The Financial Times (Thursday 10th May) ran a full page article ‘The curse of innovation’ reporting ‘Escalating courtroom battles over intellectual property’.
We asked two leading entrepreneurs and two prominent law firms whether they were concerned about a potential future cycle of lawsuits involving Intellectual capital, Non compete agreements, Patent infringement and corporate governance issues spilling “over from the smartphone industry into the broader online world”?
Today it’s the entrepreneurs.
Andrew White, CEO, FundApps
Startups fall into 2 broad categories – those which really invent a new service or product that never existed before and those which take an existing problem and solve it better.
Naturally, 90% of them fall into the second category. Google wasn’t the first search engine nor was Facebook the first social network. Living in fear of being taken to court over patent infringements stifles innovation and is a bad sign for society in general. Competition is rarely detrimental to progress.
The law must ensure that true copyright violation is stopped, but that there is enough leeway for ideas of a similar nature. By and large Startups don’t have enough money for beer let alone IP lawyers and court cases so the justice system must hinder spurious infringement suits.
Despite this background, FundApps sees 2012 positively and the plethora of upcoming financial regulation ensures we have our work cut-out ensuring fund managers stay on the right side of the law.
Andrew Walker, Co-Founder & CIO, Tweetminster
It is a function of the maturation process for any rapidly expanding industry. Smartphone tech, apps and social media have grown from the hobbies of early adopters into large and highly competitive industries at an amazing rate and we’re seeing issues like privacy, patents and IP being secured now because they’re often neglected until new businesses catch-up with the legal frameworks that govern established industries. A lot of new tech starts life in old warehouses full of skateboards and beanbags, but once you’ve got serious revenue from a sustainable customer base, you’ve got to sharpen up. The current rash of litigation is driven by corporate battles, disgruntled former employees and employers – but that’s not new. Everyone from Arkwright to Edison and even Lego allegedly broke IP and infringed copyrights, so historically speaking, you could argue innovative businesses attract legal disputes. For 2012, we’re focused on developing our APIs and delivering more intelligent news feeds to our clients… provided some patent troll in Texas doesn’t win a judgment making the internet illegal in the meantime.
Thank you Andrew and Andrew.
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