December 2013 M T W T F S S « Apr 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Patents are so supposed to protect inventors, allow them to innovate and earn a living from their inventions. However they are been assimilated into the corporate arms arsenal, used to bombard corporate rivals, and annihilate start-ups before they have a chance to blossom.
Any large corporation who takes a liking to a inventor or start-up’s patented idea will in most cases just take, borrow or steal it, ignoring the threat of legal actions knowing their deep pockets will hire the best lawyers and exhaust the bank accounts of any new comers and interlopers.
Intellectual Property, especially the Patent, is a natural resource like Coal, Iron Ore, Rare Earth Metals or Wheat, which should be managed and maintain for the good of the country, not just the individual inventor. We need to become experts in exploiting this recourse, in the same way that we create a new gold mine or manage and nurture a forest.
We need to encourage the individual, SMBs and large corporations to develop and exploit this wonderful resource. We need to prevent encourage innovation and prevent large companies in particular from stifling new comers, let the market decide a products fate not the courts. Encourage entrepreneurs take the risk with a new idea, to think big and benefit from the rewards if it starts laying golden eggs.
This is my Patent Ten Commandments for changing the broken patent system.
- All patents registered are the property of the country in which the are first registered, like the financial reserves, a countries intellectual reserves should be recognised.
- The country patent office’s act as agents for all patent registered in that country, managing licencing agreements, and paying royalties to the inventor.
- The patent offices will challenge infringement of their patent portfolios both at home and abroad. The World Trade Organisation would act as the final arbitrator between country patent offices.
- The individual or company registering a patent may request a breathing space in which to attempt to bring their invention to market, with possible extensions based on periodic review by the patent office, based on proof of effort and clear time scales (no dogs in the manager). Once the product is on the market the patent should be licensed to others, allowing the country to benefit further from the patent.
- Companies of a certain size may register patents; thus identifying prior art, thus establishing a defensive position, prevent others from the claiming the same patent. However the patent immediately becomes available to be licensed.
- Small companies, individuals and start-ups should be able to license patents at beneficial rates
- Companies may not create small subsidiaries and holding companies to register or use individual patents, and will be penalised for doing so.
- Individuals or companies may register their first 10 patents for free, with an increasing scale of fees based on the number of patents registered.
- Patents should have a tightly defined purpose, and rather than a blunderbuss approach. If a patent is used outside its defined scope it should be considered innovation.
- Monopolies in particular industries or industry sectors should be discouraged at all cost, Licenses should be provided at preferential rates to encourage competition and hence further innovation.
Last week I was writing up report cards for an Introduction to Programming class I taught recently. In addition to their academic performance, students at my school are assessed on courtesy and respect in every class they take. I noticed something interesting as I was compiling scores for the class: these were the highest courtesy and respect scores that I had ever seen for a whole class.
Why should I hate Android (or Apple)?
MG Siegler’s Android examination has spurred me once more to put finger to keyboard. It started with an attention grabbing controversial headline “Why I hate Android”. MG is probably Apple’s greatest fan barring Stephen Fry, but hey ho read on.
My reading of his arguments are basically;
- It’s an IPhone copy
- Google didn’t deliver a free/cheap phone
- Google got into bed with the carriers
- Google hasn’t helped the net neutrality debate in the wireless space.
- Android is carrier opiate for the masses.
- Because Android could have been something beautiful.
So this man who uses an iPhone because he refuses to be imprisoned by Android. He would prefer to live in Steve Jobs’s walled garden, paying via iTunes every time he wishes to breath. Google didn’t deliver a free phone, but the they did deliver a viable phone that continues offers an alternative to iPhone. Imagine a world without Android. Without the competition Apple, I suspect would have been quite content to extract even higher margins from their reality distorted acolytes.
I must step back and say I think the technology in the Apple stable is best of breed. It gives Google, and Microsoft something to aim at. This in turn stimulates Apple to keep deliver better to their customers. Competition is good, very good. The best is never the best. Complacency and conceit will lead half baked, poor, dismal products, and a resulting death spiral for the company concerned.
Apple have a poor reputation for rejected and borrowing developers’ app ideas when it suits them, and re-baking them as their own innovations, whilst imprisoning developers and content providers, and taking a 30% cut of their earnings. Look at Barnes and Noble, Amazon et al, standing on the shoulders of giants and innovating, something Apple refuses to acknowledge it does too!
Sure the Android OS is not a completely open playing field, but it is why more open than the Apple’s offering taken from BSD, enhanced and redefined as their own innovation. That is not say that they shouldn’t do it, but they don’t acknowledge the foundations and help they have received along the way or pay it forward or giveback anything in return.
Let us be clear both the OEMs and carriers, both have put way too much crap on my phone. Some I have managed to remove, the rest I push to one side or ignore. I could root my phone and put a custom ROM on it. At least I can circumvent the tardiness of some OEMs and carriers, and get a later or custom operating system. My choice, no bars at the windows or walled gardens. I am a name, not a number; 3G, 4s or whatever! In short I love my freedom, even if like any society there are rules you have to follow.
So should the carriers let Google take over their networks. Clearly the Answer is no. Trying to stop the carriers putting all their crap on your phone is an issue. Net neutrality need real action and should not be left to large corporations and politicians who wish to muddy the waters for the own ends. With the waters being so muddy it is difficult to accurately gauge what is neutral – litmus for the net?
As for the issue of whether the networks should over charge for poor service, that is a regulation issue. It is not Google’s job to break that monopoly only to create their own advert driven one. Using their own financial muscle to “improve” our service is probably the best way of bringing an anti-trust suite down on your head.
So do I hate Apple no,sure I won’t buy one any day soon. Google, Amazon and Microsoft, come guys keep innovating.Come on Blackberry – wake up! MG ? Hate – No way – life’s too short! Any he got my fingers typing again. Though business ethics tend to get in the way I just love technology!
How Customers can help market your business
There are some great ideas for engaging customers in this article by Jon Schepke from Search Engine Watch (SEW). Sure it focused towards the American market but the general themes are applicable to most countries. The main points are:
- More and more users are reading reviews on-line before they purchases services and this trend continuing towards local businesses.
- Open a communication channel with your customers; enjoy and profit from the good and learn from the bad! Twitter is an excellent mechanism to do this, but be genuine both publicly and via direct messaging. There is an added bonus in that both Google and Bing use Twitter to provide input their search results.
I am not sure that all local markets have developed the sophistication in terms of local searches for local people. That is certainly true in Normandy, my neck of the woods.
However for the anglophone community who don’t process local knowledge it is essential. Equally there are tourists and business travellers who don’t have local knowledge looking for a bed for the night or somewhere to eat.
Review sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor provide not just a route to receive praise and criticism, but also for engagement. For instance, if a room did not come up to scratch, it is a chance to put things right, and turn a bad situation into something more positive.
Then there is the check-in phenomenon:
Check-in sites like FourSquare and Gowalla provide more opportunities for engagement and make special offers. Whilst these small start-ups by comparison to the likes of Google and Facebook Foursquare has announced a distribution deal with Groupon, the daily deals site.
Google have their own offering Google Places with the primary benefit of being able grow your Search Rankings organically.
Google Places has some interesting features such as being able present special offers to potential customers.
It has now been integrated with Google Hotpot, the user review service which is a ranking factor.
Facebook have their own location-based service allowing their users to check-in, you’ve guest it Facebook Places. Facebook are rolling out a deals based service to complement place with a social emphasis.
- Following the Nokia/Microsoft deal, Nokia are evolving Navteq to deliver social location services.
The big social driver is Facebook. Once Facebook getting to grips with mining their user’s data, they have the potential to give Google and the other search and engagement channels a serious run for their money. If this happens local business will need to channel effort into ensuring their voice is heard, and their customers are truly engaged.
Using social media as channel between you and your customers gives you the opportunity to promote your business in a genuine and personal manner. It also creates a feedback loop allowing you modify you activities to better suit the needs of your customers, and the gauge their reactions to your changes.
You are close to your product or service. You understand your local environment. Use these things to your advantage over the faceless soul-less multinational who is just paying lip service to the idea of customer engagement.
Let them tell other people how great your business is. Equally show you are passionate about your business and engaged with your customers. Then you are not a lone voice in the wilderness but a multitude singing your business’s praises!
Engaging with Customers can improve your Ranking
Google’s Page Rank Algorithm is being gamed more and more, with more and more sites acquiring back-links paid or otherwise. Added to this Google’s Panda update to down grade poor content. User Generated Reviews are featuring more frequently on Search Engine results pages. This indicates some weight is attached to sites that review higher and the possibility for achieving organic improvement in Search Engine Results.
Google has received much criticism for its search results lately particularly where poor or scraped content targeting advertising revenue features above original content. Apparently there are approximately 200 factors making up the Google ranking algorithm, with back-links especially to sites of authority have been highly weighted, but it has certainly been the case in the past that practically any link is a good link. Quality in both links and content count.
The great thing about organic growth and the improvement of your website, within search engine rankings that there is not the high up front costs of engaging a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultant to help you build loads of back links. Depending the professionalism of the consultant you may find your site link to various nefarious place you normally would not be seen dead, and in the longer term may have detrimental affect on your business. This is something you can do yourself with a “little” help from your customers. You have control! Well as much as anyone does, when managing customer relationships.
The world is changing with buzz words like Social and Real-Time featuring heavily. It is also clear that Google has been utilising the results from review sites like Yelp to improve its own results. Google is now pushing its own product Google Places (amalgamated with Google Hotpot) to crowd-source better results.
So what does this mean to a small/local business? Using an old road safety slogan “Dark means Danger – Get yourself seen!” Encourage customers to review your business by having links to review sites. I have heard of business giving business cards to their clients with the direct URL of their review page. Sure there will be some bad even malicious reviews, but if you have a good product you can gain much benefit from the good ones. So make sure your clients who have benefited from your products and/or services, do you a favour in return. If you don’t ask/ you won’t get!
Design your website so that your reviews are easily accessible, so anyone landing your site can instantly get a good feeling that they are not in unexplored territory, that someone has been there before them, and it is a safe place to be. No lions lurking in your website “jungle” waiting to gobble them up and take their hard-earned cash into the bargain.
So what about the bad reviews? The first question is “Are they justified?” – if yes do something about, fix the problem and reach out if possible to the affected customer. Showing you care will go a long way to restoring the faith of other customers. If they are not justified; still engage with the customer maintain your image. If they are malicious, it depends on the review site, the more responsible will remove the offending review or allow a response, otherwise you are left to your own devises to dilute their impact.
Whilst customers can leave their reviews on a variety of different sites, try to point them in the direction of sites that Google values, and where you can engage with your customers. This should organically improve your search engine ranking, bring in repeat business, and show potential customers that you will value them. Thanking a customer for a good review – it’s good manners and gives future customers an indication of how they will be treated.