Should We Charge Ridiculous Patent Filers With Perjury?

from the might-shake-things-up-a-bit dept

For all the talk about how ridiculous our patent system has become, there's almost no downside to those who file bad patents. That only makes the incentive such that people are told to file as many patents as possible, effectively overwhelming the system. Bruce Perens, in a talk today, brought up one potential solution which I've heard mentioned in the past -- but which is almost always laughed off. That's the idea that perjury charges should be filed against those who file obviously bad patents. The thinking is that when you submit a patent, you are swearing an oath, and if you've purposely ignored prior art or purposely filed for a questionable patent, it could reasonably be argued that you've committed perjury. In fact, there have been patent perjury cases, but they're extremely rare. Perens believes that putting the risk of criminal perjury charges for bad patents could make some filers think twice. It's an intriguing idea mostly because there really is no downside these days to filing ridiculous patents (other than the filing fees). With the upside being so ridiculously high, it's often well worth the filing fees. However, criminal perjury charges perhaps goes too far. First, it changes the game midstream without any sort of official review or notice -- which isn't fair to anyone. Second, it would be quite difficult to prove actual perjury for a bad patent. Finally, criminal charges seem a bit strong for such a thing. Either way, it is worth thinking about more effective ways to discourage the filing of such bad patents.


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  1.  
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    jqp123, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 7:21pm

    Another idea ...

    The filer is charged a substantial "bounty" fee, $10-20K. If the patent is not overturned after a "probationary" period (say 3 years), the bouty is refunded to the filer. However, anyone is allowed to file a claim against the bounty with evidence of prior art. If the evidence is accepted and the patent is overturned, then the claimant gets the bounty.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 7:39pm

    More craziness

    Many companies actively discourage the people creating technologies and patents from researching patents to look for conflicts.

    The reason? If during a patent lawsuit it is uncovered that the creator researched patents in the same area - damages are tripled - regardless of if they actually found a conflicting patent or not.

    The result is that the patents being filed have a greater chance of overlapping - making patent attorneys even more cash with increased litigation.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 8:23pm

    In addition to the Inventor and/or Company filing the patnent, also put some penalties on the Law Firm that does the filing. Patent lawyers would do a lot more due dilligance if the ability to file patents were on the line.

     

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    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 9:18pm

    Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Are you all sheep who work for large corporations? Even sheep are supposed to have a backbone!

    America is founded on innovation. Patents are supposed to allow the first innovator to profit from an innovation but large corporations routinely steal innovation and cover their tracks with lawsuits that no small inventor can compete with.

    When you realize that every major industry in the USA started because one person, or a small group of people, decided to innovate you have to see the Patent System works to promote innovation. The cotton gin, steamboat, light bulb, air plane and other inventions began industries that have fed and clothed millions of people for many many decades. The innovators of these industries need to be given the opportunity to profit from their innovations to encourage them to invest in inventing.

    The real problem is FEE DIVERSION. Patent fees do not go to patent work. They go to a general fund and the patent office is not properly staffed. There is NO mass conspiracy where millions of inventors are seeking to hide prior art. It is a fallacy that hurts inventors and help Big Corporations look like victims.

    Big Corporations simply would rather take ideas than to pay for them. And while that seems like good business it is actually short sighted and gets you worse products than youd get if they were seriously focused on innovation.

    The fact that large corporations cry they are ambushed by hidden patents or patent hoarders is complete bull just like Enron did not know it had no money. Many corporate executives think, "why should I pay you when I can take it for free and bury you with legal fees later."

    When you kill the innovators in America you might as well build a wall around North America and send the keys to the Dictators and Kings of other countries who will own us.

    Many big corporations will prefer to fire you and steal your pension than to reward you for your innovation.

    The truth is you will have bad patents just like you have bad cops, business men, laws and any other object created by humans. But getting rid of an individuals right to patent so a big corporation can use the innovation for free is simply stupid. You are not looking out for your best interest and that of your children.

    By the way, if you think corporations are looking out for your best interest do the following...
    -Ask the people from Enron and United Air Lines where their pensions are.
    -And Keep believing the "cigarettes are healthy" ads of the 50s

    Companies have the idea that their power should allow them to use innovation without fees. And once they get enough idiots to believe that you will see them begin to erode more of your rights. I am sure you will hear them say, "LAND should not be owned. Only the building should be. And anyone should be able to tear down any building and then build another because they did the work."

    It is called Intellectual Property because it can be owned and used however the user intends it to be. Bad patents are overturned in court and the legal system handles that quite well. But making special provisions to take away individuals rights and give them to a few people at the top of major companies is not smart.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 9:40pm

    Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    that's weird... i don't remember anyone saying we should get rid of the patent system or to deny them to all but a few. there are benefits to having a patent system and we are well aware. but the fact remains that many patents are being filed and should not be allowed. any many patents are granted that shouldn't be. netflix should not allow to own a patent on a business model. there shouldn't be a patent on a one-click buying system or "buy it now". these things are stopping progress. your precious patent system that you hold so dearly to as being efficient is stifling much innovation. as much as you think its a trumped up charge, there are "small" companies that patent something obvious and wait for a big wealthy company to come and "infringe" on it. in *some* cases, the big company is the victim. in a lot, the smaller companies are. either way, there are victims. the system does not work as it was intended. the people who profit from this system (and, may i add, wrongfully so) want the system unchanged and say the same stuff you are right now. so, i finish by saying, you're right, sheep do have backbone... so, i wonder... where's yours?

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:36pm

    Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Are you all sheep who work for large corporations? Even sheep are supposed to have a backbone!

    That's right, start off your response with insults and generalizations, rather than thinking we may have something serious to say.

    America is founded on innovation.

    Indeed, but patents do not equal innovation. Patents equal invention. In the past, invention may have been a good enough proxy for innovation, but that's less true these days. Innovation isn't just about coming up with the new idea, but in bringing the idea to market successfully. The true success is found not in getting patents, but in successfully bringing products to market.

    Patents are supposed to allow the first innovator to profit from an innovation but large corporations routinely steal innovation and cover their tracks with lawsuits that no small inventor can compete with.

    No, patents are intended to promote innovation. Historically, they've done so by allowing the first *inventor* to profit -- but what we're seeing is that there are problems with that system where it can often discourage innovation, perhaps more than it encourages it.

    There are two distinct forces at work, and it's important to balance them. To claim that there is no disincentive from patents is just as ridiculous to claim that it does nothing to incent innovation as well. Both forces are at work, and our claim is that the way the patent system is run today, the disincentive is beginning to outweigh the incentives in a very dangerous way for future innovation.

    When you realize that every major industry in the USA started because one person, or a small group of people, decided to innovate you have to see the Patent System works to promote innovation.

    This is a myth. It's the myth of the lone inventor. However, if you look at the real history, you'll often see that that lone inventor was really more about successfully bringing a product to market than doing any real "invention."

    The real problem is FEE DIVERSION. Patent fees do not go to patent work. They go to a general fund and the patent office is not properly staffed. There is NO mass conspiracy where millions of inventors are seeking to hide prior art. It is a fallacy that hurts inventors and help Big Corporations look like victims.

    Again, this is a lie. It's based on the incorrect assumption that you can somehow "scale" patent examiners to deal with the ever increasing patent inflow. It doesn't take an advanced math or science degree to recognize that's impossible. Staff up all you want. It doesn't help the root problems. In fact, if you focus on only allowing the patent office to keep its fees, you run into a worse problem, where the incentives are to grant more patents.


    The fact that large corporations cry they are ambushed by hidden patents or patent hoarders is complete bull just like Enron did not know it had no money.


    Except we see hard and fast examples of it happening all the time. It's hard to call it bull when the evidence is right there.

    By the way, if you think corporations are looking out for your best interest do the following...

    This has nothing to do with big companies vs. small inventors. I don't understand why people keep accusing us of supporting the big companies in this one. We're just as against big companies abusing the patent system -- which they do.

    It is called Intellectual Property because it can be owned and used however the user intends it to be.

    Don't let a bit of language confuse you as to the real purpose of patent law. It's right there in the constitution. It's to create incentives for innovation. If the incentives go away, then the system needs to be fixed.

    But making special provisions to take away individual�s rights and give them to a few people at the top of major companies is not smart.

    Again, this has nothing to do with aiding big companies so there's really no response to you on that point.

     

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    Bubba Nicholson (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:57pm

    I've stopped innovating.

    Anyone who obtains a patent for someone else's idea should go to jail, especially if the theif is a patent attorney. Lawyers filing patents or copyrights for fradulant claimants should be heavily fined. The same jailing of frauds should hold for songwriters, lyricists, screenwriters & authors as well.
    Want to know why Star Wars is stopping at 6 flicks? Why the blockbuster train has slowed down? I wrote the stories for 20 of the top 25 best box office films of all time, but I'm not doing them anymore. I got one buck for the cave saxophone solo in Dead Poets Society (which started out on the flute), not a single cent for Titanic, Sixth Sense, Beautiful Mind, V for Vendetta, Matrix 1 & 2, Eternal Sunshine, Lost in Translation, E.T., Schindler's List, zip, zero, nada, ziltch. Not only do I not get paid, they even give oscars to the frauds!
    Three times I've created new inventions, all three stolen--by different people! One was purloined by the University of South Florida's Medical School! But here's your worst nightmare: I've figured out what causes perversion, delinquency, crime, too, and I can fix all of these afflictions for everyone, but I've stopped with helping my family and friends. The rest of you will suffer and die needlessly. At least there is justice in that.

    My personal circumstances illustrate my point (although some simple person who cannot imagine being creative (a lawyer? oder lawyer-lite) will inevitably ridicule me for them). Our patent/copyright system does nothing for justice. Innovators are exploited, not rewarded. Exploitation and reporting by untalented hacks is rewarded. The entire system could just be scrapped, we could all just run around and persecute each other like silly-ass red Chinese bureaucrats and justice will be as well off.

    The fact of the matter is that paying for innovation can also be deliterious to creativity. Vincent never made a penny AND lost an ear, eh? Staying broke and downtrodden, fighting against tall odds, not having a chance in the whole wide world, that's how one figures out how George H.W. Bush shot JFK over him boinkin' Barbara & siring George W. Bush-Kennedy.

     

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    Michael "TheZorch" Haney, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 11:26pm

    Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    The point is PATENTS are meant to be for PHYSICAL OBJECTS not something abstract like software which has no physical form at all. Also, IDEAS should never be patented at all. IDEAS need something else, something that signifies who thought of the idea first so they get credit for it BUT they are unable to get money from others who use it unless its patentable and they've actually begun development of it....aka its gone from being an idea to a physical thing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    In fact, if you focus on only allowing the patent office to keep its fees, you run into a worse problem, where the incentives are to grant more patents.

    Which suggests a simple fix: Allow the patent office to keep its fees even if the patent is rejected. This also gives an incentive against filing bogus patents: if you do that, you're just throwing money away.

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Which suggests a simple fix: Allow the patent office to keep its fees even if the patent is rejected. This also gives an incentive against filing bogus patents: if you do that, you're just throwing money away.

    Uh, not quite. The Patent Office *does* keep the fees even if the patent is rejected. The issue is that in order to get *more* fees they know they need to allow *more* patents, because it encourages more filing.

    I doubt this happens at an individual level, but the policies put in place at the patent office do seem to encourage this as a whole.

     

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    Daniel.son, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 12:56am

    Open Source is making Intellectual Property old ha

    The idea is that sharing is better than hording. If ownership was a myth there would be little need, less fighting, and more cooperation.

    I know you are going to dispise me for this one, but sit back and watch. It is only a matter of time. Capitalism is dying. There are more have-nots than haves and not only is the gap widening, the have-nots will get thier say soon.

    Why do you think poeple strap bombs to their body? It helps that being a terrorist is the most readily available job in some countries, much like the military is in industrialized nations.

    Why do people like the matrix so much? Did you notice the heroes are terrorists. Have you seen V for Vendetta? Just another example of hero/terrorist.

    Not to say that I agree with killing folks. I'm for peaceful protest and passive resistance.

    I know i got off the subject a bit, but it seems relevant.

     

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    dink9, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 1:33am

    Re: Open Source is making Intellectual Property ol

    I like what daniel said...and agree. The patent system is so buggy it is hard to follow. It wasn't always this terrible but now you add the ability to patent thoughts and little one's and zero's. I'm actually supprised the system hasn't crashed and burned...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 1:46am

    Mike's a Broken Record

    So, Mike, how many "bad patents" are out there? 5%? 10%? Who's the judge of them? You? What you consider a bad patent might seem pretty valid to someone else who invested a lot of money on the idea.

    You bitch about this subject a lot, and there defintely are cases you can point to that shows where the system breaks down, just like in our justice system where I can point to cases where guilty people have gone free and killed and raped again, and where innocent people have been jailed.

    As the say it's the worse system there is, except for every other one out there.

    The fact of the matter is that the U.S. generates the majority of the world's inventions and is the home of the world's largest tech companies. There must be something fundamentally right about the structure.

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 6th, 2006 @ 2:30am

    Re: Mike's a Broken Record


    The fact of the matter is that the U.S. generates the majority of the world's inventions and is the home of the world's largest tech companies. There must be something fundamentally right about the structure.


    That's a nice little trick that ignores the changes in the patent system over the last few decades. Sure, we have generated much of the innovation in the past, but I want to keep that going -- and when we see so many cases where the patent system is getting *in the way*, isn't it only natural to point out ways to improve it?

    Over the last two and a half decades, the use of patents has changed, and it's changed in a way that is actively harming innovation.

     

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    Professor Highbrow, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 5:20am

    Re: Mike's a Broken Record (nope)

    Negative, Pal. Mike is right on point here.

    The fact of the matter is that the U.S. generates the majority of the world's inventions and is the home of the world's largest tech companies. There must be something fundamentally right about the structure.

    Firstly, thats a logical fallacy: Just because a system works better than most others does not mean it is "fundementally right" or correct.

    This suggests that your way of thinking about the Justice system is that it is "Self Verifiable" i.e. It works most of the time so why bother to improve it. Fits well with the "don't try to improve anything, I'm complacent and happy with everything just the way it is."

    One very important idea is ignored.... it's called PROGRESS.

    Over the last two and a half decades, the use of patents has changed, and it's changed in a way that is actively harming innovation.

    Exactly the point, and a true statement both logically and practically. DRM, the DMCA, and DAGNABIT. [Digitally Absent Government Negotiated Absolutely Buerocratic Intellectual Terrorsism] have changed patent law to included the dubious idea of "Intellectual Property" rather than the production of an actual object or tool.

    Ideas, Theories, Hypothesis, Business models, and anything somebody hasn't thought of before is becoming "Patentable." The system is broken, and needs fixed, because it is self-defeating.

    Let me be a "Broken Record" and say for the umpteenth time that I invented the Internet by typing on it, I own the Patent to "sexual reproduction," and the Copywrite to the idea that the Earth is Round.
    Sounds like you own me some mone for being born.

    :-)

    -Professor HighBrow

     

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    Wolfger, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 5:51am

    Re: Another idea ...

    I think that's a lousy idea. It heavily favors the large corps who can afford that kind of cash to keep filing patents. Small businesses and inventors will be effectively shut out by this.

     

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    Wolfger, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 5:56am

    Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Are you all sheep who work for large corporations? Even sheep are supposed to have a backbone!

    The cotton gin, steamboat, light bulb, air plane and other inventions began industries that have fed and clothed millions of people for many many decades. The innovators of these industries need to be given the opportunity to profit from their innovations to encourage them to invest in inventing.

    Wow. You really sound like a corporate shill, despite the fact that you claim to believe the patent system favors the individual (which I strongly diagree with). All the things you list are good examples, but they all have one things in common: They were patents passed before I was even born! Look at recent patents. See many individuals coming up with world-altering ideas? No. You see lots of mega-corps filing silly patent after silly patent, and then using their patent portfolios to squash small businesses and individuals who cannot afford costly court battles.

    I do not think that killing the patent system is the best solution, but I would rather see it dead than to see it continue to exist as it does!

     

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    icepick314, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:12am

    bad patent...

    doesn't the filer must provide the product behind the patent?

    if it's bad or ridiculous patent, then there's no way the filer can say it's valid product....

    personally, i think patent for "way to swing on as swing with only one arm motion" and "upside down pizza" is on the ridiculous idea...

    so is patent for one-click shopping and saving cart for online shopping....i do lot of shopping online and if EVERY online stores has to pay for the licensing fee to this one company, then majority of shopping fee will increase for everyone....

     

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    Thomason, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Who says they're "bad" patents - Mike?

    Inventors are passionate about their creations, sometimes to the point of having tunnel vision. They think, truly and deeply, that their invention is novel, unique and useful, and they'll readily sign an oath to that effect. They'll argue until the end of time that prior art is not at all like their invention, even though to many of the rest of us, it looks pretty close.
    The notion that these mad scientists are acting 'fraudulently' when they sign the inventors oath is uninformed. They think their invention is massively awesome - like a new planet being spawned. We may denigrate their inventions, but we shouldn't think that these inventors are not genuine in their pursuit of patents.
    In fact, many of the fraudulently obtained patents are by sophisticated companies and their learned counsel, who know how to work the system or know how to straddle the line between fair and full disclosure. If I individual inventor wants to devote themselves to patenting a reversible coathangar, then the rest of us should ignore that or at least not criticize them.

     

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    Getting Warmer, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:08am

    Re: Open Source is making Intellectual Property ol

    For now, we sit and watch.

    When will our hero emerge? How bad will it have to get before we take action?

    I think it needs to get to the point where the difference between right and wrong are so obvious that it cannot be ignored. With the differing opinions in this thread, you can see that the patent process has not yet reached this pinacle.

    I agree that this whole thing is grinding to a halt, but what next? I don't like being told that I have to share.

    Whats mine is mine, get your own.

     

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    zeroth404, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    Absolutely.

     

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    Wizard Prang, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:44am

    Fund USPTO properly...

    ...and they will be able to hire people who have a clue about software and get rid of some of those "wishful-thinking" patents.

    Our two biggest problems are frivolous patents getting through the system and Patent Trolls. To stop the latter there should also be a burden of exploitation on the patent filer. If you are going to patent something, use it or license it... don't just sit there and wait for someone else to succeed so you can exact tribute from them (can we say NTP?).

     

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    Rikko, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    Re: Open Source is making Intellectual Property ol

    Why do people like the matrix so much? Did you notice the heroes are terrorists. Have you seen V for Vendetta? Just another example of hero/terrorist.

    For god's sake man, go back 5 years and remember what a terrorist actually is. I don't think the dictionary has been changed yet.

     

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    jimbobber, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 8:14am

    Re: I've stopped innovating.

    Sounds strongly, suspiciously, like sour grapes to me, and not surprising that this fool makes reference to an insane, drug-addicted loser whose art was naught but a (albeit brief) lifetime of "borrowed" ideas and styles which were then utilized in series of repetitious effort to create a piece of "art" for which the "artist" might obtain in trade the fame and fortune that he, undeservedly at the time, desired. The mother of invention is then, after all, according to this fool, nothing more than hack work, and justice, therefore, belongs to the thief and not to the poor, dumb slob that after being ripped off once, is far too stupid to adequately safeguard his precious works which, if true, is his own damned fault, in my humble opinion.

     

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    JimD, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 9:10am

    Re: Another idea ...

    This won't work. It will keep the patent system unfair and biased toward big buisiness. $10k-$20K is a drop in the bucket for MS, IBM, etc to try to grab as many bogus patents they can. If some get shot down, big deal, it is only $10k.
    For a small-medium company, $10k-$20K is a big chunck of change. So the small companies will spend a lot more time researching for prior art than a big company that can spare $10k to get the patent application out the door first.

    A simple solution IMO is:
    1) no software patents. Software is only a set of intructions. Why should I be allowed to write computer instructions and then prevent others from writing "similar* instructions? I should be allowed to prevetn others from taking my *exact* instructions and we already have this, it is called copyright.
    2) no "idea" patents. To get a patent a fully-working prototype must be part of the patent. The prototype doesn't need to be physical. It must be *very* detailed design and testing documentation that anyone with knowlege in the field can/should be able to create the product from. I think it is wrong for someone to submit an "idea" without spending $1 to even see if the idea can work. These people get a general "idea" patent and then sit on it for years and one day true inventors make something similar and these "idea" insects come out of the woodwork asking for money.

     

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    angry dude, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 9:16am

    Hey, wizard of fools...

    You shoud really try once to licence your invention to the big boys...

    The big boys will take and use your staff, and will leave you in a dumpster badly abused with no money left...

    So much for techdirt foolishness...

     

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    angry dude, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Another idea ...

    "...and these "idea" insects come out of the woodwork asking for money."

    yeah, "idea insects" like Gordon Gould...

    Little evil bustards, those american inventors..

    Relax, soon enough there will be no inventors left in this country, and when this finally happens the country will just surrender to China and India...

     

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    Posterlogo, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 9:41am

    Re: Another idea ...

    The filer is charged a substantial "bounty" fee, $10-20K. If the patent is not overturned after a "probationary" period (say 3 years), the bouty is refunded to the filer. However, anyone is allowed to file a claim against the bounty with evidence of prior art. If the evidence is accepted and the patent is overturned, then the claimant gets the bounty.

    Great. Now only the greedy rich can file patents. Talk about gasoline and fire.

     

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    Elf Ink, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 10:22am

    Perjury charges won't work as a solution

    It wouldn't matter if the case for agrressive perjury charges could be made so strongly that it convinced everyone.


    It will never be tried because too many lawyers make too much money from work that would be culpable.


    But if we just change the legal system and and change the incentives in the compensation system for all lawyers, then it could work. Let's get started!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Another idea ...

    great idea

     

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    Anonymous Hero, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 4:08pm

    Won't happen

    The patent system is making lots of money for the legal system that runs it. Don't expect them to voluntarily give it up. Any of it.

     

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    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Patenting is NOT stifling innovation. You are singing the corporate BRAINWASHED Message. Companies will need to learn that NIH (Not Invented Here) now often means they are selling sub-standard products.

    No ONE company can any longer innovate on an island and force products down the throats of their customers’. As innovators we will no longer take it. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY… CONSUMERS no longer need to put up with it!

    THEFT of INNOVATION and a lack of seeking product and service excellence are far more stifling to innovation. The innovators are not causing the problem.

    I have seen inventors with amazing products be treated like garbage by companies who could benefit from their innovations. Many corporations still look at reasonable royalty payments as unacceptable and forgo the dollars of revenue to save pennies of royalties.

    America, and the world, must begin to recognize innovation as well as it does copyrights, or we will all be using mediocre products made by the single manufacture in that field who would be incentivized to cheapen each product to its users detriment.

    I am NOT saying all big companies do that or that all innovations are good. But the changes being proposed to the Patent Law will kill a small innovators chances at making dollar one from any innovation they develop. And that is NOT what the patent system was designed to do. And that IS BAD FOR AMERICA.


    ThinkSolveDo

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Hi Mike,

    You make good points... here my response.



    Mike Said: Indeed, but patents do not equal innovation. Patents equal invention. In the past, invention may have been a good enough proxy for innovation, but that's less true these days. Innovation isn't just about coming up with the new idea, but in bringing the idea to market successfully. The true success is found not in getting patents, but in successfully bringing products to market.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: If this were true then all researchers should never be compensated for innovating. Research by its very nature does not focus on profiting from its results. That is what business is for. I hope you are not saying that, “:the only value in the innovation is based on who can best sell the innovation.” To me that is silly. (I was going to use the word ‘stupid’ but your comment to my opening sentence make me believe you are a nice and maybe sensitive guy and I wish to respect that.)

    Mike Said: No, patents are intended to promote innovation. Historically, they've done so by allowing the first *inventor* to profit -- but what we're seeing is that there are problems with that system where it can often discourage innovation, perhaps more than it encourages it.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: The only thing stopping patents from making their innovators money, in many cases, is the fact that a small company or innovator cannot weather a lawsuit from a big corporation. I am by no means saying get rid of attorneys. But no one should innovate a technology and be forced to donate it to everyone else. Where do you think we live? We have rights you know. And the more money you have does not mean the more rights you have.

    Mike Said: There are two distinct forces at work, and it's important to balance them. To claim that there is no disincentive from patents is just as ridiculous to claim that it does nothing to incent innovation as well. Both forces are at work, and our claim is that the way the patent system is run today, the disincentive is beginning to outweigh the incentives in a very dangerous way for future innovation.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: Bunk… patents encourage investment in research that creates innovation that benefits us. People should be paid for their work. Just like copyright owners get paid for their. The only people complaining are the ones who look to use the legal system instead of the patent system to stop competition.

    Mike Said: This is a myth. It's the myth of the lone inventor. However, if you look at the real history, you'll often see that that lone inventor was really more about successfully bringing a product to market than doing any real "invention."

    ThinkSolveDo Said: Your opinion does not even make sense. This is the way life works. The CEO of a company sets the direction of the firm and is rewarded or chastised for the firm’s performance. When IBM decided to enter the computer market the entire company did not have to agree to let them enter. A single inventor, i.e. Edison with the Light bulb, Bell with the Phone, etc created the technology that built those industries. Had they not had patent incentives they may have simply went to work selling candles or megaphones. You have a problem paying innovators… but try to innovate and see what is involved with it. You just might change your mind when you see the time, energy and costs one needs to expend to produce one worthy innovation. It is not an easy task.

    Mike Said: Again, this is a lie. It's based on the incorrect assumption that you can somehow "scale" patent examiners to deal with the ever increasing patent inflow. It doesn't take an advanced math or science degree to recognize that's impossible. Staff up all you want. It doesn't help the root problems. In fact, if you focus on only allowing the patent office to keep its fees, you run into a worse problem, where the incentives are to grant more patents.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: You are full of nonsense today… Overworked people perform more poorly than efficiently working people. Fund more examiners and you will see patent quality rise. That is true in every business on the planet. By the way… patent examiners do not get a commission on patents. That is nonsense.

    Mike Said: This has nothing to do with big companies vs. small inventors. I don't understand why people keep accusing us of supporting the big companies in this one. We're just as against big companies abusing the patent system -- which they do.
    ThinkSolveDo Said: The reason people are accusing you of this is because you are supporting the side of the argument that has the most to gain by limiting our ability to innovate. A corporation that is focused only on revenue will not spend present dollars to gain future technical advantage. These companies should not be protected.

    Mike Said: Don't let a bit of language confuse you as to the real purpose of patent law. It's right there in the constitution. It's to create incentives for innovation. If the incentives go away, then the system needs to be fixed.
    ThinkSolveDo Said: Then stop working to remove the incentives.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: But making special provisions to take away individual�s rights and give them to a few people at the top of major companies is not smart.

    Mike Said: Again, this has nothing to do with aiding big companies so there's really no response to you on that point.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: If you are on the side of big companies your arguments will be more credible for you to admit that. Having all your arguments side with one party while stating the arguments have nothing to do with that one party seems a bit disingenuous to me.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 11th, 2006 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    If this were true then all researchers should never be compensated for innovating. Research by its very nature does not focus on profiting from its results. That is what business is for. I hope you are not saying that, “:the only value in the innovation is based on who can best sell the innovation.” To me that is silly. (I was going to use the word ‘stupid’ but your comment to my opening sentence make me believe you are a nice and maybe sensitive guy and I wish to respect that.)

    No. I'm afraid perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly. Researchers should absolutely be compensated for innovation, but that's what the market and capitalism are for. To create the incentives for someone to get compensated. If your claim is that inventors aren't business people, that's why we have this wonderful creation called corporations that allow inventors to team up with business people and raise capital to build businesses.

    As for your second point, I don't see why it's silly. Why should we reward those who don't innovate in a way that people want?

    The only thing stopping patents from making their innovators money, in many cases, is the fact that a small company or innovator cannot weather a lawsuit from a big corporation. I am by no means saying get rid of attorneys. But no one should innovate a technology and be forced to donate it to everyone else. Where do you think we live? We have rights you know. And the more money you have does not mean the more rights you have.

    Hmm. Not sure what your point is here. I never implied that we should have more attorneys. I also never implied that anyone should be forced to donate their innovations to everyone else. So, I really don't see much to respond to.

    Bunk… patents encourage investment in research that creates innovation that benefits us. People should be paid for their work. Just like copyright owners get paid for their. The only people complaining are the ones who look to use the legal system instead of the patent system to stop competition.


    Just because you say it doesn't make it so. Patents have two counterbalancing effects. One is to encourage invention, in that it rewards those who do so first. The other is to discourage innovation -- in that it blocks others from doing the same thing (or improving on the original idea) without additional cost. That's pretty hard to dispute so I'm surprised you would even suggest it's not true.

    As for your claim that "people should be paid for their work" that's quite misleading. If I open up a pizza shop and no one buys my pizzas, should I still be "paid for my work" or should we admit that I failed in business? Why is it different when it comes to inventions? The way people get paid for their work is by selling it in the market.

    As for "the only people complaining," that's false. I'm complainign and I don't fit into the category you describe.

    Your opinion does not even make sense. This is the way life works. The CEO of a company sets the direction of the firm and is rewarded or chastised for the firm’s performance. When IBM decided to enter the computer market the entire company did not have to agree to let them enter. A single inventor, i.e. Edison with the Light bulb, Bell with the Phone, etc created the technology that built those industries. Had they not had patent incentives they may have simply went to work selling candles or megaphones. You have a problem paying innovators… but try to innovate and see what is involved with it. You just might change your mind when you see the time, energy and costs one needs to expend to produce one worthy innovation. It is not an easy task.

    Hmm. Again, not sure what you're saying here, because you repeate the false claim that posits Bell and Edison as the inventors of something, rather than simply those who got to the patent office first. And, since the market was so large and the demand so great, I think it's pretty clear that these inventions would have come along with or without patent incentives.

    As for your claim that I should "try to innovate," I do every day, and I bring my products to market, rather than the patent office.

    You are full of nonsense today… Overworked people perform more poorly than efficiently working people. Fund more examiners and you will see patent quality rise. That is true in every business on the planet. By the way… patent examiners do not get a commission on patents. That is nonsense.

    Again, perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly because "overworked" people have nothing to do with this. The point is that you cannot human examiners of patents to meet the load of patents coming in. That's the problem. And simply adding more people to the mix doesn't fix anything.

    Finally, I never said that patent examiners got a commission so I don't know where you got that from. However, the overall *system* has been designed to encourage the approval of more patents, which leads to the filing of more patents. Don't believe me? Compare the percentage of patents approved in the US vs other countries like Japan.

    The reason people are accusing you of this is because you are supporting the side of the argument that has the most to gain by limiting our ability to innovate. A corporation that is focused only on revenue will not spend present dollars to gain future technical advantage. These companies should not be protected.

    As I said, we're just as critical of big companies abusing the patent system and have attacked many of them for it. So, to say we're on the side of large businesses is ridiculous.

    If you are on the side of big companies your arguments will be more credible for you to admit that. Having all your arguments side with one party while stating the arguments have nothing to do with that one party seems a bit disingenuous to me.

    Yeah, that's why we've attacked SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon and many others for their bad patent policies. Just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I'm supporting big companies.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    TheZorch Said: The point is PATENTS are meant to be for PHYSICAL OBJECTS not something abstract like software which has no physical form at all. Also, IDEAS should never be patented at all. IDEAS need something else, something that signifies who thought of the idea first so they get credit for it BUT they are unable to get money from others who use it unless its patentable and they've actually begun development of it....aka its gone from being an idea to a physical thing.

    ThinkSolveDo Said: Processes are a thing. The idea that some programmers think, "I should be able to program any lines of code I want." Is the same idea, and equally as bad, as someone saying, "If I can BUILD your patented innovation I should be able to sell it." Just because you can build it does not allow you free rights to use it. This goes against the reward system patents are based on and is counter to the greater good.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Patent fees are not refunded if patents do not issue. This is what happens. The Fee Diversion problem does not give patent examiners enough time to effectively work a patent. Get more examiners and you will have better patents.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Mike's a Broken Record (nope)

    Professor HighBrow

    Which herb or brew do you use to get to the planet you are speaking from?

    Here on earth the abuse in the system is not from the few innovators who innovate and expect to be paid. It is from the many who leech innovation and wish to not pay for it.

    If you want to earn money from an idea then think of investing in it instead of simply leeching it.

    As Anon stated... what percentage of patents do you say are bad? You’re using a few headlines to try and tell us the sky is falling. It is not true. Innovators expect to be paid. And pigs cry when they get stuck. Work to be an innovator... not a pig.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    Wolfger... you have an outstanding insight into the situation. Please, allow me to explain.

    I innovate and have patents. Getting them is costly and time consuming. The patents I presently get can be sold and used and I feel I have a fair shot at getting them.

    The changes they are trying to make to the patent system currently all favor big companies. Things like publishing the patent applications, allowing 3rd parties to review the application before issuing and the like are all designed to allow big Corporation to squash rights that should not be given BUT it allows them to squash rights that SHOULD be given. Don’t you believe it would be foolish to allow a major US or Foreign corporation to "help decide" if I should get a patent. Can we at least agree on that?

    A more recent patent issue is the Blackberry Patent. A court determined that RIM WAS violating a patent. The RIM fought like a cornered dog to avoid a fair settlement. I am sure that before the lawsuit RIM was offered fair settlements but instead chose to fight to avoid them. I have seen this type of behavior first hand. It still boggles me. But is that the innovators fault?

    All innovators want is a small piece of the pie. If the patents are good then companies can use the rights to gain an edge on the market. If the patents are useless, as most of them are, then companies will NOT pay a penny for them.

    It is a myth and fallacy that there are millions of bad patents being issued. The present system does not allow that. The few pundits who are making those claims are working on behalf of organizations who dishonestly wish to use the legal system and money to procure more rights for them than the rest of us. Innovate instead of infringe. Find a better way and patent it. Even betters ways will be sought out.

    That is the life innovators. We risk our time and money to make innovations and then allow them to be published NOT SO THEY CAN BE STOLEN. But so we can offer them for a reasonable price.

    No one wants to work for free.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Fund USPTO properly...

    Wizard Prang Said: Our two biggest problems are frivolous patents getting through the system and Patent Trolls. To stop the latter there should also be a burden of exploitation on the patent filer. If you are going to patent something, use it or license it... don't just sit there and wait for someone else to succeed so you can exact tribute from them (can we say NTP?).

    ThinkSolveDo Said: This is not so easy. I saw a perfectly good innovation be refused by every major player in a particular industry... that is until they began to steal it about 10 (TEN IS CORRECT) years after it was invented. Many good innovations are years ahead of their time.

    And while 20 years seems like a long time you will learn it is quite reasonable considering how long it takes to get a patent, raise money, advertise and bring it to market or to find a licensee willing to do it.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 11th, 2006 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Another idea ...

    Angry Dude... You speak so very much with so few words.

    I feel your pain. Professional and Amateur Innovators are willing to work like Dogs for companies that will share the pie. Until corporations begin to view 94% revenue as good instead of 6% royalty as bad... we will be forced to live with whatever technology gets pushed on us.

    I do see the bigger companies coming around. I am now being requested for speaking engagements and am finding great interest from the big and medium shops in having me setup inNOWvation center for them. Innovation is alive... it is just not being treated too well.

    One more thing... Which country do you think is looking out for the best interest in innovators. China, India or the USA? And which country do you think has the most lobbyists in Washing working to kill the Patent system.

    I bet Mike would know.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 11th, 2006 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America...

    ThinkSolveDo, it's amusing to me that you're now responding to every comment on here, but at the very least you should be a bit fairer in your posts. You leave out some very important details to skew your point and it harms your credibility.

    The changes they are trying to make to the patent system currently all favor big companies. Things like publishing the patent applications, allowing 3rd parties to review the application before issuing and the like are all designed to allow big Corporation to squash rights that should not be given BUT it allows them to squash rights that SHOULD be given. Don’t you believe it would be foolish to allow a major US or Foreign corporation to "help decide" if I should get a patent. Can we at least agree on that?

    Some of the changes certainly do favor big companies, but certainly not all of them. Anyway, as we've stated repeatedly, we're VERY MUCH against the current proposal for reform because we agree that makes the system worse.

    However the idea of independent review makes a TON of sense. The patent system is clear that the invention should not be obvious to those skilled in the art. How do you test that without letting those skilled in the art weigh in?

    A more recent patent issue is the Blackberry Patent. A court determined that RIM WAS violating a patent. The RIM fought like a cornered dog to avoid a fair settlement. I am sure that before the lawsuit RIM was offered fair settlements but instead chose to fight to avoid them. I have seen this type of behavior first hand. It still boggles me. But is that the innovators fault?

    Heh. You leave out the HUGE point here that the USPTO has mostly rejected those patents and admitted it made a huge mistake in granting them in the first place. Doesn't that seem a bit relevant?

    Besides, it's quite clear that RIM developed this product entirely independently of Thomas Campana who *FAILED* in trying to build his own business. Why should we reward the failures and punish those who were innovative enough to actually build a successful business?

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 17th, 2006 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America.

    Mike, its not that you are not making yourself clear. Your arguments do not make sense.

    Mike said. "Patents have two counterbalancing effects. One is to encourage invention, in that it rewards those who do so first. The other is to discourage innovation -- in that it blocks others from doing the same thing (or improving on the original idea) without additional cost. That's pretty hard to dispute so I'm surprised you would even suggest it's not true."

    Come on mike... Do you still use a typewriter, stenograph and buggy whip? Patents encourage innovation by their nature. Only people who cannot innovate who seek to kill them because it lets them COPY what others invented. Innovation is not based on simply copying something someone else invented.

    When someone gets a patent on a laser printer, others seek ways to print using novel methods. Simply look at all the Rapid Prototyping Patents that have come about. If everyone could copy the first innovation we would be seeing tons of products based on only incremental innovation. You'd have a graphite buggy whip instead of a car.

    It does no good to discuss this with you because clearly you think innovation is copying...

    No too innovative in my book.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Apr 17th, 2006 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill America.

    Mike... just say you'd prefer to let big business copy everything. It will make you more credible.

    Me, and the other inventive people, tend to prefer a system that protects the innovations and not only the corporations.

    It is clear to me that you don't put much of your own money into getting patents. Copying is not inventing.

     

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  44.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 17th, 2006 @ 11:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill Amer

    Mike, its not that you are not making yourself clear. Your arguments do not make sense.

    They seem to make sense to an awful lot of people. So, let me try again to help you understand.

    Come on mike... Do you still use a typewriter, stenograph and buggy whip? Patents encourage innovation by their nature. Only people who cannot innovate who seek to kill them because it lets them COPY what others invented. Innovation is not based on simply copying something someone else invented.

    I'm not sure what that argument has to do with a single one of my points. Your only argument is a tautology: "patents encourage innovation by their nature." That's not an argument.

    Also "only people who cannot innovate" is not an argument either.

    I never claimed that innovation is based on copying something someone else invented. Actually, I'm saying nothing of the sort, so I don't know how to respond to these accusations.

    You seem to have made up your mind about what I think, but it has nothing to do with what I actually said.

    So far, your argument is basically "the patent system works and the proof is that there are new products."

    Is that the best you can do?

    When someone gets a patent on a laser printer, others seek ways to print using novel methods. Simply look at all the Rapid Prototyping Patents that have come about. If everyone could copy the first innovation we would be seeing tons of products based on only incremental innovation. You'd have a graphite buggy whip instead of a car.

    Ah, here you finally get to at least a minor point. But, again, it's simply wrong. You say: "If everyone could copy the first innovation we would be seeing tons of products based on only incremental innovation." which is a false assumption. Certainly some might choose to copy it, but others would seek other routes if they felt they could be more profitable, and still others would seek to *improve* upon the original idea -- in which case the original idea would lead to many more new and innovative ideas.

    Do you really think all innovation comes whole cloth out of nothing? Then I'm afraid it's you who don't seem to know a thing about the history of innovation. Might I suggest that you read up on your history a bit.

     

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  45.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 17th, 2006 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kill Patents and You Kill Amer

    Mike... just say you'd prefer to let big business copy everything. It will make you more credible.

    But that's false. I'm not sure why you continue to insist that's the case, when repeatedly we've gone after big companies for doing things like this as well. I don't believe that at all. In fact, I tend to believe that, all things equal, smaller companies are likely to be much more innovative and consistently outrun larger companies, no matter what they do.

    Me, and the other inventive people, tend to prefer a system that protects the innovations and not only the corporations.

    Yes, and me and many other *innovative* people prefer to see innovation encouraged. It's not about *protection*. It's about innovation. And we like to focus on better encouraging innovation.

    It is clear to me that you don't put much of your own money into getting patents. Copying is not inventing.

    Indeed. Copying is not inventing. And, just as importantly, inventing is not innovation. Inventing is coming up with a new idea. Innovation is the process of bringing that new idea successfully to market. Patents reward invention, but not necessarily innovation.

    As for your assumptions about what I've done, I'm not sure what to say to you, other than the fact that we have tons of happy customers, who feel our software and services are unmatched in the marketplace suggests we've been plenty innovative without needing patents.

    When the final evidence to weigh is our profits against your unsubstantiated assumptions... guess which one I'm going to side with?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    A Different Mike, Jun 20th, 2006 @ 3:03pm

    ThinkSolveDo Said: When someone gets a patent on a laser printer, others seek ways to print using novel methods. Simply look at all the Rapid Prototyping Patents that have come about. If everyone could copy the first innovation we would be seeing tons of products based on only incremental innovation. You'd have a graphite buggy whip instead of a car.

    Mike said: Ah, here you finally get to at least a minor point. But, again, it's simply wrong. You say: "If everyone could copy the first innovation we would be seeing tons of products based on only incremental innovation." which is a false assumption. Certainly some might choose to copy it, but others would seek other routes if they felt they could be more profitable, and still others would seek to *improve* upon the original idea -- in which case the original idea would lead to many more new and innovative ideas.
    ---
    Mike, I don't think you are completely thinking this through either. First, it isn't completely true that "others would seek other routes (of doing the same thing) if they felt they could be more profitable." This is only true if (and only if) the expected additional profit is enough to offset the cost of making the alternative innovation. You speak of innovation like it is cheap and instantaneous, but even basic inventions take time and money, and firms know this. Plus, the expected profit has to be enough to offset the eventual erosion of profits caused by other firms copying your alternative idea. No matter what, you can always count on at least *someone* freeloading off other people's innovation. Second, what incentive does a company have to try and innovate knowing that their innovations can't be protected (unless they can be protected by trade secret). Why would you invest millions in R&D to invent something so your arch rival can steal it for free? And why would your arch rival spend millions to invent something you can steal for free? It is much easier and safer to just use the original idea and take a cut of the profits with everyone else.

     

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