Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Rapoza's use of "push" technology for his example came particularly close to home for me, since I lived through all six phases of that cycle with my original Teleshuttle "push" technology. My personal experience shows how the long cycles of the patent business can serve as a counterbalance to the fast cycles of technology.
- "Useful Invention:" I developed some ideas relating to what came to be known as "push" distribution and filed for a patent and started Teleshuttle in 1994 (well before PointCast launched in 1996).
- "Growth and Competition:" Teleshuttle gained lots of interest from '94-96, and got its software distributed on several million computers -- but PointCast, Marimba, and BackWeb made a much bigger splash.
- "Hype:" For a few years, "push" was very hot, and even though the Teleshuttle product failed to build a profitable market, I was able to leverage that hype to partner with a company called BTG to work on commercializing my patent.
- "Bust:" PointCast went under, and the other guys retrenched. Teleshuttle and BTG tended to the development of a portfolio of patents, and did other things (I was CTO for a dot-com).
- "Death:" By the early 2000's push was written off as a classic failure, but we still saw value there -- one minor example being Windows Update (and its Apple counterpart).
- "Rebirth:" Push returned in a big way as RSS feeds. We persevered in commercializing my patent portfolio and sold it in 2006 for $35MM.
Some might say this is exploitation by a "patent troll." But that misses the whole point of the patent system. It is reasonable to recognize a patent as the innovator's well-deserved incentive. Some people excell as entrepreneurs, others excell as innovators -- even if their business does not succeed. The Constitution provided for patents as a way to encourage the innovating part, not the succeeding in business part. The Framers understood that succeeding in business generates ample reward of its own -- it is innovation that needs the added incentive of a patent. Viewing the patent as Plan B provided the hedge that made it easier to justify the risks inherent in developing my ideas and starting the Teleshuttle business. In my case that hedge paid off -- after 12 years!
Tags: Media New Media Web/Tech Internet Technology Media Technology Patents Patent Trolls Flop Hype Innovation Invention RRR