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Why Apple-Samsung Proves that the Patent System Can Work

Like many in the tech industry, I closely followed the recent Apple-Samsung litigation and believe that the case will have meaningful implications for years to come.  What I find most interesting is not the jury’s decision – which could have gone either way for purposes of this commentary – but the underlying premise of this case, which is exactly the type of issue our patent system was designed to handle. I can even picture Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s first Commissioner of Patents, sitting in his study at Monticello, reading about the case on his iPhone and texting a note to Judge Koh congratulating her for her conduct of the case.

This case involved two companies with competing products, and each believed they had intellectual property that should exclude the other from participating within their marketplace. More importantly however, at least some of the patents being litigated were essential to the products’ design. In other words, they were inherently the reason that consumers would want to buy those specific products. This important concept – that true innovation must be tied to consumer preference – played out in a court of law, in front of a jury, and in a way that will have great significance for how the marketplace treats companies that innovate.  Unfortunately, this is a far cry from a majority of patent litigation we see in our system today.

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What You Can Learn from 2nd Graders and Traffic Lights and Happy Employees

February 29, 2012 at 8:53 am PST

What do the U.S Patent Trade Office (PTO), the City of San Antonio and the Mooresville Grade School District in North Carolina all have in common?   Each of these organizations is using technology in unique and innovative ways to fundamentally change how they approach their business.  By implementing a telework program, the PTO was able to recognize $19M in savings in real estate costs, while at the same time, providing their employees with the flexibility to work remotely and save commuting time.  Mooresville School District improved graduation rates from 64 to 91%, by implementing a Digital Conversion program which provides every student in grades 2 and above with a laptop, integrating mobile technology into researching, multimedia projects and three dimensional learning.  The City of San Antonio succeeded in improving traffic, lowering gas emissions and shortening commute times, by creating an intelligent traffic signal communication network.

While these stories demonstrate great results, they are not entirely unique.  Many government and education organizations are turning to technology to help them connect, innovate and save.  There are some great stories to be heard and lessons to be learned.  If you find these examples interesting, you might want to check out this Town Hall discussion where representatives from these organizations, as well as from the City of Raleigh North Carolina, The City of Aurora Illinois, the Idaho Education Network and McHenry County discuss the new and exciting ways they are deploying technology.  You might even learn a thing or two from traffic lights.

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