A lot of eyes may be on Amazon right now, to see if it will introduce a new smartphone to the market, but Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO, has his eye on something else — the drama-filled patent wars being waged all over the world. And they have him shaking his head.
These cases are like a pile-up on the interstate: Sure, they draw a lot of eyeballs, but mostly because people just can’t look away from the mess. “Patents are supposed to encourage innovation,” Bezos told the U.K.’s Metro, “and we’re starting to be in a world where they might start to stifle innovation.” Indeed. Patents are intended to be defensive, a protective measure that allows creators the space to innovate without fear of others ripping off their ideas or designs. In the way they’re being used now, however, they act more like offensive tools, a weapon of attack that companies use to subjugate competitors big and small.
And we all know where that leads: Less competition means fewer products coming to market, some of which could have had ingenious takes on technologies we use everyday.
Take the Samsung-Apple courtroom battles being waged all over the world. So far, Apple scored a big win in the U.S., but Samsung beat Cupertino in South Korea and Japan. And that’s just for starters — there are still many more lawsuits awaiting their turn in the courts. If one has its way, the other’s devices could be barred from sale in certain countries.
According to Bezos, national governments need to step in and offer legislation that addresses this patent case pile-up. “Governments may need to look at the patent system,” he says, “and see if those laws need to be modified because I don’t think some of these battles are healthy for society.”
What do you think of today’s patent wars? Do you agree with Bezos, or do you believe its just the nature of business and that companies have a right to bring these cases to court? Weigh in.