Patent Trolls Foster Innovation?

from the excuse-me? dept

A reader sent in a defense of patent trolls, written by (surprise, surprise) an IP lawyer. He trots out a number of different points which not only conflict with each other, but don't make very much sense. He flat out says that "Far from stifling innovation, [patent] trolls foster it," though he fails to actually back up that statement. He starts out by denying that patent trolls exist, because there's no real definition for them, which seems like an odd way to go about defending them. Later on, he even tries to claim that critics are doing a lot more harm to innovation by using the phrase patent trolls, because it's such a negative term -- and it's such a shame that public perception is against these poor trolls, because it makes it more difficult for them to settle lawsuits and get the hundreds of millions they deserver for, you know, not actually bringing anything to market. Then he says that there's nothing wrong with patent trolls, because they're legal -- which completely misses the point. People know that patent trolling is legal, but they're worried that it stifles innovation.

Then he gets to the meat of the argument, and trots out the standard defense of patent trolls. You see, inventors are only good at inventing, and they don't want to be involved in bringing their products to market, so by selling their patents to patent trolls, they can realize an economic gain, and keep on inventing. This is a typical defense, but it completely misses the real problem. The success of a product usually doesn't have very much to do with the inventions, but the innovation of how it was brought to market. That is, the actual invention, by itself, is pretty worthless. It's the embodiment of the idea in a way that satisfies market demand that makes it worthwhile. He also completely ignores a number of other important points -- which is that in almost every well known case of patent trolling, there never was any suggestion that the successful company "stole" the idea from the patent holder. They usually came up with it independently. It's hard to see how there's any justification for patent trolling when the company that brought the product to market successfully came up with the idea separately. In that case, they don't owe any bit of their success to the patent holder.

As for the idea that the poor inventor doesn't want to market his products, it's hard to feel much sympathy there. We have very efficient mechanisms in this country to raise capital and create a company for building products. If you don't want to do that, it's a choice, but you shouldn't be rewarded for not delivering to the marketplace. We have lots of ideas on how to serve our customers better here at Techdirt, but then we actually try to deliver on those ideas. We don't sit and then try to sue someone else who does a better job serving the market.

His overall point is that this market liquidity created by the artificial scarcity of patents is as good thing. "Do not fear the patent troll. When considered according to the principles and purposes of the patent system, the beast vanishes, revealing a prince -- a company that fosters innovation by providing patent marketplace liquidity." But that's the same fallacy that credits the DMCA for the digital music market. You can create liquidity in any market if you want, but that doesn't mean the net benefit is increased. Air is a readily available commodity, so why not create a market for air. After all, it has tremendous value, and those who really want to breathe should pay up for it. By the logic of this article, it makes perfect sense, because those who own the air make money in selling it -- therefore, it must be good. You'll notice that it ignores the entire other side of the equation concerning all of those people who already had access to air (or an idea) and simply want to make use of it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Casper, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 7:20pm

    It came from a lawyer... That is a profession about as far removed from common sense and reality as possible. The logic makes sense, in their world.

    There is NO basis for an argument on why someone can patent something that they can not make. If you can not prototype it or release a proof of concept, you shouldn't be able to patent it.

     

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    Joe Smith, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 8:09pm

    The problem is quality

    There would be absolutely nothing wrong with specialized companies which were in the business of buying patents and then developing business from those patents or finding potential buyer who could use the patent for a new product.

    The problem is that that is not what is happening. Patents are being issued ideas which are obvious in the sense that they are going to be discovered inevitably and which have poorly defined scope, the patent trolls are buying these patents and then rather than promoting the invention they sit back and wait for someone else to reinvent the idea and build a business - only then do the trolls come and demand their pound of flesh.

    A better test for obviousness, stricter boundaries on the scope of patents and eliminating software and business method patents would go a long way to solving the problems with the patent system.

     

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    EdB, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 11:29pm

    I agree with Joe Smith. If I were to invent a better - I dunno - torque wrench then I might choose to sell my invention (patent) to someone interested in marketing this new tool. I get a quick buck and the buyer gets potential income for a million years. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    The problem is that patents are being issued for ideas and concepts - not an actual marketable product. So I should NOT be able to patent a theoretical description of a better torque wrench. I should, in my patent, show how it is in fact manufacturable.

     

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    ScytheNoire, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 12:02am

    I'm shocked any one could make as stupid a statement as that IP lawyer. It's insanely not true, the patent system is killing technology and advancement, lawsuits are destroying America, and the DMCA has destroyed more things than they can even pretend it's helped.

    Well, guess it just goes to show lawyers are the biggest liars on the planet and will tell you eating shit is healthy for you if it means they get paid for it.

     

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  5.  
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    Roy, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 1:57am

    Re:

    Dear Casper,
    It seems that you are comfusing between inventing and engineering. While good invention is based on an inventive thought that requires creativity, common-sense, and foreseeing market needs and behavior, good engineering is based on process understanding and the ability to reduce an idea to practice. One can invent a great invention that he cannot efficiently produces, thereby allowing other engneers to find the right path to efficiently produce it (and to get a patent for their efficient way). Thus, troll patent is a good way to stimulate inventors to share their idea even if they are not good engineers

     

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    J., Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:43am

    Ridiculous analysis that is clearly supported by big business thieves that don't want to innovate but steal the innovation of independent inventors without paying any compensation.

     

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  7.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 8:05am

    Some people create while others tear down.

    And that is the mindset of many on this forum. Inventors create new wealth and as soon as they do the asset thieve, namely patent pirates try to take a piece and when their conduct transforms the inventor into a "troll" who kicks the tar out of the disreputable infringer the infringer starts whining about trolls.

    And then you have the do nothing crowd who sits around moaning and groaning about anyone who is actually trying to do something good. This is the group who deeply resents others success, and there are quite a few of this type on this forum.

    What is sad is that if they actually did something productive with their time they probably would have little to resent.

    Inventors are the one thing standing between our current standard of living and a standard close to that of developing countries. It is the one thing which can create new jobs and tax base and prosperity for all. Inventors must be protected from all forms of asset thieves. It matters little if the thief is a transnational, or the software collective which can recode someone's invention in a marginally different way but is not capable of producing inventions of their own, of it is an invention promotion fraudster (www.InventorEd,org/caution/ ), or if it is foreign competitors.

    Inventors cannot continue to invent if they do not receive fair compensation. Most inventors will produce a multitude of invention in their career, but that only happens if they are able to make money.
    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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    Maximus, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 10:37am

    Re: Some people create while others tear down.

    Ronald,

    We're not mad at inventors, we're mad at trolls. Trolls acquire IP that they neither invented nor had any part in otherwise, and wait for someone to do something valuable with it- and then claim infringement- usually with some weak, stupid causality argument.

    The reason trolls even exist is the sad state of the USPTO today. Overworked and understaffed- they'll grant a patent for almost anything. Like, for example, a "novel" way of swinging on a swing, or a part of the human genome.

    Don't confuse this with actual inventors who create valuable things for our society. In general patents don't help inventors anyway- A friend of mine is an inventor who lost everything because he couldn't afford to sue a multinational corp who CLEARLY stole his invention.

    That being said, what do you do Ronald? I'm a web developer and entrepreneur. I make things that help people.

    You look like politician to me. IF this is the case, I suggest you shut up with the tear down/build up argument.

    -Max

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 10:46am

    To those who tear down

    Ronald,

    In your zeal to attack the participants of this site you accuse, in mocking and insulting style, those who are not aligned with your protectionist ideologies of being lazy, whining, resentful moaners.

    This is nothing but a slur, it is not even close to an intelligent argument. If you wish to participate here you must raise your standards.

    This sadly archaic allusion to the politics of envy has resonances with similar arrogant, devisive memes such as "terrorists hate our freedoms".

    Your assertions are marked by an air of conceit, sordid implication, and notable by their lack of real substance. For example:

    "This is the group who deeply resents others success"

    My friend, who is a policeman, deeply resents the success of robbers who prosper by force of arms to deprive innocents of their money, and of child molesters who succeed in seducing and abusing the young and vulnerable, ergo resentment of success is not ipso facto a poor position to take. Indeed it is a noble position when considering the acts of criminals and thieves.

    The question is, "what cost does the success of one group impose upon another?" In this case the success of a small group of private interests versus the interests of society at large.

    Many of us here take the stance that archaic patent laws are a means for a few selfish, and generally uncreative, individuals to deprive the larger scientific and industrial community of the freedom to conduct research and development. As such many of us advocate for their revision or absolute abolishment, or for the scientific community to not dignify them with recognition.

    The remainder of your post carries nothing of any weight whatsoever, you've merely trotted out a list of tired old obsolete fallacies that are easily dismissed.

    For example, there is no correlation between financial reward and creative endeavour.

    We can discuss this if you like, but I believe you have already made up your mind and hold contempt for those that do not subscribe to your world view.

     

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    Joe Smith, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 11:36am

    Lawyers

    Ronald said "Inventors are the one thing standing between our current standard of living and a standard close to that of developing countries"

    What stands between us and third world status, indeed what allowed the Anglo-American countries to leap ahead of the rest of the world, is economic freedom and effectively defined property rights. Clearly and appropriatelly defined property rights serve to reduce risk (which is enormously expensive in economic terms) and transaction costs.

    The current patent system is not producing clear and effective property rights and, in some areas of invention, creates risks, transaction costs and dead weight losses which far outweigh any positive benefits from fostering innovation. I am all for appropriate property rights, but badly defined property rights are worse than no property rights.

    BTW, calling people thieves is not part of any civilized, mature, emotionally healthy, debate.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Some people create while others tear down.

    Ronald,

    I'm glad you decided to stop by and join the debate, but you really need to learn how to actually address the points if you want to be taken seriously.

    And that is the mindset of many on this forum. Inventors create new wealth and as soon as they do the asset thieve, namely patent pirates try to take a piece and when their conduct transforms the inventor into a "troll" who kicks the tar out of the disreputable infringer the infringer starts whining about trolls.

    Inventors do not create new wealth. Those that successfully bring a product that the market needs to market create new wealth. The inventor is a part of that, but not the only part of it. Your position assumes that the invention is everything.

    And then you have the do nothing crowd who sits around moaning and groaning about anyone who is actually trying to do something good. This is the group who deeply resents others success, and there are quite a few of this type on this forum

    Ronald, this is 100% false. We do not resent success. Actually, the exact opposite. We resent those who DID NOT SUCCEED, but who assume that they deserve payment even those someone else succeeded where they FAILED to bring a product to market. You see the difference? The problem with many patent trolling situations is that the company demanding payment added NOTHING to the product on the market. The technology was developed independent of the patent and the success of the product often had more to do with how the product was brought to market than the invention itself.

    So, the problem is the reverse. It's the inventor or the patent troll who assumes they deserve a free piece of the success of others they had nothing to do with.

    That's the problem that we're discussing here.

    Inventors are the one thing standing between our current standard of living and a standard close to that of developing countries.

    No. Those who bring the products to market successfully are what make the difference. Not the inventors themselves. And, even if it were true that it's the inventors, you don't explain how that's connected to the patent system. After all, countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland developed in the industrial age with no patent system (or extremely weak ones). Therefore, it seems provably false that a patent system is necessary to build a modern economy.

    Inventors cannot continue to invent if they do not receive fair compensation. Most inventors will produce a multitude of invention in their career, but that only happens if they are able to make money.

    Right, and the way to get compensated is to sell something in the marketplace. That's what the rest of the world does. To assume that there's no way to make money for inventors without patents is simply laughable. Bring a product to market and let the market reward the inventor.

    It really is that simple.

     

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    Joshua, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    A solution for patent trolls...

    Add a few rules to the mix to make it impossible for trolls to exist.

    1. Any patent must be used, by the patent holder, to implement that patent within 2 years of issue. If this fails to happen then the patent is put into public domain. (You must start a business using the product/method or incorporate the product/method into an existing business, else lose the patent)

    2. If the patent is not utilized by the patent holder for a period lasting one year or more, the patent is put into public domain. (If you fail to successfully bring it to market, you lose the patent)

    With just these two rules you eliminate all patent trolls and eliminate problems from people who failed to correctly use their own invention and are now stifling innovation.

     

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    Maximus, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    To those Who Tear Down

    I have one little problem with you argument, Mike:

    Right, and the way to get compensated is to sell something in the marketplace. That's what the rest of the world does. To assume that there's no way to make money for inventors without patents is simply laughable. Bring a product to market and let the market reward the inventor.

    Not every inventor is an entrepreneur. Purchasing/holding patents creates liquidity for these individuals, like Thomas Edison, for example, that invented many many things in his life, but was unable/uninterested/unwilling to bring them to market.

    The problem is not that patents can be bought and sold, and it shouldn't be solved by forcing inventors to bring their product to market. The problem comes from the fact that many "trolls" are buying IP just to extract HUGE unfair royalties, making companies wary to build/improve on existing IP when innovating, for fear of being sued.

    This problem is not easy to solve. How do you protect the right to profits for rightful owners of IP, while keeping trolls from doing damage to innovation?

    -Max

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 1:25pm

    another 2 pfennigs

    Three very good recent points. I strongly agree with you Joe that bad property laws are worse than no property laws at all. Loosely implemented intellectual property laws of a laissez faire culture, backed up with good (technically informed) court judgements, have in the past produced far more innovation and cross-fertilisation of intellectual efforts than the current very tight and adversarial system . Its major weakness and symptom of sickness being a surplus of lawyers who make a nuicance of themselves by proactive (aggressive) rather than reactive (defensive) practice.

    Very strict standards for defending patents would go some way towards mitigating the problems, but as we've discussed here before one problem seems to be a poverty of technically literate judges or impartial tribunal experts who can adjudicate in these matters. Especially in the area of computing.

    Josh. I have always maintained a similar position, an extremely limited period of validity during which the holder must do something to demonstrate developmental activity. However, if I'm to take off my abolishionist hat in favour of a reformist position I think one year might be a little bit slim. With no protection at all at least the incentive to quickly bring useful technology to market, stay ahead of the pack and lead by example is very strong. What would be a reasonable term for a protectionist model? I don't know, but I'd guess somewhere between 2 and 4 years maybe, certainly no more.

    Mikes point about the Swiss and Dutch is interesting, and an informative surprise.

    Going slightly off topic, on this matter of the Swiss, I am fascinated by the life and thoughts of Mr Einstein who was famously a patent clerk and yet said, "If I give you a pfennig you will be one pfennig richer and I'll be one pfennig poorer. But if I give you an idea, you will have a new idea, but I shall still have it, too."

    I wonder what the great man really meant by that vis his position on intellectual property, but as I read more biography I become convinced that he saw it as a potential evil and impediment to progress. It's very likely he foresaw the current situation.


    Ronald: "Inventors cannot continue to invent if they do not receive fair compensation. Most inventors will produce a multitude of invention in their career, but that only happens if they are able to make money."

    Mike: "Right, and the way to get compensated is to sell something in the marketplace. That's what the rest of the world does. To assume that there's no way to make money for inventors without patents is simply laughable. Bring a product to market and let the market reward the inventor."


    I still say we need to attack this fallacy of causation. The means for appropriate compensation is neither a pre-requisite nor direct antecedent of creative insight. Very few great inventions were ever conceived *because* the inventor thought they would become rich. Indeed many of the greatest leaps forward left the inventor in poverty. Neccessity is the mother of invention. It's *nice* if a world exists where creators can receive a good financial reward for their endeavours, but it is by no means a requirement. Inventors and progress would not suddenly cease if patents were abolished or radically reformed.

     

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    Cleverboy, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Patents vs. Patent Trolls

    I think of patent trolls as being started by those that file patents they never use themselves, waiting in silence until they or their buyers see that people have begun exploiting ideas they never shared in the marketplace themselves. Then, they pounce, with legal suits and challenges implying the competitor has "stolen" their idea/technology. It's the reason why "copyright" and "trademark", as concepts are so difficult to grasp for the average person, as neither represent the protection of an "idea", as patents do, yet in many cases throughout history (Superman vs. Shazam and even Apple vs. Microsoft vs Xerox comes to mind...) they've been litigated as something approaching it.

    Certain aspects of patents, of course sucks. I wonder if patents shouldn't be more like "trademarks" in their "first use" requirements, etc. Even if the "first use" requirements are not "time based", but relate to the ability to successfully litigate against encroaching competition.

    The problem remains... and at this point, I turn the car in a somewhat non-sequitar direction... I'm personally disturbed that invention, in general, is analyzed for its societal impact, and in many cases "surpressed". The inventor in me likes all the high-and-mighty talk about innovation... but another part of me looks shrewdly at the notion that mankind may NEVER be ready for inventions like "free energy" or "free food" or "super engine" makers. These and other categories of invention are seen as threats to the economy and in some cases surpressed by the government.

    Part of me sees that as total bullshit. Which makes me highly cynical that our great and mighty patent system is a sonnet dedicated to innovation, as opposed to a controlled system meant to benefit the economy, but only within specific parameters. No only is the "dealer" in this card game, another player, but that player for good or ill, has vested interests in the ultimate outcome of the game.

     

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  16.  
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    John Ruhnke, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:22pm

    We need patent trolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Patent Trolls as you call them are extremely good for society. They raise the value of I.P. I.P. is an extremely valuable asset to this country. They are Patent investors and should not be called a troll.

    Those who don't like Patent Trolls have double standards. If you own stock in a commercial business are you a business troll? I mean come on do you ever plan to sell shoes if you invest in Niki? NO!!!!!!! You are just investing in a stock that you believe is valuable. Same thing with I.P. It is like buying a house. You can keep it as an investment and rent it out with no intention of living there.

    Do we call real estate investors real estate trolls?

    Do we call stock investors corperation trolls?

    No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Then why are you calling I.P. investors patent trolls.

    Get real!!!!

    Stop trying to distroy this country by devaluing I.P.

    You are just jelous because you are to stupid to create or invent something yourself. You are a pencil pusher who has no clue as to how the real world works.

    Get a life!!!!!!!!

    You loser!!!!!

    JR

     

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  17.  
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    John Ruhnke, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:51pm

    Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Look I don't know what planet you are from.

    Hi, I am from earth. Get real.

    So let me get this straight. If I invent something I am supposed to go out and launch a multi million dollar manufacturing business overnight. O.K. Let me see, who is going to fund this major undertaking? You? Do you have 25 million dollars in youre back pocket to invest in such a risk. Do you know all of the 15 million pages of laws pertaining to that particular business the invention is in? Can you find a hundred factory workers, ten engineers, ten sales and marketing people, lawyers accounts and all other people needed to run a big manufacturing operation like that? Overnight?

    Gee, even if you could find all those people, Could you corordinate all that with the efficiency of an existing big corperation with lots of experience and know how?

    Do you even have the slightest clue what kind of a huge effort it is for even the smartest and wealthiest people?

    Yeah,

    Why don't you go and start your own manufacturing business. Gee I gues everyone should be able to do it.

    Right?

    JR

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 9:22pm

    Re: To those Who Tear Down

    Not every inventor is an entrepreneur. Purchasing/holding patents creates liquidity for these individuals, like Thomas Edison, for example, that invented many many things in his life, but was unable/uninterested/unwilling to bring them to market.

    Yes, and not every musician can sell out stadium. And not every writer can convince a publisher to publish his books. Not every entrpreneur can get his idea funded.

    It's no excuse that not every inventor is entrepreneur. If they're not, then they should team up with one.

     

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  19.  
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    Joe Smith, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    If the point of John Ruhnke's post is that inventors can't be expected to go out and raise money and establish a functioning production process because that is all very hard then my answer is to point out that the real value is in that manufacturing establishment and not in the invention itsefl.

    In any event, for many inventions you can find manufacturers willing to manufacture the product for you under contract - but of course you need a fully designed product which actually has a market.

     

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  20.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    I find it worth pointing out that those defending patent trolls seem to feel the need to insult those who are arguing against them. Usually it's only when your argument has no real foundation that you need to resort to personal insults.

    I'm more than willing to discuss and debate issues -- but if you want people to take you seriously, please refrain from personal insults.

    If I invent something I am supposed to go out and launch a multi million dollar manufacturing business overnight. O.K. Let me see, who is going to fund this major undertaking? You? Do you have 25 million dollars in youre back pocket to invest in such a risk. Do you know all of the 15 million pages of laws pertaining to that particular business the invention is in? Can you find a hundred factory workers, ten engineers, ten sales and marketing people, lawyers accounts and all other people needed to run a big manufacturing operation like that? Overnight?

    We have an incredibly efficient capitol markets system here in the US. If you have an idea that makes sense and it's going to take $25 million to make it real, then it's absolutely possible to raise that money, hire the necessary lawyers, find the right factory, engineers, sales and market staff.

    And who said it has to happen overnight? If you really have an innovative idea, then no one else should be doing the same thing, right? If you're worried that someone else is going to beat you to market, then it sounds like they developed that idea independently... and therefore, it doesn't deserve patent protection.

    Do you even have the slightest clue what kind of a huge effort it is for even the smartest and wealthiest people?

    Why yes I do. You know why? Because I've helped start companies before. And, it's a lot of work, but it's absolutely doable.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 9:33pm

    Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Loosely implemented intellectual property laws of a laissez faire culture, backed up with good (technically informed) court judgements, have in the past produced far more innovation and cross-fertilisation of intellectual efforts than the current very tight and adversarial system .

    While I agree with many of your other points, I'd suggest you re-examine this claim. If you look at the history of the patent system, you'll see that it's consistently littered with stories of innovation slowed down, not sped up. The incentives are to slow down your innovation and simply sue anyone who tries to compete.

    Take, for example, the famous invention of the steam engine. Growth of that market was incredibly slow until the original patents ran out, and then other companies could finally innovate to the point of making the steam engine *practical* for real world applications. We could have had a jump on the industrial revolution by quite a few years if everyone wasn't stuck waiting around for those patents to expire.

     

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    Joe Smith, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 11:58pm

    Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Mike uses the steam engine as an example of the patent system slowing things down. The patent may have set the industrial revolution back a permanent 20 years.

    Another example is the airplane. The patent system may have encouraged the Wrights in the first place but then it slowed things down and leadership shifted to the French. It was the strenght of the American manufacturers, not its inventors and patent system, which eventually brought leadership back to the US.

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    I am an inventor and I never had an intention to start my own manufacturering company. I have no intention of ever contract manufacturing either. Why should I?

    I have my own business I design and install radiant heating systerms. I won national level awards on my designs three years in a row. So now you are telling me that I must give up a business that i am very good at and then go start another different type of business that I have no expertise in? Why?

    Because I work in the field I come up with great invention ideas. I build prototypes and test them. If I worked in a factory I wouldn't have the field experience that I need to come up with my ideas.

    I need to be in the field designing heating systems and inventing new products for other heating contractors.

    All of you pencil pushers against I.P. on this forum please go home to your mommy's where you belong because you will destroy this great country that we have. Your place is behind a desk or in a crib, cause you have no clue how the world works.

    JR

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Dear Clueless,

    I have no desire to go into manufacturing but I still invent.

    I don't have to go into manufacturing to be a great inventor. I have a business already it is ver5y successful.

    Why would I want to change that.

    Again go home to your mommy where you belong and stop complaining about inventors.

    JR

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    O.K. that does it,

    You are now attacking one of the greatest inventors in our country that gave the world flight.

    The Wright Bros rewrote the physics of Aerodynamics. They built the first plane possible of flight.

    The patent office held up the Wright Bros patent for five years because clueless so called experts told the patent office the physics in the Wright Bros patent was wrong. (Many most likely decendents of the people in this forum).

    Now I ask you, who had the right physics?

    All I know is they rewrote all of the books and coppied the Wright Bros stuff.

    They were bycicle Mechanics who never went to college. Field workers and great mechanics. Unlike you pencil pushing momy's boys.

    JR

     

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  26.  
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    Techno Phobe, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 10:03am

    Intellectual Property

    After the opening of Japan to Western things. Japan sent out emisaries to other countries to see what was useful. Japan’s leaders asked the U.S Emissary why the U.S. was so successful. His answer: "the patent system.”

    In year 4 of the Meiji Era (1871), Japan publicly proclaimed its own law, called Provisional Regulations for Monopoly, which was the first patent law in Japan

    China has come to the same realization and is moving to do the same.

    Historically economic growth has a strong correlation strong IP rights.

    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_patent_law

    The danger is not from "Patent Trolls" but from large Corporations who wish to limit US IP protection.

    Ironically this IP protection has allowed them to become what they are today. If we do as this lobby suggests we weaken US ability to export technology or compete globally.

    Cisco and IBM are both good examples of companies who have been successful in defending Trademarks and IP. This success has allowed them to stop competing companies from copying their innovations.

    Where would Google be without the ability to license the Standford search patent they created? Without patent license and patent protection rights it supported by our constitution could Google have competed with Microsoft?

    Weakening IP rights in the US will have broad implications.

    1. If will weaken our ability to attract the best and the brightest to our society.
    2. It will weaken the innovation investment model and through this remove the ability for small companies to gain access to funds to grow.
    3. It will allow large companies to further disregard paying for innovation that they see others create.

    Large companies can and do actively infringe patents, they can afford to. It costs in excess of $1,000,000 dollars to bring an infringement case, and can cost in excess of $15K to create a patent.

    Thomas Edison was able to succeed BECAUSE of our patent system. Lets not forget this in our enthusiasm to berate its limitations.

     

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  27.  
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    Techno Phobe, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 10:05am

    Intellectual Property

    After the opening of Japan to Western things. Japan sent out emisaries to other countries to see what was useful. Japan’s leaders asked the U.S Emissary why the U.S. was so successful. His answer: "the patent system."

    In year 4 of the Meiji Era (1871), Japan publicly proclaimed its own law, called Provisional Regulations for Monopoly, which was the first patent law in Japan

    China has come to the same realization and is moving to do the same.

    Historically economic growth has a strong correlation strong with IP rights.

    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_patent_law

    The danger is not from "Patent Trolls" but from large Corporations who wish to limit US IP protection.

    Ironically this IP protection has allowed them to become what they are today. If we do as this lobby suggests we weaken US ability to export technology or compete globally.

    Cisco and IBM are both good examples of companies who have been successful in defending Trademarks and IP. This success has allowed them to stop competing companies from copying their innovations.

    Where would Google be without the ability to license the Standford search patent they created? Without patent license and patent protection rights it supported by our constitution could Google have competed with Microsoft?

    Weakening IP rights in the US will have broad implications.

    1. If will weaken our ability to attract the best and the brightest to our society.
    2. It will weaken the innovation investment model and through this remove the ability for small companies to gain access to funds to grow.
    3. It will allow large companies to further disregard paying for innovation that they see others create.

    Large companies can and do actively infringe patents, they can afford to. It costs in excess of $1,000,000 dollars to bring an infringement case, and can cost in excess of $15K to create a patent.

    Thomas Edison was able to succeed BECAUSE of our patent system. Lets not forget this in our enthusiasm to berate its limitations.

     

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  28.  
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    Cixelsid, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 11:25am

    Intellectual Property by Techno Phobe

    Dear Sir, Thomas Edison was a low life and a petty thief. Which just goes to show the kind of people you teach your kids to admire.

     

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  29.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    I am an inventor and I never had an intention to start my own manufacturering company. I have no intention of ever contract manufacturing either. Why should I?

    I am a fantastic cook and I never had an intention of starting my own restaurant. I have no intention of ever writing cookbooks either. Why should I?

    What you left out of your statement was "I just want people to pay me even though I don't want to make the effort."

    In your case, though, you seem to have a great model already. Why do you need patents to protect it? If you can do such a good job designing and installing these heating systems, then you have a very real business designing and installing those systems. That's got nothing to do with patent protection. All the patent system is doing is limiting your market. Surely, you're not saying that your systems are so obvious and easy to copy that anyone else could build them without your help? Surely you're not saying that you don't keep innovating and improving your systems which help build up your reputation as an innovator?

    Or are you?

    All of you pencil pushers against I.P. on this forum please go home to your mommy's where you belong because you will destroy this great country that we have. Your place is behind a desk or in a crib, cause you have no clue how the world works.

    Again, it's hard to take you seriously when all you do is insult people. Are you also insulting the history of nations that industrialized without patent protection? You appear to be.

     

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  30.  
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    Joe Smith, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Intellectual Property

    Edison was a crook who ripped off Nicola Tesla.

    So Japan got a patent system over one hundred years ago - what major inventions, other than the blue led, have come out of Japan since then?

    Patents are being issued for software and business methods which should not be issued and those patents are causing problems - that is the issue, not the wholesale throwing out of the patent system.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Intellectual Property

    Historically economic growth has a strong correlation strong IP rights.

    Do not confuse correlation with causation. Again, I point you to the history of industrial development in both the Netherlands and Switzerland, where a lack of a patent system (or, at least, a very weak patent system) helped develop tremendous industries -- and helped them to develop much faster.

    I also suggest you look at the pharmaceutical industry in Italy, which prior to 1978 had no patent protection, but had a thriving pharmaceutical industry creating new and useful drugs.

    The idea that you need a strong overly burdensome patent system is ridiculous

    Second, you seem to ignore how the US patent system has changed over the past 25 years, with more and more patents being granted for obvious ideas, as well as things like business models. The purpose of the patent system isn't to give a monopoly on all ideas -- but only those that wouldn't come to market without such protection.


    Cisco and IBM are both good examples of companies who have been successful in defending Trademarks and IP. This success has allowed them to stop competing companies from copying their innovations.


    That's a very simplistic view. Both IBM and Cisco have strong reputations and brands. "You never get fired choosing IBM." Even if someone else copied them exactly, IBM's brand is strong enough to keep people buying from them. And, then, without relying on patent protection they would need to keep on innovating. What the patent system lets them do (as you note) is STOP COMPETING!!

    That's not good for the market. You want them to keep competing, because by competing, they have to keep innovating to keep producing something better than the competition. That's the whole point.


    Where would Google be without the ability to license the Standford search patent they created? Without patent license and patent protection rights it supported by our constitution could Google have competed with Microsoft?


    Sure. You know why? Because Microsoft today is trying to catch up to Google, and it's not the patents that are holding them back. It's the reputation that Google has built up. By many estimates, Microsoft's technology is as good, if not better than Google's. But people don't use Microsoft's search, because they're tied into Google -- and that has nothing to do with patents.

    1. If will weaken our ability to attract the best and the brightest to our society.

    There is no support for this. The reason people come to our society is for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with patents. There is the size of the market. There are the living conditions. There are things like access to capital markets. None of which have anything to do with patents.

    2. It will weaken the innovation investment model and through this remove the ability for small companies to gain access to funds to grow.

    Ha! If you talk to most VCs today, they'll tell you that patents are meaningless for small companies. If they think you can compete in the marketplace, they'll fund you. Trust me, it doesn't limit you at all to not have any patents.

    3. It will allow large companies to further disregard paying for innovation that they see others create.

    And again, I bring you back to the very example you brought up. Google and Microsoft. That shows you that even if a larger company can simply "copy" an idea, it doesn't mean you can compete. Smaller companies can often out innovate larger companies because they're faster, they don't have legacy business models and they're closer to the customer.

    Large companies can and do actively infringe patents, they can afford to. It costs in excess of $1,000,000 dollars to bring an infringement case, and can cost in excess of $15K to create a patent.

    So why not just out innovate them and compete in the market?


    Thomas Edison was able to succeed BECAUSE of our patent system. Lets not forget this in our enthusiasm to berate its limitations.


    That's not a particularly good example for a number of reasons. Edison has been championed in retrospect, but the true history of Edison is not something you should be celebrating as a "good" example of anything.

     

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  32.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 12:35pm

    I rest my case

    "It costs in excess of $1,000,000 dollars to bring an infringement case, and can cost in excess of $15K to create a patent."

    Thankyou Techno Phobe. In one sentence you have laid out the strongest case thus far as to why patents are utterly useless to the small time inventor at the present time.

    And to John: When you have wiped the foam from your mouth please take a deep breath and consider that many of the commentators here are not idologically opposed to patents, but are opposed to them remaining the preserve of big business and the effect that has as a barrier to the small independent inventor/entrepreneur.

     

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  33.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 2:41pm

    A few replies and bye for now.

    Addressing a few of the responses:

    Maximus "We're not mad at inventors, we're mad at trolls. Trolls acquire IP that they neither invented nor had any part in otherwise, and wait for someone to do something valuable with it- and then claim infringement- usually with some weak, stupid causality argument.

    The reason trolls even exist is the sad state of the USPTO today."

    No, the reason that trolls exist is that companies and even whole industries stonewall inventors, take their property without compensation, and leave the inventor no choice except to sue. If the companies who took the invention without compensation had instead taken a license as the system intended there would be no need to enforcement entities. The companies who "something valuable with it" have built their business on a rotten foundation and there is a reason they are losing in court. The reason is their atrocious conduct.

    "That being said, what do you do Ronald?" I am a commercially successful inventor with extensive hardware and software experience. I did make a few million from my inventions while nearly forty million of the value was stolen from me. At the time contingency litigators were very rare and there were no patent enforcement companies. For the last fifteen years I have worked tirelessly to organize independent inventors. Groups which I founded or otherwise helped to organize have gradually improved the lot of inventors and there are now thousands of inventors and over ten thousand other interested parties who are playing a role in restoring the essence of the property right we call a patent.

    From the 1920 to the 1960 time frame was a true dark age for inventors. Vested companies took what they wanted whenever they felt like doing so. There was no justice. At this time it was American companies stealing from American inventors and the value of an intention still pretty mush stayed in America. But today those thieving companies are transnational's and when they steal it is not just the inventor whole loses, it is all Americans who lose because the value of the invention is taken to a low wage country.

    America has a huge natural resource in it's inventors and today intellectual property is our single most important asset. To be blunt those thieving transnational's are using people who do not understand the big picture to cement their market positions and to justify socializing a property right which our founding fathers found important enough to spell out in the constitution.

    ===

    misanthropic humanist says: "In your zeal to attack the participants of this site you accuse, in mocking and insulting style, those who are not aligned with your protectionist ideologies of being lazy, whining, resentful moaners."

    I wrote to get your attention and it seems to me that I have succeeded.

    "My friend, who is a policeman, deeply resents the success of robbers who prosper by force of arms to deprive innocents of their money, and of child molesters who succeed in seducing and abusing the young and vulnerable, ergo resentment of success is not ipso facto a poor position to take. Indeed it is a noble position when considering the acts of criminals and thieves."

    And my point is that inventors face such thieves. Many companies have a business model of stealing inventors work, then they rape the inventor via abuse of the process of law. Inventors are outraged, and we have developed very effective counter tactics as evidenced by the troll slur. These big bad companies are whining like a school yard bully who finally gets the tar kicked out of him. Like that bully they rationalize that right is wrong and fail to see how they brought their current situation upon themselves.

    ===

    Joe Smith says: "The current patent system is not producing clear and effective property rights and, in some areas of invention, creates risks, transaction costs and dead weight losses which far outweigh any positive benefits from fostering innovation. I am all for appropriate property rights, but badly defined property rights are worse than no property rights."

    The costs are only high for those who chose to steal. All they have to do to keep the cost low is deal reputably with the inventor early in the process. Those companies who are caught with their sticky fingers on others intellectual deserve the high costs. Those costs are meant to be a deterrent, the problem at this point is that the companies still hope to continue their thieving ways. The inventor community will continue to administer attitude adjustments to patent pirates and we will defeat the intellectual property welfare benefits those companies are seeking with the misnamed "patent reform" legislation just like we did in the nineteen-nineties. I have good reason to believe that the patent pirating companies behind patent reform will be handed their heads on patent reform once again...

    "BTW, calling people thieves is not part of any civilized, mature, emotionally healthy, debate."

    Mr. Smith, I believe in plain talk, and there is no polite way to address those who think they have a right to take other's property.

    ===

    Mike says: "I'm glad you decided to stop by and join the debate, but you really need to learn how to actually address the points if you want to be taken seriously."

    Mike, I am taken seriously in the circles which count. I have been deeply involved in the politics and the gritty reality of the patent world for a long time. I submit that your understanding of these issues is superficial and I am simply trying to help you understand that the issues are far broader than you currently realize.

    "We resent those who DID NOT SUCCEED, but who assume that they deserve payment even those someone else succeeded where they FAILED to bring a product to market. You see the difference? The problem with many patent trolling situations is that the company demanding payment added NOTHING to the product on the market."

    What they added was the discovery and without that discovery there would have been NO PRODUCT. Take our colleague Dr. Ray Damadian, inventor of MRI. He had to spend TWENTY years in litigation while patent pirates stole his inventions. Where would the world be today without MRI? Or how about Wilson Greatbatch, another of our colleagues, inventor of the pacemaker and much of the battery technology which powers implantable devices. Where would we be without the pacemaker? Or how about now deceased colleague Gertrude Elion, Nobel laureate and inventor of the children's leukemia treatment? I could write books about these people, all of whom I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing.

    So who needs to be taken seriously?

    "No. Those who bring the products to market successfully are what make the difference. Not the inventors themselves." Really? For starters our founding fathers clearly felt differently, but I guess that you must know something that they missed. Here is a fact for you, while big business pirates, open sources pirates, and all who have larceny in their hearts would like to elevate the value of their manufacturing above the value of invention, the truth is that given time and the right business environment that inventors can and do launch businesses which are a threat to the old companies, and that is especially true of the washed up tech companies who are on the same path as the auto industry.

    "So, the problem is the reverse. It's the inventor or the patent troll who assumes they deserve a free piece of the success of others they had nothing to do with." An interesting view but fortunately one which has no basis in law.

    ===

    Joshua says:

    "Any patent must be used, by the patent holder, to implement that patent within 2 years of issue. If this fails to happen then the patent is put into public domain." Every inventor I know does try to move their invention into the market. But the vested interests often throw up roadblocks and it is not unusual of the marketing process to take 5-10 or more years. So your proposal would only cement the positions of big companies and it would completely undermine the desirability of teaching via the patent system. The end result would be many more trade secrets and a slowing of the advance of the arts.

    ===

    Mike says: "I find it worth pointing out that those defending patent trolls seem to feel the need to insult those who are arguing against them. Usually it's only when your argument has no real foundation that you need to resort to personal insults."

    Mike, the patent troll term is an insulting slur and the whole troll argument is being driven by a massive PR campaign funded by those who pirate other's patents. The problem is that you do not understand what companies like Microsoft, Dell, Intel, Micron and the rest of the Coalition for Patent Piracy do to inventors. All we want is to be able to make a living inventing but what we get is years, often decades of brutalizing litigation. The problem is not the patent system, it is patent pirates who think that might makes right and on the other hand we have the lower level patent pirates in the software community who think that they should be allowed to be a parasite on other's hard work. patents are not free and the research and development which leads to those patents is also not free. Even the simplest patent and the R&D can easily cost $50,000 and many represent millions of dollars.

    I spent over a decade of every spare minute, often working 30-50 hours a week to develop my electrified monorail technology. It took years more to gain market acceptance, and once I did the thieves came out of the woodwork. You need to realize that every inventor who goes through this is deeply insulted and hurt. Furthermore you need to understand that your view only reopens those wounds.

    ===

    OK, I dropped into this forum hoping to open your eyes about what is going on. I suggest all take a look at the telecom industry running up to the Carterphone decision for an example of the way a big vested interest suppressed innovation through the abuse of process of law. Inventors face the same kinds of abuse today. But the truth of the matter is that it is not a good use of my time to banter on this forum. The fight to preserve an open, accessible and efficient patent system will not be determined here so I am going to bow out of this discussion. It is my hope that readers will see that there is another side to the arguments beyond what those who think they should be able to run fast and loose with other's property make.

    Those of you who read this who are aspiring inventors should visit www.InventorEd.org, start at www.InventorEd.org/novice/ and beware of invention promotion fraud www.InventorEd.or/caution/. Those who are actually into the invention process and want to preserve a fair and equitable patent system should join www.PIAUSA.org. We are the group of professional inventors who eviscerated patent reform in the nineteen-nineties, we have already put the necessary things in place to kill the latest attempt by patent pirates to gut the patent system but we are always looking for a few more good men and women to help.

    In addition to killing the latest patent reform we have other projects in process to enhance inventors' ability to both fund and to defend their patents. Some patent pirating companies are whining about the consequences of their disreputable conduct, we intend on turning down the thumb screws until they figure out that the only viable business plan is to conduct themselves in a reputable manner. That is all they have to do to make the big nasty trolls fade into obscurity.

    My last point, Mike you are on the wrong side of this fight...inventors will prevail once again. When I have time I will try to come back and explain what has transformed the inventor community from a bunch of recluses into a mean fighting machine. It has been nearly a hundred year process.


    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  34.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 3:33pm

    thankyou, please call again

    Well Ronald, I'm filled with some sadness. Your last post seems heartfelt and sincere. For what it's worth, I checked out your website from your very first post two days ago.

    In any exchange of ideas both parties are enriched if they take a little something of the others argument away with them. I've read your response with an open mind, and I can see that many points you make we are clearly in agreement with. You come here guns blazing and shooting insults, telling us about your crdentials, connections and asking us to take you seriously, and and yet you still have the ears of many people here. If only you could show comensurate courage and civility we would all be the better for it.

    You speak to me and several others here directly as inventors, entrepreneurs and creative producers, but you don'y like the response. I am also someone with many original ideas and yet a strong advocate of radical patent reform. You don't seem to be asking why. You're putting across a point of view which you feel very passionately about without remembering to listen to the other side or admit to new ideas. Anyone who isn't with you must be against you. From the sounds of things you are so radicalised and battle weary that you have head down tunnel vision and see gooks on the treeline everywhere. Oh, for a little open mindedness you could take away so much new vision from this discussion, I wish you would stay and engage a little longer, but you choose to make a theatrical exit. If your feelings weren't so cast in stone perhaps we could convince you of the many ways in which the worthy ideals you fight for have been corrupted, twisted and turned against the very people you claim to be defending.

    Isn't the very fact that we are having this debate a clear indicator that something is deeply wrong with the system? Why are people such as myself in a position where open publication is the only sane alternative to patenting in order to protect our work? That's right, by publishing at least I prevent somebody else from misappropriating my ideas by patenting them and claiming them as their own in such a way that would block me from developing my own research. And I save myself $15,000. Does that sound like a working system that serves new inventors to you?

    I think you argue from a very limited and privillaged position. You have forgotten the people you claim to fight for, people like myself who's freedom to research and develop, whos entire professions are under threat from a runaway monster.

    Your fancy website, connections and reputation amount to nothing if you forget your roots and fail to open your mind to new ideas and interpretations. You've become a politician who thinks he doesn't need to listen to his constituents any longer, but you were once one of us. That's what makes me sad.

     

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  35.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 5:37pm

    Re: A few replies and bye for now.

    Ronald,

    You still are missing the most important point, which is what many of us are most upset about. Most of the cases that we're upset about are NOT ORIGINAL IDEAS. They're obvious ideas, not non-obvious, and never should have received patent protection.

    More importantly, many of them, by themselves, really are meaningless unless you can successfully take them to market. The reward is in taking them to market, and that's the way our capitalist market system is designed to work.

    Some specific replies:

    No, the reason that trolls exist is that companies and even whole industries stonewall inventors, take their property without compensation, and leave the inventor no choice except to sue

    Again, as we've pointed out, the problem is not in those cases where someone has specifically "taken" the ideas of someone else (and I'd argue that you should look at Thomas Jefferson's ideas on such things), but the numerous cases where independent discovery has happened, and yet the guy owning the patent somehow feels the right to a piece of a market he had NOTHING to do with developing.

    Why do you ignore this point?

    America has a huge natural resource in it's inventors and today intellectual property is our single most important asset

    You can say that, and maybe you believe it, but you don't provide any evidence... because none exists. Again, as I pointed out, developing industries can absolutely happen (and have happened) without patent protection -- so to give the credit to the patent system is simply wrong. Instead, we can all point to examples where the patent system has clearly slowed down innovation (and we did above, with both the steam engine and airplanes -- and, again, I note that you ignore these very important points).

    You later suggest that I don't have a deep understanding of these issues -- and yet I'm the one willing to cite examples and data to back up my position. All you seem to cite is your blind faith that these things must be true, despite the lack of evidence.

    Many companies have a business model of stealing inventors work, then they rape the inventor via abuse of the process of law.

    Ronald, if you decide to open up a pizza shop around the corner from another pizza shop, is that "stealing" that pizza shop's work Is that "raping" that pizza shop's owner?

    No. It's competing in the market place. What's wrong with that for new products as well?

    The costs are only high for those who chose to steal.

    You say that with a straight face. Yet, RIM had to pay over half a BILLION dollars for an OBVIOUS idea of doing email wirelessly, an idea that was obvious enough for them to develop entirely independently of the patents held by NTP, who simply held those patents and waited until someone did the obvious thing and made email wireless.

    Sorry. The costs are quite high not for those who "steal" but those who actually innovated successfully and brought a product to market.

    How about Microsoft, who may now need to pay $1.5 billion for some patents that Alcatel later decided applied to MP3s.

    Or how about Fogent's patents that they didn't even think to apply to JPEGs until much later.

    Acacia's patents? Clear Channel's patents on burning CDs of concerts?

    The list goes on and on and on and on of example after example of bad patents on obvious ideas costing the companies who actually innovated tremendous money without them "stealing" anything.

    I'm sorry, but it really is hard to take you seriously when you ignore all of that.

    I have good reason to believe that the patent pirating companies behind patent reform will be handed their heads on patent reform once again...

    But it's not the "patent pirating" companies that are complaining here. It's us, ordinary people and ordinary companies who are scared to death that we're going to get sued for simply implementing the good ideas we come up with. Or who are worried that their Blackberries are suddenly a lot more expensive for no reason. Or that MP3 technology will suddenly become more expensive for no good reason. These aren't "patent pirates." These are people who are seriously concerned that these economic roadblocks HARM American innovation and competitiveness.

    The problem is that you do not understand what companies like Microsoft, Dell, Intel, Micron and the rest of the Coalition for Patent Piracy do to inventors.

    Right. That's why Google beat Microsoft. That's why HP is beating Dell. That's why AMD is catching up to Intel. It's got nothing to do with "stealing" or "pirating" from inventors and has everything to do with competing in the market. If you know how to compete, you can compete and you can beat bigger players.

    The problem is that you don't seem to like the idea of competing in the marketplace.

    pirates in the software community who think that they should be allowed to be a parasite on other's hard work

    Ah, yes, and you do realize that this great world wide web you're getting to write on was built by that very community? Destroyed a lot of value didn't it? Oh wait... no, actually it opened up tremendously more value by allowing lots of people to build on the work that others have done before.

    What you call "parasite" many others claim as building a framework for additional innovation.

    Even the simplest patent and the R&D can easily cost $50,000 and many represent millions of dollars.

    This is a meaningless argument. Building my company has cost plenty of money, and yet didn't involve any patents. Instead, we focused on providing value to the marketplace and making back the money from the market that appreciates our product. You act as if there's no way to do that without patents, and you're simply wrong.

    It took years more to gain market acceptance, and once I did the thieves came out of the woodwork. You need to realize that every inventor who goes through this is deeply insulted and hurt. Furthermore you need to understand that your view only reopens those wounds.

    No. It's not "thieves" coming out of the woodwork, it's called "competitors" and that's a sign of a healthy market system. We have competitors who have copied our business model -- and, you know what, I'm not hurt? I'm THRILLED. They've validated our market and helped push us to keep innovating. If you're hurt the moment competition shows up, then perhaps you're in the wrong business -- but don't harm the rest of us who want to compete and want to keep innovating.

    OK, I dropped into this forum hoping to open your eyes about what is going on. I suggest all take a look at the telecom industry running up to the Carterphone decision for an example of the way a big vested interest suppressed innovation through the abuse of process of law.

    This is a total non-sequitor. We repeatedly point out how big companies stifle innovation. In fact, we're much more likely to side with small companies over large companies -- but this debate has nothing to do with small vs. big. It has to do with the right incentives for innovation -- and the current patent system does a lot more harm than good.

    But the truth of the matter is that it is not a good use of my time to banter on this forum. The fight to preserve an open, accessible and efficient patent system will not be determined here so I am going to bow out of this discussion

    Translation: I don't actually have answers to your points, so I'm going to focus on weaker minded people who won't bother to question all the assumptions I got wrong.

    It is my hope that readers will see that there is another side to the arguments beyond what those who think they should be able to run fast and loose with other's property make.


    It is my hope that maybe, someday, you'll realize this has nothing to do with people "taking" someone else's property, and everything to do with people coming up with ideas simultaneously, with one claiming to own the other's for no good reason (and to the detriment of the marketplace).

    My last point, Mike you are on the wrong side of this fight...inventors will prevail once again.

    You may be right that your group will prevail, but we'll all (including yourselves) will be worse off for it. You are limiting the market for your inventions and while you may not be able to see it, you are doing damage to your own legacy.

     

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  36.  
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    Joe Smith, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 5:49pm

    Re: A few replies and bye for now.

    I said "BTW, calling people thieves is not part of any civilized, mature, emotionally healthy, debate."

    Mr. Riley replied "Mr. Smith, I believe in plain talk, and there is no polite way to address those who think they have a right to take other's property."

    Right then, in the interest of plain and direct speech let me tell you what I really think: the real business model of the patent trolls is extortion and a number of them should be in prison.

     

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  37.  
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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Mike,

    Every radiant heating system I build is better then the next. I am always working hard to improve things. I am the cook who owns his own restaurant. My radiant heating business is like my own restaurant. I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything. I also have spent money on inventing. Along with better ideas for heating system design, I also come up with ideas for heating products to be used in heating systems. I once built a prototype of a air eliminating circulator. I actually built three prtotypes. I spent 2000 hours on the project and took out a second mortgage against my house to do so. I do all of this with the idea of hitting it big some day. Sure the Autopurger project failed to produce a license but at least I tried.

    Now I am working on another great project which is a boiler control. This control was invented by someone else and I have become his license agent. We both work very hard on this. This project will save the world billions in fuel bills and reduce the global warming effect significantly. Neither he nor I would have started to work on the project if it wasn't the thought of license revenue from this. We would have quit a long time ago.

    We both own are own business's and are very proud and happy Americans. After we lisence our idea we will go back to what we do best. Installing heating systems and related controls. We won't go into manufacturering. We will most likely have another idea and go off working on that too.

    We work with tools and our own two hands. We build things, great things. We are happy and proud of who we are.

    If you continue to talk about destroying everything that is valuable to us then yes we will be mad at you. Inventing is a part of us. It is who we are. It is our life and livlyhood.

    Can you even hold a screw driver straight?

    I doubt it you momma's boy.

    Go home to mommy where you belong. This is the real would and it is going to take real people to build it. People not afaid to get dirty.

    JR

     

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  38.  
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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re: A few replies and bye for now.

    Joe Smith,

    Do you own stock? If you own stock in General Motors does that mean you are supposed to go out and build cars? You aren't capable of building anything. That is why you are here.

    Patent investors are welcome just as stock investors and real estate investors. All a patent investor does is defend his investment. If the offending company paid a royalty to the inventor in the first place, then the inventor never would of sold his rights to patent investors.

    Again you have double standards. If you don't agree with patent investors then you better just outlaw all investors.

    Gee lets close the stock market!!!!!

    This country had the strongest patent system in the world at the turn of the century. It also was the strongest industrial power because of this. Why mess with success?

    Why mess with success because of a few mamma's boys here in the forum that don't even know how to hold a screw driver. You guys didn't build this country

    Heck you couldn't build anything, You losers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    John Ruhnke

     

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    Joe Smith, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: A few replies and bye for now.

    John Ruhnke

    I am not opposed to patent investors in the abstract. I am opposed to badly drawn, overly broad, or obvious patents. I am opposed to patent investors extorting money from real business people when there is no causal connection between the claimed invention and the successful product.

    You should always bear in mind that in the NTP v. RIM litigation, NTP admitted that there was no connection between their invention and the development of the BlackBerry. That is what upsets people like me about the current system. It upsets me that Forgent could come back years after the fact and suddenly discover that their patent applied to jpeg. It upsets me that Silicon Graphis got a patent on using floating point arithmetic in computer graphics cards.

    You mentioned that you are working on a device to control boilers. Twenty years ago I dealt with a man who was working on using micro controllers to optimally control a heating unit. If, and to the extent that, what you are working on is an application of optimal contol theory to a furnace it probably is not patentable.

     

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    Moogle, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Hah! What comedy!

    So, you wouldn't have started if it weren't for "license revenue", yet you're tirelessly innovating? If you're always making a better product, what are you afraid of?

    If there were no patent system, you could still always sell your better heaters.

    With the current system what's to stop some company who's been sitting on a general patent for some kind of heater suing you out of business because it's easier for them to take your money than make a heater that beats yours?

    Would you still defend the patent system then? Call people "momma's boy" when they create a market without a patent, stay on top of that market even with competition?

    The people getting dirty building the real world are going to do it regardless of patents. Your attack on Mike and his ideas are entirely misplaced. Actually, it really just sounds like you're starting with the idea of defending patents and making everything else up to justify it. Every argument you make makes better sense as support for Mike's position.

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    Dear Momma's Boy's (Who can't hold a screw driver),

    First off you aren't even smart enough to understand what I do for a living. I sell heating systems not heaters. I buy a bunch of parts and install them in the best way so as to build the best possible heating system.

    If I was a manufacturer of heaters as you put it and someone had a patent on a heater that I liked I would pay him royalties on his heater and sell it to other people. I would be happy to pay royalties.

    Without patents the people who get dirty can't afford to build inventions. They won't have the money or incentive. So then the world would be left up to you momma's boys. Boilers would stay unefficient and poluting the atmosphere. The earth would warm up and the oceans flood waters would destroy your beach houses. Because without funding, inventors wouldn't keep working to solve global warming.

    When your beach house is gone then you mama's boy's will be running back crying to us inventors to please, please help you.

    JR

     

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  42.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfennigs

    John,

    Seriously. Why do you insist on insulting people? We are having a serious debate on a subject and you seem to just be getting angry and throwing around personal insults. It doesn't reflect well on you.

    Without patents the people who get dirty can't afford to build inventions.

    This is the core of your beliefs, but it's wrong. It's what we keep trying to point out. You can make money by selling the products. By bringing them to market. You say that you do so, which is great. But you don't need a patent system to stop competition. You just have to compete in the marketplace.

    As for your other claims about the needs of the patent system to foster innovation, that's provably false (as discussed above). Countries have developed economically without the benefit of a patent systems -- and patents have clearly been shown to hold back the development of certain industries (again, details are discussed above).

    We have very clearly outlined that your basic assumptions are wrong... and the best you can come back with is an insult? Let's try again, perhaps, with you actually responding to the merits of the argument.

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2 pfen

    Dear Momma's Boy's (Who can't hold a screw driver),

    O.K. I'm done. I said my piece. I need to get up early for work tomorrow. I have a busy day. I don't have time to debate all night with you. This is my last post.

    Not one of our great inventors would agree with you or would this country or world be a better place without them. Give a great inventor some money and he will make the world a much better place by building even more great things.

    Rather then have him try and manufacturer past great successes wouldn't it be better to give the inventor royalties so that he can afford to go on and create some more new and different great things? Inventors are better tinkering in there basements, not sitting in a board room trying to run a manufacturing company.

    Give a greedy wothless person such as yourself some money and you will become greedy and rich while others struggle.

    JR

     

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    Joe Smith, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2

    John

    The problem with your argument is that if you were right then the only place we would see rapid innovation is in areas protected by patents but that is not the case. When I look around I see rapid innovation across a wide range of areas. I see scientists and engineers working hard to solve problems even though they do not expect to be able to patent the result. I have been one of those scientists producing a real tool to solve real problems (still in regular use around the world 30 years later). Looking back, the fastest innovation in computer software was before anyone thought of patenting software.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 11:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: another 2

    John,

    Go get some sleep, but please come back tomorrow, and perhaps try to back up some of your arguments (and, again, I'd suggest leaving the insults aside). The fact that you keep coming back only to insult, but not to respond to a single point we make is really bizarre.

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 3:33am

    Arguments built on false assumptions

    The costs are only high for those who chose to steal.

    You say that with a straight face. Yet, RIM had to pay over half a BILLION dollars for an OBVIOUS idea of doing email wirelessly, an idea that was obvious enough for them to develop entirely independently of the patents held by NTP, who simply held those patents and waited until someone did the obvious thing and made email wireless.

    Sorry. The costs are quite high not for those who "steal" but those who actually innovated successfully and brought a product to market.

     

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  47.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 3:35am

    Arguments built on false assumptions (Complete)

    Riley said: "The costs are only high for those who chose to steal.

    Mike said: "You say that with a straight face. Yet, RIM had to pay over half a BILLION dollars for an OBVIOUS idea of doing email wirelessly, an idea that was obvious enough for them to develop entirely independently of the patents held by NTP, who simply held those patents and waited until someone did the obvious thing and made email wireless."

    Mike, all your arguments are built on false assumptions and a profound ignorance of the facts.

    First is the fact that society has a contract that in exchange for teaching an invention as opposed to keeping it a secret the inventor gets a twenty year monopoly. Inventors have held up their side of the bargain and spent considerable time and money to obtain a patent and you argue that those inventors should now be stiffed so that people like you can profit from them.

    Second, I know far more about RIM infringement than you ever will and it is a fact that RIM infringed the patents. It is also a fact that RIM was caught red handed committing fraud on the court. It is a fact that RIM's conduct was so poor as shown in the record that none of the courts all the way to the Supreme Court had any sympathy for them. It is also a fact that RIM is a member of the Coalition for Patent Piracy (they say piracy =fairness:) and that RIM and the Coalition have conducted a ten million dollar PR campaign to try and convince all that piracy is really ok. It is a fact that your arguments closely parallel those of the piracy coalition. Reasonable people cannot help but wonder how this came to be.

    As to your claim that RIM independently invented, I doubt that this was the case. Also, RIM has a rather clear history of taking liberties with other's inventions.

    Here is another tidbit for you. RIM could have licensed the Campana invention for perhaps 5 million early on. Running up to the trial they could have settled for perhaps 10-15 million. A year before the injunction they could have settled for 450 million but they blew the deal with outrageous terms. It cost them 612 million. There is only one lesson to be learned from the RIM case, and that is that egos of entitlement minded management can lead to the company having to open their own personal lube manufacturing operation and they better be sure they are not stepping on anyone's intellectual property in that endeavor either.

    "Sorry. The costs are quite high not for those who "steal" but those who actually innovated successfully and brought a product to market."

    Mike, your whole argument is based on an assumption that inventors should have to compete with parasitic business owners for the profits of their inventions, but that is not the law. Surely you should realize that if you build your business on a rotten foundation like this assumption that it could be catastrophic. I think it is that realization that is the root of your resentment of inventors. I think that your skills are conducive to commercializing but that you probably lack the inventive spark. The answer to this is to partner with an inventor, the sum total of such a partnership could be greater than the parts. I think that your current business is one of sucking up to tech companies whose business model is based on patent piracy.

    Yes, it is possible to make a very good living as a parasite, but wouldn't it be much more satisfying and productive to make that living as an innovator, or if you personally just cannot innovate at least use your skills in conjunction with those who can.

    Sorry, but I now have to get back to the work of handing the Coalition for Patent Piracy another stunning defeat. This easier than it was in the nineteen-nineties because the coalition's arrogance has alienated most industry segments.


    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  48.  
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    John Ruhnke, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 5:09am

    Re: Arguments built on false assumptions (Complete

    Ron,

    Thankyou for all of your very hard work. I really really apreciete it.

    John Ruhnke

     

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    John Ruhnke, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: anothe

    Mike,

    O.K. insults aside I'll try and explain a little how the world works.

    First I am a innovator in the heating system design business. Everything I build is like building a prototype. Every project is different.Though every project is different, I follow the rules developed by people that came before me. I never experiment on my clients. Every job works great and is problem free. I install innovations developed by other great men. My clients pay for this work. It gives them very comfortable Heat. They are happy to get it and they are warm and cosey. I make my living and pay for three kids doing this.

    2nd I am a inventor. Some times in the process of building these heating systems, I come up with ideas for better products or better software. No one ever thought of these ideas before. So I say wouldn't it be great to develop prototypes and try it?

    It cost me 100,000 dollars to develop my Autopurger project. That project was unsuccessful. You see, an inventor has to develop a few ideas to come up with one useful idea. And it takes many prototypes to work the bugs out. The first versions always have lots of problems. I have been doing this as a hobby since 1994. In that time I could only afford to work on four projects. Out of those four projects, only one looks like it is going to make me money. I had many more ideas. If I had the money I would have worked on them too. The boiler control looks like it is going to succeed. That boiler control has to pay for two failed projects.

    My fourth project has never been developed because I don't have the time or money. That fourth project is Overall Efficiency. It will rate heating systems and is desperetly needed to reduce global warming. But I don't have any money.

    The patent system is needed. Royalties keep me tinkering in my basement. The world needs my ideas. I want to tinker in my basement and not sit next to a bunch of people with suites in some stuffy boardroom running some big company.

    I also enjoy designing radiant heating systems for my clients. It is through working on these heating systems that I come up with my ideas. I don't want to change. I am happy with things the way they are. Some day one of my ideas will make it and then the royalties will hopefully come in. I deserve those royalties. I have spent over a decade working very hard towards that goal with no pay. I promise you that if I collect royalties I will spend some of the money reducing global warming.

    If you put me in a board room running a big corperation like you people in this forum think I should be doing. I would hate it and go nuts.

    JR

     

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    angry dude, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    Mike is an idiot

    Mike, AS i TOLD YOU BEFORE, YOU ARE A MORON

    You don't know shit about technology and patents,
    Just try to invent sometiong new and useful AND get paid for your invention without a patent and you'll sing a different song...

    This blog needs a new name, like "techignorance" or beter yet, "techidiocy"...

     

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  51.  
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    Thomason, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 7:41am

    Patent power or market forces

    Often the infringer has power over the market, such as thru an established distributor & reseller network, an established customer support system, a pool of available capital, etc.
    The inventor may have none of these, and try as he may, inventors often are not successful in 'bringing the product to market.' Still, the invention may have commercial value, and may too be a genuine innovative. Again, the one-man company often fails to secure the market, esp. against those with market power.

    In your mind, this inventor should lose his rights, because he "shouldn't be rewarded' having failed in 'delivering his invention to the marketplace.'

    Then, of course, the infringer, with power over the market, who can put all its market might behind a product, takes over and distributes successfully an infringing, copy, knock-off of what the little inventor invented. It is not surprising that this infringer is way more effective at delivering the (inventor's) invention to the marketplace.
    In Mike's world, the infringer should win, should profit, should be insulated from liabililty, and should grow in market power. Mike is against patent monopolies, but so soft on distribution monopolists - nobody like a failure, so jump on the bandwagon with the successful.
    That inventor didn't succeed in marketing, so his invention is ceded freely to the infringers who better can 'deliver it to the market.' The unsuccessful inventor deserves no better than does a troll, because neither one ever made and sold the invention. The true and first inventor should lose his patent and right to "sue someone else [the infringer] who does a better job serving the market."

    In such a survival-of-the-fittest [fattest?] regime, much of Das Intellectual Kapital will end up controlled by infringers, and that regime will disserve the goal of securing the exclusive rights granted to inventors.

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 9:21am

    Ethical Disability

    "Mike is an idiot by angry dude on Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    Mike, AS i TOLD YOU BEFORE, YOU ARE A MORON"

    Angry Dude,

    You most certainly have a reason to be angry but I suggest that your philosophy should be to get even as opposed to investing lots of energy in anger. A cold calculated rage might be a better approach.

    Different people have different abilities. For example it is very common for inventors to suffer from ADD, dyslexia, and poor written communication skills. They aren't stupid, they just have difficulties with language.

    I do not think that Mike is a moron, in fact he is probably quite bright and has made a calculated decision to offer a service to those whose business model is to pirate others' inventions. The reason is probably fairly simple, in that this is where the easy money is at. We also see the same happen with many academics.

    I work closely with law enforcement on the invention promotion fraud issue www.InventorEd.org/caution/. In several instances I have had conversations with these people about what drives criminals. The consensus is that a fairly large chunk of the population (perhaps 20%) lacks the innate ability to understand ethics and morals. In fact, if you look at the development of state, church and law you will find that much of this was driven by the need to set down rules for those who lack the ability to understand right from wrong.

    Because intellectual property is an intangible asset people like Mike have difficulty understanding right from wrong.

    It is a combination of self interest and a disability which usually drives most patent pirates, and the rest of the group is suffering from the "Little person Syndrome".

    What the inventor community has been doing for the last fifteen years is gently steering policy and the availability of both contingency litigators and patent enforcement houses. The idea is to make patent piracy so expensive that the consequences strike fear in the hearts of those who lack ethics or compassion. We have reached the stage where they fear us. We need to keep the pressure up until they finally figure out that stealing IP is a zero sum game.

    We are working on the next stage of enforcement at this time. I guarantee that patent pirates are about to get an enhanced educational opportunity. Just remember that while they have rather thick skulls that they can and will learn. For a few it will be the hard way, and then the rest will fall into line.

    Last point, no inventor will be able to convince people like we see rationalizing theft of our property on this forum that what they do is wrong. It may be worthwhile to occasionally drop in and remind them that they are wrong but short of actually catching them with their sticky fingers on someone's property and adjusting their attitude over the indiscretion they are pretty much hopeless. A better use of your time is to join with those of us who are organized. So stop by the web sites listed below and learn what you can do both to advance your inventions and to protect the patent system from patent pirates.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    some more analysis

    Actually, what you are saying Thomason, is that there are two separate but presently intertwined problems that we need to disentangle and treat in isolation.

    Funny thing is, the more I consider this argument from both sides the more I move towards an abolitionist stance. The things said by Ronald have led me to carefully reconsider whether patents can be reformed at all. Perhaps it's time to come to the conclusion that we need to get rid of them completely.

    Patents are a weapon, so they are only useful if everybody has equal access to them. At the moment, in practical terms, only the big guys have the guns. The present patent system is useless to the small inventor. The financial barrier to entry is prohibitive. Nobody who works from their garage and has multiple patentable ideas can possibly afford $10,000 a pop to protect their work. Ronalds assertions only lend weight to this, that even if you obtain a patent unscrupulous transnational corporations will simply take the idea anyway and leave you with a $1,000,000 bill to defend yourself. Therefore patents are an expensive and empty insurance policy.

    This why open source philosophy and the GPL are so elegant and useful. It is a form of publication that ensures that intellectual property stays in the public domain where it belongs and removes restrictions and limitations for all. Nobody can market a product without also exposing the complete means of production of that product.

    The best course of action I can see for any new inventor is to publish. Publish early, publish often, publish widely. If a small startup company or a massive multi-national company see merit in your published ideas they will take them to a marketable product and do all that expensive last mile work. You can then simply take that work and use it as your own, adding improvements and creating your own products.

    It's the ultimate fair system in terms of the issues of intellectual property, public benefit and private opportunity. But it leaves one possible hole. Trade secrets. The original idea of patents was to discourage trade secrets by encouraging publication. The final piece of the jigsaw to a truly "Free Open" technology market might be to make trade secrets illegal. However I don't like authoratarian/legal solutions , they are messy and brittle. So the very first step is to throw out all the rubbish like the DCMA and grant any person an absolute right to reverse engineer and analyse any product or data media they like (which they already have in practice regardless of any nonsensical American legal mumbo jumbo). I expect once this period of insanity has blown over people will take back that right and enshrine it in a new constitutional form.

    If there remains a problem that those with the money and distribution networks have an unfair advantage over the individual or startup then that is a problem of a grossly top-heavy runaway capitalist system. It needs to be treated as a separate problem, addressed and corrected as such.

    Otherwise, what we are saying here is that patents are a solution to a problem with Capitalism. In that light state granted monopolies are about as socialist as you can get, why not go the whole way and just mandate that all intellectual property is owned by the state?

    See where I'm going?

    It was inevitabe that patents would eventually be subverted, fall into the wrong hands and become a weapon against their original intent because they are nothing more than a patch on a bigger problem.

    It seems to me that the ones with the most to fear from the complete abolition of patents are the massive multi-national corporations. Perhaps it's time we all moved towards calling for the complete dismantlement of the patent system. I wonder if sites like http://www.inventored.org/ are not actually shill fronts for these big interests.

    With all the settlement money that Ronald and his group must have extracted from "errant transnationals", surely he can provide examples of very small and poor inventors who they have made grants and donations to in order for them to patent their ideas?

    Or here's another idea if you want to be socialist about it. Maybe, since it's the state that grants these monopolies it is time for the state to begin subsidising small inventors with $10,000 grants to obtain their patents?

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 10:42am

    "You most certainly have a reason to be angry .."

    You bet I do, Ron...

    I filed my US pat app in early 2002, in the pre-EBAY era..
    It was finally granted in late 2006, after collecting dust in the USPTO for 4(!) years before the first office action...
    And now it is post-EBay era and patents suddenly don;t have the power to stop the infringer from infringing if you are a small guy...
    Now, how am I supposed to feel when I was promised a limited time monopoly and had chosen to publicly disclose my invention in patent application... but shortly AFTER I did it they had changed the rules of the game...
    I am just angry as hell at the moment, especially in view of the fact that my invention is NOT SELF-REVEALING, meaning that I could keep it a trade secret for quite a while and actually make some money in the market, as Mike suggests.
    I chose the patent route, you know, promoting the progress by disclosing an invention to everybody...
    Now it seems that I lost 5 years of my uncompensated time plus about 40 grand on USPTO and EPO patent prosecution...

    I sure won't do it again...
    Hell with this country - it's on the path leading to self-destruction and there is nothing we can do about it.
    Amen.

    "The fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools"
    (King Crimson)

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    Re: Arguments built on false assumptions (Complete

    First is the fact that society has a contract that in exchange for teaching an invention as opposed to keeping it a secret the inventor gets a twenty year monopoly. Inventors have held up their side of the bargain and spent considerable time and money to obtain a patent and you argue that those inventors should now be stiffed so that people like you can profit from them.

    Again, this is totally irrelevant in most cases that we are discussing. If you look at many of the patents that people are complaining about today, the "disclosure" part is meaningless. They describe broad and general concepts where the patent itself is meaningless in trying to produce a product. They are simply written to catch more infringers, not to disclose any new ideas.

    Second, I know far more about RIM infringement than you ever will and it is a fact that RIM infringed the patents.

    Oh really? That's why the USPTO tossed out NTP's claims?

    As to your claim that RIM independently invented, I doubt that this was the case. Also, RIM has a rather clear history of taking liberties with other's inventions.

    Even NTP admitted RIM developed its application independently. So your doubts notwithstanding, it seems that you don't have much support. The NTP patents are INCREDIBLY broad. They describe wireless email, which is an obvious idea if you watched where the technology was heading. Email was popular. Wireless was increasingly popular. Combining the two is a no-brainer. That's a big part of why the USPTO rejected NTP's claims on later review.

    So, despite your claim to know more than I ever will (can you be any more condescending?), you don't seem to actually know the facts of the case. I'm sure there are a lot of people who take you seriously, but it's increasingly difficult to do so here.

    Here is another tidbit for you. RIM could have licensed the Campana invention for perhaps 5 million early on. Running up to the trial they could have settled for perhaps 10-15 million. A year before the injunction they could have settled for 450 million but they blew the deal with outrageous terms. It cost them 612 million.

    All of that seems more like an argument to get rid of the patents altogether. After all, if RIM didn't have to deal with NTP's patents at all, it would have cost them $0.

    There is only one lesson to be learned from the RIM case, and that is that egos of entitlement minded management can lead to the company having to open their own personal lube manufacturing operation and they better be sure they are not stepping on anyone's intellectual property in that endeavor either.


    No. The lesson to be learned is that a small company that doesn't have any business and has nothing to advance the science can hold up a company that DID innovate and DID advance the science and can hold them for tremendous ransom. It's a recipe for stagnation in innovation. It's going to kill the economy if it's allowed to continue. Innovation will be driven far away, to countries that don't make it so expensive to innovate. Again, I point you to the history of various countries where there was no patent system or weak patent systems. In the case of Switzerland, foreign companies CHOSE to locate new operations in Switzerland KNOWING that the cost of innovation was cheaper there.

    Mike, your whole argument is based on an assumption that inventors should have to compete with parasitic business owners for the profits of their inventions, but that is not the law.

    You can't fall back on the law to defend your position when our position is that the law needs to change. The Constitutional purpose of the patent system is solely to promote the progress of the useful arts and science. If the patent system is not doing that, then the patent system is inherently unconstitutional.

    Surely you should realize that if you build your business on a rotten foundation like this assumption that it could be catastrophic. I think it is that realization that is the root of your resentment of inventors. I think that your skills are conducive to commercializing but that you probably lack the inventive spark.

    Would you like to talk to some of our customers who are THRILLED with our extremely innovative service? They're happy with it because we provide something totally new and different that they can't get anywhere else in the marketplace. So don't say I don't have an inventive spark. I do, and I've proved it by bringing an innovative product to market that is making a ton of money.

    I think that your current business is one of sucking up to tech companies whose business model is based on patent piracy.

    Don't assume what you don't know.

    Yes, it is possible to make a very good living as a parasite, but wouldn't it be much more satisfying and productive to make that living as an innovator, or if you personally just cannot innovate at least use your skills in conjunction with those who can.

    Again, don't assume what you don't know. Our service is incredibly innovative, and we prove it by making money in the market -- providing real value to real customers who pay for that value. That's incredibly satisfying and productive. It's a hell of a lot more satisfying that if I just patented the idea and waited for someone else to actually make a business out of it and demanded my cut. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did that.

    Sorry, but I now have to get back to the work of handing the Coalition for Patent Piracy another stunning defeat. This easier than it was in the nineteen-nineties because the coalition's arrogance has alienated most industry segments.

    Good luck, but I think you'll find that you're actually going to increasingly find it difficult to convince people. The evidence is against you and people are beginning to understand the logic of how the patent system is doing more damage.

    Ronald,

    Will you come back here and apologize when you're proven wrong?

     

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  56.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: an

    John,

    Thanks for coming back and replying calmly without the insults. I appreciate it, and I appreciate where you are coming from.

    However, I disagree with your conclusions based on a few points.

    My clients pay for this work. It gives them very comfortable Heat. They are happy to get it and they are warm and cosey. I make my living and pay for three kids doing this.

    First off, that's wonderful. Congratulations.

    It cost me 100,000 dollars to develop my Autopurger project. That project was unsuccessful. You see, an inventor has to develop a few ideas to come up with one useful idea.

    Indeed. I, too, have developed new products that have been unsuccessful. It's expensive, but it can be a great learning process. The thing is, I did it without patents. I started and shut down a business that went nowhere, which was designed to help connect business people. What's amusing to me is that a few years later, others created something very similar (LinkedIn), which has turned out to be successful. Should I be upset? No. I'm actually happy, because the service is quite useful, and the reason I failed was because the market wasn't really ready, and I wasn't skilled enough at the time to successfully bring the product to market.

    It was a failure (and a costly one), but I got plenty of experience out of it that helped me the next time around.

    Out of those four projects, only one looks like it is going to make me money. I had many more ideas. If I had the money I would have worked on them too. The boiler control looks like it is going to succeed. That boiler control has to pay for two failed projects.

    Again, like you, it appears that one of my later products has succeeded. My Techdirt Corporate Intelligence service provides a very innovative service to businesses that they simply can't get elsewhere. We struggled through the recession to keep the business afloat and helped build in some very useful and innovative features to the software and the service that now explain why it's used by thousands of people. Luckily, the success in the market helped pay for it (and make the earlier failure worthwhile.

    My fourth project has never been developed because I don't have the time or money. That fourth project is Overall Efficiency. It will rate heating systems and is desperetly needed to reduce global warming. But I don't have any money.

    I too am working on another idea, but thankfully, due to the money earned in the market from our last offering, we can invest in it. Also, thanks to that success we have been able to tap into the capital markets to raise additional money to invest in the new product. Again, this had nothing to do with patents, and had everything to do with bringing a product to market. You don't need patents.

    The patent system is needed. Royalties keep me tinkering in my basement. The world needs my ideas. I want to tinker in my basement and not sit next to a bunch of people with suites in some stuffy boardroom running some big company.

    If the world needs your ideas then there are ways to make money from them, and that doesn't have to be via patents. There are aspects of the business I'm in that I don't like either, but I hire people to work here to take care of those things.

    If you put me in a board room running a big corperation like you people in this forum think I should be doing. I would hate it and go nuts.


    I never said you should be in a board room running a big corporation, but you can certainly partner with a business minded person to make something out of your inventions -- and, again, that doesn't require patents.

    The point here is that you keep assuming patents are necessary to the process when they're not.

     

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  57.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 11:06am

    Re: Patent power or market forces

    Often the infringer has power over the market, such as thru an established distributor & reseller network, an established customer support system, a pool of available capital, etc.

    Actually, I think you mean that often the innovator better understands his market, and is faster and more able to adapt than the large cumbersome incumbent. The incumbent is arrogant and doesn't feel the need to change in the marketplace, opening up tremendous opportunities for new innovative providers.

    See? It can go both ways, and for every example of one, I can cite a better example of the other.

    Again, the one-man company often fails to secure the market, esp. against those with market power.

    Why do you keep assuming a "one-man" company? If the idea has merit it's not hard to raise capital and build up a serious entity.

    In Mike's world, the infringer should win, should profit, should be insulated from liabililty, and should grow in market power. Mike is against patent monopolies, but so soft on distribution monopolists - nobody like a failure, so jump on the bandwagon with the successful

    No, where have I shown I'm soft on distribution monopolists? I've challenged them on numerous occasions -- though, usually I think there's no need for gov't intervention, since there's often an opportunity for an upstart to come in with something better (see Microsoft beating IBM and Google beating Microsoft for some examples...)

    The true and first inventor should lose his patent and right to "sue someone else [the infringer] who does a better job serving the market."

    Again, as I've pointed out repeatedly in the thread, the point we're discussing are mainly cases where invention is independent and where the patents are ridiculously broad. In those cases, why should the patent holder deserve anything?

     

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  58.  
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    step back, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    Why should the patent owner deserve anything

    Mike,
    I'm probably wasting my time responding to your "repeated" knock downs of the emotional contact kind.

    Let me give it a shot anyway.

    Let's step back, not to Article 1 section 8, clause 8 of the US Constitution but rather to the Preamble of the darn thing:
    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    I bolded two phrases for purpose of emphasis: "to promote the general welfare" and the part about it not being just for the self-centered us, for the here and now, but also for "our posterity" ... IOW, for the long term good of our children.

    You are correct that in terms of my immediate need for instant gratification and desire to have all I can have, the patent system sucks. Why shouldn't I have everything I desire now and for the lowest possible cost? Screw the generations to come. If there is a pharmaceutical that will help me now, I want it now. At generic pricing. If there is a piece of software that will make my life better now, I want it now. At freeware pricing levels.

    And if some poor slob of an inventor does not get compensation for having been "first", screw him (or her). Who cares? All that matters is that I get mine and I get it now. All that matters is that some aggressive company get the stuff to me ASAP.

    Of course, if you were to step back and give some of this attitude a little more thought, you would realize that it is a recipe for long term disaster.

    Maybe not today. But soon, the word would go out to all independent inventors to not bother. Why expend any energies when someone bigger and bullier than you is just going to reach in and take it away whenever they spot you on their radar screen? Why not return to the "good old days" when everything was a "trade secret"?

    Mike, don't you remember the good old days, the Dark Ages? That was when the masses were kept illiterate and ignorant. Only the elite few were entitled to knowledge and its fruits. And if you think that, thanks to our opposable thumbs, "we" are incapable of returning to the Dark Ages, you are more delusional and self-centered than I thought you were in the first place. :-)

     

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  59.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Why should the patent owner deserve anything

    I bolded two phrases for purpose of emphasis: "to promote the general welfare" and the part about it not being just for the self-centered us, for the here and now, but also for "our posterity" ... IOW, for the long term good of our children.

    And you think slowing down innovation is good for long term growth? As we discussed above there are numerous examples of patents slowing down innovation. The steam engine patents slowed down the industrial revolution. The Wright Brothers patents slowed down the growth of aviation.

    That's for the good of our children? I don't think so.

    You are correct that in terms of my immediate need for instant gratification and desire to have all I can have, the patent system sucks. Why shouldn't I have everything I desire now and for the lowest possible cost? Screw the generations to come. If there is a pharmaceutical that will help me now, I want it now. At generic pricing. If there is a piece of software that will make my life better now, I want it now. At freeware pricing levels.

    I'd suggest some basic economics might help explain to you why this turns out to be good for everyone. Protectionist policies do much more harm in the long term (you know, the long term you're so interested in pointing out). Patents are nothing but protectionist policies.

    Do you really want to go back to a mercantilist system?

    And if some poor slob of an inventor does not get compensation for having been "first", screw him (or her). Who cares? All that matters is that I get mine and I get it now. All that matters is that some aggressive company get the stuff to me ASAP.

    No. Don't put your opinions into the discussion. Look at the big picture. Businesses fail all the time. The restaurant I love down the street from my house just went out of business. By your reasoning, we somehow OWE the restaurant owner to keep him in business. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make a good business out of the restaurant, and the market has changed. It's too bad for now, but artificially supporting him doesn't help anyone either. It's inefficient and economically bad for everyone.

    It's even bad for the restauranteur in that equation, since he gets to rest on his laurels, knowing he's protected, rather than continuing to innovate and serve the market.

    Of course, if you were to step back and give some of this attitude a little more thought, you would realize that it is a recipe for long term disaster.

    Wait... why? Serving the market is a recipe for long term disaster? Letting the market decide who should get the rewards based on who is actually providing VALUE to the market? I'm sorry, but you need to go back and learn some basic economics.

    I can't see how it's long term disaster to weed failures out of the marketplace.

    Maybe not today. But soon, the word would go out to all independent inventors to not bother. Why expend any energies when someone bigger and bullier than you is just going to reach in and take it away whenever they spot you on their radar screen? Why not return to the "good old days" when everything was a "trade secret"?

    Again with this myth. You keep setting up this false dichotomy between those poor independent inventors and the big bad companies -- and yet you know that's not true. This is an issue that impacts everyone, both small and large, and it's about setting up the best overall model so that society as a whole benefits in the long term. Your model doesn't do that. It's a protectionist model designed to protect one small special interest, by allowing them not to actually innovate in the marketplace but to claim certain rights on those who do innovate. It's adding a huge expense and it slows down market development.

    That's awful for everyone.

    I'm not even going to respond to your non sequitor about the dark ages, but I would suggest that while you brush up on your economics, you take some history classes as well, because what you seem to believe happened in the past is a myth. Perhaps that's why you're having so much trouble grasping what's going on here.

     

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  60.  
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    PT, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 1:39pm

    Abolishing patents

    This may prove to be a nightmare for the economy for who knows how long before it stabilizes. Current patents on file would become public domain and we would see both mega corporations and small companies bleed money if not disappear in a couple years as competitors start selling identical, rebadged products. Unemployment would probably skyrocket but hopefully only creating a short term problem. All further innovation would have to be kept a secret. There would be rampant reverse engineering and copycat products emerging all the time. Corporate raiding to acquire secrets would become common.

    Certainly a flood of nearly identical products would drive prices down and only the best marketed, constantly improved, and best quality products will allow a company to survive. All those other companies that do not innovate and rely on patent lawsuits to stifle competition would disappear. That sounds like a plus, to me. Hmm...maybe its not so bad a future, after all. Another plus would be the wealth in a market would probably be more even distributed among competitors, making sure they stay on their toes, or disappear. Maybe this intensely competitive environment would create more workload stress on workers. Probably not a good thing.

    As for the independent inventors, there probably isn't much incentive to create a new idea or devices unless there is some other means of protecting the idea. Perhaps, non-disclosure agreements and clever contracts? It would have to depend on what the idea or device is and if only enough can be publicly shown to interest companies to buy it. Its not as if a world with no patents favors inventors any less than what we have today with insane litigation costs to defend a patent.

    I think most would agree that abolishing patents would certainly change our economy in ways we probably won't expect. Would they be good or bad changes? I'm seeing more long term good changes, but we all know shareholders and execs want instant gratification now or almost now. Not 10 to 20 years from now. Unfortunately, I can't see politicians agreeing to get rid of the patent system. Certainly won't hear the end of it from IP lawyers, patent trolls, and the thousands of companies out there with hundreds of patents.

     

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  61.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 1:43pm

    Whoa. Hold your horse cowboy!

    Mike: "You keep setting up this false dichotomy between those poor independent inventors and the big bad companies -- and yet you know that's not true."

    While we are so clearly on the same side and in harmony with 90% of our thoughts Mike, this reveals a difference of ideology on which I would really urge you to reconsider where you stand.

    There is a clash of interests between independent inventors and the big companies. As you know I am not one of those self-centered advocates of protectionism that benefits any small group at the expense of the majority. The balance that best serves the creative producer, market, customer and businessman, and those abstract concepts of Science, Arts and Progress is the thing I strive for.

    But it is the biggest corporate players who are most vocal in defending broad and non-obvious patents, and they are fucking us independent developers just as much as everybody else. Probably more so.

    It is the genuine grass roots inventor and entrepreneurial developer who is getting the shaft because he cannot afford to play in this game.

    That's why I hoped Ronald could be brought onside, because he is clearly passionate about representing the inventor.

    The tragedy is that the small inventor has the most to lose from the patent system in its present state of degeneracy, so please, have another think and try to see this in the most inclusive way you can.

    respectfully.

     

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  62.  
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    MH, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    oops

    sorry

    s/obvious/non-obvious

    :)

     

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  63.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Whoa. Hold your horse cowboy!

    But it is the biggest corporate players who are most vocal in defending broad and non-obvious patents, and they are fucking us independent developers just as much as everybody else. Probably more so.

    Ronald is actually arguing the opposite. He claims it's the big companies that are arguing against such patents because they want to "steal" ideas for independent inventors. That's what I was trying to point out.

    I agree that my position is more likely to help independent inventors in the long run, and it's the big companies who benefit most from the patent system, but Ronald and his followers don't seem to realize that.

    My point to Ronald was that he's wrong in thinking that it's the small developers who are protected by patents. That's why I complained about his false dichotomy.

    I do, however, believe that both sides are harmed by the patent system, though in different ways.

     

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  64.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Abolishing patents

    That's an interesting and thoughtful analysis of the initial impact PT.
    The point at which we depart is the assumption that some form of protectionism must remain in order for progressive industry to prosper.

    Look at the open source free software movement for an example of why this isn't the case.

    Of course I appreciate this example is a narrow, limited one. The difficult cases for me are in the tangible engineering market for which patents were first conceived, players like John and his heating engineering work would take the brunt of the carnage in such a revolution. But as you surmise, a stable equilibribium would return, probably faster than you think.

    To argue the other side, for reform and against abolition, I would need to see:

    1) A complete review of all patents and revocation of obvious patents
    granted in the last 15 years. Along with this I would want to see a simple and available mechanism to challenge and nullify patents that are being abused (and, very difficult to achieve, a safety mechanism to prevent this from itself being abused).

    2) A massive investment in the patent system, not just doubling but increasing by a factor of 10 the available experts for review. That means attracting *real* experts, not the charlatans and schoolboys we have reviewing patents now who have clearly demonstrated they are not up to the job academically. Perhaps a jury service like system that picks leading industrialists and academics at random for compulsory service along with double blind (symmetrically anonymous review of the patent on its technical merits alone). This will be funded from a direct tax on all business or from state coffers.

    3) A complete rejection of all business method and software patents, never to be spoken of again.

    4) Greatly increased standards of proof for successful applications, including a demonstrable immediate beneficial application.

    5) A vast reduction in the administrative fees for patent application. $100 is a proper sum, not the outrageous punitive costs that are currently levied as a deliberate barrier. That should be fixed + inflation for an indefinite term in law.

    So, as you see, this medicine is as bad as the alternative. It leaves a very bad taste in mouth, it's all a bit lefty for my liking. But how else do you cure a system that is so terribly sick. The best solution is probably just to shoot the patent system in the head and face the music.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    PT, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Abolishing patents

    I couldn't see myself stepping away from some sort of protectionism because if an inventor simply wants to sell their idea to the highest bidder and move on, how do they do attract potential buyers without giving away too much of the idea? Say I invent a new type of screw. If I wanted to profit from this screw design, I would have to either:

    A) Show a company what it looks like and hope and pray they have some decency not to steal the idea and pretend they aren't interested
    B) Come up with a clever demonstration that shows the effectiveness of the screw without actually showing the screw
    C) Start a company and manufacture it myself, only to realize that as soon as I sell the screw, it would be copied by a much bigger competitor and sold at a lower price then I can initially compete with.

    Argh, this is the sort of thing that created the patent system in the first place which lead us to the broken and abused system we have now.

     

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  66.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Abolishing patents

    Yes, yes! Arrrrrrrghhhhh!!!!!!!

    I am tearing my hair too. It's intractable.

    That's why I realise my own position, based on software, is so limited. At least with software you can demonstrate the effects to a potential buyer without revealing the innards.

    Your screw example is perfect. What could be more obvious with a single glance? What simple but ingenious invention could have the potential to make more money as a piece of commodity technology?

    You've hit the, er, nail? :)

    I think it's why we have to take the long look at what we mean by words like "sell", "benefit", "reveal" and try to move to a more progressive model that brings you benefits, perhaps not immediate ones, and yet protects the idea from misappropriation by others.

    I am in precisely this dilemma as I write. I'm putting a lot of my hopes on what I believe is the right thing to do, publish.

    Perhaps this deserves a thread of its own :)
    It should turn a few heads, and drive the point home (sorry I can't stop myself :)


    Perhaps Mike would run this question as an "Ask Techdirt" type feature, it could be interesting?

    Something like:

    To ease some doubts and twitchyness I still have about the move I am about to take I would appreciate any intelligent comments or ideas on the following:

    I am about to publish a fairly significant idea for a new type of fastener device. It's nothing world shattering, but it is significant by any standards, and certainly worthy of a patent. I have chosen not to patent the idea because I am unable to afford the overhead of doing so and consider the concept obvious although it is unique and unprecedented.

    My only desire is to ensure that this idea is taken up as widely as possible by industry for its general benefits. I have high quality experimental scientific data which proves the concept and it has big commercial value in the domestic, military and industrial fields. I have evidence of a working prototype and documentation written to an extremely high standard that outlines the proposal.

    (essentially a complete "patent" ready to be published)

    To this end I am aquiring access to servers in the United States, UK, Holland, Germany, France, China, Russia and Japan to simultaneously publish the information and talking to organisations like archive.org to make sure that an indelible public record of prior art is established. Simultaneously with this move letters will be given to all the major journals including New Scientist, Nature, Scientific American, and to internet tech news sites such as Techdirt, Slashdot, Digg, BoingBoing, The Register, Ars Technica and so on, where it should at least make an interesting story because I am doing this partly as a demonstration and protest against the current state of intellectual property law.

    I know that once I hit the return key on my script I will lose all benefits of patent protection and give my idea to the world. Of course I hope to then benefit from that position in my future professional career as a scientist/engineer/researcher.

    What further suggestions would anybody make to ensure that this idea is never patented and can never become the intellectual property of any entity?

    Do you agree that if the idea really has any merit then the benefits to me will be substantial, although unlikely to be fiscally rewarding?

    Do you think that manufacturers would take up this idea purely on its technical merits despite it having no possibility of being patentable?

     

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  67.  
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    step back, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 4:42pm

    Goose and Gander

    Hold on there to your quilted pen Mike.

    If I understand your definition of "slowing down innovation", you need to abolish copyrights as well.

    If I can just copy any software I want and spread the seed quickly thoughout the world, that too will "speed the spread of innovation" and accelerate "progress" according to your way of thinking. Data wants to be free you know. More to the masses. Share and share alike.

    And why should I not just copy all your wiritngs as if they were my own? That arguably will speed innovation as well.

    Sauce for the Goose and gravy for the Gander, as they say.

     

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  68.  
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    step back, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 4:57pm

    Misanthropic screw job

    Misanthrope,

    Actually, the effect may be exactly opposite of what you intend.

    Let's say I'm one of the Goliath screw makers.
    I have all my factories set up to mass produce screw A.

    Changing over to your "improved" fastner B will cost me money. Inducing customers to change over to your "improved" fastner B will cost me money. All the incentives are in place for me to supress introduction of your fastener B into the marketplace.

    The same incentives are there for all my Goliath like competitor/ friends. With a wink and a nod we all agree to not introduce your much improved fastener B.

    None of us have to worry because at any time of our choosing we can each go into production of fastener B. So why not milk screw A for all it's worth? After all, the public deserves it you know. A full screwing.

    Besides, why should I spend money advertising your new fastner B? Let the other Goliath do it. Then I will palm off his efforts.

     

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  69.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Misanthropic screw job

    Yep, yep, I'm with you on that. The "electric car hypothesis", hmmm, it's possible, I certainly wouldn't bracket you with the wingnuts for suggesting it.

    So here's the point at which I, inventor of and believer in the superiority of screw B wind up my VC search to enter the glamourous world of fastner manufacture I guess. But if Goliath Glue, National Nails Inc, and friends really have it all sewn up, and they adhere to their conspiracy, they can leverage other influence on the retail and distribution chains too.

    Perhaps it's cynical to believe anti-progressive forces would hold together for long, if screw B really has manifest benefits, let's say its production costs are lower, enough to offset turning round manufacture.

    Or I just cement a deal with someone else on the block.

     

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  70.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Goose and Gander

    If I understand your definition of "slowing down innovation", you need to abolish copyrights as well.

    Yup. I don't deny that. You should read some of our other posts around here.


    And why should I not just copy all your wiritngs as if they were my own? That arguably will speed innovation as well.


    You must be new around here. Go ahead. PLEASE DO. There are about 10 to 15 sites that already do copy our stuff. About 2/3 give us credit. About 1/3 does not and pretends to have created the content themselves. If you want to do that, more power to you. We won't stop you.

    For some reason I need to write this every other week or so when some person such as yourself assumes you've "got me" with this argument. But I have absolutely no problem with you taking our content and repurposing it. However, I warn you that it won't do you much good. No one will come and read it -- and the few that do will quickly realize that you're simply copying what we write here and will come here instead, realizing they not only get it faster at the original source, but that we actually take part in the conversation here, as opposed to on the copycat site.

    Most of the copycat sites we see have a lifespan of about a month before people realize they're wasting their own money. However, if it really does become successful, then people will quickly realize that the content is really from here and you'll have effectively helped to promote Techdirt.

    So, PLEASE, copy all the content you want and THANK YOU for wanting to help advertise us and what we do. That's awesome.

    Sauce for the Goose and gravy for the Gander, as they say.

    Yup. It's all good from here. Mmmmm... sauce.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Misanthropic screw job

    All the incentives are in place for me to supress introduction of your fastener B into the marketplace.

    Which just means that many more incentives for a new entrant to enter the market and destroy the goliaths. It's called opportunity, and it's what drives innovation.

    None of us have to worry because at any time of our choosing we can each go into production of fastener B. So why not milk screw A for all it's worth? After all, the public deserves it you know. A full screwing.

    You assume (falsely) that you can turn (screw?) on a dime. Instead, what happens is that the new entrant comes along, MH Industries, and has this miraculous new fastener, and gets all the press, and builds up a reputation. People start wanting to buy the MH fastener because of the brand value of the new fastener. They don't trust the latecomers nearly as much. There's a big advantage.

    Even better, because MHI is first to market, it also gets the customer feedback on the new fastener that the big screw companies don't get. So by the time they've figured out how to copy it and get their product to market, MHI is already onto version 2.0... staying ahead of the game by innovating.

    Suddenly everyone's better off. The world is better off because it has these awesome new fasteners that seem to keep getting better thanks to competition. MHI becomes a market leader by disrupting the stodgy old companies... and even the stodgy old companies make out because they're forced to start innovating themselves. That's because sooner or later they realize it's no good to just keep copying MHI, they need to start innovating to try to leapfrog MHI to offer something even better.

    It's called competition and it's what drives innovation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    step back, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 6:56pm

    Misanthropic screw job

    Yup. That's the way I remember history also.

    1) Apple was almost the first in with GUI (if we don't count Xerox PARC) which is why they became the number one computer company, easily over throwing MS.

    2) Netscape was basically the first to market with a conumer usable www browser which is why they became the number one browser company, easily over throwing MS.

    3) WordPerfect was basically the first to market with a conumer usable text editor which is why they became the number one word processor company, easily over throwing MS.

    4) Visi Corp. was basically the first to market with a conumer usable spread sheet which is why they became the number one spread sheet company, easily over throwing MS.

    You've thoroughly convinced me.

    /end sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Misanthropic screw job

    I think the software examples are a little disingenuous StepBack, especially when contrasted to Microsofts offerings which we know (as a point of established case law) employed monopolist tactics marketing an "operating system" that effectively intersects all those products you mention.

    Corel wrote and supported Wordperfect for AmigaOS, Apple IIe, Atari ST, Data General, DOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, NexT, OS/2, System/370, VMS and Unix.

    MS ported Word from Unix (Xenix)

    Similarly Netscape attempted to "level the playing field" among operating systems by providing a consistent web browsing experience across them. The Netscape web browser interface was identical on any computer. source Wiki.

    So that undertaking can hardly be compared to Microsofts single platform Internet Explorer can it?

    Apple are a company that manufacture hardware, a complete product, while MS wrote a single monolithic piece of software, so again you're comparing Apples and, er, Microsoft.

    And did you ever use VisiCalc? It was practically useless. And while the term "spreadsheet" popularised the column layout, the concept of function tables was by no means unique even in the late 1970s when there were plenty of examples of Fortran and Cobol "spreadsheets" around for the minis and mainframes to visualise scientific and financial data. Bricklin and Frankston were pioneers of PC software, but the concept was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It was really missing the crucial elements that a mouse pointer GUI brought enabling fast navigation of cells, so it was caught in the DOS gap and premature.

    People use Excel mostly because their companies have Microsoft Windows.

    The common element in your argument is Microsoft Windows, which as I've just pointed out cannot be taken to have succeeded on its merits alone. Once you factor that out your argument is pretty empty.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 7:59pm

    Step forward

    Please step forward if you wrote this....

    "The Dirty Tech doll guys are using something known as the "ad hominem" attack. It's quite simple. Very effective. Try to make fun of the person and get everyone worried they might be next. If you fall for their swift boat bullying attack, it is only because you are a cowardly lion with a straw filled head.

    source: http://patentu.blogspot.com/index.html

    I admire your wit. The way it ends with an insulting attack on the reader while attempting to convey the concept of ad hominem makes it oxymoronic poetry of the highest order.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    MH, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Step forward

    Okay, okay, fair enough. Tell me that was deliberate, I just read more of your blog, and the sense of humour is a tad dry..

    :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 5th, 2007 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Misanthropic screw job

    StepBack,

    Did I say that EVERY time the small guy beats the big guy? No. But it certainly happens quite often. The reasons that the companies in your list failed are pretty easy to explain -- and in most cases involved not that the bigger company "stole" their idea, but that they out-innovated the smaller company. The problem wasn't a stolen idea, but that they stopped innovating. Netscape totally destroyed Microsoft... until Microsoft made a better product. IE 3 simply was a better product, and that's because Netscape took its eye off the ball, thinking it was a server company when it wasn't.

    That's how markets are supposed to work. You keep innovating -- and the second you stop, then someone else comes along. But the advantage doesn't go to a big or a small player, but to the one who innovates better. It has nothing to do with "stealing" ideas -- and everything to do with competition (which is, you know, a good thing).

    It turns out that it's then better for everyone. If we were all still stuck on Netscape 2.0 because Netscape had a patent on the browser, then we would have delayed the development of much of what made the web useful.

    Yet, in your world, that would have been a good thing. Sorry, I don't buy it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    PT, Mar 6th, 2007 @ 2:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Abolishing patents

    Going the route of open publication is nothing but good for humankind. Add to the body of knowledge for the benefit of others. That's not to say the publication isn't rewarding. It is like a scientist making a discovery, writing about it, publishing for peer review, and becoming famous for their discovery. Like the scientist, the inventor's name could become immortalized in history. The potential bragging rights alone is attractive for some people, haha.

    As for other rewards, I would think a very powerful idea or a string of many ideas could show potential to any serious company needing talented thinkers. I could see inventors (as a profession) getting as much attention in the world as scientists for new ideas and designs. Imagine grant money or venture capitalists to help to start your own research and development.

    As for further suggestions, I would consider adding a couple of websites www.gizmag.co.uk and www.engadget.com. Maybe even www.howstuffworks.com. There are so many more.

    Also consider perhaps science and technology exhibits and trade shows. Exposure to create prior art is the goal so the more you can get the "word out" the less likely anyone would be dumb enough to try to patent it. Of course it won't stop anyone from improving the design and patent the new idea, but I'm not sure how patents built on prior patents or openly available knowledge works.

    I think manufacturers would produce the product if they can see it being obviously useful or radically different. First to market and establishing a brand is a great way for any company to get ahead of their competition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 6th, 2007 @ 3:56am

    "from the excuse-me? dept" "So, despite your claim to know more than I ever will (can you be any more condescending?)"

    Mike,

    1) There is no excuse for your position which amounts to a "taking" of an inventor's property rights.

    2) I am responding to your condescending attitude which flies in the face of the constitution, law, and all precedent. What you are suggesting is much more radical than the Kelo decision which has caused a huge backlash. It is a taking not for the good of the public but rather for the good of smooth operators who would hide behind government to line their own pockets.

    I hope for your sake that you are never caught infringing someone's' patent, for your public comments on these issues would surely hang you for willful infringement, leading to enhanced damages of up to three fold!

    "Our service is incredibly innovative", if you say so. You sound like the software crowd who claims to be innovative while in fact most just code someone else's invention in a marginally different way.

    There is a huge difference between marketing hype and substance. It is clear that you are a very effective communicator, a trait which relatively few inventors have. But in the absence of having your inventiveness validated by a patent I have to conclude that you have much in common with companies like RIM, and that your strength is more in PR than in substance.

    It has been my experience that PR types are very good at spin and that they think of that as being innovative, but we both know that while such may be profitable for them it is not good for society at large. But being spin masters they do try to convince all of us that their profits are due to their innovativeness.

    Parasites prosper even as they kill their host. Organized inventors are simply helping to eradicate parasitic behavior. I think that Mikes stand on intellectual property is driven by self interest and an inability to produce any significant invention.

    "Again with this myth. You keep setting up this false dichotomy between those poor independent inventors and the big bad companies -- and yet you know that's not true." But it is true, and if you knew the history of inventors you would know this. Start by reading about Farnsworth, then read The Laser by Nick Taylor, and Pat Choate's Agents of Influence and Hot Property. You should also read about Bob Kearns, for it was his thirty year patent battle which catalyzed contingency litigation and later the emergence of patent enforcement companies.

    "Ronald is actually arguing the opposite. He claims it's the big companies that are arguing against such patents because they want to "steal" ideas for independent inventors. That's what I was trying to point out."

    Mike, the political landscape is much more complex. There is a group of washed up tech companies, insurance, and banking interests who are doing their best to outright kill the patent system. There is a separate group of large much older companies who have an agenda for patent reform which would enhance their rights while undermining the rights of small companies, and then there is a group of companies large and small which want to maintain the status quo (which I and other inventors are aligned). I find it interesting that after professing to know so much about these issues that you clearly do not understand the dynamics of the politics.

    The patent system works well, it is the patent office which is the problem. This is a complex issue which I do not have time to go into in depth. But reduced to it's essence the USPTO needs to train at least 3000 examiners a year to deal with the backlog and workload. They now have about 5000 but need 10,000 just to tread water. They are training about 1200 a year and losing 500. They have a 700,000 and growing backlog. We need to ramp the examining core up to about 15,000 to fix the staffing issues and wipe out the backlog. There are also serious management problems which is at the heart of the loss of 500 examiners a year. The office has bureaucratic tunnel vision.

    "My point to Ronald was that he's wrong in thinking that it's the small developers who are protected by patents." Small entities who have been protected are many, Dr Damadian (MRI), Bob Kearns (intermittent windshield control), Gordon Gould (laser-30 year battle), Mike Levine (many inventions - a decade and counting of litigation), Thomas Campana (who died waiting for justice), Paul Heckel and many more.

    "misanthropic humanist" says: "Look at the open source free software movement for an example of why this isn't the case."

    Not a valid comparison. First off is that software is low capital and labor intensive, ideal for a solo inventor while many other areas require a huge capital investment.

    Abolishing patents by PT "Going the route of open publication is nothing but good for humankind. Add to the body of knowledge for the benefit of others. That's not to say the publication isn't rewarding. It is like a scientist making a discovery, writing about it, publishing for peer review, and becoming famous for their discovery. Like the scientist, the inventor's name could become immortalized in history. The potential bragging rights alone is attractive for some people, haha."
    Those who are on the public dole like scientists and academics can afford to publish but those who must pay our own way must extract tribute for our inventions from the marketplace. Academics tend to put out material which needs considerable work to introduce to the market. Such work can represent a very large capital investment, and no company will make that investment if others can swoop in and take the market leaving them holding the bag for the developmental costs. The end result is that many public domain ideas or products will not be commercialized. So publishing, and the lack of any way to protect an investment often kills any chance of the invention being deployed.

    I am pleased to see that a few readers are starting to identify a few of the problems which inventors face. The point of the patent system is to convince inventors to publish the invention instead of keeping it a secret. In exchange for doing so they are given a twenty year monopoly from the date of filing. At least half of the twenty years is eaten up by the patent process and then the quest for capital to create the product and enter the market. Few upstart startup companies would have the chance to grow and mature in the absence of patent protection. What would happen is that the existing companies would only get bigger and more stagnate if they did not have those upstarts nipping at their heals with enforceable patents in hand.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Mar 6th, 2007 @ 6:32am

    Re:

    Hi Ronald

    Unfortunately this thread will soon vanish and become inactive.
    Please stick around and enliven the debate in the future.
    Many of us here agree on the problems, but not on the solutions.

    respects

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 6th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Re:

    1) There is no excuse for your position which amounts to a "taking" of an inventor's property rights.

    I have defended my position with plenty of details and evidence. I have pointed out repeatedly why most of these cases DO NOT amount to one party taking someone else's property rights.

    I have pointed out how many industries and nations have developed in the absence of those property rights.

    I have showed how patents have slowed down many industries (including the overall industrial revolution).

    I hardly think that there is "no excuse" for my position. There are tons of reasons and I have backed them all up. What there's no excuse for is you claiming that there is nothing to back up my position.

    It is a taking not for the good of the public but rather for the good of smooth operators who would hide behind government to line their own pockets.

    No. I have made it abundantly clear that my position is very much focused on the NET BENEFIT to society (i.e., the public good). You can pretend that's not true, but you're wrong and the facts and the data support my position.

    I hope for your sake that you are never caught infringing someone's' patent, for your public comments on these issues would surely hang you for willful infringement, leading to enhanced damages of up to three fold!

    Actually, this is a very real concern. I am VERY MUCH afraid of patent infringement, not because we are taking anyone else's ideas (I swear that we have come up with all of our innovations on our own), but because the way the patent system works, that even though we're coming up with our own ideas, we may suddenly need to pay others for it. That's NOT willful infringement. It's evidence of how screwed up the patent system is.

    WHY should we have to pay someone else for our own innovations? It makes no sense.

    If it puts us in a worse position in court to point out how screwed up the patent system is I don't see how that's a good thing. The fact that you support a system that makes things worse for us for explaining how the patent system damages society is scary. Do you really think we should be worse off for expressing our opinion?

    But in the absence of having your inventiveness validated by a patent I have to conclude that you have much in common with companies like RIM, and that your strength is more in PR than in substance.

    This is the most bizarre statement you have made. WHY should we have our innovation validated by a patent? The innovation is VALIDATED BY THE MARKET. They buy our product. That's the validation we need. Not some gov't granted monopoly.

    If you really believe that patents are the sole certification of innovation, then I really don't know how to discuss this in any logical sense.

    I think that Mikes stand on intellectual property is driven by self interest and an inability to produce any significant invention.

    You can keep saying that all you want -- and that's fine, because we'll keep making money by actually serving the market. I'm not sure why that's such a terrible thing to you.

    But reduced to it's essence the USPTO needs to train at least 3000 examiners a year to deal with the backlog and workload.

    This is another myth that we've explained repeatedly. Patent officers don't scale, but innovation does scale. That's the root of the problem, and you never solve that with more patent examiners. In fact, the system is self-perpetuating, because of bad decisions from CAFC and others expanding what can be patented, expanding the damages from infringement on bad patents, it has simply increased incentives to file for bad patents. That's what's overwhelming the office. Not the lack of examiners.

    Also, I find it hilarious (and in very bad form) to use Thomas Campana as an example of someone "protected" by patents -- since the USPTO invalidated the patents that he used to force RIM to turn over $600 million for their REAL innovation. Especially since RIM came up with the same OBVIOUS idea independently.

    But the point is that most of these inventors that you claim were helped by the system actually had their innovations SLOWED down, because they had no incentive to keep innovating based on the market.

    The point of the patent system is to convince inventors to publish the invention instead of keeping it a secret.

    Yes, but the only reason for doing so is if the publication helps expand the public knowledge about how to do such things. In the case of RIM, NTP's patents DID NOT help them do what they did, because the idea was broad and obvious. The publication aspect DID NOT help advance the science, and therefore was invalid.

    ew upstart startup companies would have the chance to grow and mature in the absence of patent protection. What would happen is that the existing companies would only get bigger and more stagnate if they did not have those upstarts nipping at their heals with enforceable patents in hand.

    This is provably false. Why do you ignore every time I point it out? Look at the history of the Netherlands and Switzerland. Look at the history of pharmaceuticals in Italy. You are absolutely wrong and history bears out that you are wrong. People can and do innovate even in the absence of a patent system, and it does not create larger companies (the Italy situation suggests the exact opposite in fact).

    I don't know why you want to deny the historical evidence, but you seem heavily invested in denying history.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    rday, Mar 11th, 2007 @ 1:40pm

    An amazingly informative thread of comments

    To Ronald,

    As just an ordinary person with no real understanding of the Patent system, your comments by themselves have convinced me of the sheer wrongness of the current patent situation in the USA. I'm sure that wasn't your intent.

    What you helped me to understand is exactly what the problems are. Your posts actually helped me to understand Mike's posts better. You helped me to see very clearly what Mike is trying to change, and why it's important.

    I've read several news articles and blogs that have covered various patent law suits in recent months, though few of them gave many informative details. It's a rather interesting situation, I think, and I wished to learn more. It's all very difficult for ordinary folks like me to sort out. By the way, I am a grandmother, which generally disqualifies me in most people's minds from having anything worthy to say.

    However, I have grown children who are engineers and teachers, and grandkids who are bright, creative and inventive. Thier future, and their ability to continue being creative in the coming years, is a very important thing to me. I do not want them to live life under a cloud of fear of litigation merely for BEING inventive and creative, much less for trying to be successful at it.

    I may not be expressing my thoughts well, but it seems to me that these issues, apparently very dear to the hearts of those in the tech world, should also be understood, at least basically, by people like me. By that I mean voters.

    To Mike,
    Your very patient and thoughtful, easy to understand responses have helped tremendously. Even if Ronald didn't grasp your explanations, others will.

    I appreciate that both of you continued the conversation so far, it has been an eye-opener. Ronald's contention that you (Mike) do not understand the "complex politics" involved with the current patent system only made it much clearer to me that those very politics need to be gotten OUT of the system, all together. If they are so complex that only insiders can understand them, then it sounds like just another "good-ol-boy" system, to me, and I believe it needs to end.

    When I first began to read more about software patents, I found it breathtakingly obvious that they never should have been allowed. How on Earth did such a thing happen? It's astounding!

    Steve Ballmer seems to be another one like Ronald. Steve's recent threats of lawsuits to protect "IP" (unless everybody pays up) seems to be just a way to try to stifle competition, or to extort money from them. Without his loudly published threats, I never would have dreamed that patents could be misused in such a way. I don't think Steve (or Ronald) intended such an outcome from the things they've said, but it's happening that ordinary folks are taking notice.

    I don't want my grandkid's futures to be in a world where everything is so tied down and locked up that they must pay somone for anything they think, do, or say, or listen to, or read, or create, or write. What a frightening future that would be. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be just the future. It seems to be happening right now.

    I think it has only been able to happen because technology took off faster than the ordinary person could keep up with. To be honest, many my age have felt a bit run-over by technology, perhaps bewildered by it all as well. But we are slowly catching up, and learning. Maybe things will change for the better when the general population (of voters) begins to see how things really are.

    Mike, please continue writing and explaining this subject. I've learned more from this one article and the comments after, than from everything else I've read so far. Thank you, so much, for doing so.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 7:05pm

    MIke's grandma

    Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-......

    Hey, grandma, don't you have something else to worry about other than "software patents" ?

    If my (late) grandma ever started to talk shit like this I would have put her in a mental institution.

    BTW, how can you possibly compare Steve Ballmer to Ronald Riley ?
    Steve Ballmer looks a lot like Dennis Kozlovsky, and as far as I am concerned they are the same type of animals - fat and dishonest corporate pigs...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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