Don't despair. The scary aspect, that a cheap patent lawsuit could cost $1 to $2 million to defend... Still, patents can make a difference when you are seeking an investor. Jason Mendelson, managing partner of the Foundry Group and Ryan McIntyre, also a managing partner of that Venture Capital firm go onto point out that a bigger patent case can cost $10 million and up. "Most are spurious with the intent to halt progress of a competitor, or put small startups out of business. The idea of a 7 or 8 figure legal bill, for a startup company to defend your intellectual property will destroy most companies. Even venture backed startups do not have the resources to fight that. They typically end up settling and making some sort of agreement where they have to pay royalties to the plaintiff." They talked about 'patent trolls' and pointed out that prior to 2007, 92% of the cases that went to trial, the plaintiff won...ouch. They discussed other IP issues and Jason said “Trade Secrets" are the forgotten stepchild of IP. When you hear trade secrets you think of KFC recipes. You don’t find too much Trade Secret protection happening in the VC world – I think that’s a mistake.” We don’t like the ‘patent paradigm’ we’re in, but in order to have a defensive strategy you’ve got to have a shield. We do encourage our companies to get patents. If nothing else, as a bug spray to the patent world. BTW, the music at the beginning and end of this interview is a small part of a CD produced by Jason's and Ryan's 'Soul Patch' band. Enjoy!
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