The debate was all over the patent held by TEC (Technology Enabled Clothing). When the patent holder didn’t want to sell part of his business, but just license his patent, Mark Cuban lost it. In essence, he said that patents are a waste, they ruin a market and all they do is create uncertainty.
While I agree with Mark that patents do create uncertainty and that the patent system needs to be overhauled to fix this, I think Mark missed the boat with this inventor. The patent (RE40613) is for a piece of clothing for holding electronics. It has a channel where you can run a wire for your headphones. If the patent holder was the first person to come up with this idea, why not give him a patent? And, he developed the market so he should be able to capitalize on that.
The problem with Mark’s position is that there are dozens of ways to get around this patent and design tech-friendly clothing. These options may not all be ideal, but you could certainly compete. As such, I wouldn’t give much value to this patent. I came up with about 5 ways to do this in just a few minutes.
The one thing that bugged me, and all of the Sharks, was the arrogance of the patent holder. I checked up on some of his comments, and they didn’t all check out. He said his patent was reexamined, when it was really reissued. Further, he implied he’d sued about 10 companies who had taken licenses. I found one suit and it looks like it settled quickly. My guess is that he took on a small player who folded and took a token license just so the patent holder could tout he won a patent infringement suit.
No wonder the Shark’s didn’t want to do a deal.