Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation

from the no-surprise-there dept

Over the years, we've pointed to tons of research, especially historical research, that shows that near total lack of evidence that patents have any causal relationship to increased innovation. Some of the research shows little effect in either direction, and some of the research actually suggests a serious disincentive to innovate in the face of patents. If you're not all that familiar with innovation and patenting, this may come as a surprise. After all, the whole idea behind a patent is to create an incentive for someone to invent something that moves humankind forward (promoting the progress). The theory is that by providing some sort of gov't granted exclusive monopoly, the inventors have more of a reason to go forward.

There are two key problems with this theory, that explain why the historical evidence can find no support of this happening in practice. The first is that people invent and innovate for all sorts of reasons -- very rarely having to do with "because I can get a patent." It may be "because this is something I need or something I want." Or it could be because the innovator recognizes that with or without a patent, providing that product in the marketplace is likely to be lucrative (and being first in the marketplace is even more lucrative). Or, it may just be that the innovators are driven to make the world a better place. Whether it's profit motive or altruism, there are many reasons that invention and innovation occur without the need for patents.

The second key problem is the very nature of innovation itself. As anyone who's been involved with serious innovation over a period of time can tell you, innovation is an ongoing process, rather than a one-and-done sort of thing. You take an idea, and you work on it, and then you see what people think, and then you innovate, and you try something different and you get more feedback and you innovate some more, and so on. It never ends. You're always continuing to innovate. As such, others are often doing similar innovations, and the ability to leapfrog each other in the marketplace is actually a fantastic driver of innovation. If someone else is doing something cool, it's of little use to just copy them. You want to make something even better. And then they want to leapfrog you as well. That drives serious rapid innovation. A patent, on the other hand, greatly limits this whole process. Because it assumes that innovation is a one-and-done process. Someone comes up with something new, and that's it. The market needs to live with it until the patent expires or someone comes up with something entirely different. That's massively stifling on the normal process of innovation.

A few months back, two professors, Andrew W. Torrance and Bill Tomlinson, published a paper on a simulation game they ran to test out some of these hypotheses. A bunch of folks submitted this back when it first came out, but I wanted to spend some time looking over the details before writing about it. Basically, Torrance and Tomlinson create a nice simulation system that really does a good job simulating the various models for innovation with patents or in a more collaborative world. And, what they found in the simulation they ran supports what has actually happened in the real world, according to the research we've discussed in the past:
These results indicate that current patent systems (that is, systems combining patent and open source protection for inventions) may generate significantly lower rates of innovation (p<0.05), productivity (p<0.001), and social utility (p<0.002) than does a commons system. This suggests that current patent systems may significantly deter, rather than spur, technological innovation compared to a commons system.
Specifically, the results compared three separate models: one where everything gets patented, one where it's a hybrid model with both patents and a common, and one that was pure commons. The results are pretty striking. In the pure commons (no patents) world, they ended up with more innovation, significantly greater productivity and massively more social utility.


Given how well this seems to match up with previous research on what's actually happening, it seems like this model has at least something going for it. Still, it would be interesting to see what happens as they run more tests and continue to refine the sim. But it certainly raises ever more questions about the insistence among patent system supporters that the system must increase innovation. The evidence there is scant. The evidence on the other side? Quite imposing.


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  1.  
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    some old guy, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:27am

    trademarks make sense

    Trademarks make sense. They are there to protect consumers, not to protect the IPs owner.

    Copyrights.. they don't make any sense, and neither do patents.

    "Intellectual property" it is not. Imaginary property it is, and treated as imaginary it should be.

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: trademarks make sense

    Thanks Yoda!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Lack of evidence?

    This article makes me hungry for Omaha Steaks. I don't know exactly why, but perhaps it's because it came from the "no-surprise-there" department, when it should have come from the "where's the beef department".

    Get some tender beef here:
    http://www.omahasteaks.com

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:57am

    A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Amazed am I that Mike Masnick spends paragraphs talking about how this study "proves" that patents do not lead to innovation. Yet, the study does NOT. READ the study. Pay ATTENTION to the statement of the authors. READ the graphs.

    Conclusion: Patent MAY, see the word "MAY," lead to decreased innovation. HOWEVER, the error bars show that the amount of innovation with patents MAY be greater than without patents. Such is the nature of error.

    However, the other two graphs are more important. Elimination of patents would lead to increased productivity (which is most definitely NOT innovation) and increased social utility, which is again NOT innovation. Fundamentally, everyone is happier if the inventors give away their inventions, which MAY, MAY, MAY not lead to more or less innovation, depending on the position of error bars.

    How do people turn correlation and error into "tons of research...that show that near total lack of evidence that patents have any causal relationship to increased innovation?" I could ask the same question of people that turn "may" and overlapping error bars into hard evidence.

     

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    Moogle, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Where does he say it proves anything? All I can find is:
    "it seems like this model has at least something going for it"

    Or do you just like tilting at windmills?

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    How do people turn correlation and error into ...


    Here's one way, from the RIAA faq for students writing about the music industry:

    One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.


    100% unsubstantiated, but recommended for students. That's rich.

     

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    Matt (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:37am

    How does the model account for the publication of innovation? The real hurdle patents are designed to leap is not incentive to innovate (for which you, rightly note, they are poorly conceived,) but the incentive to share the results of innovation. The patent system says, "give us detailed plans, sufficient for anyone skilled in the art to replicate your innovation, and we'll give you a monopoly for a limited time". Without patent, the argument goes, inventors have every reason to keep as much of their innovation secret as they can (because trade secret protection is pretty good).

    ((Note that copyright since the '76 Act and Berne Convention is different. It provides a monopoly of only theoretically limited duration even for works that never see the light of day. It exists to provide incentives to create, and it is shamefully counterproductive at doing so.))

    This is not in defense of patents, but I wonder how the model handles the transmission of information about new inventions in a commons system. If it is a commons on the model of the genome project, linux patent commons, or eco patent commons, then it requires a system of registration for new inventions (ie - a patent system) as a substrate. The "commons" is just an agreement not to enforce those patents. If it works on a different model, like a true free-market model, patents are unnecessary but you may need something to replace them. For driving innovation by making prior inventions available, it helps if reverse engineering is easy (and permissible). Absent easy reverse engineering, it may be important to have a system like patent for registration and publication of inventions.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Amazed am I that Mike Masnick spends paragraphs talking about how this study "proves" that patents do not lead to innovation.

    Amazed that AC spends paragraphs claiming I said this proves something when I said no such thing.

    Conclusion: Patent MAY, see the word "MAY," lead to decreased innovation. HOWEVER, the error bars show that the amount of innovation with patents MAY be greater than without patents. Such is the nature of error.

    Yes, may. But in combination with all of the other studies, it seems like it's a pretty big question.

    However, the other two graphs are more important. Elimination of patents would lead to increased productivity (which is most definitely NOT innovation) and increased social utility, which is again NOT innovation.

    Hmm. I'd argue you are wrong on both counts. Increased productivity *has* been shown to caused by innovation. So if we're seeing increased productivity, it suggests greater innovation.

    And, as for the last graph, you try to dismiss it as not being about innovation. I'll disagree with you, but the bigger point is that the patent system has one purpose: to promote the progress. Are you arguing that a lower social utility is promoting the progress? I'd argue that last graph says everything you need to say about promoting the progress.

    How do people turn correlation and error into "tons of research...that show that near total lack of evidence that patents have any causal relationship to increased innovation?"

    Again, the point was that this is just one of perhaps 2 dozen different studies/reports/papers that have come to the same conclusion, looking at different models and different data.

    I could ask the same question of people that turn "may" and overlapping error bars into hard evidence.

    Of course, I didn't do that. I would think it's much worse, by the way, to claim I said something I did not in your zeal to try to discredit me.

     

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    AJ, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    The only one I see drawing a conclusion is you troll.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Re: Lack of evidence?

    Don't forget to make your meat tree mighty and strong!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Let me see...how about...

    "Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Ignoring the paper since it is not germane to my point, there seems to be a underlying belief that companies that rely in part upon the patent system somehow stop working as hard as before once a patent is in hand. In some cases this is true, but certainly not the case with most companies in markets where new product introductions to meet market demands are critical to continuing business success. Product improvement is a constant activity. New, even better products are likewise pursued with vigor. Products for new markets are an integral part of this ongoing process.

    To suggest that once a patent is in hand a company can lay back "fat, dumd and happy" and rest on its laurels does not reflect what actually transpires.

     

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    Matt (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    It may depend on what we care about regarding innovation. I think you are probably right that innovation continues after the grant of patent, but it is not obvious that the new patents actually help society (because they are often just used to keep competitors from leapfrogging the original patentable matter). It would be fascinating to see what percentage of refinement patents actually get brought to market in a substantial way, and the lag between the submission of an application (which theoretically marks the time of invention,) and the date brought to market.

     

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    Scott Gardner (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Financial feasibility?

    Does any facet of the simulation address the economic feasibility of the various models? I don't argue that a completely free and open exchange of ideas would result in the greatest amount of innovation in the shortest amount of time, but that's assuming that all parties involved can remain in business.
    But if Company B can simply copy the products of Company A, and charge a lower price since they don't have to recoup R&D costs, I don't see how all the various parties can stay in business long enough to see the benefits of increased innovation.

     

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    angry dude, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Another piece of horseshit from Mikey

    Mikey, stuff your "studies" up your butt

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Amazed am I that Mike Masnick spends paragraphs talking about how this study "proves" that patents do not lead to innovation.

    Amazed that AC spends paragraphs claiming I said this proves something when I said no such thing.

    Mike, your title says it all; Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation. Everything else was essentially irrelevant.

    Conclusion: Patent MAY, see the word "MAY," lead to decreased innovation. HOWEVER, the error bars show that the amount of innovation with patents MAY be greater than without patents. Such is the nature of error.

    Yes, may. But in combination with all of the other studies, it seems like it's a pretty big question.

    Except, here is the real problem. All these other studies either confuse correlation with causation, or they take a limited number of cases that appear to be the exception rather than the rule, and nearly every one of these studies completely neglects whether there even might be a positive side to patents. I find such total lack of objectivity in these studies more than problematic, I find it dogmatic and biased and hardly convincing. Is it any wonder decision makers ignore these studies?

    However, the other two graphs are more important. Elimination of patents would lead to increased productivity (which is most definitely NOT innovation) and increased social utility, which is again NOT innovation.

    Hmm. I'd argue you are wrong on both counts. Increased productivity *has* been shown to caused by innovation. So if we're seeing increased productivity, it suggests greater innovation.

    If your statement is correct, that means the previous graph is inconsistent with the productivity graph. The previous graph absolutely permits patents to lead to greater innovation than elimination of patents. If that scenario turns out to be true, then the correlation between increased innovation and increased productivity is false. However, it could also mean that the author's definition of innovation is not the same as that which is correlated with productivity.

    And, as for the last graph, you try to dismiss it as not being about innovation. I'll disagree with you, but the bigger point is that the patent system has one purpose: to promote the progress. Are you arguing that a lower social utility is promoting the progress? I'd argue that last graph says everything you need to say about promoting the progress.

    There is short term promotion of progress and long term promotion of progress. Thomas Jefferson saw the implementation of short term monopolies leading to long term promotion of progress. He also thought that the long term promotion of progress might outweigh any short term benefits yielded without patents (he was such a smart guy). However, he was not sure that was correct and that the system should be continuously monitored.

    However, none of this discussion is directly related to social utility. Maximum social utility relates more to access and profit. Reducing profits and making things a commodity good general enhances social welfare. Fundamentlaly, having a cheap buggy that is easy for a horse to pull would increase social utility over a poorly designed buggy, but such increase in social utility does not lead to communications satellites.

    Rather than arguing that "lower social utility" leads to progress, I look at things more in terms of what leads to the best long-term social utility. As you well know, there are heirarchies of need. The needs of society as a whole for food, shelter, protection, etc., the bottom of Maslov's heirarchy of of need, should be met to the highest level reasonably possible in order to enable the higher levels of social utility. However, once those basic needs are met, social utility is difficult to measure and becomes much more theoretical.

    I counter your statement: If increasing social utility means reducing the social utility for the most productive contributors in our society, does that lead to the maximum possible social utility in the long term?

    How do people turn correlation and error into "tons of research...that show that near total lack of evidence that patents have any causal relationship to increased innovation?"

    Again, the point was that this is just one of perhaps 2 dozen different studies/reports/papers that have come to the same conclusion, looking at different models and different data.

    I have read the studies, and as I have noted, they turn limited evidence into sweeping conclusions, and in some cases they have taken leaps of faith that border on outright exaggeration and propaganda in place of real evidence.

    I could ask the same question of people that turn "may" and overlapping error bars into hard evidence.

    Of course, I didn't do that. I would think it's much worse, by the way, to claim I said something I did not in your zeal to try to discredit me.

    I repeat your sweeping title:

    Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation.

    You said, QUITE CLEARLY, and QUITE UNEQUIVOCALLY, that this study SHOWS (i.e., demonstrates, exhibits or proves, all synonyms of SHOWS) that patents lead to sub-optimal innovation.

    Are you now saying that your title is incorrect, that what you actually meant to say was:

    Yet Another Study Shows That MAY Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Poop...let's try that title thing again...

    Yet Another Study Shows That Patents MAY Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re:

    there seems to be a underlying belief that companies that rely in part upon the patent system somehow stop working as hard as before once a patent is in hand. In some cases this is true, but certainly not the case with most companies in markets where new product introductions to meet market demands are critical to continuing business success. Product improvement is a constant activity. New, even better products are likewise pursued with vigor. Products for new markets are an integral part of this ongoing process.

    I don't know anyone who claims that companies stop working once they have a patent in hand.

    But what is claimed is that the pace at which they innovate is empirically slower. That's been shown time and time again, and it makes sense. Yes, they continue to innovate, but they don't have as much incentive to innovate as quickly *and* they do not benefit from the ideas of competitors in the marketplace as well. Remember that while part of the complaint is that others build off of your ideas, it also means you get to build off of others' ideas. That's what leads to faster innovation.

     

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    The Cenobyte, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    So commons license can get me $40K+ extra a year?

    According to your charts I sould get an extra $33k or $34K a year if we just make everything free. Not sure how they even come up with numbers about what something free is worth in monitary terms, but an extra $33k a year sounds good to me.

    Can we try and use numbers that even follow. You have just calculated the amount of Oranges we have in Apples.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Another piece of horseshit from Mikey

    Heh. Always nice to hear from angry dude, who would apparently rather live in denial than learn to deal with reality.

    The more the evidence piles up, the angrier he gets. That seems odd. You'd think someone who believes so strongly in the process of invention would be a believer in empirical evidence.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Financial feasibility?

    Scott:

    Your comment is directly related to one of the problems of the vast majority of these studies. One that is frequently quoted in the anti-IP press is a book by Boldrin & Levine that claims to provide "proof" that patents are bad. Yet, the vast majority of their evidence is wrapped around development of the steam engine and the airplane.

    I expected to find a calculation of the benefits of patents and a calculation of disadvantages of patents and a balancing that demonstrated patents led to a negative economic benefit. Instead, the authors use a couple of examples and do lots of extrapolation and more than a little bias to lead to the sweeping conclusion that their "...Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal..." whatever they were trying to "prove."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re:

    Matt:

    How often is "often used" in comparison to the number of times that patents are used as a basis for additional invention?

    Oh, wait. That information would be actual, useful information on which someone could make an actual decision. It is easier to claim that "Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation" and then say that you did not say that. Double plus good speak.

     

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    DK, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Give and Take

    I have had my first patent submitted this year, as an inventor, I wanted my moment of innovation to do two things, to be used and to reward me for what I created. In the UK If I am an employee or a post graduate my invention would be considered the property of my college/employer.

    The real disincentive to innovation or invention is that your work is considered to belong to someone else by the fact you work for them. I was fortuate that I was an undergraduate and could take the on the risk, and debt to promote my patent under copyright.

    There is a big difference between genuine creative work and pushing out varients on patents to trap competitors. Only in the Soviet Union was the works of the individual considered to belong to the collective in the form of the state, in all other countries there is some form of redress and protection for individual works wherever copyright, patent or trademark.

    The boundry markers may need to be moved from time to time to make the system fair but the principles behind the agreed present system must remain because they work in law and if you compare the two systems, the market approach with the Invention becoming public domain after a time has worked well.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Another piece of horseshit from Mikey

    Ya know, I am for patents, because I believe they have helped the companies with which I am acquainted. However, I am a bit more in favor of actual arguments rather than suggestions where studies might be filed...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike:

    You may not have made this claim, but it is frequently made in posts at AgainstMonopoly.org. Indeed, that is one of the reasons frequently given against the value of patents (along with patents being imaginary, as are "pure" Libertarians).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Give and Take

    DK:

    I have to agree with you regarding incentives. I am an inventor or co-inventor on about a couple dozen patents that have been implemented in production devices.

    Question to me: Would I have been as innovative (assuming having my inventions on products that number in the seven digits is "innovative") had my inventions not been patented? My belief: probably not as innovative. Still innovative, just less frequently. I probably would also have been focused on figuring out how to keep others from figuring out my inventions for as long as possible. So, lack of patents would increase my incentive for secrecy.

     

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    angry dude, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Give and Take

    Soviet Union wasn't bad at all - they didn't have quality toilet paper but scientists and inventors were held in high regard by society and the state (unlike here in US where they are treated like shit) and nobody could profit from your invention
    Alas, under capitalims it's a dog-eat-dog world by corporate design
    Patents are just a natural part of it - there would be no technical progress in many many fields without patent protection
    Mikey is playing techdirt lemming-punks for fools which they are

     

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  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Mike, your title says it all; Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation. Everything else was essentially irrelevant.

    The title is accurate. It's what the study shows in its results. In the post I detail much more about the study and note how it compares to other studies and historical evidence.

    But all that "reality" is irrelevant?

    Could you dig your head any deeper into the sand?

    Except, here is the real problem. All these other studies either confuse correlation with causation, or they take a limited number of cases that appear to be the exception rather than the rule, and nearly every one of these studies completely neglects whether there even might be a positive side to patents.

    Really? I've read all of the studies I'm talking about and have not seen those problems. Perhaps with one or two of them, but most of them are quite clear. Which studies do you find so problematic? I've been re-reading most of them lately, and some of them even come from patent system supporters who were surprised by the results.

    Your final statement is complete hogwash by the way. Pretty much everyone of these studies starts from the accepted premise that patents incentivize innovation and then look at the actual data. To claim they don't even look at that aspect is a flat out lie, or a statement by someone who is ignorant of the research.

    If your statement is correct, that means the previous graph is inconsistent with the productivity graph. The previous graph absolutely permits patents to lead to greater innovation than elimination of patents. If that scenario turns out to be true, then the correlation between increased innovation and increased productivity is false. However, it could also mean that the author's definition of innovation is not the same as that which is correlated with productivity.

    That would only be the case if innovation were the sole cause of productivity growth -- something no one has claimed, but it makes for a nice strawman.

    There is short term promotion of progress and long term promotion of progress. Thomas Jefferson saw the implementation of short term monopolies leading to long term promotion of progress. He also thought that the long term promotion of progress might outweigh any short term benefits yielded without patents (he was such a smart guy). However, he was not sure that was correct and that the system should be continuously monitored.

    Indeed. Which is why he'd be fascinated to look at all of the long-term evidence today... which shows his initial concerns (remember, before he accepted the idea, he was against monopolies entirely) were correct.

    However, none of this discussion is directly related to social utility. Maximum social utility relates more to access and profit. Reducing profits and making things a commodity good general enhances social welfare. Fundamentlaly, having a cheap buggy that is easy for a horse to pull would increase social utility over a poorly designed buggy, but such increase in social utility does not lead to communications satellites.

    Wait, and you're claiming patents DO lead to that kind of innovation? I call bullshit.

    Rather than arguing that "lower social utility" leads to progress, I look at things more in terms of what leads to the best long-term social utility. As you well know, there are heirarchies of need. The needs of society as a whole for food, shelter, protection, etc., the bottom of Maslov's heirarchy of of need, should be met to the highest level reasonably possible in order to enable the higher levels of social utility. However, once those basic needs are met, social utility is difficult to measure and becomes much more theoretical.

    You clearly do not understand what social utility means or how it is measured. Because if you did you would not make the statement above.

    I counter your statement: If increasing social utility means reducing the social utility for the most productive contributors in our society, does that lead to the maximum possible social utility in the long term?

    Whoa. Read that sentence again. You are saying if A leads to B, then A can't exist. Logic fail.

    The chart showed that utility *is* maximized in the absence of patents. I don't see how you can take that and say "if it's maximized, it's not maximized."

    I have read the studies, and as I have noted, they turn limited evidence into sweeping conclusions, and in some cases they have taken leaps of faith that border on outright exaggeration and propaganda in place of real evidence.

    Then you haven't read the studies. Because that's not true.

    Are you now saying that your title is incorrect, that what you actually meant to say was:

    No, the title was perfectly accurate. It is, in fact, what the study claimed to show.

     

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    you want a name well for now my name is fred., Aug 31st, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    This study is missing the most important graph of all:

    Graph 4: Long term effects

    Basically, in a short term, lab style experiment, where we are not dealing with the long term effects. Things likelower R&D, of more "copycat" productivity, etc, all come into play over time. Based on this study, we might all be riding around in very advanced buggies, sitting in front of our TVs with highly evolved picture tubes, and dialing people on the phone with the super low friction rotary dialer.

    A better version of "what we already have" isn't innovation, it's just spew, the polishing of the turd, the installing of a hood ornament on the polished turd, making the hood ornament on the polished turd light up at night, etc. Innovation is coming up with the next wave, the transistor that pushes out the tube, the printed circuit boards that push out point to point wiring, etc. Just making a slightly better tube or a nicer colored wire clip doesn't innovate anything.

    All this study proves is that without patents, people would make more of what we already have - but they wouldn't innovate much. Just polishing the turd.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re:

    There is a study that seems to partially support what you say.

    http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/research/pdf/2006-03.pdf

    This study set up a game scenario and found (gasp) that patents in fact CAN INCREASE INNOVATION. OH MY GOD!!! So here is my new headline:

    Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Innovation

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 2:15pm

    Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Do Not Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation

    http://www.rufuspollock.org/economics/papers/patents_and_ir.html

    In fairness, the author, after spending a fair amount of time discussing patents, points out that patents probably do not affect the amount of innovation either negatively or positively. Note that the author does not consider the economic benefits from patents, only the effect of patents on innovation.

     

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  32.  
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    you want a name well for now my name is fred., Aug 31st, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Give and Take

    "So, lack of patents would increase my incentive for secrecy."

    So if it took you 5 or 10 years to get something to market, rather than getting a patent which effectively makes the methods public knowledge, you would hide that information like squirrel with a nut until you reached market. Then you would have to hope like hell that competitors aren't able to make a knockoff faster than you can recoup your costs to get to that point.

    Talk about taking the motivations away from someone who wants to invent. Removing patents would basically give all the power to the knockoff companies, and make creating something new almost meaningless.

    Yes, in theory the knockoff companies could bang out more product more quickly, but what of innovation and true development? Nada.

    Mike, you have gotten snowed again.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re:

    This study set up a game scenario and found (gasp) that patents in fact CAN INCREASE INNOVATION. OH MY GOD!!! So here is my new headline:

    Er... not quite. It sets up a series of models that depending on what variables are used could potentially increase innovation in certain circumstances, but not in many others. The question then, is which model most accurately fits with the patent world we see.

    And I've never said that patents *could not* lead to more innovation. In fact, I've said over and over again that I'd be all for a patent system that did exactly that. The problem is that I've yet to see any empirical evidence that it does increase innovation or promote the progress. Hence the problem.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Give and Take

    Question to me: Would I have been as innovative (assuming having my inventions on products that number in the seven digits is "innovative") had my inventions not been patented? My belief: probably not as innovative. Still innovative, just less frequently. I probably would also have been focused on figuring out how to keep others from figuring out my inventions for as long as possible. So, lack of patents would increase my incentive for secrecy.

    Fair enough. But, let's be clear on two factors. First, your inability to patent means that for all your promised laziness, others can take the ball and run with it and innovate where you failed. I don't see how that's smart on your part, but if that's the way you want to play, no problem: others pick up the slack.

    Historically, the evidence suggests that even if you *wanted* to innovate at a slower pace, you would not if you wanted to stay in business. Because you would now need to innovate at a faster pace to keep up.

    But there's good news here: because you too could make use of what others had done, you could build on their inventions, rather than reinventing the wheel yourself. So even if your own pace were slightly *slower* by being able to benefit from the work of many others, the end result of your innovations would actually be greater.

    So... even if you were being lazier, you would be more innovative and the market would be better off.

    Seems like everyone would be better off in the absence of patents.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    Of course Fred an AC's arguments only make sense if it is a fact that no one else would have come up with similar innovations if they did not, or if they kept their ideas in secret. Pure vanity. It's a big world, there are lots of smart people. We humans are so egotistical to flatter ourselves that our ideas are unique.

    I believe that (more of the time) real-world problems are the basis for innovation, not some "spark of genius inventor". As time moves on and the problems change, different solutions become ripe for "invention", like apples on a tree in spring.

    In our current "first to file" system, the first guy to pick an apple off the tree gets to own the concept of apples until after my kids die. Now, if I "invent" apple pie, I can't make it without paying my license. You can't invent applesauce, and turnovers? Forgetaboutit. One guy makes an obvious discovery, and locks down an area of though for decades. Yeah, great system.

    Sure, not all inventions are like the above, but I think many are. And every market-interfering IP monopoly that we allow the regulators to grant has negative externalities which MUST be considered. The costs of IP are a certainty, the benefits are more nebulous. The onus should be on the pro-IP lobby to convince us their way is truly better, yet the discussion always seems to be framed as the reverse.

     

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  36.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    In Soviet Russia, Patents Own YOU

    We have Godwin's Law for when Nazis are invoked.

    What shall we name the law when someone who supports:
    - government interference,
    - the creation of regulations,
    - the existence of a massive government beaurocracy (USPTO),
    - the substantial use of the courts and legal system,
    - rules which would require licenses for certain activities and channel the funds to persons who no longer had to work for financial reward,
    - reduction of competition,
    - favoring certain parties over others, and
    - the distortion of the market...

    ...tries to paint the pro free-market, anti-IP side as "Communist"?

    McCarthy's Law?
    The "Law of Red Rebuttals" - agree with me or you must be a commmie?
    The Tsar's New Clothes?

    I mean, the debate pro or con IP is an interesting one, with some merit to each side. The challenge is in correctly predicting which set of rules (or lack thereof) results in the best outcome for the nation. Almost nobody in this debate is a communist, for @#@ sakes. But if one side of the debate DID look more communist than the other, it would be the pro-IP side.

    So stuff it, my hypocritical comrades. You remind me of when I was younger at the bars, and my overweight friend would look at a woman and denounce her cuz "she's too fat".

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    I feel like a great deal of this dispute arises from AC's misunderstanding of what the term "study shows" means. He seems to have read it as "study proves".

     

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    you want a name well for now my name is fred., Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    I think that is more Mike's problem, no? We can tell the difference, but I think that Mike is hoping that the "morons in a hurry" reading this blog will take it as the word of god, not the one sided results from a study.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    I think you misunderstand what "shows" means. "Proves" is a synonym for "shows." Check your local dictionary.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    Re: In Soviet Russia, Patents Own YOU

    lol...Russia never had patents, they had a "free market." People were not permitted to "own" intellectual property, because intellectual property was appropriated for the "commons" or the "common good," or at least that was their explanation. In reality, they did not want to pay for invention OR innovation. Guess what!?!? That is exactly what they got, very little invention or innovation.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    Still waiting for a SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT INDEPENDENT INVENTION HAPPENS MOST OF THE TIME. Note that I did not say "discovery," which is not patentable and is an attribute of science, but INVENTION.

    Show (prove) to me.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    We do not have a "first to file" system. Virtually all other countries do.

     

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    you want a name well for now my name is fred., Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    "Of course Fred an AC's arguments only make sense if it is a fact that no one else would have come up with similar innovations if they did not, or if they kept their ideas in secret. Pure vanity. It's a big world, there are lots of smart people."

    I call fail. Innovation (the true stuff, not the polishing turd stuff) actually costs money. Big money. Even the universities are funded by endowments from rich buisnessmen who made their money on (ready) innovative products and services. So even in the academic world, we are very reliant on the money of industry to pay the bills.

    There are plenty of smart people out there, this is true. But without the financial backing (governmental or private), very little true innovation would occur.

    Without the money, where would we be? I suspect mankind would be stuck somewhere between the steam age and the industrial revolution, perhaps a little further on but not much. The speed of development and new ideas in the 20th century is almost an exact mirror of the protections of patent, copyright, and such granted during that time.

    Quite simply, if patents were such a drag on ACTUAL innovation, we would have slowed down development. Instead, we have sped up tremendously. There is no proof in the real world that there is any drag on true innovation. There is surely signs of a drag on copycatters and reproduction without development cost, but that type of "innovation" is very short term in nature.

    "One guy makes an obvious discovery, and locks down an area of though for decades. Yeah, great system."

    Obvious patents are struck down all the time. You have to remember that what is obvious today looking back wasn't obvious then. Considering that patents are for a very short period of time (in reality), unless you kids are planning to die before the first time they vote, they will have no issues.

    "every market-interfering IP monopoly that we allow the regulators to grant has negative externalities which MUST be considered"

    Of course they must be considered. But you must also consider the innovation-interfering that comes from NOT rewarding true innovation. Slowing down a market for 20 years (and often not even slowing it at all, just requiring a license to use the technology) is a small price to pay against having that development forever in the future. There is always long term benefits to mankind. Think about technology 20 years ago, think of it today. Tell me there hasn't been innovation in almost every area.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    Actually, the paths my inventions have taken have been very different from my competitors. Does that mean they could not use my inventions? Not at all. However, they made mistakes that would require them to undesign some of their products and start over - which they may do in 5 or 10 years on their next design go round (if the patents did not exist). In the meantime, superior design to me.

    As for taking or stealing or copying what others have done, that is not my business. Why do what someone else has done. If I am no longer able to protect my inventions, then I will move out of engineering and do something different. Perhaps back into software. I enjoyed that, though that will eventually all be outsourced to India. Maybe I will just retire. America no longer needs engineers after patents are done. May as well throw in the towel.

    Incidentally, many engineers do feel that way. I have asked a lot of engineers in the mechanical fields what they would do if patents went away. The general feeling is that the Chinese would copy everything and mechanical as well as most other engineering in the United States would disappear. Indeed, we would all be flipping burgers - though maybe not even that. Maybe we would have to move to China for employment, or Russia.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And I have yet to see empirical evidence that patent do not increase innovation or hinder the progress. Are there isolated cases where patents decrease innovation or hinder progress? Of course! Name a system that does not lead to positive and negative outcomes. However, based on the studies that I have read - many of which have been posted previously by commenters on this site - there is just about as much empirical evidence that patents are a positive influence in some fields as others like to claim there is evidence that they are a negative influence. I am still waiting for a single empirical study that objectively considers all factors.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Excuse me? The study "shows" that patents lead to sub-optimal innovation? No, I believe the study "shows" that patents MAY lead to sub-optimal innovation. The authors of the study were quite accurate that their results COULD mean that patents MAY lead to sub-optimal innovation, not that they DID. So, the "shows" without the "may" is either YOUR opinion or viewpoint, or you are misrepresenting the study. Which is it?

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: In Soviet Russia, Patents Own YOU

    Soviet Russia had a free market?

    OK, then, in that alternate reality, I stand corrected.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    You know, I could respond to your points one-by-one, but you will just attempt to reinterpret them again in a way that I did not mean. So, I am do with explaining to you the amount of bullshit you have in your original post. You mislead everyone regarding the study, which CLEAR STATES that the results MAY show that patents lead to sub-optimal innovation, and from there you just kept adding conclusion after conclusion that is not only unsupported, but illogical. Unfortunately, I have insufficient enthusiasm for continuing to spend time explaining to you. I am unsure of whether your ignorance is intentional to annoy me, or whether you truly fail to see the points I am attempting to make. In either case, if your goal was to attempt to make someone with a somewhat open mind go away, you have succeeded.

     

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  49.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    There are plenty of smart people out there, this is true. But without the financial backing (governmental or private), very little true innovation would occur.

    Assumes, incorrectly, that without patents there is less money. Proven wrong time and time again. Eric Schiff's research into Switzerland and the Netherlands at a time without patents puts a total end to such ridiculousness. Petra Moser's research on innovation in nations without patents shows the same thing.

    Why repeat it other than ignorance?

    Without the money, where would we be? I suspect mankind would be stuck somewhere between the steam age and the industrial revolution, perhaps a little further on but not much. The speed of development and new ideas in the 20th century is almost an exact mirror of the protections of patent, copyright, and such granted during that time.

    Not so, actually. Again, this shows a near total ignorance of the evidence. Lerner's research, in particular, is instructive here. He looked at 150 changes to patent systems, and the pace of innovation before and after and found that patent strengthening came *after* greater periods of innovation, rather than before. So, while the mirror may be there, the direction is the opposite of what you suggest. The stronger patent system FOLLOWS greater innovation.

    And, then if you look within industries where patents were added, and compare, you find that the pace of innovation goes down. The recent research done on the Italian pharma industry shows that, for example.

    Quite simply, if patents were such a drag on ACTUAL innovation, we would have slowed down development

    No, you seem to misunderstand what is being discussed (yet again). What we're saying is the pace is slower than it would be without patents. Not that it would have slowed down entirely.

    Obvious patents are struck down all the time.

    Ha! Now you're just making stuff up. Patents are *rarely* struck down once issued.

    But you must also consider the innovation-interfering that comes from NOT rewarding true innovation.

    Sure, but we have a great mechanism to reward innovation. It's called the marketplace. Maybe you've heard of it.

    Slowing down a market for 20 years (and often not even slowing it at all, just requiring a license to use the technology) is a small price to pay against having that development forever in the future.

    Again, the empirical research (including this very study) suggests that's not true at all. The price is high and the idea that the development would not be found otherwise is totally unsupported by the evidence.

    Think about technology 20 years ago, think of it today. Tell me there hasn't been innovation in almost every area.

    There has been, but that's not because of patents, but in spite of them.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And I have yet to see empirical evidence that patent do not increase innovation or hinder the progress.

    Really? Um. I pointed to a bunch. Ignorance doesn't make you right. It just makes you ignorant.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    You know, I could respond to your points one-by-one, but you will just attempt to reinterpret them again in a way that I did not mean.

    Heh. Translation: I called you on your bullshit, and you can't admit you were wrong, so you just say you won't respond but you could. Very convincing. Thanks for playing. See you next time.

    You mislead everyone regarding the study, which CLEAR STATES that the results MAY show that patents lead to sub-optimal innovation, and from there you just kept adding conclusion after conclusion that is not only unsupported, but illogical.

    I believe I accurately reflected what the study said, and noted that it matched up with numerous other studies. It's from that combination that I drew the conclusions that are both supported and very, very logical -- except maybe to those who profit unfairly from the old system.

    I am unsure of whether your ignorance is intentional to annoy me, or whether you truly fail to see the points I am attempting to make. In either case, if your goal was to attempt to make someone with a somewhat open mind go away, you have succeeded.

    I've spent a lot of time researching these very issues. I'm always open to a discussion on them. But, if someone spouts bullshit, I'm going to call them on it.

    Sorry if you can't take it when someone calls you on stuff.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    Mike, please:

    "Proven wrong time and time again. Eric Schiff's research into Switzerland and the Netherlands at a time without patents puts a total end to such ridiculousness"

    Wrong, because these countries (a) didn't account for all of their own inventions (they could get it from outside), and (b) because outside money could still fuel the developments. The first rule of true testing is to lock down as many variables as you can, so that you can accurately measure something. These sorts of studies can't do it.

    So repeating my view isn't ignorance, it's a good understanding that these studies are not absolute.

    "Again, this shows a near total ignorance of the evidence. Lerner's research, in particular, is instructive here. He looked at 150 changes to patent systems, and the pace of innovation before and after and found that patent strengthening came *after* greater periods of innovation, rather than before. So, while the mirror may be there, the direction is the opposite of what you suggest. The stronger patent system FOLLOWS greater innovation."

    Again, it's nice, but not exactly correct (but you are pulling a conclusion out of it that is on your side). We have had strong patent protection for quite a while now, and yet we have had the most innovation (true innovaton, not replication and gentle modification). In 30 years we have gone from 0 on home computers, amongst other things. The amount of innovation in that area alone is higher than all the innovation in any other time in mankind's history.

    "Ha! Now you're just making stuff up. Patents are *rarely* struck down once issued."

    That's a lie. There are plenty of patents under review and then killed off. There are plenty of patents that are rendered irrelevant by court decisions. There are plenty of patents that are unenforceable. There are plenty of judgements (reported here) of patent holders losing cases because their patent does not apply. There are plenty more patents under review because of prior art and other issues. The system doesn't run at internet speed, but your "*rarely*" is about as often as a patent is abused. Just you report one side way more than the other here.

    "Sure, but we have a great mechanism to reward innovation. It's called the marketplace. Maybe you've heard of it."

    The marketplace doesn't reward innovation, in the very short run perhaps, but in the longer run it rewards price. When you have one company with huge development costs and one company that just copycats the first companies' products and brings them to market, which one has the lower costs? First mover is only good for a very short period of time. After that, price and availability trump everything else.

    If you could knock off an X-box360 at half the price (say building a clone in China) and you could actually bring it to market, what do you think the effects are on the company that had to develop the machine from scratch, the software, and such? Your logic absolutely fails.

    "Again, the empirical research (including this very study) suggests that's not true at all. The price is high and the idea that the development would not be found otherwise is totally unsupported by the evidence."

    This study looks at a very narrow time frame, and very narrow parameters. More importantly, it cannot truly simulate what happens when the money is removed. That is a process over time, not a sharp cut but a flow of a tap slowly getting turned off. You replace true innovation (actual new ideas, new product segements, new methods, etc) with "masnick innovation" where people take the same idea and paint it a different color. In the short run, you see more "products", but actually, forward progress is being lost.

    It's sort of like swimming. Done right, you focus your energies on moving forward, with little splash and less resistance. Your version of "innovation" is a mad flailing about, which generates a bunch of noise and splashing, but when you finally run out of energy, you find you haven't moved very far.

    "There has been, but that's not because of patents, but in spite of them."

    An absolutely dismissive comment. Sorry Mike, but if Patents were all that terrible, the last 20 or 30 years all development would have ground to a halt. The opposite is true, mankind is advancing faster than ever, with more TRUE innovation in the last 20 years than the 40 years before that, and the 80 years before that, and so on. Mankind will likely have as many advances in the next 10 years as the last 20, slowed only by the economic issues which are currently slowing down R&D and demand.

    In the end, this study (and others of similar nature) get the results they are looking for by narrowing the scope down until all they can see is what they are looking for, rather than the true implications. You have an MBA, you should know that dropping a rock in the economic pond creates ripples, and those ripples create ripples, and all that activity pushes the rock up to the shore, where it is picked up and dropped back into the pond again.

    You need to back up a little from the subject, you have your nosed pushed up too close to the glass and you aren't seeing it all.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Sorry, I do want to add this:

    "But it certainly raises ever more questions about the insistence among patent system supporters that the system must increase innovation. The evidence there is scant. The evidence on the other side? Quite imposing."

    We get into the problem of trying to prove an absolute where none exists. These studies all look at abolishing patents in one form or another, but the other side? There is never absolute patent control. There is never 100% blockage, there is never 100% blocked markets. The other side of the discussion is about where we sit today. You only have to look around the room you are sitting in to know the progress that is made under the current system.

    The other part is that the studies you push don't seperate out R&D new product style innovation from pure reproduction or the mere act of re-arranging the pieces to make something "new" that isn't really new. So what would the other side really study? That sort of summing up of a story is pretty vapid, because you know that the other side has nothing to prove, the current system for the most part works. The proposals? Burning down the house to kill some fleas.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Give and Take

    Wrong, because these countries (a) didn't account for all of their own inventions (they could get it from outside), and (b) because outside money could still fuel the developments.

    Heh. Just admit it: you haven't read the studies. Because you're spewing nonsese. The research looks into innovations developed within those countries. But you would know that if you'd read them.

    Again, it's nice, but not exactly correct (but you are pulling a conclusion out of it that is on your side). We have had strong patent protection for quite a while now, and yet we have had the most innovation (true innovaton, not replication and gentle modification). In 30 years we have gone from 0 on home computers, amongst other things. The amount of innovation in that area alone is higher than all the innovation in any other time in mankind's history.

    Yes, and if you look at where the most significant of that innovation took place, in computers and software, there was little to no patent activity.

    Thanks for playing. See you later.

    The marketplace doesn't reward innovation, in the very short run perhaps, but in the longer run it rewards price.

    Yes. That's why the iPod still dominates the market despite being the most expensive mp3 player on the market. The market is based on a lot more than price. Note that the best selling car in America is not the cheapest car. The market rewards innovation. Sometimes that innovation is pricing innovation, but often it is not.

    If you could knock off an X-box360 at half the price (say building a clone in China) and you could actually bring it to market, what do you think the effects are on the company that had to develop the machine from scratch, the software, and such? Your logic absolutely fails.

    Except we have examples of that. It's called the PC. And you were just talking about how much damn innovation has occurred in that market, despite the basics of it being open to innovation.

    Oops. We accept apologies. You can admit you were wrong.

    This study looks at a very narrow time frame, and very narrow parameters. More importantly, it cannot truly simulate what happens when the money is removed.

    Right. And if it were just this one study, I'd agree. But the point is that it's not. It's a lot of studies, all looking at different angles and proving that this is, in fact, quite an accurate picture.

    An absolutely dismissive comment.

    No, an accurate one based on a ton of empirical research, which you clearly have not read.

    Sorry Mike, but if Patents were all that terrible, the last 20 or 30 years all development would have ground to a halt.

    Not at all. We've already addressed this. Innovation doesn't stop, but it can be slowed down relative to what it would have been otherwise. Again, Schiff's research highlights this quite clearly. Switzerland innovated like crazy and far surpassed countries that had patents. Those other countries still innovated, but not nearly as rapidly as Switzerland.

    Damn. Don't you hate it when the actual evidence shows your guesses to be wrong? It's happening so often these days, maybe it's time to take a break.

    In the end, this study (and others of similar nature) get the results they are looking for by narrowing the scope down until all they can see is what they are looking for, rather than the true implications.

    Hmm. Most of the studies I discuss are quite different from this one. The point is that they attack the same question from so many different angles -- and they all come up with the same result.

    But, again, since you haven't read them, you don't seem to know that.

     

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  55.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    These studies all look at abolishing patents in one form or another, but the other side?

    Once again, you show that you have not read the studies. I'm aware of four out of the studies I've mentioned that actually look at abolishing patents. The rest do not. But, you know, if you want to continue showing off your ignorance... go ahead. We've got plenty of time.

    No wonder you don't put a name to your posts. It would be way too embarrassing.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:33pm

    Mike

    Perhaps you can answer this: Why is innovation high in countries with strong IP and patent laws, like the US, Japan and Finland, and low in countries like China and India, where there is virtually no patent protection?

    Perhaps you can enlighten us on why countries with zero regard for IP and patents are usually good only at knockoffs and not original research!

     

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  57.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:29am

    Re:

    Perhaps you can answer this: Why is innovation high in countries with strong IP and patent laws, like the US, Japan and Finland, and low in countries like China and India, where there is virtually no patent protection?

    Perhaps you can enlighten us on why countries with zero regard for IP and patents are usually good only at knockoffs and not original research!


    Um, because that's simply not true.

    First, both India and China are incredibly innovative. I'm not sure why you think they're not. They do have knockoff cultures -- which perhaps helps hide the innovation that is going on in both countries, but you're seriously out of touch if you think there isn't massive innovation in both countries.

    Second, as has already been discussed (why must you people always ignore the evidence?), greater patent protection *post* dates periods of innovation. So it's no surprise that countries that have *historically* been innovative have stricter IP laws. They came about as innovators there wanted to protect their previous innovations, not as a way to encourage new innovations.

    Anyway, if you think that India and China aren't doing original research and innovation... you're simply not active in that part of the world.

    Yikes. Time for you to catch up. This isn't 1985 any more.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Mike, you just lost a reader.

    If you can't answer basic questions, why bother?

    Dismissive attitude and looking down on your reader is all you seem to manage anymore, unless someone is licking your butt. Didn't someone recently tell you about why that is a major FAIL?

    Sorry dude, but I don't spent time on your website to have you pee down from on high.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Mikey is an honest PR dude on payroll posing as an "independent" tech blogger

    Independent my ass...

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    MikeIP, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 9:39am

    I would say that ignorant doesn't may you smart, it makes you an MBA who doesn't understand a lick the ins and outs of the patent system, who has never actually drafted or prosecuted a patent application, and who has never read anything that lends itself in the title to something he would disagree with. But that's just me . . . and the rest of the patent bar who, you know, actually deal with this stuff instead of opining on how difficult life is for "innovators" that merely "innovate" by making copies of others' patented inventions.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    staff1, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 10:02am

    stop the shilling!!!

    "Over the years, we've pointed to tons of research, especially historical research, that shows that near total lack of evidence that patents have any causal relationship to increased innovation."

    Anyone ever consider actually ASKING the real innovators if the patent system encourages them? Of course not. Instead your patent thieving buddies throw some fast cash at these pseudo patent experts who have no working knowledge of the patent system to construe some mindless study with a preordained result.

    Patent reform is a fraud on America...
    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

     

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  62.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Mike, you just lost a reader.

    I doubt it.

    If you can't answer basic questions, why bother?

    I did answer the questions. Remember, you're the one who said you wouldn't answer my questions. I did respond to yours.

    That you don't like the answer is no reason to go run and hide.

    Dismissive attitude and looking down on your reader is all you seem to manage anymore, unless someone is licking your butt. Didn't someone recently tell you about why that is a major FAIL?

    I am only dismissive towards those who insist that up is down repeatedly, despite evidence to the contrary. I have little time for people like that. If you want to go away, have fun.

    But if you expect me to sit here and accept that bullshit is gold, then I'm going to tell you no. If you don't like it... that's really not my problem.

     

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  63.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Mikey is an honest PR dude on payroll posing as an "independent" tech blogger

    Angry dude, I'm not sure why you feel the need to repeat this, even after you admitted that you know it's not true.

    For the record, angry dude has been caught lying multiple times. He claimed to hold many different patents, and then about a year and a half ago suddenly claimed he'd just received his first patent. Either way, he still hasn't demonstrated a single patent.

    He also admitted that he knows I'm not "on the payroll" of any company other than my own, and that I don't work in PR -- but he claims as such because he was letting off steam.

    Yet he still does it.

    Once again: I do not and have NEVER worked in PR. We are not "on the payroll" of any company. In fact, my positions seem to go very much against the companies that angry dude and others insist I'm on the payroll for.

    How do they respond to that? They don't.

    It's a neat trick though. If you can't actually respond to the facts, accuse me of being a shill. And never admit who you really are, or the fact that you benefit from keeping the old system in place.

    I have no monetary stake in the patent system either way. No one pays me for my opinions. The only one's "shilling" here are the small group of patent holders & patent attorneys who benefit from the system.

     

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  64.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    I would say that ignorant doesn't may you smart

    What does that mean?

    it makes you an MBA who doesn't understand a lick the ins and outs of the patent system, who has never actually drafted or prosecuted a patent application

    Oh, I see. So, unless you benefit from a monopoly system, you're not allowed to comment on it?

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    I'd argue that the fact that you make your living sucking off of this gov't granted subsidy actually makes you rather unqualified to speak about it from an unbiased position.

    who has never read anything that lends itself in the title to something he would disagree with

    Hmm. Apparently you're new to the site? We discuss stuff that disagrees with me all the time.

    But that's just me . . . and the rest of the patent bar who, you know, actually deal with this stuff instead of opining on how difficult life is for "innovators" that merely "innovate" by making copies of others' patented inventions

    Oh, right. Because it's the "patent bar" rather than the actual innovators (who I deal with all the time) that the patent system is supposed to serve?

    See my comments above. You are clearly biased, since you make your living off of the system. You cannot judge the system clearly.

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    "The only one's "shilling" here are the small group of patent holders & patent attorneys who benefit from the system."

    That's a lovely statement

    The Founding Fathers arre rolling over in their graves...

    yeah, right, it is a small group of patent holders & patent attorneys who benefitted from patent system, not the american public at large

    Mikey, I suggest you throw your comp out of the window, undress yourself and go live in the woods like a caveman

    Cause most of the stuff you use everyday was originally developed AND patented by someone - its didn't just happen by itself
    Only shit happens

     

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  66.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    The Founding Fathers arre rolling over in their graves...

    Given their statements about how a patent system was supposed to act, yes, they are. But not for the reasons you cite, but for the way you and your friends abuse the system not to innovate, but to drain money from innovation.

    Cause most of the stuff you use everyday was originally developed AND patented by someone - its didn't just happen by itself

    I'm not sure how you, who pretend to be so smart, can be so clueless about basic logic. Correlation != causation, buddy. The fact that stuff gets patented doesn't mean that it needed a patent to get developed. In fact, this very article (not that you ever actually read anything) notes how much stuff gets patents just for defensive purposes.

    Try to keep up.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    CrushU, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    If you are using a computer that did not come from IBM, you are a product of an innovator who 'merely imitated'.

    IBM and Apple had the first PCs (Personal Computers here meant literally; Common usage has changed so that 'PC' more accurately means 'IBM Clone' nowadays.) Both had patents... Apple enforced theirs *brutally*. IBM didn't enforce theirs, because they believed that a PC wouldn't be attractive to a home user. They believed the expense combined with the inherent 'business-like' aspect of a computer would never appeal to a home user. For this reason, several knockups sprang up. To IBM's credit, they were very right when it came to businesses, for the most part they would buy from IBM if they could afford the prestige of having IBM computers. (To translate to today's terms; You'd think more of a company if all of their computers were, say, Alienware, as opposed to Dell. Alienware isn't just good at gaming computers. :) )

    However, IBM was wrong when it came to home users, and IBM missed out on that market. The same thing happened with color screens... IBM decided not to bother with color screens because computers were for business and numbers, and color doesn't matter for that. And consequently they lost out when the market decided that color was important.

    Now? Apple still protects their patents vigorously. And their computers cost much more than what a comparative IBM Clone-based computer can do. To Apple's credit, they've got brilliant marketing and have managed to coax the 'hipster' crowd into buying their machines. In straight up productivity and power, IBM Clones, the 'copycats', have won.

    So actually, YOU should throw away your computer, if you believe so strongly in the patent system.

    (All of this is 6 year old information at best, half-remembered. I'm quite possibly wrong on these points, but I believe the general thrust is correct.)

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    CrushU, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    Alright, I just doublechecked myself and I was wrong. IBM did not patent their computer, the only proprietary part was the BIOS chip. That part was the only thing other manufacturers couldn't copy and had to make on their own.

    So PC innovation was actually a patent-free area.

     

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  69.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A stretccchhhhhhh it is...

    I don't recall Mike ever saying that he makes his editorial decisions based on the "morons in a hurry test."

    But I apologize, if you're in a hurry, I'll let you get on your way.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonyme, Jul 16th, 2011 @ 3:26pm

    The game is bogus

    As it does not model profit which is needed to fund innovation...

     

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


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