my advocacy of open source solutions.”
There is a visceral hatred of intellectual property that manifested itself in the UK in the distributed denial of service attack on the Intellectual Property Office in mid October. The emergence of a Pirate Party in several European countries including the UK which despite its name campaigns lawfully for legislative changes is another sign. So, too, is Graham Barker’s diatribe “Patenting Your Invention, the Ugly Truth“. The first two key findings of the SABIP Report into “Attitudes and Behaviours of Consumers in the Digital Age” were that “the scale of sharing is huge and growing” and that “people are indifferent and/or confused about the possibility of infringement and about possible victims.”
Now why is that? Part of the blame lies in the attitude and behaviour of some intellectual property owners and their law firms both in terms of enforcement and lobbying. Awards of massive damages against children and their parents for file sharing spring to mind. As for lobbying I remember the hectoring of US entertainment industry lobbyists at the IPO’s consultation on the Enforcement Directive raising my hackles some years ago even though I generally supported the legislation.
Another reason is the disillusionment of the many businessmen and inventors once they realize that the patent or other registered right upon which they may have spent a fortune is either invalid or prohibitively expensive to enforce. I touched upon this two weeks ago in my post “In Defence of Patent Agents”.
Some members of the intellectual property community is taking note and doing something about it. Barbara Cookson’s post “The End of Patent Agents” in the Solo IP Blog of 7 Nov 2010 is encouraging. And the reforms to the Patents County Court and the appointment of an energetic young judge should help too (see “New Patents County Court Rules” in my IP/IT Update blog of 31 Oct 2010).
But I think we have to do more. Everybody from the leading patent chambers in Lincoln’s Inn and the specialist law forms down to the independent solo practitioner have to reconsider their attitudes, practices and pricing otherwise we and our service shall become as hated as the banks.
And that would be a pity because there is a mountain of evidence that intellectual property incentivizes innovation and disseminates technical and scientific knowledge.
PS. Following a post in Josh Halliday’s blog on the Guardian website on BT and TalkTalk’s application for judicial review, I have penned a further piece “The Digital Economy Act …… is great news for the country” because this is an example of the sort of attitude that has to change.