Monday, August 22, 2005

MOTOROLA ANNOUNCES THAT MORE ISN'T REALLY BETTER: (Chicago Tribune) After going through the 1990s with a policy of patenting as much as possible, Motorola switched gears five years ago to focus on technologies deemed most critical. It's made for a delicate balance between the company's researchers--who are compensated partly for producing patents--and managers commissioned to keep a lid on costs. Motorola was regularly among the top 10 recipients of U.S. patents during the 1990s, but lately has been content to sit at 30th in 2004, according to U.S. Patent Office data.

In the early 1990s, Motorola had a stated goal "to get as many patents as we could get," said Jonathan Meyer, Motorola's senior vice president for intellectual property law.Then, about five years ago, the company revamped its patent strategy, he said. The initial focus was simple: "What can we do to cut costs?"

While shaving costs, Motorola also realized that its old patent strategy lacked consistency and focus, Meyer said. "It was an arbitrary chasing of ranking."For example, the company filed about 50 patents in the late 1990s for battery latches for wireless phones. That was overkill, given a latch's relative insignificance as a revenue generator. Or as Charles Backof, a vice president in Motorola's technology office, put it: "Are you ever going to make money off of a battery latch patent?"

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