The bulk of Cuban's multi-billion dollar net worth derived from his sale in 1999 (good timing to say the least) of Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in Yahoo stock. Cuban later became the highly visible, outspoken and controversial owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team of the National Basketball Association, which won the league championship two seasons ago. Cuban has also sought to participate in the public dialogue on innovation and entrepreneurship. The article in TechCrunch is more or less a series of questions and answers based on Cuban's apparent "endowment" of "The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents." No, the recipient of Cuban's largess is not Stanford, Harvard or the University of Chicago, but rather the Electronic Frontier Foundation here, a private organization that aggressively champions what is described as "digital civil rights."
This Kat is less interested in the chair per se than in the contents of Cuban's comments regarding the current patent regime. The entire piece is attached here; this Kat has culled Cuban's comments for his more colourful morsels:
1 "[D]umbass patents are crushing small businesses."Cuban claims that he " thought the EFF would be a great starting point to get the message to politicians that patent trolls are costing taxpayers (via trials/motions/etc.) and small businesses money that could otherwise be used for innovation and creating jobs." Perhaps, although the EFF seems like an odd platform by which to try and influence politicians regarding claimed defects in the patent system. And so this Kat wonders—is this "chair" to "eliminate stupid patents" a bona fide initiative to affect public debate on the patent system; or is it another example of Cuban's "penchant for attention-grabbing headlines?" Or is it a bit of both.
2. "I would like to see software patents completed eliminated, or if not eliminated have a five-year max shelf life."
3. "I would like to see design patents eliminated."
4. "I would like to require that all patents be used in a business within five years or otherwise become public domain. The concept that patents are being held by non-operating companies in hopes that someone will invent something they can sue over is Anti American, a huge tax on the economy and stymies innovation when entrepreneurs truly come up with a business only to find that the way they included tying the shoelaces on their new shoe was patented."
5. "I would also like to see a “cold room” exception. If you can show you invented the idea using completely independent thought, you don’t violate the patent and the patent is invalidated."
6. "If you didn’t copy an idea, you came up with it on your own, then the idea should not have been patented in the first place. If multiple people come up with the same idea independently, that is the definition of obvious."
7. Regarding the American Invents Act, "[i]t was great for big companies. First come first serve. It did nothing to reduce the patent trolls’ impact on entrepreneurs and existing companies."
More on Mark Cuban here
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