“If you don’t have a patent, you don’t have a prayer on Shark Tank,” as John Oliver began his diatribe on the problems with patents. Black humor with questionable substance, but never has there been such widespread and deep confusion about patents, from the man on the street, to the press, the courts, Congress, the Supreme Court, and President Obama. Joking aside, how should entrepreneurs view patents?That is the subject of this MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC panel session on 11/19 that I am co-organizing: Patents for Entrepreneurs – Crown Jewels or Shiny Objects?
We assemble a panel of entrepreneurs who have successfully navigated these issues and shepherded companies through the life-cycle of seeking and using patents -- working with investors and licensees. We bolster that with patent lawyers who can update us on the fundamental legal turmoil that bears on this.This is not Patents 101 -- it is aimed at a strategic perspective for entrepreneurs and those investing in their companies.
The John Oliver bit is very funny, but does a disservice to the real issues of why the patent system is valuable. For a perspective on the harder reality, check out this post on a respected IP blog, A toxic concoction of myth, media and money is killing the patent system.
But this is also not a debate on IP policy -- the focus will be on understanding the current landscape, directions, and uncertainties for good or bad, to address the strategic questions of whether and how young companies should seek patents.
(My personal view is that while there should be an important place for patents, those trying to fix the system have broken it so badly that the value of patents for many kinds of innovation is now highly doubtful -- at least until the pendulum swings back a bit. I did well as an inventor with patents in the past, but am no longer spending much time on that now.)