Patents

With most big companies currently patenting everything from the colour Purple to story lines and ofcourse software we are generally experiencing the notion that companies can own a concept or idea and thus restrict future development (or at least make a large amount of money from it).

But I have been thinking how this might be quite bad for a company.

What if patents are both good and bad (for the company) in that (like the Sony DRM debacle) they may patent an idea that at the time may seem brilliant (and ofcourse money spinning), yet if it proves like a bad idea, then the iron cage of patent may destroy their own business?

What I am saying is that due to the nature of such patents and indeed their far reaching umbrellas, what if a company (company A) is sued for some misdemeanour and then subsequently finds another company (company B) have patented said idea upon which company A’s product is based. Could company A use as a defence that, even though they are in breach of copyright it’s not really their product/idea. So could company B then could be liable for any damages awarded? Company A would ofcourse be sued by company B for breach of copyright, and everything would get very messy, but if its proven that company B patented idea led to the problem in the first place then company A may not be liable.

My knowledge of the law system is far from good but it seems that patenting such generic things could go both ways.

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