Last month Guy Kawasaki wrote about the good and the bad answers to the question “What makes your startup defensible?”. His first point is that patents aren’t really much use unless you’re in “biotech, chip design, and medical devices where a patent really means something”. As he puts it, ‘”suing Microsoft” isn’t a viable (or attractive) business strategy’. It’s a good read.

When some patent attorneys responded to his comments, he also published their response. Excerpt:

Factor in some of the higher backlogged tech areas such as web business and Internet business methods, and it will realistically be at least five years before the Patent Office even starts to examine your application.

We’ve even heard of delays up to and beyond ten years in certain technology areas. Your competition could run you over by then, and it’s more than likely we’ll all be onto Web 5.0 by the time you get the pretty ribbon copy of your patent.

But they offer some good reasons why they’re “not changing our day jobs anytime soon” because “patents still play an important role in building a defensible business — ”they’re just not the whole enchilada”. It’s also worth reading if you play in this space.

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