Apple's "other guy" co-founder Steve Wozniak has some advice for Microsoft's "other guy" co-founder Paul Allen. And it has nothing to do with urging him to buy another yacht or sports team.
Wozniak was the keynote speaker at the Embedded System Conference Silicon Valley in San Jose this week.
The Register reports:
When asked about patent-trolling, Wozniak had two personal stories to tell: one about Allen, and one about an early experience that soured him on patents held and enforced by deep-pockets companies.
"That patent-troll thing," Wozniak, said, introducing his first story. "The other night Paul Allen was speaking at the Computer History Museum and I had four tickets. And I decided at the last minute not to go, because I remembered he's suing all these companies like Apple and Google - but he's not suing Microsoft - because he bought all these patents."
Patent tolling, though Allen would never refer to the practice as that, is essentially putting a bare minimum of research into technology with no plans to make anything with it, but rather to hold a patent on it and wait until some hapless company actually tries to make something with it, at which point said patent troller sues them.
Allen currently has open lawsuits against Google, Netflix, Apple, Office Max, Staples, AOL, eBay, Office Depot, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube that claim the companies use technology he patented--but never used--in his now-defunct company Interval Research.
Microsoft, of course, is not named in the lawsuit, despite Allen having quit the company long before coming up with his patents.
"Paul Allen should be out there investing in companies that are doing something, making products, actually making a new future for the world, and not 'I'm ... going to sue people, and get in bed with the lawyers to make my money.' That's not the right way... It's not really special what they come up with,." he said, referring to patent-seeking teams of engineers. "But since you were a rich company, you can investigate [a technique] years before it's going to be affordable for products. You could investigate it ... and patent it, patent it, patent it."
Still, the fact remains that creating things might be more useful and honorable, but suing the pants off people for straying into the intellectual territory you subtly marked off is much more profitable.