PFF Publishes Qualcomm Co-Founder and Chairman's Aspen Remarks
WASHINGTON D.C. - American innovation is the nation's competitive edge in an increasingly global economy, Qualcomm Co-Founder and Chairman Irwin Jacobs told attendees at The Progress & Freedom Foundation's 2006 Aspen Summit on August 22nd. PFF is publishing Dr. Jacobs' remarks as a Progress on Point titled "Promoting Competition and Protecting Incentives for Innovation." In the speech, Jacobs explains the importance of patents in innovation and competition, expresses concern about potential legislative overhauls of the patent system, and also addresses network neutrality.
The framers of the Constitution recognized the importance of patents, Jacobs noted. He reminded attendees that Abraham Lincoln was a patent holder, Jacobs noted, quoting the former president as saying "[t]he patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius." But today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is overworked and understaffed, and there has been frivolous litigation and poor patent quality. "There are good reasons why some are pushing for patent reform in Congress," Jacobs said.
But while everyone should strive to crack down on abuses of the system, Jacobs said, "we need to be careful about unintended consequences that might weaken the rights and remedies of all patent owners. I am concerned that the legislative cures being considered by Congress might prove worse than the disease, and diminish the real value of patents in the process."
Jacobs pointed to his own company's success with patents. Rather than pursuing a vertically integrated model of manufacturing as was traditional with wireless vendors, Qualcomm has "focused on our core strategy of innovation, rapidly bringing new capabilities to the wireless market by embedding them in chipsets and software, which we sell to manufacturers worldwide." "The result is vigorous and timely competition on both price and features among an expanding group of suppliers," he said. "This is a very good result for consumers and operators, but a significant change from the limited number of suppliers of first and second generation cellular devices."
Jacobs also touched on network neutrality, noting it had been hotly debated at PFF's Aspen Summit. "Although the name sounds positive," he said, "it removes incentives to innovate and could have negative impact on wireless." "The Internet has benefited greatly from the relative absence of legislative or regulatory intervention," Jacobs said. "Decision makers in Washington have wisely refrained from intervention except in limited cases where there are clear problems that can be addressed by narrowly tailored measures. Now is not the time to deviate from this approach."
"Promoting Competition and Protecting Incentives for Innovation" is available on the PFF web site, as is a video stream of Jacobs' August 22nd address. For more information, contact Amy Smorodin at 202-289-8928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.