A different point of view on the necessity of patent

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A different point of view on the necessity of patent

Elon Musk is recognized as one of the greatest geniuses in the history of the world with a mammoth fortune. Most people regard Elon Musk as an entrepreneur and an inventor with outstanding, out-of-the-box ideas that are the foundation of his success today. However, despite such success with all of his creations such as SpaceX, Tesla, X.com, Zip2, Neuralink, etc., Musk has an interesting view of the intellectual property system, specifically in terms of patents and inventions.

“Patents are for the weak” – Elon Musk once said this on CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage”.

The statement by Musk caused a relatively large shock to the world at that time during this young entrepreneur’s rise on the world stage. For a great innovator like Elon Musk, the fact that he did not put too much faith in the intellectual property system is in contrast to the normal understanding of the IP system – the system that has helped countless inventors, and content creators since its inception.

During Jay Leno’s Garage, Leno asked the 51-year-old businessman if he had ever patented a material used to build SpaceX’s spacecraft. Musk replied that his spacecraft company “[didn’t] actually patent its products.”

“I don’t care about patents,” Musk told Leno. “Patents are for the weak.”

In Musk’s view, patents are often used as a way to prevent other parties from using the creator’s technology, thereby preserving their interests. According to Musk, this patent system is designed to prevent innovation and creativity.

This statement is controversial because the main functioning principle of the patent system is not to prevent innovation, but actually to preserve the interests of inventors, and at the same time promote innovation and creativity when publicly announcing the information of inventions such as methods, specifications, notes, and other important factors to build such invention to the whole world.

Accordingly, other parties will be able to learn the principle and structure of the invention and thereby add to their own creations, improving the invention in a positive way. The only thing they are not allowed is to copy-paste the original invention and mass-produce it because this will reduce creativity, and at the same time affect the interests of the original inventor, thereby also reducing their research, development, and innovation drive.

Is Musk’s view correct?

During the interview with Leno, Musk said: “Patents are used as landmines in war. They don’t really help push things; they just prevent others from following in your footsteps.”

This is not the first time Musk has spoken out against patents. In a 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with employees of Tesla – Musk’s company, the inventor with only 18 patents in his lifetime said that the corporate charm is to “attract and promote the most talented engineer in the world”, not to appeal with talented people through a patent.

“[Patents] are only intended to stifle progress, strengthen the position of giant corporations, and enrich law practitioners, not real inventors,” Musk wrote at that time. The legal department on Tesla’s website states that the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who wants to use its technology in good faith.”

On a Quora forum, a US patent agent by the name of Eric Truebenbach said that even he has more patents than Musk for inventions registered in his name, but not in the name of Tesla or other companies. However, Eric also said that even with more patents, is he smarter than Musk or more successful than this world’s richest billionaire? Definitely not.

The development direction of each person

The number of patents or trusts in the Intellectual Property system does not determine a person’s success.

For individuals who strongly believe in the IP system, it is completely right and reasonable. However, when the richest person in the world and the most influential person in the world have spoken his view about the system, it is best to listen and understand his perspective as everything he did to gain the success that he has right now can’t be accidental.

For small companies, the intellectual property and patent system are especially important, but when you have led a top company on the planet with no worthy competitor like Tesla, or SpaceX, the Patent protection at that time was just a formality because there was no company that could grasp the resources and techniques like Musk’s companies and even if they copied it, they could not achieve success like Musk because IP is only a small part of a conundrum leading to success.

For the reasoning behind such a statement, we can refer to the old trade secret thief of some Coca-Cola’s employees planning to sell the secret to Pepsi. Pepsi refused the deal and turned the employees to justice part due to the respect the 2 giants of beverages have for each other, part for the fact that Pepsi saw that there are no benefits to obtaining Coca-cola’s recipe – one of the oldest trade secrets in the world.

What would they do with such secret? Copy-paste it then sell Pepsi drinks with Coca-cola favor? It is unreasonable. That action will damage its reputation, consumers might think that Pepsi is not a strong company, standing so low to copy its sworn opponent’s recipe.

There are other factors such as the legal consequence of dealing with thieving action and the reputation but the main reason is only one, Pepsi got its success today with the Pepsi brand. They sell Pepsi drinks, not other companies’ drinks. The same copy technique, method, and product can’t beat the original, not unless the copy paster can improve, and make an outstanding, phenomenon change on that product, like creating a Samsung phone with easy to access hologram function.

Standing on top of the world with no reason to be afraid of competitors

Musk himself rarely identifies himself as an inventor and creator, but instead as a entrepreneur – a businessman. Most of Elon Musk’s success does not come from startups, creativity. Musk is successful because he sees the potential of an innovation, a company, or an idea of other parties and thereby buys that creation/company to develop further, based on the existing foundation.

Musk’s latest move is the acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion – the second-largest social networking platform in the world. Musk saw the potential of the deal, and after a bit of a ruse, he bought Twitter, which he has done many times in the past.

If you can develop non-stop, and continuously create new value like Musk and his staff, ahead of the times then you can learn or ‘copy’ his way of operating. From Musk’s perspective, patents are unnecessary because he feels no fear that any company will catch up or use his invention to surpass him.

Because even if a company used that invention to reach his current position, by then Musk had grown to a height that they could not look up. That is the perspective of Elon Musk – the richest billionaire as well as the most successful entrepreneur on the planet.

However, for most businesses in the world, the intellectual property system will certainly be an important tool to protect their rights and prevent other parties from using and abusing intellectual property.

However, in order to obtain protection for such intellectual property, the owner needs to first register the intellectual property for their assets, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial design, rights to plant varieties, etc.

Contacting AAA IP Right for legal support on the protection of your IP assets with a team of reputable lawyers with extensive experience in the field of intellectual property registration all around the world, with partners and associates from more than 100 countries. For inventions, AAA IP Right can provide the following services:

  • Preliminary consultation and assessment of the object of patent registration on the scope of protection.
  • Draft patent applications on behalf of clients internationally.
  • Proceed to file a patent application at the IP agency available within AAA IP Right’s system, or file through the PCT patent system with one application, one payment of fee for multiple countries.
  • Keep track of records until results are available.
  • Respond to official dispatches and objections of the IP agencies and third parties (if any).
  • Receive and hand over patent protection certificate.

***Other Articles***

You could check Required documents of filing trademark in USA here.

– You could see What needs to be done after registering a trademark in US? here.

– You could visit here to see What is use in commerce of filing trademark in USA.

– You could also check here to see Procedure of Trademark in USA.

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