1. America’s patent system
1. America's patent system
True story: Henry Ford had go to court in a fight with the owners of a patent that could have blocked the sale of the mass-produced Ford cars. We mention this now to point out that patent law in the U.S. has always been contentious, meant to reward entrepreneurs but often used instead by entrenched powers to block innovation.
But 2012 was the year "patent system" became a cuss word in tech, right up there with "cash bar" and "Bravo reality shows about Silicon Valley." Giant patent holding companies like Intellectual Ventures looked to cash in on tens of thousands of companies, while smaller "patent trolls" sent nastygrams to everyone from the NBA to The New York Times demanding money from so-obvious-they-should-have-a-laugh-track patents granted years ago.
Meanwhile, the big guys spent billions gobbling up patent portfolios while asking for billions in damages in the courtroom. Apple vs. Samsung forced America to learn you could, in fact, patent a pinch gesture (so, next time you pinch someone, be careful!). What's more, it made Americans learn that having the best lawyers is just as important as having the best product.
Too cynical? Maybe, but when you put a pinch of salt on your turkey this holiday and the lawyers show up with a cease-and-desist order, don’t say we didn't warn you.
November 20, 2012 12:01 AM PST
Photo by: CNET
| Caption by: CNET News staff
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