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Nortel Patent Sale Gets DoJ Review 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the use-your-powers-for-good dept.
gavron writes "The US Department of Justice will review the Nortel patent sale to the entity formed by Apple, Microsoft, and others. This is the same sale that the Canadian authorities declined to review because the $4B+ deal was valued by them at less than $328M. According to a (paywalled) Wall Street Journal report, 'The Justice Department wants to know whether [the consortium] intends to use them defensively to deter patent lawsuits against its members, or offensively against rivals.'"
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Nortel Patent Sale Gets DoJ Review

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  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday July 30, 2011 @08:45PM (#36936466)

    Well, given that innovation usually means to build new concepts on top of older ideas, or to extent older ideas - innovation means you'll have to defend yourself against other's patents.

    Nobody is using actual patent *texts* in order to innovate though:

    • Patents are basically unreadable for technical people, they are legal not technical documents. If something is actually valuable you've heard about it through other sources.
    • Patents are usually trivial, to read through the patent document takes more time than to come up with an equal or better solution.
    • Patents are usually too old. By the time they are actually granted the methods described in them have been in common use for years.
    • Reading patent literature is dangerous - if you violate a patent knowing that it existed, then your fine could turn out much higher. If you have read about an idea before, you may well use it when encountering a suitable problem - even if you don't remember where or that you read it.

    Regarding "Mutually Assured Destruction" - that can only work if there are two parties. If you have hundreds or thousands of parties involved, it's impossible that they could all be balanced against each other. In this case the patent portfolio prevents newcomers from entering the market, so it's very one-sided. And of course a patent portfolio provides virtually no defense against a company which doesn't produce anything - e.g. a law firm which buys patents.

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