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90 Percent of Businesses Say IP Is "Not Important" 185

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-not-to-them-in-particular dept.
langelgjm writes "In 2009, the National Science Foundation teamed up with the Census Bureau to ask U.S. businesses how important intellectual property was to them. Now, after three years of surveys, the results are in. Astonishingly, it turns out that when asked, 90 percent of businesses say intellectual property is 'not important'. While some very large businesses and specific sectors indicate that patents, copyrights, and trademarks are important, overall, the figures are shockingly low. What's more, the survey's results have received hardly any press. It appears that formal intellectual property protection is far less important to the vast majority of U.S. businesses than some federal agencies, such as the patent office, are willing to admit."
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90 Percent of Businesses Say IP Is "Not Important"

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  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:30AM (#45753289)

    Most people don't care about spoilers, but people who care about spoilers REALLY care about spoilers.

    That said, it is an interesting result, and I wish it were more widely reported (and that it influenced policy, but oh who am I kidding).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:30AM (#45753293)

    a business not on internet will fail. everyone should call and get IP from local ISP

  • Shockingly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:31AM (#45753299)

    I'd say logically.

    When is IP important to you, as a business? If you hold patents and if you're heavily invested in R&D, and copyright is something that you care about strongly if you're creating content, be it music, movies or software. Else, at best, it's uninteresting to you. At worst, it is a headache to you since you always have to watch out whether or not something trivial you do steps on someone' patent toes.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:45AM (#45753391) Journal

      It is logical... unless you're the U.S. Patent Office, which claims that IP is responsible for 40 million jobs and 35% of the U.S. GDP.

      The survey results throw a wrench in the narrative that IP is critical to "the economy." It's clearly critical in certain industries, or for certain companies, but if 90% of businesses say its not important, blanket statements about how IP an economic "engine", etc. need to go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It is logical... unless you're the U.S. Patent Office, which claims that IP is responsible for 40 million jobs and 35% of the U.S. GDP.

        The survey results throw a wrench in the narrative that IP is critical to "the economy." It's clearly critical in certain industries, or for certain companies, but if 90% of businesses say its not important, blanket statements about how IP an economic "engine", etc. need to go.

        90% of businesses saying X is important or not need to go then, they aren't premised on an analysis that demonstrates substantial rigor.

        For one thing, 90% of businesses doesn't correlate with the same amount of employment, it could be far less, same with GDP and other things.

        Get back to me when you're ready to show the whole data set.

        • Get back to me when you're ready to show the whole data set.

          Hey, Genius, speaking of data sets, where's the data that shows patents and copyrights are beneficial for society? There are none. So, you're operating under an unproven hypothesis. Datasets, yes, indeed. Give me proof that the car will not kill me by testing them before we drive them, but oh, let's just plop the whole tech economy in the "IP" wagon and zip around without a care in the world, never bothering to think if this isn't an egregious risk of harm to progress.

          Why a wagon you say? Oh, that's ea

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by click2005 (921437) *

        IP is only valuable & important to a business when it has enough patents to create a stranglehold in their sector.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:32PM (#45754095)

          IP is only valuable & important to a business when it has enough patents to create a stranglehold in their sector.

          Or any business that has an identifiable name. Your local "Quickie Laundromat" may say they don't care about IP. But if I open another business right next door called "Quickie Laundromat", and if I copy their ads and signs word-for-word, they might change their minds. IP is more than just patents. It also encompasses trademarks and copyrights. 10% say they care about IP. The other 90% don't understand what IP is.

          • IP is important for attracting investment.

            IP is important for ramping up product development and sales channels without hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure "first mover advantage" and potential returns for investors.

            IP is important to small businesses who play in big businesses' turf - at least they have a chance of getting bought out, instead of crushed outright once they've discovered, invented, or proven a new market's potential value.

            But, yeah, other than that, who cares?

          • Your local "Quickie Laundromat" may say they don't care about IP. But if I open another business right next door called "Quickie Laundromat", and if I copy their ads and signs word-for-word, they might change their minds.

            Thing is, this survey probably suggests that your scenario doesn't happen that often. In your example, I'd suspect laundromats tend not to open up right next to each other unless there's adequate demand (e.g., next to a university). And even if they do, washing clothes is not a particularly differentiable product. Sure, maybe one laundromat has machines that always work and a change machine that is well stocked, and the competitor wants to trade on the good name of Quickie Laundromat... but that ruse is onl

          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @01:30PM (#45754491) Homepage
            IP is only valuable if you can afford to protect it in court. I think that's the big problem here. If you own Quickie Laundromat, and another guy opens Quicky Laundromat across the street, you can either spend tons of money on lawyers trying to defend your business, or spend tons of money on better machines, or just try to keep prices low. Or try to compete on things that actually matter to customers, Maybe add free Wifi. If you make your business good enough, eventually people will figure out that the they Quickie Laundromat on the North side of the street is the good one. For businesses like this, it isn't the name that matters anyway, but the quality of service. You could call it "Don't Come To This Laundromat", but if you had better machines, cheaper rates, and better overall services, people will visit your business. For most businesses, defending IP would cost more than any profit it could possibly bring in, so it's just not worth worrying about it.
      • The owner of the local car wash (15 employees) doesn't care about IP. Ditto for the florist (3), bakery (5), and bar (4), or five other small businesses engaged in buying and selling commodities. But the CEO of the aerospace corp (4000 employees locally) with a huge annual R&D budget -- he cares a lot.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Quick calculations...

        As I recall, the US workforce is about 155 million people, so 40 million is about a quarter of that. That means 75% of jobs don't rely on IP, according to the USPTO. Per this survey, that figure is 10% of businesses. TFA notes that larger businesses are more likely to value IP, so it makes sense that 10% of businesses could employ 25% of employees.

        Not a very big wrench. To me, it looks like the figures likely corroborate each other. The message I get is that we shouldn't start panicking

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          Shouldn't post just after waking up.

          Per this survey, that figure is 10% of businesses.

          "That figure" refers to the 25% of jobs that do rely on IP.

        • As I recall, the US workforce is about 155 million people, so 40 million is about a quarter of that. That means 75% of jobs don't rely on IP, according to the USPTO.

          That doesn't follow at all. Just because 75% of jobs don't make their money from creating IP, that doesn't mean those 75% of jobs would be done as well, or even possible at all, without the creations of the other 25%.

          This is why the whole framework for this discussion is silly, really. Political considerations aside, as economic tools the various kinds of IP aren't there just as a boon to creative industries, they are there because having those creative industries be creative is valuable for others as well

          • Actually the reverse is probably more true.

            The fact that 25% of jobs are claimed to be dependent on IP does not mean that those job will get lost if no IP existed. There is alot to suggest that most of those jobs would still be in demand even if IP does not exists. Because someone need to program that software. someone need to write that music and someone need to write that book.

            The business would change yes - but there still would be a demand for the products so how much loss in jobs would one see if all I

            • Sorry, but I just don't buy this argument.

              You seem to be concentrating mostly on works subject to copyright now, so let's stick with that. Any fool with a bit of programming skill can create a basic game engine. Anyone with a basic command of their language and the slightest imagination can write a story, and anyone with a basic command of their language and some knowledge of a useful subject can write a textbook. Millions of people can play a bit of piano or guitar and make up a song.

              But creating a good ga

              • IMHO, the biggest advantage of economic incentives is that it creates a motivation for the editors and the sound technicians and the fact checkers and the typesetters and the hair and make-up people and the guy who drives all the props to today's set.

                All of them are hired by the production company. They don't get any share of the copyright. As long as the film is made with decent budget, they'll get hired whether or not copyright exists.

                Writers will always write and people who love music will always play, and plenty of them would do it even if they never got paid at all, and the good ones wouldn't need to worry because they'd get paid somehow anyway being the recognisable face of their work. However, there wouldn't be nearly as many good works without everyone else who works behind the scenes, and those are the people who would really lose out if copyright disappeared before some other economic model evolved to replace it.

                Do you realize that the existence of current copyright-backed content industry leaves very little space for evolution of any alternative economic model? The copyright industry gets to set the rules for everybody else. Do you really expect that the challengers can win a game that's been rigged against them from the very b

                • All of them are hired by the production company. They don't get any share of the copyright. As long as the film is made with decent budget, they'll get hired whether or not copyright exists.

                  Those words "made with a decent budget" are where I have trouble with this argument. Of course the supporting staff are paid out of an overall project budget, but if anyone is free to copy and redistribute a work as soon as it's available, do you really think it's going to be worth investing the same scale of money in making it? I just don't think that is a credible position to take.

                  Works like feature films could still make some money, of course, for example via cinematic release where your customers are pa

      • It is logical... unless you're the U.S. Patent Office, which claims that IP is responsible for 40 million jobs and 35% of the U.S. GDP. [...] if 90% of businesses say its not important,

        No. And also no. I mean, I'm as skeptical of the patent office's numbers as the next guy, but seriously. If I'm the guy who buys the solution, I might not think the patents are that important, because I'm not explicitly licensing them. I buy a product from someone who's licensed the patent, all that is abstracted away from me. But if I'm dependent on that thing, and the thing wouldn't have been created/marketed without a patent, then I'm dependent on the IP. The real question then becomes how much of this stuff would be designed, built, and sold even if anyone could build it. Some things clearly fall into that category, and there's probably plenty the USPTO is taking credit for there that they shouldn't.

        On the other hand, exports of American media are wholly dependent upon IP. If anyone could legally profit from copying your movie, then you wouldn't spend a lot of money making one. Whole classes of entertainment involving costly special effects would not exist at all. Clearly, there are industries wholly dependent upon it.

      • But, how important are the 10% of businesses in the survey? Are they employing 90% of the workforce, are they producing 90% of GDP, how about export/import balance - what % of exports are produced by those 90% of US businesses which don't care about IP?

        There are lots of ways to spin numbers like these. I'm not surprised at all if 9/10 strip mall stores I pass don't have any interest in IP. I am surprised if even 20% of cutting edge, innovative global tech companies don't care about IP.

    • Re:Shockingly? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epiphani (254981) <epiphaniNO@SPAMdal.net> on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:01AM (#45753507)

      I work in the technology space, where we're heavily investing in R&D. And we don't own a thing - it's all open source, apache software.

      Fundamentally I think people are realizing that owning IP is a short-term strategy for many businesses. If the value you provide is entirely locked up in your IP - and not in your customer service and skills, eventually someone is going to come along with a cheaper or free version of your IP. Then your only advantage is the lock-in you already have.

      In the long term, companies have to function based on their ability to support their customers - not just throw IP at them. This is especially true in software.

      • Re:Shockingly? (Score:5, Informative)

        by kanweg (771128) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:31AM (#45753699)

        Patents/patent applications are open source knowledge before the term open source was coined. You are free to build on those ideas (and are free to take a patent on any non-obvious improvement, if you want that or not if you don't want that). Patent databases are freely accessible (as in beer); they may even have free machine translators so you can read the information in a language you don't speak. Want to know how something can be made, alternative ways of solving problems? Patent documents are your friend. No books to buy. No subscriptions needed. The documents are well-organized, in a standard format and can be searched using keywords from the comfort of your home. (You don't need to register and sell your soul to get the information you want.).

        The information in patents becomes freely available to the public in on average about 7 years (drugs take longer, other stuff shorter). No shitty near-infinite term like copyright.

        The applicant paid quite a bit to put an accurate description of the invention into words, and it becomes public after 18 months. That may be before the actual product hits the market. You couldn't have know about it otherwise.

        Bert
        Patent attorney (oh, and patents on software? Yes, I agree. They're a bad and unnecessary thing)

        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @02:19PM (#45754831)

          I've recently been involved with the patenting process, at it applies in the US and Europe.

          In some respects, I was pleasantly surprised. The patent lawyer genuinely seemed to want to use the system as it was intended, do a good job of writing everything up, and secure some real protection for the inventors of something genuinely new and useful.

          In other respects, I was disappointed. I think the biggest downer for me was when we were formally advised that reading other patents in the field was potentially dangerous. Clearly the reality is that a patent lawsuit in the US is a very uncertain proposition for all concerned, particularly if the patent itself is of the broad-but-possible-not-enforceable variety and/or if the parties involved have substantially different resources to spend on the case. We were warned that having read anyone else's patents would mean if we were ever found to have infringed them in one of those uncertain lawsuits, that infringement would incur greater penalties as it would then be considered wilful.

          That seemingly minor detail did more to damage my belief that at least the principle of various kinds of IP is worth having than any arguments about awarding trivial patents for nonsense inventions with vague descriptions ever have. Perversely, the very people who would most benefit from being aware of inventions -- those working in the same industry, who might want to license them or otherwise collaborate with other inventors -- appear to have a substantial incentive not to actually explore the disclosed knowledge the system is designed to share.

          • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:52PM (#45757863) Homepage Journal

            In other respects, I was disappointed. I think the biggest downer for me was when we were formally advised that reading other patents in the field was potentially dangerous.

            IMO, the way to test whether or not the patent system is accomplishing its constitutional goal is to look at how much time practitioners spend looking through the patent library to find solutions to their problems, or ideas they can build upon, with the idea that it's better/faster/cheaper to find a developed patent and license it rather than do the hard work of inventing it yourself. If the patent database is heavily used as a research library, then it has accomplished its goal of contributing to the progress of the useful arts and sciences.

            Your comment is exactly what corporate attorneys have told me as well, and the fact that it's good advice proves that the system utterly and completely fails the test.

      • by tepples (727027)

        If the value you provide is entirely locked up in your IP - and not in your customer service and skills, eventually someone is going to come along with a cheaper or free version of your IP.

        And if you're The Tetris Company, you go ahead and successfully sue that someone. Tetris v. Xio.

      • In the medical device space it's amazing how short a timeframe 20 years is. Lots of good ideas that are on their way to becoming obvious today still have decades before they can achieve commercial viability in the open market. Too bad (or good?) that med-tech doesn't have the kind of legal muscle that Mickey Mouse does.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Shocking is the logic. "Because Safeway cares about trademark, we need better protections on patents and longer terms for copyright." Those are the assertions being found with millions of dollars of taxpayer money spend to artificially support IP.

      When you exclude trademark, the number who care about "IP" becomes Hollywood, and not much else. It's just a rich and important "not much".
    • by Sique (173459)

      When is IP important to you, as a business? If you hold patents and if you're heavily invested in R&D, and copyright is something that you care about strongly if you're creating content, be it music, movies or software. Else, at best, it's uninteresting to you. At worst, it is a headache to you since you always have to watch out whether or not something trivial you do steps on someone' patent toes.

      You should actually read the report. Then you would stumble upon such results as:

      Even when looking at a sector where one would expect heavy reliance on intellectual property, the results do not match expectations. For example, take one of the most copyright-dependent sectors we can imagine: “R&D active” software publishing. In 2010, 51.4% of respondents in this sector said copyright was “very important”; 34.6% said it was “somewhat important”; and 13.9% said it was

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Yes, sometimes I think the slashdot community is guilty of forgetting that the bulk of the world doesn't function in the somewhat-rarified air of "IT".

      The bulk of companies actually make something; in that case, it's a matter of people and machines: who can make it the best (most efficiently, highest quality, etc.), not about some 'secret recipe' that they need to hide from anyone else. Others serve people - forwarders, brokers, any service industry - again, a business where there's no secret recipe but a

  • Thinking otherwise is counter-productive.

    • Oddly enough, your opinion on this matter is only an opinion.
    • by tomhath (637240)
      Actually, there is such a thing as Intellectual Property. And it can be protected under the laws of most countries. Just because you want something for free doesn't mean you are entitled to it for free, sorry.
  • Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:32AM (#45753307) Homepage

    90% of businesses are in fields that don't have the type of IP you see in new fields like IT.
    I'm sure a small, local bakery would care about IP too if he had to pay license fees for every bread he bakes, simply because his oven has a digital timer.

    • Look at the bright side. It means that the economy is not as bad off as it could be, at least 90% of businesses out there still provide goods&services instead of trying to IP troll.

    • But IP also includes trademarks, which in theory are relevant to virtually every business... unless maybe you supply a purely fungible commodity.

      That said, I think you're right. When I considered my experiences with small businesses (a cabinet shop and a veterinary hospital), I realized that not even trademarks were particularly relevant. There was simple no real danger of someone ripping off the name of the business... it wouldn't really make sense to do so.

      I'd love to see how politicians and government of

      • But IP also includes trademarks, which in theory are relevant to virtually every business...

        In theory, perhaps. In reality, no. Most small businesses do not need trademark at all.

      • I'd love to see how politicians and government officials react when confronted with this kind of survey data.

        All you'll hear will be the crickets chirping. Politicians an government officials only react to surveys presented in the form of small green papers with pictures of former presidents on them.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      The point is that to most businesses IP is an expense. A harmful existence. Your example of bakery is a good one.

      Such companies are unlikely to be invested in the concept. It wouldn't be surprising if they were opposed to it in fact, as it increases their cost of doing business.

    • by dbarron (286)

      However, if you asked the local baker for his recipes....I think you'd hear a different story.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        But if I invent the exact same recipe all by myself, he's not going to sue me.
        Nor does he have to do extensive research into patented and copyrighted recipe's before he can legally use his own recipe.

      • by Sique (173459)
        However, baking recipes don't fall under any legal protection. Also fashion is not protected by the law.
    • by ScentCone (795499)

      I'm sure a small, local bakery would care about IP too if he had to pay license fees for every bread he bakes, simply because his oven has a digital timer.

      They might also care if, as a bakery, they decided to invest thousands of man hours in developing a new product or producing a series of books on new techniques, and then someone else who "doesn't care about IP" just ripped them off and started profiting from the other bakery's investment and creativity without having to do any of the hard work.

    • by kramerd (1227006)

      The bakery does have to pay license fees for bread, they are just built into the cost of ovens, yeast, eggs, milk, and so forth.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        The point is, they can still use that oven, yeast, eggs and milk to create bread. They don't have to pay some southern Texas company a license fee because they want to use a different speed on their blender, making it a patented recipe.

        The point is that in most of the business world, IP is treated a lot more reasonable. It's just the relatively new fields (IT, tech, bio) that seem to redefine the rules of what can be legally protected.

    • by fa2k (881632)

      Yes, this is not a surprise. quite possibly, 90 % of business say that IP as in the internet is not important either. There are many small non-tech businesses

  • My example is this. In the automotive industry the car manufacturers make new intellectual property. Everyone else is in inventory, logistics, or repair. The same thing goes with software. Most people in technology are in the integration and configuration business.

    • From TFA:

      According to the NSF, the Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) “is an annual, nationally representative sample survey of approximately 43,000 companies, including companies in manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries. The target population for BRDIS consists of all for-profit companies that have five or more employees and that perform R&D in the United States.”

      • From TFA:

        According to the NSF, the Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) “is an annual, nationally representative sample survey of approximately 43,000 companies, including companies in manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries. The target population for BRDIS consists of all for-profit companies that have five or more employees and that perform R&D in the United States.”

        From TFA:

        If you examine the details, the survey results begin to make more sense. Larger companies tend to report intellectual property as being more important; businesses designated as especially “R&D active” also place more importance on various kinds of intellectual property.

        The survey is not confined just to the target population, as it includes non-R&D active companies.

  • The 10%, however, care quite a lot.
  • Those things weren't important *to them* in their business, not that they thought those things weren't important. Big difference.
    • Those things weren't important *to them* in their business, not that they thought those things weren't important. Big difference.

      They actually asked the correct question to measure overall importance of intellectual monopolies to the economy.

  • The vast majority of businesses have no significant branding to speak of, publish no significant media, and do no significant R&D. To put some perspective on it, there are more companies in the US than there are individual engineers and very few companies produce anything where copyright is central to the business.

    Most businesses are built almost entirely on individual customer relationships. Restaurants, contractors, specialty manufacturers, agriculture, etc. In all of these areas there are a few outli

  • Lots of business are just in the business of selling stuff. So there is very little IP to be had.

    Similarly there is very little IP to be protected in the vast majority of services businesses. That's everything from dog walkers to hotel chains, law firms and banks.

    The building industry has very little IP as well apart on certain widgets used.

    That pretty much leaves high tech manufacturing, software, and something that is probably best describes as "media".

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:01AM (#45753509)

    While surprising, the results do make some sense. IP laws are only meaningful to companies that have the means to sue. They would also have to look at the return on investment for launching legal action. A small business on the east coast is unlikely to sue another small business on the west coast simply because there is no return (i.e. no overlap in potential clients).

    IP is mostly geared towards the interests of large entities and multinational entities: businesses that have both the means to sue, and where their market is large enough that it is likely to overlap with someone else's market.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      According to the report:

      the number one IP-intensive industry by employment in the United States was grocery stores.

      I suspect the number of grocery stores that have any IP is pretty small.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:08AM (#45753529)

    I'm still waiting for the pdf to download, but I can smell the BS from here. Does anyone really believe that most businesses wouldn't mind if a competitor misappropriated their name and opened a competing establishment with the same name across the street?

    Someone said that small businesses don't build a brand and don't care about their names (trademarks). I've owned a couple of small businesses and in two of those all of my customers were small businesses. For most small mom and pop businesses, the reputation attached to their trademark is EVERYTHING. They don't have national ad campaigns, their business comes from friends telling friends "go to ShoeDoc to get that fixed, they do a great job." If someone else opened a shoe repair place down the street and violated their IP by calling it ShoeDoc that would be a VERY big deal to them.

    • I'm still waiting for the pdf to download, but I can smell the BS from here. Does anyone really believe that most businesses wouldn't mind if a competitor misappropriated their name and opened a competing establishment with the same name across the street?

      No, no one believes that. However, apparently this isn't a big enough concern for most businesses to get them to respond that trademarks are "somewhat" or "very" important. I wonder how realistic the "You've Got Mail" scenario of theft of goodwill for the Shop Around The Corner bookstore actually is.

      For most small mom and pop businesses, the reputation attached to their trademark is EVERYTHING.

      Well, their reputation may be everything, but I'm guessing many businesses don't even bother filing a trademark registration. I think one of the takeaways from the survey may be that formal intellectual property

      • I think one of the takeaways from the survey may be that formal intellectual property protection isn't always valuable to most businesses, even though intangible things like reputation may be very valuable.

        You do realise that trademark protection exists with or without registration, right? Registration confers additional rights to your trademark, but even without registration, other businesses are not permitted to imitate you.

        Therefore, even without taking the step of registration, there is still formal int

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:19AM (#45753611)

    The author shows their complete ignorance of how the economy works when they select GROCERIES as their example of an industry where they claim IP doesn't matter. Imagine if you were to walk into the grocery store and all of the cola made by different companies was labeled "Coca-Cola". It's trademark, intellectual property, that allows you to tell the difference between Coke, Pepsi, and RC cola. Were it not for IP, the generic stuff that sells for under a dollar would also be labelled "Coca-Cola".

    Do you think it's important to grocers that customers can distinguish Guiradelli and Hershey from Z corp "chocolate flavored bar"? Of course! The grocery industry is ALL about trademarks. The author proves they are completely clueless by claiming IP doesn't matter in the grocery business.

    • The article doesn't claim that IP doesn't matter to grocery stores. It just points out that it doesn't make sense to attribute the entire employment figures of all grocery stores across the U.S. to intellectual property. Which is precisely what the Patent Office's report did.

      It may be fair to call grocery stores an IP-intensive industry, but if it is, that's a definition of "IP intensive" that most people aren't thinking of when they talk about patent and copyright policy.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      Do you think it's important to grocers that customers can distinguish Guiradelli and Hershey from Z corp "chocolate flavored bar"? Of course! The grocery industry is ALL about trademarks. The author proves they are completely clueless by claiming IP doesn't matter in the grocery business.

      Chocolate and other luxury goods are an exception. In just about every packaged product category in a supermarket, there is an "own brand" option, which the supermarket would much prefer you buy. Branding is important to

    • by rts008 (812749)

      It's trademark, intellectual property, that allows you to tell the difference between Coke, Pepsi, and RC cola.

      No, it is not.
      It is my nose and taste buds that tell me the difference.
      Lipstick(trademark) on a pig doesn' change the fact your still dealing with a pig.

      • You can only taste it after you've bought it.
        It's the Coke trademark on the bottle that allows you to know what it's going to taste like. Without trademark, all of the different sodas would be labeled "Coke" and all of the different companies making them would call themselves "Coca-Cola".

        There is a real life example of that here in Texas. A company in Elgin, Tx made great sausage and built a reputation for the best sausage in the state. If you were driving through Elgin on the way to Austin, you'd stop and

      • So you're the guy who licks the bottles at the supermarket?

    • by devent (1627873)

      I think the original USPTO study was on purpose mixing all IP protection into one basked. Trademarks, patents and copyrights are vastly different laws. Anyone who just mix such different laws into one basked called "Intellectual Property" is just conflating them on purpose for their own agenda, in case of the USPTO to show how much important IP laws are.

      As the article points out:

      In 2010, 87.2% of businesses reported that trademarks were “not important” to them.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:22AM (#45753645) Homepage

    I worked for over a decade at a midsized company, founded in the late sixties, whose business was the manufacture of $30,000-$100,000 high-tech products. The development process included internal firmware, quite a lot of interesting and non-obvious mechanical and optical engineering, and driver software.

    To say they were casual about intellectual property was putting it mildly. The mindset seemed to be, basically, that they copied good ideas from the competition and expected the competition to copy ideas from them. (I do mean IDEAS though, nothing more). They felt their business success depended on getting needed products to market in a timely way, and that it was all about good execution of ideas, not exclusive possession of ideas.

    All of us software people put copyright notices on our code because we just thought it was good practice, but nobody told us to do so or send out memos on how to do it or monitored us to make sure we were doing it right.

    I created a mini dust-up once when the head of marketing told me to send the complete source code to one of our software drivers to another company--a 200-age listing--and I said sure, but that I wouldn't do it without written directions from an officer of the company. He was furious that I would even question his directions and insisting that it was inappropriate for me to demur because it was no big deal, and I replied, sincerely, that I didn't think it was a big deal, either--in context it really wasn't--but that nevertheless I thought I needed to have that level of authorization, and that since it wasn't a big deal it shouldn't be hard to get it. It's not that he was being a PHB, either--the point is that nobody in the company quite got it that maybe you didn't just send out half a pound of listing on a casual say-so.

    For a while, there was one mid-level manager who liked patents and embarked on a semi-systematic effort to get things patented, and recognize engineers by posting framed notices about the patents that they had gotten--there were maybe about ten such frames on the wall by the time he left. But it was not part of the corporate culture.

    I don't remember ever hearing about the company suing or being sued over a patent except for one case, where it was embroiled as a party in a lawsuit involving some software components they had purchased and licensed from another firm.

  • Pretty much the only thing they all agree on is that excessive taxes and unreasonable regulations are evil. Even then they don't actually agree on what that sentence means. The guy whose job is to sell coal thinks any carbon tax is excessive by definition and renewable energy requirements are inherently unreasonable. The guy who sells solar panels disagrees strongly.

    In this case what's going on is that your local yogurt shop doesn't give a shit about patents or copyright because it sells yogurt. They don't

    • If most people can't tell the difference between Coke and house-brand, why do they pay a premium?

      • Convenience, and brand loyalty. The big soft drink brands make it really easy to buy their products, frequently paying for choice shelf space right by the exit. Moreover in absolute terms you don;t actually save much money if you buy the house brand because the worst price you'll see on a 2-liter is $2.50. Yeah the house brand may only be $0.50, but the $2.00 you save won't get you bus-fare in Cleveland.

        Coke brand loyalty has to be seen to believed. Large sections of thew country refer to any carbonated bev

  • I have 3 problems with today's IP. Most IP is completely obvious; the one click patent is 100% crap. Any web developer with 3 months training would stumble upon that as completely obvious if they were building a large online sales site. Things like patents and trademarks should be reserved for something innovative. Monster suing people for using monster as a synonym of big or great should be punished with their losing the trademark. There is definitely room for some patents and trademarks such as Xerox (com
    • I have 3 problems with today's IP. Most IP is completely obvious; the one click patent is 100% crap.

      Obviousness is a legal conclusion, like "guilty", and must be supported by evidence. You wouldn't throw someone in jail for murder because you have a gut feeling, would you?
      There was a $10,000 bounty for prior art that would invalidate the one click patent. Since you think it's total crap, why didn't you show your art and collect that bounty? Why didn't anyone? Why was there a reexamination conducted for that patent, with all of the art that the EFF and Slashdot and others could throw at it, that still con

  • For most companies, trademarks and trade secrets are much more important.

    The local bakery probably doesn't care about the copyrights on its secret recipes (yes, making and testing new recipes is a form of R&D). But if an employee pilfers them and leaks them to the competition, they would care very much that their trade secret was compromised. Likewise, if another bakery started using a nearly-identical logo or other "trade dress" in a way that caused confusion in the marketplace, they would care.

  • You know, that transmission thingy using IP.
    Internet Protocol.

  • For IP to not be important, your business could not have any of these things:
    a name and logo
    a customer list
    a supplier list
    a product distinguishable from that of competitors
    a way of making a product distinguishable from that of competitors
    a plan for dealing with an employee absence

    The overwhelming majority of the comments here, either for or against, assume IP is only something you consume. IP is also something you produce.

    • Why do customer lists and supplier lists keep coming up in this thread? These are nothing but databases and databases can not be protected by anything. Their contents are not patentable, trademarkable, or copyrightable. In some cases there is case law to prove it. In other cases, it's black letter law. If your competitor gets a hold of your customer list without breaking and entering or hacking a computer, there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

  • businesses that deal in intellectual property care about intellectual property, those that don't, don't.

  • It is important (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @04:51PM (#45755877)

    But if you think strategically important IP is going to be put into a patent, you're nuts. That just gives the competition a head start on working around the technology or business method. If I have a better way of doing business, I'm going to do my best to keep that to myself. Perhaps plant a few false leads and use some misdirection to keep my competitors guessing as to why we are so successful.

    So, when asked, I'm going to say, "No. No special IP here. Just lots of hard work, blood, sweat and tears."

    This is also one reason so many people are nervous about the NSA. You think Snowden was the only person making off with intelligence? It has been standard practice among various businesses (particularly those doing work in the military/intelligence area) to have a few buddies in intelligence agencies who can slip you some info. on what the competition is up to.

  • It is nice to see that 90% of business are still primarily involved into producing goods or services, IMO most of the remaining 10% are pure parasites.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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