Qualcomm head urges caution on patent legislation

Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, uses a sponsored column in Politico to address patent legislation. As I reported earlier, Congress is considering measures aimed at cracking down on patent trolls, or patent-assertion entities. (See “Patent trolls defend themselves.”)

In his paid commentary, Jacobs writes of his company, “Our mission is to invent things that improve people’s lives and find solutions to the toughest challenges facing the mobile communications industry, including ways to expand the existing cellular networks to meet the demands of a world that grows more connected every day.

“But none of this would be possible without the same strong patent protection that helped bring us the light bulbs of Thomas Edison and the telegraph of Samuel Morse, Albert Loomis’ long-range navigation system that helped this country win World War II and the AIDS diagnostic kits created by Robert Gallo.”

Jacobs doesn't mention patent trolls but does worry about unintended consequences of a rush to pass new patent legislation.

“What's missing from the debate is the point of view of the inventor,” he writes. He expresses particular concern for small inventors burning the midnight oil in their garages.

That's all well and good, and Qualcomm has developed great technology worthy of patent protection. However, large companies tend to acquire huge patent portfolios that they could use as legal cudgels against each other and against the garage-based inventor.

Jacobs concludes by calling on Congress to invite all inventors and inventing companies to weigh in before amending any patent laws. That's a fine idea, as long as the garage inventors who can't afford lobbyists get a seat at the table.

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