Engine. Where Startups Come Together

I’ve regularly blog about patent trolls harassing startups and impeding innovation, the experiences of immigrant founders, and the battle for a free internet. While I’m fortunate to have this blog, and other writing opportunities as a platform to give voice to these stories, I also realize that to really have a meaningful impact, we need the startup community to be involved in government.

That’s where Engine Advocacy comes in. A few months ago, I joined the Advisory Board of Engine to lend my support to an organization that is doing amazing work for the startup ecosystem. We’re trying to create a startup community that can mobilize to make the government listen and understand the issues that have a unique impact on our community.

Here’s an example of great work that Engine has done: During the fight against SOPA/PIPA last year it seemed to a lot of outsiders that the internet community’s reaction happened overnight. What many people don’t know is that there were hundreds of organizations and businesses working together for months to make that one-day blackout so impactful. Engine connected 15,000 calls from individuals to their Senators that day. The sheer volume of calls shut down the Senate switchboard, twice.

Engine is always monitoring the issues, doing great research, keeping members informed so that we can identify any threats early, and respond as a community. There are many ways that startups can get involved, perhaps the simplest being just keeping up-to-speed on tech policy.

At the end of this month, Engine is bringing startups to Washington, D.C. to talk to lawmakers about issues that are really important to the startup community — issues like immigration, software patent reform, and keeping the internet free and open. You can get involved by becoming an Engine member today. Go to D.C. with them. Send them your stories.

Ultimately, we’re not just Silicon Valley, or Boulder., or any other geographically-defined tech scene. We’re a powerful community that is creating jobs and improving the economy — basically, doing all of those things that Senators and Members of Congress talk about making happen. It’s time they listened to us. Let’s make the startup community a stronger voice in Washington.

  • Thank you Brad for fighting this fight. Patents and IP are an intimidating area for those of us just starting out on our entrepreneurial journey.

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  • Brad, your efforts are channeled towards a great cause. Any improvement in the current
    patent system (especially regarding software and method/process patents) would be
    very valuable for future innovation and for startup ecosystems. Kudos!

  • A very important cause.. proud to be part of it

    It’s important that we don’t take a lot of the things that have been accomplished in the last year for granted.

  • I love what they are doing & mentioned them to Nick Grossman at AVC the other day. Did you see my post on Online Advocacies?


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  • Agreed wholeheartedly. The original intent of the patent system was for the betterment of society. Teach and share with the world what you have learned and receive legal protection to solely practice it for an amount of time. Instead, the patent system evolved into a weapon used by certain individuals who do not practice what they patent but instead accomplish the opposite of the original intent – preventing anyone from bettering the world.

    • PatentGeek

      I think the whole troll thing (companies that “do not practice what they patent”) is a red herring. Whether or not a company practices what they patented is not the point, the point is whether or not the idea should be patented in the first place. (Mere “ideas” are not supposed to be patentable, only ideas that rise to the level of being “truly inventive” and have been “reduced to practice” are patentable, in theory at least.)

      There are plenty of *practicing* companies attacking others with garbage patents (Nuance and ComScore, for instance), or companies that did at one point practice the patent (DDR, for instance).

      As for the trolls wanting to prevent anyone from bettering the world, trolls have no interest whatsoever in forcing anyone out of business. They want to get paid, and they won’t get paid when they force people out of business. It’s the *practicing* entities (eg, Nuance and Comscore) that are interested in forcing companies out of business.




  • PatentGeek

    I can’t say that I’m optimistic about the Patent Office’s “Software Partnership Roundtable.” Of course everyone’s against “overbroad or unclear patents,” just as everyone is for “world peace,” but the question is, What does that mean? There are a lot of entrenched interests that don’t mind a little tweaking around the edges, but refuse to acknowledge that there are some really serious, intrinsic, rotten-to-the core issues related to software patents. And even if the situation were fixed moving forward (and it won’t be in the foreseeable future), we have another 20 years or so of garbage patents that will suck billions out of the pockets of the nation’s entrepreneurs.

    Someone needs to sue the patent office for issuing garbage patents, patents that are in essence unconstitutional. The Patent Office only has the right to issue patents that “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8) … they have no right whatsoever to issue patents that do anything different, and so clearly most software patents are unconstitutional.

    The PO is quite aware that it has issued a lot of crap. A one-time Patent Examiner told me just the other day that when he worked there, a couple of years ago, it was common knowledge that “we issued a lot of bad patents in the late 90’s and early 2000s,’ but the attitude was that the final say on validity could be dealt with during litigation.”

  • Kevin_A_Waller

    Are Engine working toward an ‘Entrepreneur Visa’? The current laws make it difficult for many non-Americans to reach their full potential during start-up and growth.

    • Yup

      • Kevin_A_Waller

        Great – I’m British, and would love to see this come into effect. If there’s any way I can assist them in their efforts (petitions, gathering info from the London community) etc let me know – I’d love to be involved in helping bring this about.

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