Seems Intel’s chief patent counsel David Simon has low regard for us unworthy types who have the temerity to think patents might protect smaller players too. At least that’s the message that comes across loud and clear from his comments in today’s Law.com article entitled, “Simon Says Intel Is Moving Toward Solos, Small Firms.”
In all honesty, the title was intriguing and I had to look. Could it be that a corporate giant such as Intel might actually notice that there are good lawyers in this country and that not all of them are in huge firms?
My joy was premature. Turns out Intel is indeed moving away from large firms — but only for purposes of obtaining patents, not enforcing them. Furthermore, they want to pay no more than $7,500 for an application. Trouble is, large firms, with their anchor-tenant offices and Ivy-educated galley slaves…er “associates,” can’t charge that little and still keep the lights on. Hence the push to find small firms and solo-practitioners who, they hope, are on the one hand smart enough to turn out a high-quality work product, but, on the other, too stupid to charge a multi-billion dollar company a fair price for it.
But what I really found fascinating about all this were Mr. Simon’s comments about Intel’s goals and his views toward patents and those who own them. According to the article, Intel wants to “build a ‘patent thicket’ around important Intel inventions, particularly those that relate to industry standards.” In the past, Intel “was not as aggressive in filing patents as [it] should have been.” Also, Mr. Simon “wants to make sure the company can continue to create products in these critical areas without fear of interference by competitors.” No argument from me there — that’s what patents are for. But why then the harsh words for what Intel labels “patent trolls” and “patent extortionists”? Why the claim that small patent holders who don’t make a product are “just a tax on the industry”?
Like many large companies today, Intel apparently takes the position that patents are there to protect only large companies that actually make products. Apparently, they are not intended to protect the ideas of visionary dreamers who have not yet managed to build billion-dollar enterprises.
This may come as news to the late Robert Noyce, who, on July 30, 1959 while just 31 years old, filed an application for patent entitled, “Semiconductor Device and Lead Structure Integrated Circuit,” and then went on to change the world.