The following just came across my Google Alerts:Healthcare Analyst Values MMRGlobal Patents at $300-800 Million. This is scary. I’ve seen this company for years; they were one of the pack trying to build personal health records in the mid-2000s, and from what I’ve seen there is nothing in their historic offering that was particularly innovative – except that unlike most of the others running around at the time, they appear to have had some budget to file some patents, and they have now commenced shaking other people down.
Now, I haven’t done a very complete review of their patent holdings, and they may well have some highly innovative, original work there that took a substantial investment to develop and realize. But that’s not the trend, and I’m very concerned that this could be problematic for a lot of small innovators in the personal and clinical health records markets. Software patents have become a real problem across a variety of domains, but so far HIT seems to have avoided the worst of it. I suspect that this is in part because of industry’s long history – most of the core capabilities were introduced long enough ago that any patents would have expired. There’s a ton of prior art: you can track a lot of personal health monitoring to 1994′s Guardian Angel Manifesto. But that’s expensive to litigate when the trolls come out from under the bridge.
As it stands, I’m looking for defensive patent structures for my own start-up so that we have some chits to trade if someone comes knocking. And that’s a shame – I have better things to do with my time.