NSF study shows more than 90% of US businesses view copyright, patent and trademark as "not important"


That’s not surprising - what percentage of businesses are doing anything that’s (meaningfully) patentable or copyrightable? Even working for software companies, patents have never been relevant to the working of the business (in the sense that we weren’t making anything that made sense to try to patent). Working in the game industry, copyright is quite a big issue, but how many US companies are in the “content creation” business?


Ironically, ALL companies producing free software will probably declare that copyright and patents are very important for their business.

Copyright, because without it they couldn’t release stuff under the GPL; and patents, because patents on software can be a royal pain for companies trying to build free software.


Disappointing. Now ask the same business whether they would be concerned about those with names or logos similar to their own.

I would be surprised if copyright didn’t come to the top of their priorities. It is too simple not to be concerned when something doesn’t have a negative impact on the participants. … so ask the real questions. …very disappointed with this finding

Been looking for an excuse to post this.


Before patents become important to you, you have to create a technology other people want to use. In the semiconductor world, some companies make lots of money licensing their technology, so to them patents are of paramount importance.

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Yes, that’s why 13% cited trademarks as being important. Copyright only matters if you make stuff that benefits from it, how does a place that sells physical non book/movie/music benefit? How does a grocery store benefit from copyright? Trademark, sure.


Cory never met a stat he cant manipulate to make some silly point.


More importantly, Cory and crew have become increasingly sloppy about jumping from stat (or assertion) to conclusion.

See the discussion I started under the subject “Does BoingBoing still boing, or just thunk”.

Obviously I haven’t quite left yet. But it’s getting to the point where I’m wondering why not.


99% of US businesses are “small” and trademark isn’t really going to mean as much at that level, so I’m actually surprised even that many saw trademark as important. A grocery chain would benefit from trademark, but independent stores, not very much (because as a small store you’re mostly concerned with forging a distinct identity, not with it being stolen).

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Since this is already tangential, I’d like to point out William Shakespeare’s name is a joke. Willie Shakes Spear? Really?

I’m confused - what is the stat that was manipulated to make which silly point?


I’m not uptodate with latest developments in shakespearean gossi-- er, historical research – but a surname underlining one’s inability to steadily carry a spear (i.e. unfit for military service, which was the pinnacle of valour back then) seems apt for somebody earning his livelihood in the arts (at the time, a fairly dishonourable activity, until you hit it big – not unlike present day, now that I think of it). Alas, William’s father and grandfather are well-documented as having the same surname, so whoever it was who earned this nickname, he was quite removed from the Bard.

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And bringing in the necessary cynicism in order to discover the right questions (as usual):

A) Re: the computer figure - did they at any point separate OEM from assembly and re-assembly manufacturers? Because…

B) Did they use anyone who speaks Chinese so they could actually ask any OEM manufacturers?

C) Did they separate service from other businesses in order to determine whether any products more copyright-worthy than their letterhead and magnetic car signs were involved?

D) Did they consider that a company so large as to have 25,000 or more employees is pretty much big enough to do what they please and see you in court (if you can afford to bring them there)? (Hmmm…there’s patent trolls, and patent ignorers.)

E) Did they consider that larger companies typically have boilerplate contracts grabbing ownership of anything developed by engineers they employ, even if the development is only tangentially related and developed on the employee’s own time and what effects that might have on that business’s reported views?

Shred complete. I know Cory takes IP very seriously - but perhaps how it looks to a writer and how it looks from a services/products angle is considerably different?

I think the real issue is the fact that the vast majority of companies work in fields that have little patent activity anymore. Copyrights actually do not affect that many people, but Trademarks do matter. I think you you need to look at specific industries to see patent activity. I have worked in Chemical plants that had hundreds of potential patentable technology, but they never considered it because a patent can actually be a blue print of what you are doing. Patents are useful to keep new companies out of your market, but they rarely hinder established players. In truth, certain tech fields are moving so fast, by the time a patent arrives, it is out of date. A better run Patent office would help.

For me its because of the Wonderful Things that others in the crew bring to us. As for the sloppy stuff in question, I just treat it as if it were done by the Wise Men of Chelm.

Even the brief answers some of those questions - they broke down responses by various types of industries and by size, looked specifically at “mask works” copyright protection relevant to chip design, and noted that this is US-located businesses only (so what Chinese OEM manufacturers think is neither here nor there). There are really only two things being examined by the study, though - whether a business thinks copyright, patent and/or trademarks are important to their business, and whether businesses actually use those or secrecy to protect their IPs. (And it turns out that a lot of companies that could patent things are instead relying on secrecy to protect their research.) If we’re looking at all US businesses, copyright is a lot more important to a writer than 90-odd percent of other businesses (which are things like restaurants and shoe shops and tax accountants, for whom copyright and patents are irrelevant).

Agreed, and I did leave room for writers to have other (and doubtless, much more essential) concerns. Since a writer is usually only one person and their works are absolutely IP and that is a survival matter, to them.

My only point in raising the question was that despite having a fair amount of manufacture in the US, much of what is done here relies on mere assembly of parts designed elsewhere - and so the patents or copyrights would be irrelevant to those US businesses, making the survey fairly useless, other than to demonstrate why IP doesn’t get much more attention from business. Makes it a bit tougher for small business writers, inventors, and artists to get support.

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