RE: Patents

Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 21:31:45 EEST


The best technology doesn't simply bubble to the surface like the froth on a
beer. Market structures are determined by complex factors, and patents are
one of the main determinants. They've certainly been one of the main shaping
influences on the RP market. That's why there are no RP products available
here in the US from Sony, Meiko, EOS, Kira, Kinergy and others, and why some
companies have disappeared altogether.

If you think that patents are irrelevant, try to get a VC to fund you without
one, or without at least a patent application. You'll be lucky if he or she
will pick up the tab for coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.

The speed of technological change and growth also isn't strongly related to
the value of patents. That's because while details and implementations
change, the underlying inventions themselves are usually constant over long
periods. Monolithic IC's are a good example. They're lots more powerful and
complex today, but basically they're still made using the techniques in the
original TI patent. While there are now more than 500 RP patents, the basic
inventions described in early RP patents for the existing commercialzed
methods are still fundamentally in effect and in use.

Even the most rapidly changing markets, such as e commerce, are affected by
patents, and can be expected to develop in this way. There was a very
interesting and lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal recently about
this, incidentally. [April 17, 2000, pR17, if memory serves].

Patents are the weapon of choice for a dominant company to maintain it's
position. On paper, a patent is a defensible right, but in practice a
dominant player can use it's portfolio to freeze a competitor out of a
market, or to greatly weaken a competitor by depleting its resources in legal
actions, whether justified or not. I don't approve of unjustified attacks,
but it happens, and not all attacks are unjustified.

Mr. Muller, I am a little surprised. I would think you would find this
discussion fascinating, since your company recently licensed the inkjet
technology from Aad van der Geest that was mentioned in a previous posting on
this subject. Certainly your future competitors won't need our blather here
to draw their attention to you.

I'm not an apologist for the PTO, the status quo, or the legal profession. I
have spent too much treasure, time and vexation to have much sympathy with
the way things are. But that's how things are. If RP is to move ahead, we
have to take a wider view of things than just the technology itself. It's
my belief that this wider view can even result in better future inventions.

Ed Grenda
Castle Island Co.
19 Pondview Road
Arlington, MA 02474 USA
781-646-6280 (voice or fax) (email)


In a message dated 00-04-22 10:21:52 EDT, writes:

<< Of course anybody can sue anyone about anything. But does the suit have
 merit? From what I have heard about the Objet it's basically a Cubital with
 different printing system. Those things have been sold in the past without
 much controversy. In these days of rapid technological change some might
 question the usefulness of patents. If something is going to be obsolete in
 years what good is 17 year claim? Now with GATT and WTO etc. You might have
 to patent it in every country in the world to really get protection.
 all your money on lawyers instead of development would in the long run be
 self defeating perhaps. I don't remember the details, maybe the Auto guys
 would, but as I recall when the automatic transmission was invented (by
 Chrysler?), they were forced to make the design available to all the other
 manufacturers because it was such a useful invention, patent not
 withstanding. Then recently, 3D was about to lose their suit with EOS, a
 blatant knock off IMHO. Their only real defense was to buy the competition.
 If the Japanese really wanted into the US market they would buy 3D. Then we
 might see some interesting machines. At least several people have actually
 seen an Objet, making parts no less. That is a good sign unlike the
 History has shown that if a product is really superior to the existing
 technology, people will find a way to get it, patents, trademarks,
 copyrights, etc., notwithstanding. And in this day of global information and
 international trading I would expect that trend to accelerate.
 Andy Scott
 Lockheed Martin Aero

In a message dated 00-04-24 06:05:13 EDT, writes:

<< I am very unhappy about all the patent discussions in the world. If you
 check the public companies of RP, nobody is earning money. The are only
 staying in business and nobody is creating a lot of cash.
 The patents on the other side are stopping all the technology for the
 future. Patent and RP in this moment is having the taste to stay behind of
 new technologies. I am very tired to read all the Emails about infringing
 the patents of others.

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