Employees pulling to refresh patent policy?

One of the assertions (arguments?) in Jaron Lanier's new book is that the disruption of the buggy whip industry was not as catastrophic for the economy as it might have been, because a labor movement stepped in and demanded improvements in working conditions and wages as the auto industry took shape.

6a01156e3d83cb970c0168ea48e0fc970c-500wi(Examples like this throw into relief his critique of the digital economy: labor and experience have been devalued, Lanier says, and literally taken out of all accounting.)

Well, I don't want to overstate the value of the Twitter's Innovators Patent Agreement, but it looks like it could gain traction, drive toward becoming an industry standard, if individual engineers bargain for the benefit of its use as a term and condition of employment.

The idea is that, as part of the bargain for an employer taking ownership of a patent on an invention, the employer concedes that the inventing employee has the power to decide whether the patent may be used to sue other companies.

Inventor Loren Brichter, whose pull-to-refresh feature was awarded a patent and is covered by the Twitter agreement, is quoted in The Verge as saying, "I really hope this becomes the de facto standard for hiring — engineers could demand this in their contracts."

For an overview and critique of the Twitter Innovators Patent Agreement that ran on this blog last year, click here.


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