Today it was intimated that Yahoo! may enter the world of patent trolling. If you haven’t seen the article, it’s here. In short, it appears that Yahoo! is increasing its patent filing activity and shopping itself, in part, based on the value of its patents. Their patents generally revolve around search and social networking.
Now if they have real deep algorithms in search that are patented, I can get my head around it. What I fear is that their “social networking” patents are business method patents that will cover business process ideas, but no real innovation. And they’ll use these patents either to sell or to offensively go after real innovative companies like Facebook. The article suggests that something like this could potentially derail a Facebook IPO even.
I can’t event begin to tell you how furious all of this patent trolling activity makes me. My partner Brad wrote yesterday a great piece about Another Day, Another Patent troll. There is a lot more behind his post than just what he says, but, unfortunately, we aren’t at liberty to talk about particular portfolio company situations.
If only the Supreme Court had not allowed itself to become politicized and actually decided Bilksi on the merits, then the world would be a better place. I was at the oral arguments for Bilksi and I can assure you not one single justice was even partially sympathetic to Bilksi’s case, but evidently politics won out over reason.
Yahoo! Don’t be evil. Try competing on the merits of innovation, not the perverted incentives of a broken patent system that this country currently “enjoys.”