TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: AT&T Licensed the Transistor For Free

Re: AT&T Licensed the Transistor For Free

The Kaminsky Family (
Wed, 18 May 2005 06:03:19 GMT wrote:

> I had always wondered why AT&T never seemed to make any money
> from the invention of the transistor.

> I presume other Bell Labs patents were also available free;
> indeed, I never knew of AT&T making money from licensing
> its many inventions. It appears patents were more for
> freedom of use than profit. IBM adopted a similar policy
> in the 1950s. Both did so from anti-trust settlements.

Don't I wish that were true! A company I once worked for got
sued by AT&T for patent infringement, and spent a considerable
effort in proving that we were not infringing. They came back
with something to the effect that, "You don't get it. Here are
fifty more patents you are infringing on. We have thousands more
once you prove that you're not infringing on these. Just give up
and pay us!"

I don't know the whole story -- I was not working there at the
time -- but as I understand it, the settlement was a yearly fee
in a rather significant amount (for a small company).


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