PATENTS & LICENSES -- Covering Their Assets
"With patents in general, your options are to ignore them, fight them or negotiate a license," Pflug points out. "It comes down to an elementary business analysis of the costs involved.
"Since ImageX had a backlog of 50-plus patents that it had applied for, we simply made a business decision that it was in the best interest of the company, its shareholders and customers to proceed with a licensing agreement rather than trying to fight one or more of those patents," he continues. "The fact that you license a patent is not necessarily a comment on the validity or value of the patent."
That's not to say Pflug is down on patents in general. "We are actively reviewing our intellectual property strategy, and we believe there are elements of our technology that are potentially patentable.
"Philosophically, I would say patents are a good thing because they provide incentive for companies like ours to invent new things that have commercial value," he continues. "On the other hand, I'm not completely convinced the patent office (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) is in a position, particularly with regard to the printing industry, to tell what's truly innovative and what is not. What we all want is to encourage research and development, but we don't want to get into a situation where very generic, common processes in some way or another get patent approval."