SAN JOSE, Calif. An increasingly risk averse climate—even in Silicon Valley—and an overburdened patent system are threatening innovation in electronics. That's the view of Steve Perlman, a serial entrepreneur and one of many speakers at the upcoming Intellectual Property Symposium (IPS).
The two-day event includes speakers on topics ranging from patent reform to the growing business of buying, selling and asserting patents. It comes at a time when trade in patents is growing despite—some say because of—the current downturn, driving change in business models and government policies.
In this environment, big electronics companies and even Silicon Valley's venture capitalists are focusing on incremental advances in an increasingly risk-averse economy, said Perlman, chief executive of Rearden LLC, a technology incubator.
"I have a harder time getting investment today than when I first got out of college," said Perlman who helped create products including WebTV, the Moxi Media Center and Apple QuickTime in a career that has included work in several startups as well as stints at both Apple and Microsoft.
Some big venture capital firms have discontinued the practice of reserving a fraction of their funds for high risk investments, he said. Meanwhile, VCs demand startups show an increasing level of market readiness in their technologies if they are to get funded, he added.
In his keynote at IPS, Perlman will share his experiences trying to launch new products despite obstacles with investors, large electronics companies and the patent system. For example, one of his 80 patents took six years to issue while another took only six months.
"You can't do business" in that kind of unpredictable environment, he said