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《經濟學人》:知識產權,發明之戰

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Intellectual property
知識產權

Inventive warfare
發明之戰

Battles over patents are becoming fiercer and more expensive
專利之戰,愈演愈烈,愈烈價更高

THIS deal is all about patents. That was the near universal view of Google’s announcement this week that it was taking over Motorola Mobility, a maker of handsets and other devices, for a colossal $12.5 billion. Indeed, the purchase will provide Google with an awful lot of patents: around 17,000 of them issued and another 7,500 pending. They should help Google in its efforts to get more smartphones and other mobile devices running on its Android operating system (see article). But it could also make the battles over patents nastier and more costly.

這筆交易歸根結蒂就是謀求專利。這是多數人對谷歌本周宣布以125億美元天價收購手機及其他電子產品制造商摩托羅拉這一消息的普遍看法。實際上,此項交易為谷歌帶來數量極其龐大的專利:約1.7萬項已審批,另外7500項待審批。這些專利有助于歌獲得更多運行安卓操作系統的智能手機以及其他移動設備 (見 文)。但是這也會使對專利的爭奪愈演愈烈,代價更高。

A scramble for patents had already begun. In December four companies, including Microsoft and Apple, paid $450m for around 880 patents and applications owned by Novell, an ailing software firm. In July those two and four others, including Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, spent $4.5 billion on 6,000 patents owned by Nortel, a bankrupt Canadian telecoms-equipment maker. Before its latest deal, Google bought 1,000 patents from IBM. Firms are also suing each other. Apple claims its technology has been copied by Samsung and Motorola in their Android phones. Oracle is suing Google for up to $6 billion, claiming that Android infringes its patents. Microsoft is suing Motorola over Android too. Nokia recently settled a similar quarrel with Apple.

專利爭奪戰早已打響。早在12月,包括微軟及蘋果在內的四間公司就支付境況不佳的Novell4.5億美元以購買約880項專利和應用程序。今年七月,其中的兩間公司及包括黑莓廠商動態研究公司在內的另外四家公司購買加拿大倒閉的電信設備廠商Nortel的6000項專利。此前,谷歌就從IBM公司購買了1000項專利。同時,各公司也在互相傾軋。蘋果聲稱其技術已被三星及摩托羅拉在其安卓系統中盜用。甲骨文公司起訴谷歌公司,稱安卓系統侵權,要求索賠60億美元。微軟公司也起訴摩托羅拉的安卓系統。諾基亞公司最近剛剛與蘋果公司解決一個類似沖突。

What is going on? Some say companies are attaching more value to intellectual property. Indeed, the Google deal seems to have been priced on a cost-per-patent basis, causing the share prices of other firms with lots of patents to rise. Others, however, think the battles reflect deficiencies in the patent system forcing firms to pay vast sums to protect technologies they have developed. The answer is a bit of both.

這到底是怎么回事?有些人說這是各公司跟看重知識產權。實際上,谷歌交易似乎就是通過每項專利的成本而進行估價,這就致使擁有專利眾多的公司的股價攀升。但是,也有人認為此類爭奪正反映了專利認證體系的缺陷——迫使公司大筆投入保護其開發技術。答案二者兼有。

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