Whenever we get deep into a discussion about patents, it doesn't take long before someone tosses up the example of Thomas Edison as someone who proves that patents were necessary for innovation. The problem is that isn't true at all. As we've pointed out a few
, it's tough to find anything that Edison actually invented. Instead, it's quite easy to find things that others invented that Edison took credit for, patented and then prevented anyone else from competing against him. The latest of his great inventions to fall? Recorded sound. Kevin Donovan
points us to a NY Times article highlighting the discovery of a 10-second recording of a song
that was made 17 years before Edison got a patent on such a system. While there's no reason to believe Edison copied the idea from this inventor, that doesn't matter to patent system defenders who insist that any infringement is "stealing."
So will those patent system defenders now admit that their hero was a thief? If not, they've got some inconsistencies to explain.