A few weeks ago, over ten years after co-founding Pie Digital, our primary system patent was granted: System and Method for Automatic Configuration and Management of Home Network Devices. It’s a mouthful, I know. Due to a major filing snafu, my inventorship of this patent is only listed in the filing wrapper, and I’m still trying to determine if I care or not and whether or not the patent process is helpful or a hindrance to innovation.
We were early in the managed home network space, and like many entrepreneurs, we hoped a patent would give us the time and protection to implement Pie’s complex ecosystem of technology. So we filed a provisional. Within a year we secured our Series A and one of the first things our investors did was recommend a patent attorney who helped turn this provisional into a filing.
Afterward, this patent was barely mentioned as we focused on getting our company off the ground. Now I wonder just how important this patent is. As I said we were early and the patent is broad, so who knows—it could be foundational in the growing managed home network space. But if so, will it be key to Pie’s success or irrelevant? Will it be used to encourage additional innovation in this space or by patent trolls to stifle competition?
It’s a dilemma, like so much else in the start-up world.