IBM Austin - A Patent Machine!

IBM Austin – A Patent Machine!

Over the last twenty years I’ve had thirteen patents published. Most of these were applied for when I was at IBM in the early ’90s. IBM had good financial incentives to publish inventions and patents. It also turns out that IBM Austin produces more patents for IBM than anywhere else in the corporation, so its not surprising I wrote so many.

Since starting Digital Cheetah in 2001 I have developed some very creative solutions that are certainly worthy of patent submission. However, I have not applied for one patent. There are two reasons for this:

  • The cost of processing a Patent.
  • The restriction they can impose to freely use the ideas.

In the early days of Digital Cheetah the cost was the biggest reason for not pursuing a patent. However, these days I am less inclined to apply for a patent because although they offer some protection against their use, they also impede my own ability to use the same ideas in the future. For most small businesses I believe “patent protection” is an illusion and all that you really do is limit your own use of the ideas.

Most of the time the only possible reason for applying for a patent is if you plan on selling the company. Then having a patent portfolio can be attractive.