VC spam

Posted: August 1, 2006 in Business

I read some commentary on Friendster being awarded a patent on social networking and saw a term called “venture capital spam”. I don’t know if that author coined the term or not but I haven’t seen it before. And it certainly fits much of what start-ups are doing now. They get some VC money and then spam the patent office with patent applications for ideas that are often not new, certainly obvious, and usually been done before. Then when their start-up with no real business model doesn’t become an overnight success they threaten to sue real businesses that are making money.

That commentary asserts the usual argument in favor of patents and copyrights, that without them there is no motivation to invest in innovation, and then laments that the system is abused. That, of course, is one of fundamental flaws in western thinking. Greed is taken as a given, and even a good thing, so all systems are constructed to accommodate it. Which of course serves to further cultivate greed. Legislators and leader of industry wish to channel the greed for the “benefit” of society.

Beneficial greed, another oxymoron of the same ilk as responsible drinking. From the perspective of a mind mired in the realm of competition, business, and profit motive, it seems like it is the good guys (developers protecting their profits with patents) against the bad guys (patent breakers copying protected ideas). But step outside of that quagmire and one sees they are all just birds of a feather, all craving big profits. The greedy all receive their consequences in kind. Dogs eating dogs.

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