VC Perspective on Intellectual Property

So today’s "great post" comes from er… me.  :)  Okay, so my partner Ryan and I did a podcast last week with Larry Nelson of W3W3 and our conversation covered both the intellectual property and patent issues we’ve faced as investors in high-technology companies. We definitely have a love/hate (ok, mostly hate) relationship with patents, so if you are interested in hearing (or reading) more, check it out here. Note the excellent intro and outro music, or the "bumper music" as Larry refers to it — it is from Soul Patch’s latest album and is therefore straight from Jason’s and my personal intellectual property collection

  • Aziz Grieser

    I followed through with the link, and listened to the podcast. I've had a lot of folks along the way tell me I should look into getting a patent for my company, which Brad is familiar with, and I still have several simple questions that nobody seems to ever be able to answer, like:

    – Are process patents worth the trouble of filing them? (New way of doing things) Would they hold up in a courtroom?
    Answer so far: nope.

    – Will other companies be able to get around any technical patent, by rewriting a new technology that achieves the same goal?
    Answer so far: yes.

    – When should I file a patent, if I'm going to at all, considering I'm a broke entrepreneur?

  • Jason Mendelson

    It's a good question. I don't know when you should, but in your example, I agree with you. Process patents are of questionable value and yes, you can rewrite code. I'd tell you that getting patents can work as a shield sometimes so that you aren't bullied around, but I'd certainly wait until you have more cash to get it done. Note, that this isn't always the case. Hardware, biotech, something completely “new” you might want to suck it up and get an early patent.

  • Patents are dicey at times…you can't live with them and you can't survive (in some cases) without them. Many that we have talked during our interviews on have said they prefer Trade Secrets. I'm not an expert there, but what I can say is that the album these workaholics produced, “Soul Patch: Sooner or Later” is really great!!!