A whole bunch of folks have been sending in the story of how UK inventor Trevor Baylis has written a letter to UK Business Secretary (and sudden fan
of kicking people off the internet), urging him to change patent law to make it a criminal offense
, using the same old tactic: comparing an "invention" to real property, and noting that stealing a car will get you jail time -- so why doesn't "nicking" a patent? Well, Mr. Baylis, it doesn't get you jail time for a whole host of very good reasons: when someone steals your car, you no longer have your car. If someone happens to come up with the same invention as you do, both of you still have it. Plus, note in that last sentence that patent infringement rarely
involves actual "stealing" or "nicking" of ideas, but usually is about multiple people coming up with the same general idea
at the same time. Doesn't it seem slightly problematic to think that you might go to jail if someone else just happened to come up with the same invention you did, but got to the patent office a day earlier? Hopefully, Mandelson will explain this sort of thing to Mr. Baylis, but given his confusion over copyright... that seems unlikely.