The Opening Line and Patents
Dec 3, 1998
Welcome to the premier issue of the CassBeth Messenger. I have been wanting to start this area of cyber space for a long time but could never pick that opening story. I felt that it needed to be one heck of an opening. After almost a year, tonight, I decide that I will never find the great opening story. Problem is that there is just too much on my mind that I think the planet might be interested in reading. Do I have a big ego or what?
So what is this place? It's a place where I hope to write on topics that affect me. Not you, but me. I think I am the average joe, except my name is walt, so perhaps, you average joe's might be interested in what I have to say. If not, who needs you anyway, this is my place, go find your own place.
I hope to write about work, or lack there of, fulfillment, technology, life, family, business, kids, wife, politics, aliens, movies, corporate greed, presidents, witch hunts, and anything else that happens to bother me. Hopefully I will not trigger any bells in strange places who might actually try to make sense of all this information on the net...
Tonights topic is intellectual property, patents. Today I made the statement, yet again, that I thought World Wars I and II were fought over intellectual property. This was made to a 20 something person, who I saw fit to pass some special knowledge to. Knowledge that I had acquired the hard way in my 42 years on earth. The discussion was about technology and what it means to develop technology, capability and products. The discussion eventually moved into the Netscape mess. I mentioned that I thought Netscape made 2 fatal flaws. The first was that they did not seek to patent all their hard work, in much the same way that Sun has patented certain aspects of the Java world. The second was that they did not hire marketing types from AOL. The later being the least important and would not have saved the company without the first.
I firmly believe that if Netscape had some intellectual property, they would still be an independent business, changing things for the better here on earth. Now I am stuck with either eventually signing up with AOL and their "bought technology" or Billy Gates and his old stuff from the obsolete PC days. We did talk about what may have happened if Billy did not try to play in this new world of the Internet. Perhaps Netscape could have conducted business for a few years without an IBM or AT&T taking them off the street. But the problem was still there, the missing ingredient that has powered the industrial revolution and capitalism as we know and love it, Intellectual Property and patents. By the way, I hate lawyers too. But this is not about lawyers. This is about innovation, hard work, and preventing people "stealing from other people". If Netscape had the patents, Billy could have never given away his browser, and Netscape would be one hell of a company today.
How did I come to this realization without a formal classical education or being born with a last name like Vanderbilt? I learned it the hard way in the defense industry. There was a time when the problems that were being addressed were so capital intensive or so technically challenging that no company on the planet could address them except the companies that had found themselves doing it under the good graces and money of the US Government. Incredible technology was developed, that could have been patented, and leverage by these institutions. As we continue the painful process of bending swords into plowshares, life would have been much better for many companies and people if they had followed the old rules of intellectual property. Instead the unclassified technologies ozzed, leaked, and crawled to companies that could barely understand them let alone commercialize them for the masses. Japan and other Pacific rim types are excluded from that motley group. They not only understand the technology, but they got it all down pat, including the intellectual property stuff. Remember my comment on World Wars I and II?
Now here is the tragedy in all of this lack of understanding Intellectual property stuff. Remember my careful selection of quotes for "bought technology" and "stealing from other people". Well, the guys at Netscape all became rich with the $4 billion dollar deal. Ok, that's how capitalism works. What about all the people in those DOD companies? No company royalties means no money, no money means no salary for the average joe, no salary means unemployment. Problem is most if not all of this stuff came from that average joe. There is a program called Revenge Of The Nerds 2.01 that is currently airing on many stations across the US. Those guys featured on the show that started this computer - software - Internet stuff were not the only guys involved. There were only 3 or 4 of them featured on the program that got to keep their low paying jobs. Thousands more did not keep their low paying jobs or any jobs for that matter. We need to understand where this stuff comes from, and it is time to grow up in the computer, software, and now Internet industries. It's time for people to start getting their just rewards as controlled by the internationally established 200+ year old intellectual property system. Even if it means that a company gets to stay in business and these people continue in their low paying jobs, giving us the wonders that some people can not even image.
By the way, this Internet stuff is for the new generation, not for old guys like Billy. They had their days with the PC revolution... Living off of Xerox park was fun while it lasted, let the new young guys fly. Its not just about money. We have allot of people to feed cloth and shelter on this planet. We need all the technology we can get as soon as we can get it...
On a lighter note, I started to write this issue before selecting the name of this place. These are some of the names considered before compromising on the CassBeth Messenger. The selection process included my wife, my 16 year old daughter - who came out of her closed room to see what was going on, and my 13 year old daughter - who kept saying shut up, because she was trying to fall asleep and we were being loud and therefore rude.
I have to admit these are not the best names in the world, but this is all that we came up with at 11:15 PM. So, it is CassBeth Messenger and this is the first issue. Brillliant, no - Insightful, propably not - but who cares. The issue is can I make some money off of this intellectual property.
Next Time Planet Earth
tell a friend about