Data Center Patents are the Next Frontier

republished from law.com

As software eats the world, cloud computing is ushering the next wave of technology. The availability of mature, cloud-based services means that businesses can access the capabilities they require with little capital outlay. It’s a great step forward but it also means that the warehouses of servers that run software may be where a new patent war is starting to be waged.

We’ve lived through the years that mobile device patents had companies drooling. However, in the past few months, Amazon, Microsoft and Google were issued a few patents (e.g.: US patent number: 8,769,238; 8,769,541; 8,766,255; 8,755,389) that outline what happens in a data center and how a consumer deals with the data center. With this in mind, it seems like we will start to see companies compete to see how much of the data center they can carve out and call their own. Imagine a world where data center patents are infringed upon based on tweaks in technical process. The mobile patent wars may seem like an afterthought as compared to this new array of data center IP violations.

When you start looking at these patents, what becomes apparent is that these patents are slightly different in that they speak of the same things but are only different based on company process. At first glance, this may not be all that important but when you realize that large companies are using software and business method patents to stake claim to data centers, you’ll realize that this is the top priority not only for data but also devices and software. As there becomes increasing interest in IoT, what’s important is that the data that is being used will be more important than the device itself.

It’s going to be interesting to see how companies use data center patent strategies to give the consumer a slick interface and the security, stability and reliability of the enterprise. At the moment, companies are portraying these patents as defensive but it’s not a far off idea of switching these patents to bog down cloud computing companies. Based on press releases and memos, the motivation for filing these patents are varied. However it’s worth taking note that a patent application takes 4-10 years to go through the USPTO process so the data center wars may well heat up significantly over the next decade.

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