“The patent system is... sold as a way of giving the little guy an opportunity to create something big … when in fact patents don’t really work that way at all,” he says.
“What they do very well is keep the big guys entrenched and the little guys out. For example, it’s very common in established industries for all of the majors to buy up or file as many patents as they can covering a particular area. They know and accept that the other majors are all in the same industry and essentially cross-license each other to keep the peace within that defined market. But they use that arsenal to stop new entrants coming in and disrupting the market.
“That’s almost the exact opposite of the way people think about the patent system.”
In the mobile market, he says, Google is trying to disrupt the ecosystem with Android and the resulting lawsuits are all aimed at keeping it from doing so.
“None of it is particularly constructive and it’s hugely expensive, often at the cost of end users who don’t have the real range of choice they should have,” Shuttleworth adds.