Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Explains How Intellectual Property Damages Innovation

from the and-another-one dept

Over the last year or so, there have been a bunch of excellent books that have come out highlighting many of the issues we talk about here on a regular basis. The latest may be The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind, written by Nobel Prize winning physicist, Robert B. Laughlin. I became aware of the book thanks to the fact that he'll be speaking at the Cato Institute this week about the book, for those of you in the Washington, DC area.

It's funny, because when we point to all the economic research on intellectual property and innovation, we've been told that economists know nothing. In fact, one critic of our site has claimed that even Nobel Prize winning economists aren't worth paying attention to -- and the only Nobel Prize winners who matter are those in the hard sciences. So, I'm sure those critics will be interested in the conclusions of Laughlin, who notes that the strengthening of intellectual property laws has harmed the ability to share knowledge and to innovate. He's quite worried about how it's impacting research and development.
Newly aggressive patent practices are increasingly violating a principle that has been with us since Roman times and is built into our societies at many levels, including our religions: the laws of man flow from the laws of nature and are subservient to them. Patenting nature is transparently immoral. So is patenting reason, since reason and nature are one and the same. Thus, the current problem with patent law is more serious than the bellyaching of a few jaded engineers. It's a crisis of legitimacy.
So, now we can add a Nobel Prize winning physicist to the list of critics of the patent system, along with a few Nobel Prize winning economists.


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  1.  
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    Rekrul, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    He should send a copy of his book to every member of the House and Senate, as well as every Supreme Court Justice. Don't waste one on Bush though, unless he has a version with pop-up pictures.

     

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    Ajax 4Hire, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:11pm

    The Patent Office is to blame...

    Continuing to provide patents for the obvious.
    Afraid of the lawyer retribution, I am only a lowly bureaucrat.

    The Dilbert Index continues to climb for the US Federal Government.

     

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  3.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    William Shockley was one of several Nobel Prize winners responsible for development of the transistor. Shockley proposed that anyone with an IQ below 100 be paid to be sterilized and suggested that races with high reproduction rates were dragging down the average mental capabilities of the human race. Laughlin's comments carry as much weight with me as William Shockley's suggestions, though for different reasons.

    Patents do not stop the sharing of knowledge. In fact, they encourage the sharing of knowledge. All patenting does is limit, for a relatively short period of time, the ability of anyone other than the inventor to make, use or sell an invention, not share the knowledge of how to make that invention or use the invention. To the best of my knowledge, logic and reason are not statutory matter for patents. When will people realize that you cannot patent ideas?

    I wonder whether he even knows what he said? "The laws of man flow from the laws of nature and are subservient to them." In nature, you are either a predator or you are prey, and in general, people need not kill each other for their next meal. While in nature killing your opponents is okay, mankind has decided that killing is not nice. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that the laws of man are subservient to the physical laws of nature, since we seem to have innovated or legislated our way around many of the biological imperatives of nature. I also have to wonder whether we will yet innovate our way around physical laws, perhaps with the unified field theory...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Jeez, you mean that Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, who were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, have it all wrong? To think that Kary Mullis, 1993 Nobel in Chemistry, was so off the mark. Then again, I guess the were all in awe of the prize's namesake, who apparently also had it all wrong.

    How could they possibly have done their research work with patents looming over their heads like the Sword of Damocles?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:59pm

    In 2006 the EPO and European Commission (EC) awarded Peter Gr├╝nberg the "European Inventor of the Year" prize in the category Universities and Research Institutes.

    That same year he and a colleague received the Nobel Prize in Physics. Just goes to show you that even Europeans are out of touch.

    Seriously, this "Look here...someone does not like patents" makes for good headlines but does little to promote reasoned discussion.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Re:

    Jeez, you mean that Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, who were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, have it all wrong?

    Interesting. Just a few days ago, MLS, you insisted that you never took a mocking tone in your posts, and chided me for being unprofessional. I assume that the tone above is what you use in your professional life with clients, eh?

    And yet, here you are, posting such a mocking post, totally missing the point. I never said that all Nobel Prize winners agreed. But I was simply pointing out another one who actually had researched the issue and found patents quite troublesome.

    How could they possibly have done their research work with patents looming over their heads like the Sword of Damocles?

    As you are quite well aware, no one ever said that it STOPS all innovation. Just that it hinders it. And, to that, there is a ton of evidence, which we have pointed out, and you have yet to counter.

    But, of course, you're the professional. You would *never* act unprofessional and, say, call some respected economists "nutty" for pointing that out. Nor would you ever insult me personally and suggest that my views are "immoral." Oh wait, you have. Repeatedly.

    And here you are again, making mocking statements that don't actually respond to the point.

    And you complain that I'm unprofessional?

    Take a look in the mirror.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 4:57pm

    Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    You should read Wealth of Nations if you want to have an idea about what this guy means with the laws of man flowing from the laws of nature.

    Also, what do you mean by "you cannot patent ideas"? A patent by definition is legal protection of an invention. And what is an invention? Nothing more than a new idea ...

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:03pm

    Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Come again? I have made this point over on the website that is something about being against monopoly, but it was mostly ignored. However, I sense more bravery here.

    Okay, let's say for just a moment that patents hinder innovation. Let's say that there is evidence that it has happened. Cool. Just for a moment, I grant the point.

    Okay. Magically, patents disappear. Poof. Companies no longer have the option of protecting their intellectual property by using patents. Hmmmm...what to do. What to do. I know! Let's figure out how to keep as much of what we do to make our product SECRET!!! Yep, we will never reveal anything about the way we do stuff. In fact, we will completely prohibit papers to the SAE, ASM, the American Chemical Society and all those other organizations that would just blab what we know. We will compartmentalize everything inside the company and do our best to see that know one learns what we know.

    Okay, now we have blogs titled "techdirt" that complain about the fact that scientists and engineers have to hold their work more closely than members of the CIA and no one can ever learn anything because no one is sharing. How unfair it will all be.

    Patents may hinder innovation, but at least the information is available, and available fairly quickly. How long will information take to disseminate when the primary mode of protection is secrecy, and the security organizations of innovative companies are like the Gestapo? Strip searches at the entrance to and exit from company facilities. Cell phones would have to be checked at the gate. Pre-authorization to enter your home to look for potentially compromising materials. Big Brother will not work for the government, he will work for a corporation that protected their intellectual property through secrecy.

    Who would like to bet it would not happen? Let's work for an end to patents, because the alternatives are so much better.

     

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  9.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Anonymous:

    Re laws of man flowing: Perhaps so.

    Re: "you cannot patent ideas."

    MPEP 706.03(a): "...patents to be granted only for "any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof."

    I do not see any "ideas" on the list. An idea is, "Gee, I am thinking of an invention to speed me faster than light." An invention is a device that actually makes it happen. Does it take ideas to make an invention? Absolutely. However, ideas themselves cannot be patented, and only those ideas that can be turned into a statutory invention can. Again, the USPTO does not register the idea, they register the invention generated from the idea.

    Indeed, the MPEP goes on to explain that:

    "A scientific principle, divorced from any tangible structure, can be rejected as not within the statutory classes. O"Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. (15 How.) 62 (1854)."

    Oh, so an idea that cannot be tied to a tangible structure is not patentable. Duh...

    Which gets me to my other pet peeve, people claiming that patents protect ideas. God save me from these people. I dare one person to go try to patent an idea. Dare you!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Before I even made a comment I searched around for a copy of the book you mentioned. Google books had a fair number of pages, so I took a look at the book's index for every page that mentioned patents (at least according to the index). But for some reference on p. 143, which page was not shown, every other referenced page did appear within Section 5 of the book entitled "Patent Absurd". In fact, the Section 5 was presented in its entirety.

    If you deem Section 5 to represent "research", then clearly you and I have different definitions for the term. You cite economists who present studies that you feel buttress your economic arguments, but at the same time do not cite others who have differing views. You cite attorneys you feel buttress your views, but deride those who may just happen to have a different opinion. You are prone to quote documents and letters circa the late 1700's and early 1800's, but take umbrage whenever someone notes your interpretation may be mistaken and why. In short, if you happen to come across anything, anywhere that you feel helps make your case, you splash a headline that clearly shows your bias. If something comes forth that may contradict your views, or perhaps place a more nuanced view that perhaps things are not so simple as you would have your readers thing, it gets ignored.

    Any intellectually honest debate examines both sides of an issue in an objective manner. This is an important point that is largely lost in your articles as your bias could not be more obvious.

    A final comment if I may. Not once to my knowledge have I come to the defense of patents/copyrights/trademarks/trade secrets/etc. I have my views, but prefer to express them within ABA and AIPLA committees as I and colleagues try and work through some of the issues raised by these laws, including some of the issues you hold near and dear. When I do speak up on your site about the law it is invariably to counter what I believe is an inaccurate characterization of what the law states. When someone says "you have a legal right to make backups of your music and video CDs/DVDs" I believe it is entirely appropriate to point out that such an unequivocal statement is contradicted by the very language of the Copyright Act. When someone says an informational pamphlet is deliberately misleading because unauthorized copying is solely a federal matter I believe it is entirely appropriate to point out that such an unequivocal statement is incorrect, noting that in some states such acts can comprise a criminal act. When someone says that an idea can be patented, I believe it appropriate to point out that ideas are not protectable under either patent or copyright law. When someone says.....etc., etc., etc.

    In all candor, I have learned quite a bit of very useful information from reading your site. At the same time, however, I have noted a low threshhold of tolerance for those who may disagree with your views or those of some of your readers. Perhaps by adopting a less confrontational stance and exhibiting a greater willingness to listen to opposing points of view you might even get AD to respond in a less caustic manner.

     

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  11.  
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    David, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    What if artificial entities (businesses) could no longer hold / develop or encourage others to develop patents and could only license them from real people?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    "Which gets me to my other pet peeve, people claiming that patents protect ideas. God save me from these people. I dare one person to go try to patent an idea. Dare you!"

    In point of fact, patent law does not even come into play until such time as an idea is developed to the point that a "conception" has occurred.

     

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    Ben Van Treese, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Oh, so an idea that cannot be tied to a tangible structure is not patentable. Duh...

    And yet it STILL HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

    For example, microsofts patent on the double-click, or amazons one-click shopping patent. These are all merely ideas and have prior art against them.

    My all time favorite is the marching cubes algorithm.
    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2F netahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=4710876.PN.&OS=PN/4710876&RS=PN /4710876

    How in the hell do you patent an algorithm?

    Screw it, I'm gonna patent math in general!

    My point is simply that patents do not work in the way they were intended, simply because so much of the value of America is now based on ideas that the founders fathers couldn't have fathomed.

     

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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    An absolutely excellent suggestion! Suddenly the consiousless, money-grubbing, immortal monstrosities can no longer bar innovation, and the individual (which this country was founded upon) is actually REWARDED for his accomplishments!
    Unfortunately, those monstrosities have bottomless pockets and an army of lobbyists, so good luck getting it into law...
    And for anyone who thinks this is a BAD idea, please tell me the grand invention, the radical innovation, that came out of a corporate R&D department? All the truly original ones I can think of came from kitchen-sink inventors.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    In point of fact, patent law does not even come into play until such time as an idea is reduced to constructive practice or actual practice.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Ben:

    Double click is a tangible feature of a mechanical device, augmented by an electrically driven action. One-click shopping is a computer program that has been granted patent status for a couple of decades now. I am not judging the patentability of either (one of which seems obvious to me).

    The "marching cubes algorithm" is more than just an algorithm, it is also a technique to displace the cubes on a screen.

    Incidentally, math is not, without being able to tie the math to a physical structure, patentable.

    Your point more precisely is that technology and the speed of innovation is outpacing the USPTO's ability to examine patents. This lapse in the system does not mean the system is any more broken that any other system that needs to grow and has yet to catch up to reality. The problem is that the system needs to grow up into the 21st century and speed up. Our founding fathers did not imagine half a million patent applications a year (and growing - yep, that darn patent system is absolutely putting a damper on innovation).

     

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  17.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    The microwave oven; synthetic aperture radar; heat seeking missiles (well, actually those came from a government lab, but same difference); the computer; the catalytic converter; stealthy aircraft; smart roads; the integrated hydrostatic transmission; cell phones; how many do you want before I stop?

     

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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Your point is made... Sorta.
    You are right that in the realm of chemistry, patents are better than secrets. Now take your same arguement and apply it to software.

    Be warned, I've been programming since '84, so make sure you're accurate.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    RADICAL. Not variations on an existing theme.
    So far in your list I count... zero.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:25pm

    Secrets Don't Pay

    In Comment #8, Lonnie E. Holder speculates that without patents, many inventions would then be kept secret and progress would slow.

    Um...Lonnie, could you tell me again how an inventor or lab or company profits from keeping an invention secret? The only reward comes from the marketplace. There is NO value in the secret, but there is reward in the marketplace.

    Without a patent system, inventors would have to compete without the benefit of a monopoly, but they would still choose to compete. And isn't competition a good thing?

    Sorry, I just don't agree at all. Building a better mousetrap, then keeping it in a vault in your attic doesn't make sense whether there is a patent system or not.

     

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  21.  
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    angry dude, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:58pm

    Freaking punks

    who never produced any valuable IP in their entire life like to talk about IP being bad
    Much like an old spinster talking about sex being bad

    How can you know that IP incentive doesn't work for stimulating innovation if you never owned any IP ?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Freaking punks

    Techdirt is IP

    Mike has no trouble with someone taking techdirt in it's entirety, or say translating it for him

     

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  23.  
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    angry dude, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Oh, No

    Mikey would have a huge trouble if someone takes his domain name techdirt.com

    The rest of the stuff on his site is complete bullshit and doesn't hold any value at all

    Domain name techdirt.com has some value because of all the traffic it attracts

    Mikey, how bout giving up your only valuable IP - the domain name techdirt.com and starting from scratch with some other name - like techshit.com ?
    or maybe techbullshit.org ?
    Haven't checked those, but affraid they are all taken..
    Maybe something longer like
    techbullshitfrommikey.org

    Have a nice night punks

     

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  24.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Mike42:

    I have been a programmer as well, though I started in 1977. My last real programming was in 1986.

    Okay, I have wondered why, in all the posts I made over at the Against Monopoly site, why no one bothered to ask me about programs. I guess I never really believed programs should be patentable. A program by itself is essentially a series of algorithms. Now, when the algorithm controls something, i.e., causes something to happen, I can see where that might be patentable, but programs as statutory subject matter just seem a bit weird to me. Further, I find the arguments that individual contributors like to improve software for the heck of it compelling. Software is in a category by itself when it comes to invention. I am not arguing against software patents, but I am certainly not in a position to defend them.

     

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  25.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Techdirt is IP, with essentially zero value in the market place. Furthermore, this comment is IP, however, I am in effect dedicating it to the public. What is your point? Companies frequently dedicate their inventions to the public, for a variety of reasons, but that does not mean there is no value in IP, only that they choose the IP they wish to protect.

     

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  26.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    Good heavens. What do you define as radical? Synthetic aperture radar was an incredible concept when it was first invented. Who could imagine that you could simulate an antenna significantly longer than an actual antenna. SAR is a radar technology that has developed independently of the original radar technology and has become incredibly sophisticated.

    Heat seeking missiles is a variation on an existing theme? Really? When did man figure out how to use infrared signatures as a tracking method in advance of IR missiles? That seemed more than a variation on a theme, and to the military, it was a breakthrough.

    The cell phone was a theory that originally had no home. It took setting up a mini-network and a lot of jury-rigging and experimentation to show that the concept could work, and even then the concept was not commercialized for nearly two decades after it was developed.

    I think you must have a very narrow definition of radical.

     

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  27.  
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    angry dude, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Perhaps you should know that there are two kinds of patent claims: method claims and apparatus claims
    Method, or process claim, is essentually an algorithm for doing something, like syntethzing a chemical substance, making a semiconductior chip or encrypting email using digital computer
    The fact that digital computer is used does not change anything at all as far as patentability is concerned
    (see Diamond v. Diehr Supreme Court decision)

    Apparatus claim cover actual physical device, which CAN be a computer running some specialized software program for performing some process

    There are NO patents on software per se

     

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  28.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Secrets Don't Pay

    Secrets Do Pay:

    Oh my goodness, would you like to bet that you are surrounded by secrets, and just do not know it? Pick a device, and if it has any sophistication in it at all, I guarantee you that there is at least one secret in that device that does not appear in a patent either because it is subtle and no one knows to look for it, or because the end product does not show how it arrived.

    I have made the point in the past at the Against Monopoly web site (and not been answered) that I could figure out ways of making products and keep secrets about those ways. Piece of cake. There is a product I have been involved in that has sold millions of units, and yet there is a key secret to how that product is made that is known by but a few people.

    Remember, just because a product has been commercialized does not mean that you can reverse engineer everything about that product easily. I have been involved in developing numerous products where we chose to keep certain information as trade secrets because we thought it was unlikely that anyone could figure out what we did. Guess what? One of those secrets just passed the 20 year mark and it is still secret! I am betting we can keep it secret for at least another half decade or maybe even a decade, perhaps even longer, well past the life of any patent we could have obtained.

    If I was forced to protect commercialized technology through secrecy, I would do my best to figure out whether there were specifications that no one could figure out easily and keep those specifications secret as long as possible. It works!

    So, you can disagree all you want, but it does not change the facts.

     

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  29.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Angry Dude: I bow to your greater knowledge.

     

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  30.  
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    angry dude, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Thanks ,dude

    You seem like a reasonable person, unlike the rest of punks here

    it just infuriates me when somebody who never invented anything and never went through all the hoops of the patenting process starts to talk about dangers of patents to innovation..

    For Christ sake, how can a person know anything about sex if he never had any sex ?
    Same with inventions and patents

     

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  31.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    Compare your examples to radio, television, the gun, the rocket, the airplane. Unrelated things that are brought together to make something entirely new. I'm talking an entirely new paradigm. A "signal that travels over a thousand miles instantly", not "another way to talk to people via radio" when we already have phones and radios. I guess that's really the point: corporations innovate "just enough" to bring a new product to market. And considering that the first cellphones ended up in a landfill, even that non-paradigm shifting idea was too radical for the corporate mentality.
    I'm not saying that those inventions were obvious or simple (although I don't find infrared missles as impressive as you do: the Nazi's had camera-guided bombs!), I'm simply saying that Individuals have always been responsible for the radically innovative designs.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    I was agreeing with your comment regarding "ideas", merely making the point that the process under law defining an "invention" is a continuum from "conception" to "actual or constructive reduction to practice". I note conception as an important point for any number or reasons, not the least of which are overcoming prior art and interferences.

     

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  33.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    Mike42:

    You are not a technical person, are you?

    Think about synthetic aperture radar. Until it was invented, we thought the antenna had to be physical. The synthetic aperture radar essentially makes a "pretend" antenna. That was not bringing anything together, but a significant thinking outside the box.

    Before the cell phone, we had wired phones and car telephones that were essentially glorified radios, but the number of inventions it took to create a cell phone is significant. How do you do handoffs between towers? How do you figure out the bandwidth you need? How do you get the power out of a cell phone to send a signal to the tower? The challenges to obtain cell phones were significant, and you seem unaware that cell phones were not "just another way to talk to people."

    Oh my goodness, the Nazi's had camera-guided bombs. Big deal. Try cramming the electronics necessary to follow an infrared signal into a can six inches in diameter and automate that so that if follows a heat signature, even better, the infrared camera controls the missile, not some person watching the camera.

    What I am saying is that teams of people have been responsible for many radically innovative designs. Even the supposed champion of inventors, Edison, was actually the head of teams that did much of the inventive work. The idea of the eccentric inventor shouting eureka in his garage is attractive, but in reality not that many radical inventions are made by your individual mad scientist any more.

    Incidentally, the "invention" of the tv was not made by an individual. Admittedly, the original tv concept may have been, but the chain of inventions that led to the practical tv was from a whole bunch of inventors and a number of corporations.

    The invention of the gun is shrouded in mystery. The improvement of the gun was the result of the work of dozens and even hundreds of people over a period of hundreds of years. No individual euraka's here.

    The airplane? Oh the controversy surrounding the "invention" of the airplane. A lot of people were working the problem and the Wright brothers just happened to beat the next guy. However, the Wright brothers were quickly eclipsed by the development of the controls that made the airplane practical along with numerous other inventions that made the airplane something more than a toy. Had the Wright brothers not been there, there were a host of others right behind them.

    You seem to put a lot of credit into the "individual" inventor. Now, I think individual inventors have done a lot of cool things, but just as many radical inventions and perhaps more have been made within the confines of corporations, if you would just open your mind a little.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Anonymous:

    Quite true. However, we must also remember diligence from conception to actual or constructive reduction to practice. That has caught many people!

     

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  35.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Angry Dude:

    Kind of like, those who can, invent. Those who cannot, try to copy and then complain when they get caught?

    I see the world from the following viewpoint:

    True innovators are a small fraction of the population. The characterization that these people made these innovations while just working like anyone else totally misses the difficulty of creation. Or that these people just bolted some stuff together and tada, it is an invention. Man, I only wish it was that easy.

    Because innovators are rare and their contribution is significant to the society we have today, even if they are working for a corporation, we need some way of assuring that the cost of innovation, which in some industries is incredibly high, is repaid, or the innovative company will not innovate again.

    Incidentally, Anonymous Coward seems like an intelligent poster as well.

     

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  36.  
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    Dosquatch, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Freaking punks

    Hey there, princess.

    How can you know that IP incentive doesn't work for stimulating innovation if you never owned any IP?

    How could you know that water can hurt if you've never drank from the firehose?

     

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  37.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Dosquatch:


    What does water from a firehose, which does not necessarily hurt you, have to do with IP? In fact, many people are unaware of the dangers of water. I see you as a perfect crusader for the dangers of water. An IP expert, not so good for you.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    "how can a person know anything about sex if he never had any sex"

    It is a proven fact that having sex hinders innovation unless one can multitask while in the throes of passion.

    Thus, patents and sex are bad for our economy as each hinders progress in the useful arts.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Trying to keep things simple. Diligence is measured starting at a time prior to the effective date of a prior art reference. E.g., conceive, work on other stuff, restart work on conception, prior art rears its head, diligence from just prior to effective date to date of ARP or CRP. However, and as you so aptly note, diligence is quite restrictively applied.

    The concept has application during normal prosecution, reexams, interferences.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    "Anonymous Coward seems like an intelligent poster as well."

    I daresay that Mr. Masnick may hold a contrary view.

    Regards,

    AC
    Reg. No. 29,590

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 9:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Anonymous:

    Practitioner?

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    AC:

    Yeah, well, I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

    Did you do that intentionally?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Haven't personally prepared one in a long time, though I will tell you that doing so is an absolute must (the same for TMs, copyrights, etc.) if one is inclined to truly learn the law. Without this as a base, coupled with a thorough understanding of how a client actually does business, whatever may come out of an attorney's mouth is usually irrelevant and not very helpful.

     

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  44.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Lonnie,

    The double-click is a software technique to launch "alternate applications" from a "device with limited resources." No special hardware involved, and no physical implementation either: they have patented a behaviour.

    When patents like this are granted, the system IS broken. Lets face it: the law says that the patent system was put into place to encourage innovation and the sharing of discoveries. Software patents do neither. The code can always be discovered with a decompiler, and the patent kills innovation in that branch of the field for 15 years.
    The law also states that for a patent to be valid, there should be steps written down to reproduce the invention. What would be more obvious than the actual code of the algorythm in the patent application? And yet, have you ever seen code in a software patent? I certainly have not, and IMHO that makes software patents null and void. The fact that software is copyrighted (protected for the life of the creator +75 years!) further reduces the need or logic of software patents.

    If a car doesn't take you where you need to go, it is broken. If the patent system doesn't encourage innovation and sharing of ideas for all the fields it is used in, it is broken as well. It may only have one flat tire, but broke is broke.

     

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  45.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    "Not a technical person?"

    And a "closed mind" dig as well!
    I must have hit a nerve, the discussion has gotten personal!

    This has gone far off the point: corporations should NOT be allowed to own "intellectual property." Why? Because they have shown the tendency to use it to stifle innovation, and the patent applications are written in such a way that you can't get around them. I'm happy that you're interested in antennae and guided missles: I'm interested in coding graphics and games. And it really pisses me off that I have to do a patent search before I can release an app as shareware, 'cause some corporate jerk may have already patented the algorythm I'm using to calculate shadows! And why would it be a corporate jerk? Because very few INDIVIDUALS can fund a $6,000-$25,000 patent search/application! The bottomless pockets of the corporations have taken patents from the only ones worth protecting.


    PS: You gotta be kidding me about switching cell towers. I don't know a single person who doesn't complain about how that DOESN'T work!

     

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  46.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 10:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Lonnie,

    Again with the personal attacks. Don't worry, Dosquatch, it means you made a point.

    Apparently you have to have owned a slave to know that slavery is wrong. You have to shoot a man to know that murder is wrong. You can't use reason and say, "Wow, that's wrong, and here's why." That's what this entire site is about: what is wrong with IP, and why it's wrong. George Washington Carver invented lots of things, and even patented one. He turned that patent over to the public domain. Hey! An IP owner who knew what to do!

     

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  47.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Okay. Magically, patents disappear. Poof. Companies no longer have the option of protecting their intellectual property by using patents. Hmmmm...what to do. What to do. I know! Let's figure out how to keep as much of what we do to make our product SECRET!!!

    Except... that isn't what happens. Go read the research on places that didn't have patent systems but still had plenty of innovation. Sure, there were some who focused on secrecy, but they pretty quickly found that the more open solutions succeeded in the marketplace.

    Secrecy is a losers' bet. And the market will let people know that quickly.

    Yep, we will never reveal anything about the way we do stuff. In fact, we will completely prohibit papers to the SAE, ASM, the American Chemical Society and all those other organizations that would just blab what we know. We will compartmentalize everything inside the company and do our best to see that know one learns what we know.

    You say that as if reverse engineering never happens, or as if independent invention never happens.

    Once again, the evidence is against you. So keeping something a secret isn't very effective. Others either know it already or will figure it out soon enough. So, the problem you describe is no problem at all.

    Okay, now we have blogs titled "techdirt" that complain about the fact that scientists and engineers have to hold their work more closely than members of the CIA and no one can ever learn anything because no one is sharing. How unfair it will all be.

    You put words in my mouth that I wouldn't say. IF someone wants to keep something a secret, that's their decision. I might point out that it's a BAD business decision, because a more open solution will beat them in the market place, but I won't whine about someone keeping stuff secret.

    So, you set up a totally bogus scenario that's easily disproved by the actual evidence.

    Good job.

    Patents may hinder innovation, but at least the information is available, and available fairly quickly

    Actually, once again, this is untrue. Very little innovation occurs because of patent disclosure -- in part because of the risks of willful infringement claims, but mostly because of independent invention. The idea that patents are necessary because of disclosure is a myth that we've exposed multiple times on this site. You repeating it doesn't make it true.

    Try again.

    How long will information take to disseminate when the primary mode of protection is secrecy, and the security organizations of innovative companies are like the Gestapo?

    Again, this is simply wrong. It may be the first step that some short-sighted companies make, but their competitors quickly learn to embrace more open solutions, as that gives them a competitive advantage. It's the free market at work.

    Who would like to bet it would not happen?

    I would take that bet easily. Because you're wrong. You've only thought it one level deep -- what the first players in the space might do. You might want to try some game theory and note that the game goes on more than one move. You also might want to look at the actual history and evidence of what happens in places without patents. It's not what you predict.

     

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  48.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 11:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    . You cite economists who present studies that you feel buttress your economic arguments, but at the same time do not cite others who have differing views

    That is incorrect. I have repeatedly looked at studies of folks who disagree with me, often explaining where I believe they are wrong.

    Once again, you have made a false statement. It's becoming habitual with you. And then you accuse me of being intellectually dishonest.

    It amazes me that every time we call you on your intellectual dishonesty, your lies, your mockery, your unprofessional nature, you simply do more of the same. I almost wonder if you don't even recognize when you've been exposed.

    You cite attorneys you feel buttress your views, but deride those who may just happen to have a different opinion.

    I do not "deride." I explain why I believe they are wrong and I back it up with evidence.

    You, on the other hand, have a history of derision, which we have pointed out repeatedly.

    You are prone to quote documents and letters circa the late 1700's and early 1800's, but take umbrage whenever someone notes your interpretation may be mistaken and why.

    Can you please point to where I "took umbrage"? I believe we have discussed the different interpretations of Madison's letters (what I believe you are implying here), but I don't believe I "took umbrage." I merely disagreed with your interpretation and explained why.

    I find it especially amusing that you seem to accuse me of doing all of the things that you do on a regular basis. You have an interesting way of interpreting things. If I disagree with someone, I am suddenly "unprofessional." If I point out why something is wrong I am "taking umbrage."

    And then you accuse me of bias?

    Once again, I suggest you look in a mirror.

    If something comes forth that may contradict your views, or perhaps place a more nuanced view that perhaps things are not so simple as you would have your readers thing, it gets ignored.

    Once again, an outright lie. I quite often discuss opposing viewpoints. And, on top of that, I engage with folks like yourself in these comments on a regular basis.

    A final comment if I may. Not once to my knowledge have I come to the defense of patents/copyrights/trademarks/trade secrets/etc.

    Another outright lie. You have repeatedly, and often in misleading manner, come to the defense of patents. You have shown differing opinions on copyright, at times claiming you do not support some of the changes to copyright laws, but at others, expressing sympathy for the idea that copyright should be forever.

    When I do speak up on your site about the law it is invariably to counter what I believe is an inaccurate characterization of what the law states.

    You make this statement repeatedly, despite the evidence that it is simply not true. You are a biased individual, who has made plenty of money off of the patent system, who consistently makes arguments in favor of the patent system, and who mocks those who disagrees with you.

    And then you play innocent and claim you are merely correcting points of law.

    Your comments show otherwise. At least you *used* to have the decency of putting your initials on the post. But once you switched to lies, insults and misleading claims you switched to being anonymous. Plausible deniability, I guess? But hardly professional behavior.

    At the same time, however, I have noted a low threshhold of tolerance for those who may disagree with your views or those of some of your readers.

    How do you figure? I have an extremely high tolerance for those who disagree with me. Why else would I leave the comments wide open and engage with you in these discussions time and time again. If I had a low tolerance I wouldn't have comments, or I would block you or ignore you.

    What I have a LOW tolerance for are arguments that simply are not backed up by the evidence or that are based on lies.

    Perhaps by adopting a less confrontational stance and exhibiting a greater willingness to listen to opposing points of view you might even get AD to respond in a less caustic manner.

    I have always been willing to listen to opposing viewpoints. My stance is not "confrontational" it is merely asking you to actually back up what you say. If you cannot, I can only assume that you are wrong, and I will point that out until you have a real point to make.

    As for AD, I find it rather hilarious that you accuse me of all sorts of unprofessional, confrontational tones, and then even blame me for AD's attitude. I challenge you to put up my comments against AD's any day, and then please explain who is confrontational, who ignores the evidence, who is unwilling to listen to opposing points of view.

    To suggest that AD is reasonable and I am not suggests your level of credibility.

     

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  49.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Freaking punks

    How can you know that IP incentive doesn't work for stimulating innovation if you never owned any IP ?

    And, as I've asked you in the past, how can you possibly comment on the economic incentives of IP if you're not an economist.

    Both statements are equally ridiculous, but that's my point. To say that only patent holders can comment on the patent system is obviously ridiculous to anyone with an ounce of common sense. Patent holders will clearly state that the patent system is to their benefit, just as dictators will claim that dictatorship is a great system. They benefit from it.

    Economists, however, are impartial observers of the system, who can note whether or not the system does what it's supposed to do (increase innovation at the macro level).

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 3:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    What does water from a firehose, which does not necessarily hurt you, have to do with IP?

    Gee, I don't know. And I did say "can" hurt, not "will" hurt.

     

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  51.  
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    Dosquatch, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 3:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    it means you made a point.

    What, Lonnie thought I'd take that personally? Hah, that's funnier than my obscure reference!

     

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  52.  
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    Steven Thomas, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 3:50am

    I guess copyright is OK though

    Too bad the whole book is not available on Google Books. Let me guess, Laughlin does not have any patents but he does have copyrights.

    "Newly aggressive [COPYRIGHT] practices are increasingly violating a principle that has been with us since Roman times and is built into our societies at many levels, including our religions: the laws of man flow from the laws of nature and are subservient to them. [COPYRIGHT]ing nature is transparently immoral. So is [COPYRIGHT]ing reason, since reason and nature are one and the same. Thus, the current problem with [COPYRIGHT] law is more serious than the bellyaching of a few jaded [AUTHORS]. It's a crisis of [HYPOCRISY]."

     

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  53.  
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    Twinrova, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 4:44am

    Precociously standing on the fence.

    Ah, another blog about IP and those who stand against it by claiming it "harms" innovation.

    I've noticed there's not much discussion regarding the flip side of IP and how it can actually damage small business. I've seen it touched briefly under a different topic, but it's hard to really choose sides here because both are valid, yet at the same time, both are invalid.

    Sharing of ideas prior to commercial injection allows those who can to reap the rewards while small business suffers:
    Without IP protection: A small business develops something original and decides to post its information in order to help improve it. Sure enough, "big business" catches on and uses its resources to bring the product to market. Who loses in this situation?

    With IP protection: Same as above, but the small business ensured big business couldn't take the idea and run with it.

    And the notion consumers will care if they find out big stole from little? No evidence to support consumers would make a difference.

    Innovation progresses on Widget designed by "Company B", but, original designer "Company A", closes doors because innovation peaked and sales plummeted. No new product could be developed and no revenue to look into new product.
    Without IP protection: A falling victim of normal business operation? A decrease of small business? Loss of investment capital affecting worldwide global economics due to the downfall of small business?

    With IP protection: "Company A" survives another day because, while holding the IP, they can sit back and obtain revenues to do what "Company B" did, but now can do so as a successful business model. "Company B" will now have to look elsewhere to "innovate".

    But what if "Company A" doesn't innovate the way "Company B" did? No matter, as "Company B" will simply buy the rights to do so, knowing their product will eventually drive away "Company A" from the competition.

    Truth be told, what I would like to see is a partial destruction of IP protection which would allow business to "claim" IP, but for a limited time (say, 2 years?). This should be plenty of time to introduce a product, but best do so soon because after the 2 year mark, everyone can do so.

    I would love to see the entire concept of "trademarks" be such that once designed and implemented, it stays with a company. No more "changing" designs (re: Apple suing over trademark design infringement. Given the number of times Apple has redesigned its own damn logo, it's no wonder they want to sue anyone with an apple logo.)
    to prevent these stupid lawsuits (Lexus, you idiots!).

    I would love to see much more open sourcing. Coming from this world, I definitely see potential for unforeseen innovation when more people begin to share knowledge and the "quirky one" sees something the rest didn't.

    I want small business to survive longer than 2 seconds because of all this. Give them a bit more protection because they won't have the same revenue backing as big business. Without this protection, innovation will still cease to exist.

    Until then, decisions... decisions. Still not sure what side of the fence to fall on.

     

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  54.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    Mike42:

    A couple of things to keep in mind.

    First, there are only about 175 patent suits filed each year, as compared to roughly 3 million patents in force. Side note: Roughly one percent of federal suits are patent suits, and the number has remained fairly constant over time.

    Second, according to a study by the AIPLA, only about 80% of the patent suits filed are won by the plaintiff.

    Now, admittedly some of these suits are filed over more than one patent, but let's assume for a moment that each suit deals with two patents. We are talking 350 patents total. Of these, 20% end up as winners, or about 70 patents. So, over a period of 15 years, about 1050 patents would be litigated, which is about 0.035% of all patents.

    Now, I understand that "stifling" is a relative term rather than an objective term, but I fail to see 175 lawsuits per year throughout the United States as "stifling."

    Furthermore, intellectual property practitioners come in a variety of expenses. I did a prior art search for an individual for FREE! We estimate the cost of a search to my company at around $3,000. Yes, some art fields could get more expensive, but $25k for a search? Of the hundreds of searches I know about, none has exceeded $10k, and those are extremely rare.

    Re switching cell phone towers: Circumstance based. Depends on the company and the technology. Yes, there are some weird places where the towers can get confused because of signal strength and atmospheric conditions, but in most places the switchover is handled reasonably well. It is certainly far better today than it was a decade ago.

    Your comments are beginning to border on hyperbole. Stick with facts, please.

     

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  55.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Mike42:

    I see you and I have a different definition of broke. Yours is absolute. Mine is not. A car can operate with a broken window motor, but it is clear that you think the car is "broke." A car with three good tires will still run, though the wheel of the fourth tire will catch heck.

    As with all things, the patent system goes through swings. Right now, the courts are swinging away from support of patent rights and patents have become less strong over the last several years.

    I also find it interesting when a system works most of the time yet has a problem a small number of times people indict the entire system. To fix the problem we need better quality of examination, not scrapping a system that has worked for centuries.

    The system is not broke, it merely needs tweaking.

     

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  56.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Mike42:

    I do not think you have read a word I said. You certainly did not reply to any of my comments with actual facts, merrely unsupported assertions. I give them the same weight I give campaign promises. Unconvincing.

    Let me say this again (I have already said it several times, but I am getting ignored). I have assisted in the protection of trade secrets for production products that have produced millions of units, and our competitors have still not figured out the secrets. The longest held secret has hit 20 years and is still going.

    To date, the emphasis has been on patent protection, BECAUSE IT IS CHEAPER. If there are no patents, we will merely shift to secrecy, and figure out how to protect what we do as long as possible.

    Let me say this once more, in simple English:

    There are certain things you cannot reverse engineer by merely looking at the product and testing material properties. You might guess, but then you will have to start experimenting to see if you can duplicate what was done. If you do not believe me, ask a heat treater. We had a situation that took us weeks to figure out for OUR OWN PRODUCT that involved heat treating, and this is but one example.

    People have this notion that if you have the product, you can easily reverse engineer it. That depends on the product. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Also, for some products I can build the product in a way that when you take it apart you will destroy critical features of that product, and you will again fail to learn how to make the product.

    Engineers have a lot of capability when it comes to secrecy. However, that has not been an emphasis. It can be, and guess what? We will relish the challenge.

     

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  57.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:40am

    Hmm

    Lonnie, I can see why they ignore you over there now.

    Twinrova, glad to see you visit and comment.
    After seeing you change your opinion in a long past posting (early summer?) after a large debate, I tend to give your arguments more weight because you have shown yourself to be an open minded individual. That does not mean I will always agree, but it does mean I will listen.

    Lonnie, you seem short sighted.
    A PERFECT example to prove you wrong, the fashion industry. They have zero protections and it is a thriving industry (although maybe not as much right now with the way the whole global economy is going, but overall, it innovates all the dang time).

    Also, quit confusing Inventors and Innovators please. There are few inventors, which you refer to as innovators. However, there really are tons of innovators.

     

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  58.  
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    DanC, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Re: Freaking punks

    How can you know that IP incentive doesn't work for stimulating innovation if you never owned any IP?

    This is your typical Appeal to authority logical fallacy, and you know it. It's the same one trotted out by directors who get bad reviews from movie critics - "you've never made a movie, so how can you have an opinion".

    As for the real answer to your question, you can form a perfectly valid opinion on IP by examining history, researching, and logical thinking. None of those require owning any "intellectual property".

     

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  59.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Oh my. I guess I have a different definition of a personal attack. I merely pointed out that I did not understand Dosquatch's reference to the fire hose, and inferred his understanding of IP was poor. I am sure Dosquatch will be happy to illuminate me.

    Now, as for the King and Grand Champion of Hyperbole, we have Mike42, who likens IP to slavery and murder. Well, it is not obvious to me that IP is bad, either for innovation or for society. In fact, it is just as obvious to me that IP is good for society, and will remain so until I see an actual, factual, objective study that proves otherwise.

     

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  60.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Ohhhhh...I got it. So, IP can be bad for you, but not necessarily so. Thank you for making that clear. Incidentally, I agree with that.

     

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  61.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Mike

    Re techdirt:

    Actually, I phrased that poorly. What I meant was that there would be a blog like "techdirt" where people would be complaining about the lack of IP. My apologies for lack of clarity.

     

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  62.  
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    DanC, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Mikey would have a huge trouble if someone takes his domain name techdirt.com

    Domain names are similar in some ways to trademarks, and not at all similar to copyrights and patents. Since you're talking about IP that is incentivized, concentrating on a form of IP that isn't seems particularly dishonest of you.

    The rest of the stuff on his site is complete bullshit and doesn't hold any value at all

    Domain name techdirt.com has some value because of all the traffic it attracts


    Have you ever tried making an argument that could be supported with logic instead of BS? Obviously it holds some value for you, primarily as a forum to spout fallacious arguments, lies, and insults to see the reaction you get.

    It's also obvious that others find value in the site, otherwise it wouldn't get the traffic.

    From the amount of lies and failed arguments you make here on a regular basis, we don't have any way of knowing that you own any IP either.

     

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  63.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Re: Hmm

    Killer_Tofu:

    Fashion Industry: Terrible example: The fashion industry has fixed capital equipment suitable for quick design changeovers. Minimal investment in capital innovation with long periods of payback for the capital. The only thing that changes are the clothing designs, not the way they are made.

    On the other hand, manufacturing companies that make products requiring tooling and assembly lines can invest millions or tens of millions, and payback can be up to a decade. When a product is easily reverse engineered, the payback required to pay for development and the assembly line will either be extended to an unacceptable length of time, or will never be repaid. In either case, why invest?

    Re innovators and inventors: An inventor is an innovator. An innovator is not necessarily an inventor. I agree with you that there are tons of innovators, but what they do is not necessarily novel or unique. However, in the industries I have worked, innovators typically are inventors, so I tend to forget that is not universally true.

    Hey Mike, are you going to call Killer_Tofu on HIS name calling...roflmao...

     

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  64.  
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    Twinrova, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Re: Hmm

    Twinrova, glad to see you visit and comment.
    After seeing you change your opinion in a long past posting (early summer?) after a large debate, I tend to give your arguments more weight because you have shown yourself to be an open minded individual. That does not mean I will always agree, but it does mean I will listen.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but my debates are often fueled by the "misinformation" or lack of information some opinions portray.

    I often find this leads people to give much more information to defend their position, giving me information to change my mind.
    :)

    It's all tactics.

     

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  65.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:18am

    Re: I guess copyright is OK though

    Actually, he addresses problems with the copyright system as well. And, he doesn't advocate complete ditching of copyright or patents, so that's a rather unfair assertion that he's somehow a hypocrite for not giving the book away for free. He's just noting how both are used to stifle the important sharing of information that leads to new ideas.

     

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  66.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:32am

    Re: Precociously standing on the fence.

    I've noticed there's not much discussion regarding the flip side of IP and how it can actually damage small business.

    Really? I believe we've discussed it at length.

    Without IP protection: A small business develops something original and decides to post its information in order to help improve it. Sure enough, "big business" catches on and uses its resources to bring the product to market. Who loses in this situation?

    With IP protection: Same as above, but the small business ensured big business couldn't take the idea and run with it.


    Actually, if you look at the evidence, that's not what happens at all. One of the best examples is the pharma industry in Italy. It was not allowed to have patent protection prior to 1978. The end result was *many* (over 400) small pharmaceutical firms, all competing to come up with better and better drugs. If one copied another, that was fine because it just drove the others to develop more. It was highly competitive and very innovative, making Italy one of the biggest pharma producing countries in the world.

    In 1978 the law changed... and the exact opposite of what you might think would happen. The small firms pretty much disappeared, as did much of the pharma production in Italy. What happened instead was that the big foreign pharma companies (from the US and Switzerland) started getting pharma patents, and basically blocking the small companies from competing at all. If small companies got a patent, they were limited to only working on that patent, since everything else was blocked by other patents -- and so the big pharmas swept in and bought them up.

    Basically you lost the real competition. You lost all the small companies. You lost the innovation and you lost most of the industry.

    The claim that without patent protection big companies would always win is easily proven false. Big companies are slow to act, and they have legacy issues that hold them back. Will they win sometimes? Sure, but what's wrong with that? If they can do a better job, that's a good thing.

    But, on the whole, being small and nimble with a better connection to and understanding of the market can help you to outrun a big company that doesn't want to upset its core business. Read up on disruptive innovations from Clayton Christensen to understand how this works.

    Overall, though, I think your line of questioning here makes sense. You're looking at what actually happens in the marketplace.

     

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  67.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Precociously standing on the fence.

    Mike:

    What are some of the better know drugs these numerous small Italian competitors entered the U.S. market?

     

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  68.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Precociously standing on the fence.

    Let's try this again...What are some of the better known drugs from these numerous Italian competitors that entered the U.S. market?

     

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  69.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    First, there are only about 175 patent suits filed each year, as compared to roughly 3 million patents in force. Side note: Roughly one percent of federal suits are patent suits, and the number has remained fairly constant over time.

    Second, according to a study by the AIPLA, only about 80% of the patent suits filed are won by the plaintiff.

    Now, admittedly some of these suits are filed over more than one patent, but let's assume for a moment that each suit deals with two patents. We are talking 350 patents total. Of these, 20% end up as winners, or about 70 patents. So, over a period of 15 years, about 1050 patents would be litigated, which is about 0.035% of all patents.


    That is terribly misleading on a number of counts. Rather than the number of lawsuits each year, you should look at first the number of companies sued in patent suits. It's become the trend these days to include more and more companies in each suit. The number of companies being sued is WAY up.

    Second you should look at the amounts being asked for and won in these patent suits. It is also way up.

    Finally, focusing only on litigation is sleight of hand. You ignore all the folks who end up settling because it's cheaper to pay up than go to court.

    In other words, you focused on exactly the wrong stats.

    Now, I understand that "stifling" is a relative term rather than an objective term, but I fail to see 175 lawsuits per year throughout the United States as "stifling."

    Yeah, ok. Look up "chilling effects". Then come back. And admit that you are wrong.

    It has little to do with the number of lawsuits. It has everything to do with the threat of those lawsuits.

    Your comments are beginning to border on hyperbole. Stick with facts, please.

    While your comments may not be hyperbole, they are misleading, at best.

     

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  70.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    As with all things, the patent system goes through swings. Right now, the courts are swinging away from support of patent rights and patents have become less strong over the last several years.

    You left out the part where this very slight minor pushback follows on decades of massive expansion of patent rights. It's like we moved 100 yards in one direction, and have now been pushed back half a yard.


    I also find it interesting when a system works most of the time yet has a problem a small number of times people indict the entire system.


    That would be misleading, at best. I have yet to see a study that showed the patent system actually did help to promote innovation. I have seen tons that show that patents hinder innovation, in both situations with strong and weak patent systems.

    To fix the problem we need better quality of examination, not scrapping a system that has worked for centuries.

    First of all, it has not worked for centuries. The evidence says exactly the opposite. And examination is the least of the issues. You're trying to deal with an exponential issue with a linear solution. You should know that never works.

    The system is not broke, it merely needs tweaking.

    If only that were true. The research has shown that the system is *quite* broken.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You have shown differing opinions on copyright, at times claiming you do not support some of the changes to copyright laws, but at others, expressing sympathy for the idea that copyright should be forever."

    Merely by way of example to traverse your characterizations of my views, I direct your attention to one pertaining to the above quotation:

    See:

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080716/1214041701.shtml, comment #58.

    Yet another example, a cite to which I do not have readily available, was my expressing that the patent reforms then before Congress were being referred to by many, myself included, as the "Patent Deform Act". Why the pejorative term "deform"? Simply because one familiar with the law and the process would quickly realize that the legislation did absolutely nothing meaningful to address any of the various issues that some have declared are in dire need of reform, not to mention that many, much more immediately pressing and relevant issues were left completely untouched by the legislation. It was a piece of "feel good" legislation that did nothing to solve the problems that have given rise to proclamations that the system is broken.

    You talk about how those who participated in the process of drafting our Constitution likely never envisioned a system where a patent could be granted for inventions that would have quite soon been invented anyway by someone else. Yet, when I cited a quote from one of its principal drafters who recognized precisely this point and still supported the inclusion of what is known as the "Patent and Copyright Clause" it engendered no response from you. The same can be said of several journal articles by legal scholars that discussed the history of its enactment and opinined positions diametrically opposed to your stated positions.

    Please understand that by no means am I singling either you or your company out, but I do happen to believe that a firm understanding of the facts is important before a meaningful exchange of ideas can take place.

     

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  72.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Let me say this again (I have already said it several times, but I am getting ignored). I have assisted in the protection of trade secrets for production products that have produced millions of units, and our competitors have still not figured out the secrets. The longest held secret has hit 20 years and is still going.

    And right *there* you prove the fallacy of needing patents for disclosure.

    For companies that know they can keep something secret for more than the 20 years a patent gives them, they'll do so.

    It's only for companies that know that a trade secret wouldn't keep stuff secret for 20 years that it makes sense to patent.

    Thus, you end up with the "worst" of both worlds. Things that really are secretive don't get disclosed anyway, because it's better to keep them as a trade secret.

    Things that *would* get reverse engineered or disclosed through normal competition are blocked from having that happen thanks to a patent.

    The need for patents for disclosure is a myth, and you just proved it.

    Thanks!

     

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  73.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Hmm


    On the other hand, manufacturing companies that make products requiring tooling and assembly lines can invest millions or tens of millions, and payback can be up to a decade. When a product is easily reverse engineered, the payback required to pay for development and the assembly line will either be extended to an unacceptable length of time, or will never be repaid. In either case, why invest?


    Why don't you ask the companies that were thriving in the pharma industry in Italy pre-1978. There was plenty of investment in that industry, despite huge capital costs, ease of reverse engineering, and long term for payback.

    Investment still remains because smart investors recognize that innovation is a process -- an ongoing one. That means if you invest in the right horses, they'll keep on innovating and continue to beat the competition. The "followers" are fine, because they'll never be innovative enough to beat the true innovators.

     

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  74.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Precociously standing on the fence.

    Let's try this again...What are some of the better known drugs from these numerous Italian competitors that entered the U.S. market?

    Why should that matter? You set up some artificial hurdle that is meaningless to the point. There was a hugely competitive industry that was making lots of money, was the 4th largest exporter of drugs in the world, and produced numerous new drugs. What does it matter if they weren't "well known drugs in the US"?

    Once again, you are trying to use sleight of hand to skip over the point.

    You were claiming that there would be little to no investment and that no industry would survive. You are wrong.

     

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  75.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yet another example, a cite to which I do not have readily available, was my expressing that the patent reforms then before Congress were being referred to by many, myself included, as the "Patent Deform Act". Why the pejorative term "deform"? Simply because one familiar with the law and the process would quickly realize that the legislation did absolutely nothing meaningful to address any of the various issues that some have declared are in dire need of reform, not to mention that many, much more immediately pressing and relevant issues were left completely untouched by the legislation. It was a piece of "feel good" legislation that did nothing to solve the problems that have given rise to proclamations that the system is broken.

    All of which are opinions, not fact. To declare it patent deform is tremendously biased.

    While I actually *agreed* that it was bad legislation, I disagree with your characterizations, and believe you are also completely incorrect in suggesting that only patent lawyers should be allowed to comment on the quality of the law.

    Again, as I have pointed out, those who make their living from such things have an obvious bias that should be discounted.

    Instead, if you actually understood the economics of the situation -- which would be unbiased observers of the overall system -- you could see why some of the reforms mentioned would improve the system (others would likely harm it). I didn't support the bill because overall I thought that it would do more harm than good, but for you to claim that only patent lawyers could know is ridiculous. For you to claim that the term "deform" is professional and unbiased is laughable.

    You talk about how those who participated in the process of drafting our Constitution likely never envisioned a system where a patent could be granted for inventions that would have quite soon been invented anyway by someone else. Yet, when I cited a quote from one of its principal drafters who recognized precisely this point and still supported the inclusion of what is known as the "Patent and Copyright Clause" it engendered no response from you. The same can be said of several journal articles by legal scholars that discussed the history of its enactment and opinined positions diametrically opposed to your stated positions.

    This is simply, untrue. I have addressed many of the issues that you raise here on a regular basis. I may not address them ALL because I don't have the time to deal with every single one of your posts -- especially when so many of them are shown to be fraught with insults (hidden with plausible deniability such as here) and false statements.

    I try to respond to as much as I can, and to say that I ignore them is a flat out lie. As per usual.


    Please understand that by no means am I singling either you or your company out, but I do happen to believe that a firm understanding of the facts is important before a meaningful exchange of ideas can take place.


    Then why are you so into lying?

    And the best part, at the end of these posts, your lawyerly habits kick in to give you plausbile deniability: "by no means am I singling either you or your company out..." Yeah, right. We're not idiots.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:52am

    "While I actually *agreed* that it was bad legislation, I disagree with your characterizations, and believe you are also completely incorrect in suggesting that only patent lawyers should be allowed to comment on the quality of the law."

    Yes, I remember we agreed, albeit for different reasons. It is, however, incorrect to say I have ever suggested only patent lawyers should be allowed to comment. My view is simply that before any lawyer jumps into the fray, be he or she an academic or a practitioner, they should at the very least be well steeped in the law...and not just the Constitutional provision and federal statutes, but also regulatory and policy implementations, as well as how they play out in the real world. For example, I have never practiced antitrust law (except to the limited extent it may apply to the law I have practiced), and I would be foolish indeed to jump feet first into discussions where I have no meaningful knowledge of either the law or the facts.








    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2007/12/have-academics-in-intellectual-property.ht ml

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    Not sure how the ipbiz link got in there, but feel free to read it if you want. It is a redacted version of a critique of a journal article by one I would term an "erstwile (sp)" scholar. Far too many of newbie academics have virtually no expertise in patent law, and yet feel not the slightest compunction to publish articles riddled with inaccuracies. I recall one attorney took an academic to task for lack of understanding of all applicable law (statutes, regs, policies, etc.), to which the academic replied in a huff that he she had extensive litigation experience in private practice. Sorry, but one with only two years experience out of law school as a newbie associate hardly qualifies, unless being a "go-fer" is now viewed as extensive experience.

     

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  78.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    Mike:

    That is terribly misleading on a number of counts. Rather than the number of lawsuits each year, you should look at first the number of companies sued in patent suits. It's become the trend these days to include more and more companies in each suit. The number of companies being sued is WAY up.

    I guess you are going to have to show me that statistic. In my (limited) experience, one suit, one defendant, when it comes to patent. Let me know where I can see statistics on this.

    Second you should look at the amounts being asked for and won in these patent suits. It is also way up.

    The amounts may be huge, but frequently not only are the amounts actually awarded going down, but typically they are significantly reduced or even eliminated on appeal. Remember, the amount of the award has to be equal to the value of the mechanism, and damages only apply in limited, egregious cases. Again, if you have some statistics to point to, I would be happy to look at them.

    Finally, focusing only on litigation is sleight of hand. You ignore all the folks who end up settling because it's cheaper to pay up than go to court.

    Wrong. People rarely settle, if ever, prior to actual litigation. Again, if you have a statistic that is newer or disproves this statement, please let me know. In my experience, people settle because a suit has been filed. Why would anyone settle before a suit is filed?

    In other words, you focused on exactly the wrong stats.

    I focused on the statistics related to actual conflict, not threatened conflict. I would love to see statistics where people acquiesced to threats. I am aware of a few, but in most cases it seemed like the target threw in the towel because the settlement amount was a pittance compared to actual litigation, and typically the settlement amounts are negligible. I would say I focused on the most important statistics is irrelevant, and you are trying to deflect the discussion.

    Yeah, ok. Look up "chilling effects". Then come back. And admit that you are wrong.

    It has little to do with the number of lawsuits. It has everything to do with the threat of those lawsuits.

    You may be right when it comes to copyright and trademark. However, I went through ChillingEffects.com and guess what? After going through numerous pages (I lost track and I did not see a page counter), I did not see ONE patent cease and desist. Chilling? I didn't even feel a slight breeze. Again, if you have statistics showing that patents having a "chilling effect," then bring them on.

     

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  79.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    You left out the part where this very slight minor pushback follows on decades of massive expansion of patent rights. It's like we moved 100 yards in one direction, and have now been pushed back half a yard.

    Pure, unadulterated, unsupported hyperbole. I suppose I could find multiple sources, but I give you this one that matches my own knowledge. James Farrand (web site address below) estimates that the current swing for stronger enforcement has been happening for about 15 years. While Farrand also says that we are unlikely to enter a period of weak patents any time soon, he also says that patent power is being trimmed somewhat.

    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-28915318_ITM

    First of all, it has not worked for centuries. The evidence says exactly the opposite. And examination is the least of the issues. You're trying to deal with an exponential issue with a linear solution. You should know that never works.

    It hasn't worked for centuries? My bad. I thought the U.S. system has been in place for at least two centuries, and the system seems to have worked fairly well. Do you have a statistic or datapoint that contradicts this, or are you just saying that it is your personal opinion that it is not working?

    You neglected to point out the exponential issue.

    And, according to numerous experts (I will not bother to quote a source for this, because it is so well known in the IP community), quality of patent examination is probably the single BIGGEST issue.

    If only that were true. The research has shown that the system is *quite* broken.

    Research by who? I hope you are not speaking of Boldrin and Levine, whose idea of evidence is taking a few examples and then extrapolating that to millions of patents. Please tell me you have an actual fact to support you.

    Furthermore, how do you define "broken"?

     

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  80.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    *Sigh* To be so misunderstood.

    What I said was that some, and I emphasize some, things are cheaper to protect with patents than trade secrets. Relatively speaking, trade secrets are expensive and difficult to keep. You risk exposure of the secret the longer you keep it. The costs grow, and continue to grow with time. With patents, the costs are fixed and generally known (assuming that the patent is not infringed).

    As with all things, any company has to decide the likelihood of discovery and the cost of maintaining the secret. I have filed patent applications on processes and invention features that we possibly could have kept secret, but we decided the risk of losing the secret with time and the cost of maintaining the secret was more than a patent application would cost. We also realized that the practical life to most things we could keep secret is 10 to 12 years anyway, which also, interestingly enough, matches the actual maximum lifetimes of most patents (about 70% of all patents are abandoned for non-payment of maintenance fees by the time the 12-year fee comes due).

     

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  81.  
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    Dosquatch, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    I did not understand Dosquatch's reference to the fire hose, and inferred his understanding of IP was poor.

    Wait - YOU didn't understand, so MY understanding must be poor?

    OK, fine.

    If parallel analogies are too steep for you, let's try simple and direct. One need not always have first hand experience to understand the nature of the experience. It's called "learning", and all learning need not happen first hand.

    We can, and should, learn from history. We can, and should, learn from the experiences of others. We can, and should, listen to the advice of intelligent people - nobel prize winners I think count.

    I don't have to own a patent to see the current state of the system. And before you start tittering on about uninformed opinions -

    I do not have to have a fundamental understanding and a plan for improvement to recognize the situation needs to be improved. Even a layman can recognize that a sinking boat is a Very Bad Thing, even if he doesn't have a clue about how to fix it.

     

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  82.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Precociously standing on the fence.

    Why should that matter? You set up some artificial hurdle that is meaningless to the point. There was a hugely competitive industry that was making lots of money, was the 4th largest exporter of drugs in the world, and produced numerous new drugs. What does it matter if they weren't "well known drugs in the US"?

    Why should it matter? Because highly competitive companies that are able to make breakthrough products and yet are never able to move those products out of a small region are worthless to society as a whole. Who cares of the Venetian Medical Products Company comes up with a drug that cures all cancers if no one ever hears about it outside of the region adjacent to Venice?

    You may like the Mom and Pop pharmaceutical companies, and they may be terribly innovative, but my question is what has that innovation done for man.

    I also noted that you said that the Italian drug industry, as a whole I presume, was the 4th largest exporter of drugs in the world. Again, are we talking aspirin or something truly earth-shattering? Unless you give me some reference, I do not know whether we are doing with someone that is really good at generics of old medicines or whether they innovated.

    Once again, you are trying to use sleight of hand to skip over the point. You were claiming that there would be little to no investment and that no industry would survive. You are wrong.

    Yes, I was claiming this, but not in this thread, and I believe I also said I was insufficiently conversant with pharm and software to know whether that would hold true for them. So, I may have been wrong about pharm, though the effect of itty-bitty Italian pharmaceutical companies on development of new medicines is as yet undefined and unproven. Getting back to my point, I said that hardware companies would have issues and would struggle to survive, or would not survive, which is my point, and which we should keep to.

    So, until you can show me hardware companies that followed the same model as the itty bitty Italian pharm companies, I say I am still right and you have yet to make your case.

     

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  83.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm

    See my response to Mike above. Pharm is not a manufacturing company. Stick to the point.

     

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  84.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Every layman CAN recognize a sinking boat is a bad, thing. Now, CAN the layman recognize that the boat is sinking, or is the layman doing a Chicken Little based on a few incidents? The layman needs to make sure the layman is operating with all the facts, and not supposition, innuendo, and bad science.

     

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  85.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    Well said, sir! An individual who understands the limits of his knowledge rather than just parrots his or her vague understanding of someone who thinks they understand something about a subject that they, in reality, know little or nothing, which kind of sums up what I feel about most of the critics of IP.

    All I ask for is facts...most of what I get is regurgitated poo that came from someone else using poor scientific method in inventing their "facts." Does anyone with an axe to grind against IP have a clue what objectivity means?

     

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  86.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Poor Lonnie

    Please quote me where I called anyone a name.
    I said you seem short sited, and I can see why they ignore you.
    About as close as it gets to name calling is when I said please do not confuse Inventors with Innovators. Calling them by a clear definition of their names? Is that the name calling? I have reread my post three times and see NO such name calling. You fail.

    And, if other industries (aside from fashion) would take that long to switch over their machines to make the new .. whatever it is they make, it would take their competitors just as long to switch over. That is after the first company is already on market with a product too, giving them a huge edge as well as name recognition.

     

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  87.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Poor Lonnie

    Lonnie, you seem short sighted.

    Yes, that is exactly what you said. However, note that I also laughed after what I said because your "name calling" was similar to the "name calling" by Anonymous Coward (? - Mike was saying someone else was calling names), not that I really considered it such.

    And, if other industries (aside from fashion) would take that long to switch over their machines to make the new .. whatever it is they make, it would take their competitors just as long to switch over. That is after the first company is already on market with a product too, giving them a huge edge as well as name recognition.

    Killer_Tofu, you have to tell me which manufacturing industry you are involved with, and perhaps that would help me explain better. Until I know the manufacturing processes you are most familiar with, I provide this explanation:

    The fashion industry makes clothing on essentially the same equipment, year after year. There are incremental improvements to the equipment, but unless there is a big productivity gain that makes replacement worthwhile, the fashion industry (or, more broadly, the clothing industry) uses the same machines for years, perhaps decades.

    Manufacturing companies that make transmissions, engines, cars, and all sorts of other interesting equipment, need to have specialized equipment for their specific design. For example, every die casting is unique to a particular design. A single die casting can cost anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000 or more. An engine can have several die castings, and they are built specifically for the components produced. When that component is no longer useful, the dies are scrapped.

    However, these costs are not the actual costs of manufacturing. Developing a new engine, for example, can be a process that takes five years or more, partially because of the various government requirements of the nations where the engine will be used, but also because customers want more efficiency, lower heat generation, and other features. The cost to innovate and invent new components, prototype and test them will run into the millions.

    A copier has a short cut: He can use his competitor's device as a template for building his own copy, eliminating the millions spent on innovation, invention and trial and error. Further, the copier can eliminate mistakes made by the innovative and inventive company, potentially reducing costs.

    Because I like you Killer_Tofu, here is an example:

    Let's say a company has decided that to increase or maintain market share it needs to develop a new product. Incidentally, everything I am using in this example is from personal knowledge and experience, but the product is unimportant. Let's say that the cost of developing the new product is $5 million and the cost of taking it into production is $2 million.

    Now, let's say that the cost of the piece parts is $85, the cost of labor to build the unit is $5, and the cost of overhead to support marketing and application of the product, along with administrative costs, is $25. At this point, the "cost" of the product is $115 per unit, sans profit. Let's say that the minimum profit needed just to justify producing the product as opposed to investing the money in something else is 5%, or $5.75 per unit. Now, we have to figure out how to pay back the $7 million invested in the unit thus far.

    Let's assume that the company decides payback needs to be in 5 years, and let's assume that the sales per year are estimated to be 20,000, 100,000, 200,000, 300,000 and 400,000. The total sales are thus 1,020,000 units in five years, so the rounded off amount needed per unit for payback is $7 per unit. So the total price per unit is $127.75.

    Okay, year one is fine. The company makes a payback profit of $140,000. However, because there is no IP, a non-creative copying competitor sees their design within weeks of its initial release, and immediately begins reverse engineering the innovations in the design. In addition, they also make some improvements to the design that will ultimately permit them to reduce piece part and labor costs, which we will return to in a moment.

    The company does okay in the second year as well because its competitor is a little slow with some of the details of the innovations (no patents, so there are things about some of the innovations that they are trying to understand). So the company sells its 100,000 units in the second year and makes $700,000 in payback profit, thus totaling $840,000 in payback profit.

    In the third year the competitor is finally able to reveal its offering. However, it got its piece part cost down to $80, its labor to $4.50, but let's assume its administrative costs are $25, just like the innovative company. However, let's say the competitor, who had no innovation costs to payback, only had to payback the $2 million for taking the copied design into production, and $300,000 for their copying efforts. Let's say that their payback period is also five years, and they assume that assume the same unit sales curve as the innovative company, but they will scavenge the sales of the market maker rather than generating their own sales. They assume that because they will have a lower price, as soon as the market is aware of the product, the competitor assumes they will have 100% of the market. So their unit projections are 20,000 units the first year (third year of the innovator), 150,000 units the second year, 400,000 units the third year, and then 500,000 units the fifth year and every year thereafter (mature market). The amount of recovery is $2.15 per unit, which lets the non-creative competitor sell the unit (including the 5% profit) for $117.13.

    Now, the copier scavenged 20,000 units from the 200,000 the innovator planned to sell, so their payback profit the third year is $1,260,000, or $2,100,000 total. The innovator only sells 150,000 units the third year, losing 150,000 units to the copier, so the innovator only makes $1,050,000 the fourth year, for a total of $3,150,000 payback profits. By the fourth year, the competitor has stolen all potential sales from the innovator, and the innovator not only has to eat $3,850,000 in loses, but lays off all the employees making those products as well as the support staff. The innovator quickly realizes there is no money in innovation and decides to copy instead, focusing on cheap crap instead of quality products. Innovation comes to a screeching halt.

    The market will figure out how to take from the one company that dares to innovate and then run them out of business.

    Question: How do you prevent this scenario from happening?

    Incidentally, this scenario does happen today, but the innovator, frequently an individual or a smaller company attempting to hold its own against a larger competitor with more resources, or a foreign competitor (China, perhaps) where the innovator did not file for IP protection.

     

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  88.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Poor Lonnie

    The "name calling" I was thinking of was from me, though I did not think of it as being name calling either. I think I said that someone was not a technical person, which seemed more of an observation (kind of like short-sighted) versus name-calling.

     

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  89.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Artificial entities and patents don't mix.

    I guess you are going to have to show me that statistic. In my (limited) experience, one suit, one defendant, when it comes to patent. Let me know where I can see statistics on this.

    Unfortunately, the best stats on this were from Rick Frenkel, but his blog was shut down by a bunch of patent attorneys, you may have heard.

    We had written about some of the stats, but not all:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071221/012831.shtml

    As for one suit, one defendant... ah, that's gone by the wayside a looooong time ago. Last year we were joking about the competition to find the most companies listed in a single suit.

    There was one with 131 separate companies included: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071112/024207.shtml

    Then, just as a datapoint, last November 27th, there were 126 companies sued for patent infringement that day alone.

    And you're using the number of 175 lawsuits over the year as the yardstick? Open your eyes. Look at what's actually happening.

    The amounts may be huge, but frequently not only are the amounts actually awarded going down, but typically they are significantly reduced or even eliminated on appeal.

    Really? From what we've seen that's quite rare. Can you provide some evidence to back up those numbers?

    Wrong. People rarely settle, if ever, prior to actual litigation

    That's simply untrue. In the tech industry, it's quite common to settle. Look at RTI. Tell me how often he's actually filed lawsuits? Then look at how often he's convinced companies to settle.

    Look at IV. How often have they filed a suit (answer: never). How many companies have they convinced to settle (while they keep that number hidden, they're hyping up that many companies are settling rather than fight them).

    I would say I focused on the most important statistics is irrelevant, and you are trying to deflect the discussion.

    No, you are wrong. The 175 lawsuits is meaningless compared to the impact of the threats, the number of companies sued, the chilling effects of researchers held back by such threats.


    You may be right when it comes to copyright and trademark. However, I went through ChillingEffects.com and guess what? After going through numerous pages (I lost track and I did not see a page counter), I did not see ONE patent cease and desist.


    I didn't say chilling effects DOT COM. I said the concept of chilling effects. And the impact is widespread. University researchers have talked widely about how they completely skip over interesting avenues of research due to patent threats.

    And then of course, there's the decrease in sharing of info due to patents, which is what's discussed in this book and we've discussed for years: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20050915/0247215.shtml

     

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  90.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And a nobel prize winner's opinion is valuable because...?

    Pure, unadulterated, unsupported hyperbole

    Uh, except that it's supported by pretty much all the research. Look at Lerner & Jaffe or Meurer & Bessen, both of whom show the progression of stronger patent enforcement for, yes, decades, starting with the Patent Act in '52.

    It hasn't worked for centuries? My bad. I thought the U.S. system has been in place for at least two centuries, and the system seems to have worked fairly well.

    Yeah, that's why people complained about "patent sharks" in the 19th century delaying innovation. It hasn't worked well at all. Supporters of the system claim it worked well, but there's no evidence to support that.

    Do you have a statistic or datapoint that contradicts this, or are you just saying that it is your personal opinion that it is not working?

    I've been pointing to evidence for about a decade now, that all show a patent system slows the pace of innovation.

    I'm traveling right now so don't have all my notes with this stuff, but you can look around and find much of it without too much trouble. Schiff's research showed that there is plenty of innovation without patents in place, as did Moser's. So the idea that you need patents is a myth. Lerner's research comparing changes to patent systems showed that stronger patent enforcement has NO correlation with increased innovation. Heller's research has found the same thing as well.

    And, according to numerous experts (I will not bother to quote a source for this, because it is so well known in the IP community), quality of patent examination is probably the single BIGGEST issue.

    Again, that's WITHIN the IP community. Those are folks who are focused on the trees, not the forest. Talk to economists -- you know, people not biased by the system itself -- and you find quite a different story.

    Patent examination can never scale to keep pace with actual innovation.

    Research by who? I hope you are not speaking of Boldrin and Levine, whose idea of evidence is taking a few examples and then extrapolating that to millions of patents. Please tell me you have an actual fact to support you.

    I mentioned some of them above, but there are many more. The more research you read on this subject, the more overwhelming the evidence is: patents do not increase the pace of innovation, and quite often slow it down drastically.

    Furthermore, how do you define "broken"?

    Decreasing the pace at which innovation would occur in the absence of patents.

     

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  91.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Poor Lonnie


    Yes, that is exactly what you said. However, note that I also laughed after what I said because your "name calling" was similar to the "name calling" by Anonymous Coward (? - Mike was saying someone else was calling names), not that I really considered it such.


    My complaint wasn't with "name calling." My complaint was with a patent attorney, who used to by his initials MLS, who has since gone "anonymous" who every time we challenge him on his weak facts, starts complaining that we're unprofessional. But at the same time, he's been known to call us names, accuse us of being immoral spoiled brats -- and then when we pointed out well respected research, without reading it (he later admitted) he called it "nutty" and suggested the researchers didn't know anything.

    So, I only pointed out HIS name calling, because it shows what a hypocrite he tends to be.

    As for your long scenario, I'm not sure what the issue is. You make it sound as if only one company should be allowed into a space at a time. That's not how competition works. Because your initial company did some bad planning and optimization is no reason to necessarily protect them.

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Poor Lonnie

    Weak facts?
    Calls you names?
    Did not read?

    I will spot you and others steeped in economic theory that you are the experts and I am not. However, much of what I see that passes as scholarship in the references you continually recite begins with enumerated facts that are largely irrelevant and/or completely inaccurate. GIGO readily comes to mind, and I have conversed with many others who have likewise reviewed the references and arrived at the same conclusions. This is not to say the authors are not respected scholars, but only that scholarship should at the very least begin with a clearly articulated understanding of the facts. Far, far too often this is not the case, and as a consequence any persuasive force in their arguments is lost.

    I hold your sources to the same standard I expect from any author who desires to be know as a subject matter scholar, and a key part of the standard involves exhibiting an in-depth knowledge of the facts. Once they get their facts straight I am more than willing to listen and learn.

    In the context of intellectual property, I would certainly be interested in law and economics articles where on the "law" side of such articles were scholars of prominence such as Chisum (patents), Milgrim (trade secrets) and Nimmer (copyright). Thus far, however, what seems to pass as scholarship is confined to economists who are ignorant about the law and lawyers who are ignorant about economics.

     

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  93.  
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    mobiGeek, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    And how much have you LOST by keeping the trade secret? How much has SOCIETY lost?

    Think for a minute what the consequences of not keeping that secret would be.

    Your company has an idea, makes widgets and becomes known as the Widget Kings. Others get your ideas (not held secret) and start making their own widgets.

    Now the free market ideas kick in. Either your widgets sell because of your pricing, your quality, your extra features or your reputation (or a mix of these all), or your competitors sell for the same reasons.

    This means that those willing to keep selling widgets must either continue innovating (adding features) or improve efficiencies in production (lower prices).

    The better company gets far more sales, more money, more research, better products. Customers get better products, better prices.

    By keeping the "secret", you have a product that people needing must buy regardless of your price and/or feature set and you have no incentive to invest in a better product because no one else is out there pushing you. In other words, you take advantage of your customers and you have a marginal product. Even if you push yourself to improve the product, there is no way that it will be as good since you are only one company thinking/researching and cannot possibly come up with all the ideas that can improve your product. Your customers lose and ultimately you lose.

    On top of that, you are sitting in your spot because of a "secret". Once anyone else figures out that secret, or worse for you, figures out an even better approach, then you are left in the dark, holding on to your "precious". Your customers become exposed to the alternative solution and realize that you've left them flat for all this time. Even if you try to bring your product up to where your competitors are, these customers don't appreciate how you have treated them...it's an uphill battle for you to hold onto market share.

    Just some thoughts.

     

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  94.  
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    mobiGeek, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re: Secrets Don't Pay

    One of those secrets just passed the 20 year mark and it is still secret!

    Then no one has seen the cost benefit in reverse engineering it. You cannot believe that you are that much smarter than everyone else in the world, can you?

    Your claim of 20 years and millions of units doesn't tell us much. How much does a unit sell for? What is the profit on it? What is your overhead to maintain production, marketing, and sales? In other words, you've given numbers that in and of themselves are meaningless. They SOUND all warm and fuzzy, but anyone who actually thinks about it beyond the initial level (I've heard this in another thread on this article...) will realize they are pointless.

    To say that every non-trivial device has "secrets" is not saying much. I can argue that every software program has "secrets", but each and everyone of them can be reverse engineered and I'm not talking about "decompiling", simply black-boxing the components. Yes, my competitors don't know exactly how I've done something in code (or in hardware) but as long as they know what it does they can figure out the algorithm (computers are funky that way).

     

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  95.  
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    mobiGeek, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    But the problem is that you and angry dud seem to think that your experience with "IP" (whatever that is) makes you a non-layman in the subject of ECONOMICS.

    Having a patent or copyrighting a work or hiding the secret sauce does not give you ANY expertise at all as to whether you would be better off in the marketplace should you not limit your work. In fact, you have completely biased your point of view.

    We aren't arguing as to how the patent system works (something angry insists we can't possibly understand...though I'm holding back on this one for a later date). We are arguing that the ECONOMICS around the system don't work (or, more accurately, the system affects the economics in a negative way).

    Now can you explain to me how hiding information about widgets makes you knowledgeable on the workings of a free market vs. government controlled market (i.e. patent & copyright laws supported monopolies)?

     

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  96.  
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    mobiGeek, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    No, that's not it at all. He's saying that just because he hasn't "experienced IP" (whatever you and angry are trying to say you have) doesn't mean he can't have a reasoned view of the subject.

    And as I pointed out, having "experienced IP" is not the issue at hand. The issue is about understanding the economics of IP.

    Knowing how to drive a car does not make someone aware of the environmental impacts of that car. Similar analogy here with respect to having "experienced IP" and the economic impacts of "IP".

    Clear?

     

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  97.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Poor Lonnie

    However, much of what I see that passes as scholarship in the references you continually recite begins with enumerated facts that are largely irrelevant and/or completely inaccurate.

    If so, why have you not shown where they are wrong. You keep insisting that all of this research is wrong, but have failed to point to a single explanation of how it is wrong.

    I hold your sources to the same standard I expect from any author who desires to be know as a subject matter scholar, and a key part of the standard involves exhibiting an in-depth knowledge of the facts. Once they get their facts straight I am more than willing to listen and learn.

    You keep making this claim, but have thus far failed to point out where they misrepresent any facts. On top of that, we have pointed to plenty of research done by legal experts as well. And you brush them off as well.

    Apparently, only those who agree with you are qualified.

     

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  98.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poor Lonnie

    You enjoy an enviable position. You get to peruse various documents/papers, some of which are apparently come to your attention via other blogs or from the authors, review the economic arguments, and then give a "high five" to those declaring that patents and/or copyrights stifle innovation. The next day an all too predictable article is presented that in essence states "Look, I am not alone...noted authors/scholars agree with my premise that patents and/or copyrights do not "promote the progress" by their negative economic impact."

    I, on the other hand, as well as others similarly situated, dutifully read the material. In the case of books that can only be secured by purchase I visit the sites of the authors to see if a copy is available from other sources (Boldrin and Levine can be found in its entirety online), and if not I review their respective CVs and then locate other related publications to try and determine their basic approach to these issues. In some cases I am fortunate to find most of the relevant portions of their books via Google Books. Similarly, I also review analyses by others, both pro and con, to try and ascertain additional views. Only after this quite tedious process do I formulate my views, a process that closely tracks what I use when preparing legal opinions and briefs.

    What is particularly frustrating about your references, and why it is so difficult to place my views on the record, is that many of them delve into caselaw analysis that would require the equivalent of a journal article to explain the errors presented in their analysis. Simutaneously, I noted that in most instances data sets are selected that demostrate the authors' basic unfamiliarity with the patent process itself and how it plays out in the business world...and especially when it comes to many, if not most, large corporate bodies. Contrary to what many seem to believe is the case, there are only a relatively few companies that actively and with rigor pursue patents. In most cases what I have observed is that the pursuit of patents is usually hit or miss and without rhyme or reason, with management largely ignorant of the pros and cons of the law (and this is assuming they are even aware the law exists). My observations would likewise require a long journal article, or perhaps even a book, to explain why this is so.

    I know you will not find this a totally acceptable answer, but I believe it accurately summarizes why I limit my responses as I do.

     

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  99.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Poor Lonnie

    Mike:

    Re my "long scenario": *Sigh* My long scenario was reality in the manufacturing world. No, I did NOT make it sound as though one company should be allowed into a space at a time. There are multiple companies doing multiple things, which may overlap, but also offer unique solutions that, interestingly enough meet different customer needs in different ways. I merely was pointing out what ONE of these multiple companies was doing to be competitive against other competitors who were constantly innovating and inventing and trying to reduce their prices. That IS how competition works in the manufacturing world. Well, in the several industries I have been in that is the way it works. All of those industries have been what I would call "metal" industries because they involve stampings, castings, etc. I find it the highest level of arrogance for you to call what we do bad planning and optimization, because it is that very bad planning and optimization that awarded us 250,000 units that our competitor previously was supplying - and our new, innovative design, which was patented, was also lower priced...the advantage of innovation and competition in a free market.

    For someone who seems to find fault with other's insults, you do a pretty darn fair job of insulting people yourself.

     

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  100.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents Hindering Innovation?

    Mobigeek:

    How much have I lost by keeping the secret? Well, if a loss is in brackets, and a gain is without brackets, I would say the loss over the last couple of decades is somewhere in excess of a billion dollars, without brackets.

    What has society lost? Beats me. Why should I care? My company owns the secret. It it their property (or knowledge - if you prefer) to do with as they will. I know you would not violate the rights of the individuals working for my company by forcing them to reveal the information.

    However, you are wrong about competition. In spite of the fact that we have the superior product, our customers distrust anyone having too large of a market share, so historically they have awarded roughly 30 to 40% of their business to our competitors.

    Because our market is quite price sensitive, even at the cost of quality, we continually compete with ourselves to improve quality and lower prices, knowing that our competitors are always one or two steps behind us - and that is where we want them to stay. The joys of a free market and competition!

    We have only been in this position for about two decades. We know there is always the possibility that the other guys might learn what we are doing. So we keep getting better and better to stay where we are. Our goal has always been to be innovative at least two iterations ahead of everyone else, and preferably three. Occasionally they leapfrog us in certain areas, as we have leapfrogged them...it's like a giant game of chess.

    Who is the ultimate winner? Consumers. Society. Whatever you would like to call it. And the only way we can afford to spend the money we do on additional innovation and cost reductions is because we make enough money in payback profits from IP protection to do so.

     

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  101.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freaking punks

    Mobigeek:

    Angry dud? I see when logic and reason fail you, as have others with weak arguments against intellectual property, stoop to name calling.

    I also love your characterization about thinking I am a "non-layman" in economics. While I am not an expert, it does happen that I have an MBA in international business, and I have taken several graduate courses in economics. Hiding information about widgets gives me no knowledge of the workings of a free market vs. government controlled market (incidentally, patent and copyright laws do not fit the classical economic scenarios because they are not true monopolies in the economic sense - more on that in a moment). My MBA from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri gives me that knowledge.

    Now, speaking of economics, macroeconomic theory only recognizes a monopoly when the audience is captive and there are no other alternatives. I got into a debate earlier with someone else telling me that a Harry Potter movie is a monopoly. Macroeconomics says no, because a Harry Potter movie is in competition with other movies, television, books, video games, ad infinitum. Macroeconomic theory would not recognize any sort of control because people are not forced to choose something that is optional, as you with your vast economic knowledge already know.

     

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  102.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 9:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poor Lonnie

    Coward:

    I am in the midst of reading Boldrin and Levine and have copious notes on problems I see with their methodology and their conclusions - which I find largely self-serving.

    I have started reading Kinsella's "Against Intellectual Property" as well, which is much better supported than Boldrin and Levine, and does quite well until he confuses ideas with inventions and then claims ideas are an "infinite good," and then implying inventions are infinite goods, which is impossible and a completely unsupported assumption on his part. Ideas ARE an infinite good (let me see, I have an idea, I think I will go to the toilet), but creative ideas are not, and creative ideas that lead to inventions are in really scarce supply. They are most definitely a scarce good. Further, the more complex the subject, the greater scarcity.

    I am looking forward to seeing if either the folks here or over at "Against Intellectual Property" will allow a post consisting of my critique at some point, after it is complete. Of course, I will cause a furor over my objective critique...but, whatever.

     

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  103.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 14th, 2008 @ 2:10pm

    Secrets Don't Pay

    Lonnie,

    In #20 I argued that it doesn't pay to keep an invention secret and not release product to the marketplace.

    Thank you for agreeing with me, and furthering my point. In comment #28, you said:

    "There is a product I have been involved in that has sold millions of units, and yet there is a key secret to how that product is made that is known by but a few people."

    Great! So this secret was not patented, but WAS released into the marketplace to gain a financial reward. This is exactly the kind of behavior I said inventors would follow if there were no patent system. You added the element that they would try to keep the "secret sauce" secret. Good point - you never saw the Colonel printing his 11 herbs and spices on the side of the bucket, did you.

    So, IP protection wasn't used, the market responded to the product, and the inventor was better off. You seem to have proven a case where a patent isn't necessary to reward invention. Thanks for coming on board.

     

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  104.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 14th, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    A Weak "Gotcha" Argument Against Lonnie

    Lonnie,

    I haven't much to add here, but did you really write in a single comment (#100) both:

    "What has society lost? Beats me. Why should I care?"

    and

    "Who is the ultimate winner? Consumers. Society."

    Should you be so cavalier about possible net losses to society if you will subsequenly claim society is the ultimate winner?

    Logic would suggest that a better societal outcome is likely
    if we, in fact, cared about the outcome.

     

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  105.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 14th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Economist Or Lawyer

    The opinion that only lawyers are qualified to opine on the fitness of the patent system is undemocratic.

    At last count, over 300 million people have the right to an opinion on the patent system.

    Lawyers are, certainly, the most well versed in law. Yet the laws are passed by OUR government, our elected officials, and all of us bear the impact. The constitution is pretty clear on who those laws are intended to serve. It is not written "We the lawyers..."

    I'm a trained economist, but I don't run around telling every voting citizen that they have no business making election choices this November based on economics, since they're not qualified.

    Lawyers are more qualified to interpret existing laws, and to craft the language around new ones. But they are not more qualified to argue what those laws or policies should be.

    Man! The hubris of some of the lawyers that take that stance drives me nuts. Do you guys really think that being a lawyer makes you a higher class of citizen? Like nobles in the days of olde?

     

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

  106.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Secrets Don't Pay

    Derek:

    I am unsure of your point. I have said several times on the "Against Intellectual Property" website, though perhaps not here, that people will adopt the behavior that provides the most reward.

    I have seen quite a few people argue that without patents innovation would speed up because all the patented technology would be available for the taking. I have said, "Not so fast," and made two points:

    o Much patented technology would no longer be available because it is not commercially available since the patenting company or individual may not have commercialized the invention. That does not mean, as several have gleefully pointed out, that the invention does not have commercial value or could not be used as the basis for another invention, it just means that company or individual chose not to commercialize it. Society's loss. And it is not necessarily true that the same technology will be available through journals, etc. Many mundane things are patented that have great value but which are unlikely targets for scientific or journal papers.

    o If I were no longer permitted to patent, I would take all the money expended on patents and put it into figuring out the best ways to keep our technology secret while putting it into production. Many here keep insisting it cannot be done, and yet it has been. I guess you can continue to say the earth is flat, but those of us who have been around it know better.

     

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

  107.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 9:10pm

    Re: A Weak "Gotcha" Argument Against Lonnie

    Derek:

    My comment early in the post was related to the comment to which I was replying. My comment at the end of the post was to point out that the intense competition between fierce competitors had driven innovation (and invention and patents) and reduced cost, and society ultimately benefited from that intense competition. Indeed, as each company sought ways around the other companys' technology, new and frequently better, innovations appeared and choices increased. Seems like society won a lot for the award of a few patents.

     

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

  108.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Economist Or Lawyer

    Derek:

    The foundation of a democratic society is to provide the facts that support each side, and allow the people to decide for themselves.

    Lots of hyperbole, lots of saber-rattling, occasional name-calling, and very few facts. It would be nice to see a comprehensive, objective study that shows the advantages and disadvantages of protecting intellectual property.

     

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


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