Usually, us archivist spend sleepless night worrying about copyright, but I propose that we should follow patents as well. The vast patent portfolio of the bankrupt Nortel company has been in limbo for a while now. The big tech companies, like Apple and now Google, have been circling the sinking carcass for months. Each getting ready to pounce and tear into the vast patent meat. The bidders have many reasons for doing this, protecting themselves from future lawsuits is Google’s supposed main reason, but use archivist should know about these patents as well.
Digital records are the future of archives, but its important to know how those records were created. To do this we need to learn about the underlying architecture of computers, software and other pieces of technology. Much of that architecture can be found in patents. Who ever controls the patents controls the technology and, in some respects, controls how records are created. While patents don’t last as long as copyright, keeping track of which company controls which technology will help archivist understand the process of digital record creation, which in turn will help us preserve these records