Free The Patents

I recently invested in a company called Vringo, whose sole reason to exist right now is to sue Google. The only reason I invested in it was for the money (hopefully), since it was the first patent troll that I’ve heard of that is a publicly traded company.

This has led to some weird thoughts rolling around in my head, relating to how I think the patent system is flawed. Should this company really be able to sue Google, just because they came up with an idea 10 years ago relating to showing relevant ads for users? Obviously, it wasn’t just the single idea that made Google all the money, but instead it was the fact that they had the best search engine. Their single idea that the patent is based on certainly didn’t keep Lycos in business.

There are some super smart people out there who can dream up ideas all day long. What if they patented all those ideas? Would they be a billionaire 10 years from now? I’m not sure.

The one thing I can think of to combat this weird use of patents, is to allow people to throw out ideas into a “public” space. Once the idea hits the public, no one else can patent it, right?

If we built an open database where people could just submit random ideas that they want someone to build “royalty free”, would there be any incentive to do so? Would people really spend 15 minutes to write out an intelligent description of an algorithm or process, that could be used to kill a patent lawsuit?

I’m going to think about this for a while. Maybe there could be some alternative incentives to get people to share…

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