All That's Left Of Nortel? Patents For The Trolls

from the scoop-'em-up dept

It looks like just about all that's left of former telco equipment giant Nortel is a whole bunch of patents, that are now expected to sell for somewhere in the range of $1.1 billion. The big question, of course, is who ends up with those patents, and what they do with them. Generally speaking, you don't see companies spend $1.1 billion on a bunch of patents, unless they're planning something big. It's entirely possible someone will buy them for defensive purposes, but equally likely that they're used to sue lots of other companies (or, perhaps by the likes of Intellectual Ventures, to scare people into paying up to avoid the possibility of being sued). Either way, it's yet another example of why patents can be dangerous even if the original patent holders didn't use them to shake down other innovative companies. Those patents may later get sold to the highest bidder...


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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:41pm

    So, are you just anti-patent in general, Mike?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:44pm

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      Isn't everyone?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:46pm

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        Uh, no.

        I can't tell if that's sarcasm. If not, it exemplifies how echo-chambers like TechDirt (and like freerepublic.com, dailykos.com, etc.) skew people's perceptions of reality.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:50pm

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          And what exactly is your perception of reality? It doesn't appear that you have contributed so much as a viewpoint here, much less anything significant or academic.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:55pm

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            "And what exactly is your perception of reality?"

            Not everyone is generally anti-patent.

            "doesn't appear that you have contributed so much as a viewpoint here"

            If you read *really* carefully, you might find a viewpoint in the comment you just responded to.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:21pm

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              I don't think techdirt says that everyone is anti patent. By thinking that techdirt should skew peoples perception of reality into thinking such a thing I would say you skewed your own perception of reality. But most people (not everyone) in the world generally are and historically have been (ie: most of the population comes from China and India and similar places and they generally are and heck I would say a good percentage of Americans generally are, it's just the big corporations that aren't anti patent, and historically the world has mostly been anti patent and even the founders of the constitution have been very skeptical of patents).

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:21am

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                "I don't think techdirt says that everyone is anti patent."

                Nor do I, but If you look back at the thread, you'll see the response "Isn't everyone?" to my question about Masnick being generally anti-patent.

                "By thinking that techdirt should skew peoples perception of reality into thinking such a thing I would say you skewed your own perception of reality."

                I never said techdirt "should" do any such thing.

                "it's just the big corporations that aren't anti patent"

                I think that is false. Scratch that, I *know* that is false.

                "even the founders of the constitution have been very skeptical of patents"

                Apparently so skeptical that they explicitly authorized Congress to grant such exclusive rights.

                 

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                  Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:53am

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                  Apparently so skeptical that they explicitly authorized Congress to grant such exclusive rights.

                  Yes, after a long and involved debate with both Madison and Jefferson at times questioning whether the harm would outweigh the good -- and both settling on the idea that the monopoly power should only be used *rarely* in specific cases, *and* that it should be monitored to make sure that the harm of monopolies did not outweigh the good.

                  Of course, lawmakers have since ignored all of that. I would suggest you don't do the same in making such an argument.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:47am

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                  "I never said techdirt "should" do any such thing. "

                  You are confusing should with ought to.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:53am

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                  "Nor do I, but If you look back at the thread, you'll see the response "Isn't everyone?" to my question about Masnick being generally anti-patent."

                  Yes, I saw it, the fact that you would take such a statement literally is just silly being that everyone knows that those who unfairly benefit from the patent system aren't against it. But those are the few.

                  "I think that is false. Scratch that, I *know* that is false."

                  That's why pharma is constantly lobbying for patents and more patent restrictions, etc... and why they always say, "if it weren't for patents no one would come up with new drugs" etc... and why patent trolls abuse the system and that's why it's mostly consumer groups and individuals opposing our current patent and copyright system. When you say you know something it helps to have evidence.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:11am

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                    I didn't "take it literally." I asked if it was sarcasm or not.

                    "But those are the few...When you say you know something it helps to have evidence."

                    So where's the evidence that people who aren't against the patent system "are the few?"

                    As for my evidence that it is not "just the big corporations that aren't anti patent," I am personally familiar with many individual inventors that are quite happy we have a patent system.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:09pm

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                      "So where's the evidence that people who aren't against the patent system "are the few?""

                      Like I said, China is mostly against them and so is India, their government is against them because their people are against them, their entire culture and beliefs tend to be against them, they pretty much make a huge portion of the population. Most of history people were against them, the founding fathers reflected and even noted this, and plenty of Americans are pretty much against them even. Many Canadians seem to be against these monopolies as they also seem to be protesting IP a lot too and look at all the individual supported groups against them (ie: the pirate party). It's mostly people and large groups of individuals against them whereas it's mostly corporate leaders and those who unfairly benefit from the system that are for them.

                      "I am personally familiar with many individual inventors that are quite happy we have a patent system."

                      Like I said, it's mostly those who unfairly benefit from the system that are for them. You may call them inventors just because they can request a monopoly on an idea/design but getting a monopoly on something is hardly a useful contribution to society.

                      http://www.framalang.org/wiki/Farmers,_Politicians,_Free_Software_Fans_Demonstrate_Again st_Patents

                      The number of people protesting these patents alone seems to far outnumber those protesting for them. and many employees that work for pro patent corporations themselves are against patents or at least our current patent system.

                      If patents were really necessary then there would be no need for the legal system to enforce them. The government can simply list who has allegedly come up with an idea first (be it a corporation or a person) and most people would naturally respect these patent laws and avoid buying/selling products that infringe on someones alleged patent property without the need for laws. But the fact is that to the extent that people respect patent laws it's only because the law enforces them. Sure, in the case of physical property laws and anti murder laws you need some restrictions to prevent the few people who would go around vandalizing your house from doing so and stealing your physical property and killing people (and to punish them and prevent them from further doing so) but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of the people would cooperate in that regard. In the case of intellectual property, if most people agreed with it they would voluntarily cooperate without laws and those who don't agree with it would be such an insignificantly small minority that they won't do any real damage (they won't be able to sell much to anyone because people would naturally respect whoever allegedly first came up with the idea and avoid buying from others). But if the overwhelming majority of the population would break these laws if it weren't for governmental enforcement that means that the overwhelming majority of the population disagrees with them and who are you to tell the majority of the people that your moral judgment is better than everyone else's or that everyone is immoral and not you?

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:12pm

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                        "If patents were really necessary then there would be no need for the legal system to enforce them."

                        Should read

                        "If most people really were pro patent then there would be no need for the legal system to enforce them."

                         

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:27pm

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                        Ascribing one view to the billions of people in China and India is a little presumptuous, don't you think? I mean, India has so many political parties it's impossible to say Indians "mostly think X." And saying China's government policies reflect the will of the people? Really?

                        You really think people are generally altruistic and not motivated by profit, and would just respect inventions without any legal ramifications? Even if that were true, the few that wouldn't respect such inventions would profit to the detriment to those who do.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:37pm

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                          "You really think people are generally altruistic and not motivated by profit, and would just respect inventions without any legal ramifications?"

                          So then you admit that the majority of the population wouldn't follow these rules without legal ramifications involved and hence you are arguing either the majority of the population (but not you of course) is immoral or that they are moral and disagree with IP laws generally.

                          "the few that wouldn't respect such inventions would profit to the detriment to those who do."

                          Their profit would be minimal since those who respect it won't buy from those who don't. and just because something maybe to the detriment of others doesn't mean it's wrong. A competing ice cream shop is to the detriment of the ice cream shop it competes with but so what, that's just free market capitalism. and if those very few who don't respect it are immoral many of them would probably break the laws anyways and so it won't matter and they're only buying from and selling to others who don't respect it, those who naturally respect it won't buy products from them and so those who don't would have to sustain themselves only off of others who don't. Sure they may not contribute their labor to those who do by buying products from them or selling to them but that's not a detriment to them, not contributing to them is not the same as being a detriment to them. That's like saying if I don't buy ice cream from you and instead buy it from your competitor I am being a detriment to you. Those who don't do not owe their labor to those who respect IP laws.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:22pm

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                            "So then you admit that the majority of the population wouldn't follow these rules without legal ramifications"

                            Yes, probably so

                            "and hence you are arguing either the majority of the population (but not you of course) is immoral"

                            uh, no

                            "or that they are moral and disagree with IP laws generally."

                            Uh, no.

                            It is possible to (a) think that a legal regime would be a good idea, but (b) not not comply with such a legal regime that does not exist.

                            In other words, people might think that a patent system would be nice (if it existed), but not comply with the potential rules of such a nonexistent system, without beeing "immoral."

                            That's not so outlandish a proposition, is it?

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:35pm

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                              "It is possible to (a) think that a legal regime would be a good idea, but (b) not not comply with such a legal regime that does not exist."

                              Yes, it's possible, but rather hypocritical. Rather, it's selfish, those who would unfairly benefit from the patent system because they have no regard for morality are the ones who would hold such a position. Such a position is possible but hypocritical, are you arguing that the majority of the people are hypocrites?

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:40pm

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                                "Yes, it's possible, but rather hypocritical."

                                I don't think so at all. I think major league baseball should refrain from adopting instant replay, if it were to do so, I don't think a manager who shared my opinion would be a hypocrite for requesting review of a close call.

                                "those who would unfairly benefit from the patent system because they have no regard for morality are the ones who would hold such a position."

                                I have no idea what you're getting at here. What verions of "morality" are you talking about?

                                Not every law is either "moral" or "immoral." Sometimes things might just be better if we had some regulation, but that doesn't make it "immoral" to fail to follow such regulation.

                                I'm really not sure how your morality got injected into this discussion.

                                 

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                                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:50pm

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                                  "I don't think so at all. I think major league baseball should refrain from adopting instant replay, if it were to do so, I don't think a manager who shared my opinion would be a hypocrite for requesting review of a close call."

                                  What you are saying is that instant replays should be refrained from unless there is a close call. If a manager didn't follow this but believed it then that person would be a hypocrite.

                                   

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:52pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    "What you are saying is that instant replays should be refrained from unless there is a close call."

                                    That's not at all what I'm saying. At any rate, it's too difficult to read the comments now.

                                    Adieu

                                     

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:46pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          "Ascribing one view to the billions of people in China and India is a little presumptuous, don't you think? I mean, India has so many political parties it's impossible to say Indians "mostly think X." And saying China's government policies reflect the will of the people? Really?"

                          I think saying that most of them don't like IP is a safe and reasonable conclusion. Look at their piracy rates, for instance, if they really respected it they wouldn't pirate so much. and U.S. officials (not citizens, just officials and big corporations) always criticize them for infringing on patents and copyrights, if they respected them they naturally wouldn't infringe so much.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:26pm

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                            "not citizens, just officials and big corporations"

                            Really? Are we going here again? You really think the only U.S. citizens that criticize foreign piracy are governmetn officials or "big corporations?" Have you any support for that statement?

                            At any rate, I suspect that people in China and India are more accepting of piracy (or whatever you want to call it) than, e.g., people in the U.S., but I still think it's presumptuous to ascribe a certain view to those billions of people.

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:43pm

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                              "Have you any support for that statement?"

                              Do you have support for the contrary, because most of what I see are just big corporations (like the RIAA and pharma) lobbying the government to push more restrictions on foreign countries and the USTR and others pushing for more restrictive laws and other countries and their citizens (and even U.S. citizens) resisting.

                              http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100601/0354539639.shtml

                              http://www.techdirt.com/ articles/20100412/0118378969.shtml

                              There is plenty of evidence that the U.S. government and big corporations are pushing for this, I see little in terms of most U.S. citizens pushing for it.

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:51pm

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                                Sorry, dude. Making broad statements without any support and forcing others to "prove you wrong" is poor form.

                                Also, just because Techdirt focuses on certain stories doesn't mean other stories aren't out there.

                                 

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                                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:44pm

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                                  "Making broad statements without any support"

                                  I provided support, you ignored it and provided no support to the contrary. From what I see it's mostly just big business pushing for more draconian IP laws and citizens pushing against them and it appears to have always been that way.

                                   

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:42pm

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                                Oh, and lets not forget about the ,Chamber of commerce the RIAA and all the other big business lobbying arms.

                                 

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                          Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:40pm

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                          You really think people are generally altruistic and not motivated by profit, and would just respect inventions without any legal ramifications?

                          Strawman alert. Why do you assume that saying we should do away with patents means relying on altruism?

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:46pm

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                            I counter your strawman alert with another strawman alert!

                            I have not suggested and do not suggest that "saying we should do away with patents means relying on altruism." At least not solely on altruism.

                            However, the prior commenter said(I paraphrase) that if people liked patents, we wouldn't need patent law, because people would naturally refrain from using another's invention. I see that as an argument based on altruism (or at least some version of it), and ignoring people's desire to have things for cheap and/or to make a profit as cheaply as possible.

                            I mean, a lot of people don't like the idea of cheap goods being made in overseas sweatshops, but that notion is overidden by their desire to get things cheap as hell at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

                             

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:18pm

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                      "I am personally familiar with many individual inventors that are quite happy we have a patent system."

                      and if the majority of the population shares the same sentiment as these alleged inventors then these inventors should have no problem getting the majority of the people to respect their alleged intellectual property without laws enforcing such respect.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:31pm

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                        First, I was merely refuting the assertion that "only big corporations" like patents.

                        Second, I simply don't believe your theory.

                        If, for the moment, we take as an assumption that the majority of people approve of patents in general, that does not necessarily mean that they would not practice patented inventions in the absense of patents.

                        I don't see how that differs form any other law (i.e., if people really respected bodily integrity, we wouldn't need assault laws, or if people really respected the environment, we wouldn't need environmental laws).

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:42pm

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                          "I don't see how that differs form any other law (i.e., if people really respected bodily integrity, we wouldn't need assault laws, or if people really respected the environment, we wouldn't need environmental laws)."

                          I explained the difference. If people really respected the environment most would try to act in manner that doesn't harm the environment. The few that don't directly affect those that do by polluting their environment and so the few that don't can do business and survive independently off of each other while harming those that do in the process. and allowing one person to go around stabbing everyone unpunished will result in a few people killing many people but those few would be the small minority. But in the case of patents, if it's the minority of people infringing and living off of each other it hardly affects the majority just because the minority doesn't contribute their labor to the majority. The majority should easily be able to contribute enough funding to allow patent holders to make a living perfectly fine, they would only lose money from a small minority of people. There is a huge difference here.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:30pm

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                            I'm having a very hard time understanding your explanation.

                            At any rate, it does not appear to follow the prior line of thinking that "if people cared, we wouldn't need a law."

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:33pm

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                              "At any rate, it does not appear to follow the prior line of thinking that "if people cared, we wouldn't need a law.""

                              Yes it does.

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:36pm

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                                If you say so. I've read it a couple times, and I'm still not sure what you're getting at with your majority/minority distinction, and how that relates to the "we don't need laws if people agree with the principle" argument.

                                 

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:48pm

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                          "First, I was merely refuting the assertion that "only big corporations" like patents."

                          I didn't mean for you to take what I said out of context, I didn't mean for that to be an absolute statement. Learn the definition of grammatical freedom. I should have said just mostly big corporations.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:32pm

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                            "I should have said just mostly big corporations."

                            I don't know if I buy that, either.

                            If you have a definition of "grammatical freedom," feel free to share it with me.

                            I think communication is better when people are precise with their words.

                             

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:49pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          "First, I was merely refuting the assertion that "only big corporations" like patents."

                          You were refuting something everyone already knows and as such it should be obvious that such a statement shouldn't be taken absolutely literally.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:34pm

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                            If you don't mean something, don't say it.

                            There's a lot of spin that goes on here (both in Masnick's articles and in the comments), and I don't think "well I didn't really mean exactly what I wrote" is a great justification.

                             

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:54pm

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                          The difference is in the case of anti stealing laws and anti murder laws and whatnot all it takes is a small minority to have a huge impact on others (ie: one person without a drivers license driving without knowing how to drive can kill someone else). In the case of a lack of anti patent laws, a small minority is hardly going to impact anyone else, the impact would be miniscule.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:31pm

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                            and say a friend of yours asked you why you bought from a competitor instead of paying a few bucks more and buying from the original inventor, what would your response be? Would be be that you can't afford to pay a few bucks more? If so, then aren't you arguing that it's moral to buy from a competitor for those who can't afford to buy from the originator? So then why should we have laws allowing an inventor to prohibit or restrict competitors from existing and selling to those who can't afford to buy from the inventor (or forcing them to pay the inventor a huge licensing fee making you, someone who can't afford it, practically pay what you would pay with no competition)? Would your response be that you can afford to pay a few bucks more but are too selfish? If so, then why should I trust your moral judgment when it comes to whether or not patents should exist and legal policy in general? Or if you payed a few bucks more to buy from the originator (or whoever he sold his business or blessings/stamp of approval/unenforceable patent to), what, are you saying that you are more moral than most others and that no one else would do the same thing such as to contribute enough to help the original inventor recover R&D costs?

                             

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

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                            I don't think that's true.

                            Let's say you have a small minority of one. Say, Microsoft.

                            Microsoft can have a huge impact all by its little ol' self.

                             

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:06pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Let me ask you something, if there were no patents and you bought a product and you knew who invented it, would you buy the product from the inventor or from a competitor that didn't invent it? and if you buy it from a competitor would what you're doing be wrong? If so, are you an immoral person? If you are an immoral person that doesn't mean everyone else is. If you're not an immoral person from buying from a competitor then how can you say that you believe in a patent system that pays the Inventor if you yourself are too selfish to pay the inventor unless the law required it? Could it be because you benefit from the patent system and from others who are forced to pay you (or those paying you) for it? If you would buy from the patent holder, and not a competitor, because you are a moral person are you saying that you are more moral than the rest of the population or that your judgment of morality was greater than theirs? And if you felt the patent holder ripped charged such a huge premium over a competitor that the patent holder ripped you off and so you went to a competitor instead of not buying the product how can you say you are pro patent and not immoral if you can't respect the wishes of the patent holder and not buy from a competitor? Or if you feel the patent holder is immoral for overcharging you and so you thought it was moral to buy from a competitor, what, you think you're the only one capable of making such reasonable judgments and knowing how much it costs to produce R&D and who to contribute to?

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:59pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Obviously, that's a long post, but let me reply to this point:

                            "If you're not an immoral person from buying from a competitor then how can you say that you believe in a patent system that pays the Inventor if you yourself are too selfish to pay the inventor unless the law required it?"

                            Because I think patents have very little to do with morality. Just because it is not immoral to do something, does not mean that our society cannot possibly be improved by prohibiting that thing (such that one might approve of such a regulatory system).

                             

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        some old guy, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:46pm

        Re: Re:

        I am! Imaginary Profitables are not healthy in the long run.

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:55pm

      Re:

      So, are you just anti-patent in general, Mike?


      Are you new here? I'm pro-innovation. I'm against anything that gets in the way of innovation. At this point, with the way the patent system is structured, it's clearly -- inarguably -- a massive drain on innovation.

      We have yet to see a single study that shows how the patent system increases innovation. We have seen nearly three dozen studies on how it hinders innovation. I'm willing to accept a patent system if you can show me how it helps encourage innovation.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:59pm

        Re: Re:

        "Are you new here?"

        Relatively.

        So, to clarify, you:

        1. believe the current patent system (in the U.S. at least) hinders innovation more than it helps innovation.

        2. would rather have no patent system than the current patent system

        3. would prefer no patent system as a default until someone convinces you otherwise

        Is that fairly accurate?

         

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          Dementia (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 7:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          While I won't speak for Mike, you seem to have the basic idea of what I think about the current system. As much as I would love to see it all reformed, it won't happen very quickly. As a result, innovation will be choked until a new system can be put in place.

          I personally feel that no patent system at all is better than what we currently have, and the same goes for the copyright system as well.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I definitely disagree with the "nothing is better than what we've got" sentiment, though I agree that both regimes could be significantly improved.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I definitely disagree with the "nothing is better than what we've got" sentiment"

              Too bad your disagreement is not evidence based.

               

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          believe the current patent system (in the U.S. at least) hinders innovation more than it helps innovation.

          That is not just a belief. It's supported by an astounding amount of evidence.

          would rather have no patent system than the current patent system

          False dilemma, really. I'd rather any system that increases, rather than hinders innovation. Choosing between those two options is a pointless exercise.

          would prefer no patent system as a default until someone convinces you otherwise

          I think it's fairly well established that monopolies harm markets, and gov't granted monopolies are even worse. So I believe that if you are going to build a system of gov't granted monopolies, you damn well better be able to show some sort of proof that they actually achieve the desired outcome. Don't you?

           

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            Richard, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 11:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The principle of free markets is far more important than any short term boost to innovation. Even if you could show evidence that some monopoly provides stimulus, you would be entering the devil's den. Once that innovation is spent, markets begin to grind against the monopolies. So, I would argue that the government only roll in markets should be to deter monopoly at all cost. The last twenty years has probably negated all benefit derived from the system since it's (far more modest) inception. Which makes sense, as the system was overpowered it became exponentially more cumbersome.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              What in the last 20 years has negated all benefit of the patent system?

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                What benefits? Where are these benefits? You mean benefits to patent holders and patent trolls? That doesn't count.

                The fact that the patent system assumes that just about ALL innovation and anything new requires a patent despite the fact that plenty of innovation; scientific, mathematical, medical, technological, and otherwise advancement has occurred perfectly well before patents were instated, even in countries where patents didn't exist (as Thomas Jefferson even notes) and during times where the founding fathers were very skeptical about patents and legislators only granted them very sparingly.

                The goal of IP shouldn't be to ensure compensation, shouldn't be to help people with their business models or to guarantee a return, it should be to promote the progress. Nothing more. It's even in the constitution. Patents should only be granted to innovation that wouldn't otherwise occur. Our current patent system assumes that all innovation requires a patent to occur and such an assumption is absurd and goes against the evidence.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:16am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "The fact that the patent system assumes that just about ALL innovation and anything new requires a patent...Our current patent system assumes that all innovation requires a patent to occur and such an assumption is absurd and goes against the evidence."

                  How is that a fact? The patent system assumes no such thing. Nobody is forced to get a patent to do anything new.

                  Our patent system provides a financial incentive for things, but does not assume that such a financial incentive is necessary for anything new to happen ever. What makes you think that?

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:41am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "How is that a fact?"

                    Because the patent office grants patents on just about everything no matter how obvious. Ie: patents on swinging sideways on a swing, patents on the wheel, patents on having a dog chase a laser pointer, patents on one click buying, etc...

                    "The patent system assumes no such thing."

                    Yes it does.

                    "Nobody is forced to get a patent to do anything new."

                    But people are forced to do expensive patent searches to do just about anything only to find that some broad patent covers what they want to do already and the person covering it doesn't even practice what they have a patent on (being that most patents don't even make it to product, yet people get them so they do have value but their value has nothing to do with promoting the progress). and upon doing anything people are forced to deal with expensive settlement letters and lawsuits by lazy entities that just sue for no reason and don't innovate themselves. Coming up with ideas (and patenting them then extorting others) is cheap, innovating is more expensive. I should be allowed to independently come up with and implement any idea I want without having to do retarded patent searches or worry about who has a monopoly on what, it's my right, but the patent system assumes that no matter what I come up with someone should already have a patent on it and be allowed to sue me.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:21am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Please explain how the patent system "assumes" nobody will innovate without a patent. The mere creation of a financial incentive does not assume that such an incentive is necessary in all cases, but that such an incentive creates an overall benefit. We can argue whether it does or not, but let's not misrepresent the system.

                      I'm sympathetic to the argument that independent creation should be allowed (like it is w/r/t copyrights), but I'm not sure how best to incorporate that into the system.

                      "Coming up with ideas (and patenting them then extorting others) is cheap, innovating is more expensive."

                      Well, you need to reduce an invention to practice before getting a patent, which is not always cheap. Aside from that, I'm not sure what your distinction between "innovation" and "coming up with ideas" is in this context.

                      "e patent system assumes that no matter what I come up with someone should already have a patent on it and be allowed to sue me"

                      Where are you getting this?

                       

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "False dilemma, really. I'd rather any system that increases, rather than hinders innovation. Choosing between those two options is a pointless exercise."

            Sure, I just took that to be what you meant from your prior comment.

            "I think it's fairly well established that monopolies harm markets, and gov't granted monopolies are even worse."

            In general, yes.

            As for "proof" of exceptions, I guess that depends on what you mean by "proof."

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              He means evidence, pretty much what everyone else means. What do you mean by proof that magic fairy dust causes the earth to go around the sun? I don't need proof. No, if I want to claim such a thing the burden is on me to provide evidence. If you want to claim patents should exist the burden is on you to provide evidence.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I hate burden shifting comments on blogs/message boards. The burden is always on someone else.

                Anyway, I didn't know if he meant "proof" as in irrefutable, mathematical proof, or "proof" as in evidence that tends to support a conclusion.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:28am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "I hate burden shifting comments on blogs/message boards. The burden is always on someone else."

                  No, if you want a monopoly the burden is on you to justify it. If you want to restrict the rights of others by telling them what they can and can't produce you must justify it, it is not for others to justify why their rights shouldn't be restricted.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:36am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "No, if you want a monopoly the burden is on you to justify it."

                    Why? I'm not saying that's necessarily an unreasonably position to take, but asserting it as if it's some sort of universal truth is annoying.

                    Do you feel the same burden shifting is necessary for real property? Do I need to present peer-reviewed evidence to support the assertion that your rights to enter my house should be restricted by law?

                    They are obviously different concepts, but your restriction of rights language suggests that you would apply the same standard.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:44am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Why? I'm not saying that's necessarily an unreasonably position to take, but asserting it as if it's some sort of universal truth is annoying."

                      I don't care if the truth is annoying. The founding fathers understood this to be true and most of humanity pretty much understands it. It's my right to sell whatever I want without worrying about who has a patent on want, if you want special privileges on anything that restricts my right you better darn well justify them.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:24am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        "The founding fathers understood this to be true and most of humanity pretty much understands it."

                        Link to support this? BTW, we're talking about patents in general, not any particular patent. Obviously, for a particular patent, the owner has to show the PTO that it's justified.

                         

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:05am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Do I need to present peer-reviewed evidence to support the assertion that your rights to enter my house should be restricted by law?"

                      But your privilege to tell me what I can and can't do with my property should also be restricted by law, it shouldn't be enforced by law. But patents give you the privilege of telling me what I can and can't do with my property (ie: can't make X and sell it, only you can). Of course some restrictions are OK, like not being able to murder someone with a gun, but those restrictions apply to everyone. A patent gives you a special privilege that no one else gets, a privilege to tell others what they can and can't do with their personal property.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:26am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Your body and your car are your property, but my rights in my real estate property still give me the right to tell you not to use your property in a away that derogates from mine (i.e., stay off my lawn).

                        That is not unique to intellectual property.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:53am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          "but my rights in my real estate property still give me the right to tell you not to use your property in a away that derogates from mine (i.e., stay off my lawn)."

                          Telling me to stay off your lawn is not the same thing as telling me not to sell a competing product on my own lawn. You have no right to do that.

                          "That is not unique to intellectual property."

                          It does not exist being that intellectual property is a man made governmental construct that is imaginary in nature and non existent in real life.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:04pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            "Telling me to stay off your lawn is not the same thing as telling me not to sell a competing product on my own lawn. You have no right to do that."

                            Of course it's not "the same thing," but it is telling you that there are certain things you cannot do with your property. You seemed to imply that such rights were unique to intellectual property. They are not.

                            All "property" is man-made, in the sense that it consists of man-made rights. Otherwise, it's just "stuff," not "property."

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:30pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              "You seemed to imply that such rights were unique to intellectual property."

                              No one implied this.

                              "All "property" is man-made"

                              No, property is a physical existence of something. Man may modify the combination of atoms and energy that property/matter consists of, but property is something that exists outside of your imagination and knowledge of its existence. Property rights are man made but intellectual thought is not property to have rights over.

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:47pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                You are conflacting "matter" with "property." Rocks in the ocean aren't "property" because nobody has rights to them. The rights are inherent in anything deemed "property."

                                AT any rate I think, in context, the statement "But patents give you the privilege of telling me what I can and can't do with my property (ie: can't make X and sell it, only you can)" implies that patents are different from other types of laws in that regard. They are not.

                                They simply recognize (or create, if you wish) another type of property right.

                                 

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                                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:57pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  "You are conflacting "matter" with "property.""

                                  No I am not.

                                  "The rights are inherent in anything deemed "property.""

                                  The "rights" are ascribed to anything deemed property.

                                  "implies that patents are different from other types of laws in that regard. They are not. "

                                  They are different because other laws involve physical property with physical limitations, patents do not.

                                  "They simply recognize (or create, if you wish) another type of property right."

                                  They create a privilege over non property but, rather, over ideas.

                                   

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:02pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    Ugh, I'd like to reply, but it's getting too hard to read.

                                     

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                                      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      Ugh, I'd like to reply, but it's getting too hard to read.


                                      At the top of the comment list, click on "flattened view" then scroll to the bottom.

                                       

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                                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:13pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        Thank you. That should have been obvious. Unfortunately, I much prefer the threaded system (until the threads get too long).

                                         

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:40pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              The purpose of these legal monopoly rights that the constitution enables congress to grant isn't to protect property rights, the founding fathers made it clear that they're not the same thing. It's not to protect your investment, it's not to protect something that you think is rightfully yours in the sense that protecting your rights over your house is to do, it's to promote the progress. The founding fathers made that clear and they understood that property rights of physical property is not the same thing as legal rights (natural privileges) over intellectual thought. Yes, there are certain things I can not do with my property, I can not destroy your physical property, but a thought does not belong to you and people using a thought does not damage the thought. It may compete with you and make it more difficult for you to monopolize it but competition is part of free market capitalism and there is nothing wrong with that. If someone made an ice cream shop next to yours and you lost money because of it there is nothing wrong with it, it's not the same thing as competing with you inside your shop or throwing a rock on your property and breaking a window, just because they have a similar idea as you. That's competition. People come up with similar ideas all the time, they can find ways to fund R&D without patents, no one is owed a monopoly on anything.

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:48pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Well, we're getting so far over that I can barely read the posting, so I'll just note that the purpose of property rights (whether intellectual or otherwise), is generally to promote the common welfare (and this is explicit in the Constitution).

                                 

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                                  Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:47pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  Well, we're getting so far over that I can barely read the posting, so I'll just note that the purpose of property rights (whether intellectual or otherwise), is generally to promote the common welfare (and this is explicit in the Constitution)

                                  Please do not claim that patents are property rights. They are not. That was a later claim (well after patent law came into being), expressed by folks who were abusing the system, against a strong movement to outlaw patents entirely. The founder recognized that gov't granted monopoly privileges were not property rights, and you should too.

                                   

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:04pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    Can anyone else read this? Is it just my browser/screen that makes this a headache to read?

                                     

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:14pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    "against a strong movement to outlaw patents entirely."

                                    and it is the people who start and continue these strong movements, the minority abusers are mostly the ones that want to keep patents in place and hence they lie by claiming that patents are property rights.

                                     

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                                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:58pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  "is generally to promote the common welfare"

                                  Which is exactly why patents need to be justified, they need to be justified in terms of how they promote the common welfare. If you want patent laws then, just like with any other laws, the burden is on you to justify that they promote the common welfare.

                                   

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:04pm

    "Generally speaking, you don't see companies spend $1.1 billion on a bunch of patents, unless they're planning something big." - god mike, some days you are just denser than others. did you check to see if any of those patents aren't already licensed and generating income? Example, if one of the patents generates 100 million a year and has a 15 year lifespan, then this is a darn good investment. you make it sound as if they have purchased a bunch of worthless air that can only be converted into value by lawyers. posts like this prove that you have no real business experience (at least none that you remember).

     

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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 6:44am

      Re:

      So someone got a patent...I will give the benefit of the doubt that they may have 'innovated'...now you will just sell off the 'innovation' to someone else (lawyers mainly) to make millions who had no involvement in the creative process. The patent system...PROTECTING THE INNOVATORS!?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    How does a patent generates money by itself?

    You need others to pay you right, the funny thing is that company will generate no more innovation because it is gone, but the patents will be there for a long time still, where is the innovation?

    I can see the exploitation, sneaky nature of that system but I don't see it working. Maybe that is why other countries have positive growth actually manufacturing something.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Knowing that a patent has a marketable value, regardless of who owns it, is one of the incentives of the patent system.

    It's pretty basic economics, really.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:59pm

      Re:

      oh, dont go there. mike will lecture you ad nauseum about how you dont have a clue. it is amazing how much of business an mba doesnt ever seem to learn.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:54pm

      Re:

      "is one of the incentives of the patent system. "

      It maybe an incentive to get patents but the more relevant question is whether or not it's an incentive to innovate. There is a difference.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:36pm

      Re:

      Knowing that a patent has a marketable value, regardless of who owns it, is one of the incentives of the patent system.

      Yes, the patent system incentivizes more patents. That's not very useful, however.

      The question is whether or not it incentivizes innovation.

      And, more to the point, creating a market in a realm where no market is needed is massively inefficient. The purpose of a market/property rights if for the most efficient allocation of *scarce* resources. Such a function does not work when there is no scarcity -- and enforcing artificial limits on abundant goods is a massive economic inefficiency.

      And that is basic economics, really.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:39am

        Re: Re:

        "where no market is needed"

        That's the rub, really.

        A lot of implicit assumptions after that point, and I'm not sure which "abundant goods" you're referring to.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's the rub, really.

          A lot of implicit assumptions after that point, and I'm not sure which "abundant goods" you're referring to.


          Hmm. I'm not sure you actually read my comment. No market is needed when you have infinite goods, because there is no questions related to efficient allocation. So no market is needed. There's no assumption there, just basic economics.

          As for "what abundant goods," are you making a joke? Or am I missing something here?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Do you think valuable inventions, or the inventive minds that create them, are "infinite?"

            I don't. I think you need a market for the product of such inventive minds to ensure efficient allocation of such inventive mental effort.

            We can argue whther the current patent system is necessary or optimal for creating/improving such a market, but it seems like we're talking past each other on the topic right now.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Do you think valuable inventions, or the inventive minds that create them, are "infinite?"

              There is no question that ideas are infinite in that they can be reproduced infinitely at no additional cost.

              That is not a point that is up for debate.

              I don't.

              Then you are wrong.

              I think you need a market for the product of such inventive minds to ensure efficient allocation of such inventive mental effort.

              You are confusing two things, which explains your misunderstanding of the basic issues at play.

              (1) there is the market for inventions/ideas once created.

              (2) there is the incentive structure for creating new ideas.

              Your confusion is in thinking they are one and the same. It is true that an invention not yet created is scarce, and not at all infinite. But once created, it is infinite, and putting limits on it usually makes little sense (and can actually be harmful).

              So the real question is creating the best systems to incentivize those new inventions. You claim that it's a patent system. Yet there is NO proof of this. Multiple studies have shown that most actual innovation occurs either via a need from that company itself or by demands in the marketplace.

              In other words we *already have* a great incentive system to reward good inventions and innovation: it's called selling products in the marketplace.

              You don't need a gov't granted monopoly privilege for that.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:12pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Must you be so pedantic? Seriously.

                You did not make your clarification in your first couple of posts regarding original ideas v. already-created ideas, I asked you to clarify what abundant goods you were talking about, and you thought it was some sort of a joke. You apparently didn't see the distinction until just now, so please don't say that *I* am confusing the two things.

                "So the real question is creating the best systems to incentivize those new inventions."

                Of course. I agree.

                "You claim that it's a patent system"

                I have not in fact done so, but I'm certainly open to it.

                 

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    "Knowing that a patent has a marketable value, regardless of who owns it, is one of the incentives of the patent system.

    It's pretty basic economics, really."

    It shouldn't be there at all. Its just obscene.

     

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    Charlie Potatoes (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:01pm

    Fuck you, Towel Head.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:04pm

    I think patents are a legal sham they are not done to make any sense, just to make people think that things that should never have owners have it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:14pm

      Re:

      It's just a way for the government to tell everyone who can do what in the name of innovation. Basically the government says, "you can't sell speakers, only he can sell speakers, if you want to sell speakers you must pay him a license fee" under the pretext that selling speakers constitutes an innovation and without this monopoly no one would invent speakers. It's nothing more than a restriction of our rights, a form of communism for the government to dictate who can sell what and who can't unless others pay those who are anointed by the government to sell something.

      If I told you tomorrow that you're not allowed to sell bottled water because I have a monopoly on the sale of bottled water, since I supposedly thought of the idea before you and no one would have thought about it if I didn't get a monopoly or because I deserve a monopoly for thinking about it first, would you consider such a monopoly to be some form of innovation or merely a restriction of your rights? A patent is basically the same exact thing. It's just someone telling you that you can't do something because they're the only ones who can do it, it has nothing to do with innovation.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re:

        You obviously have never tried to get a patent. You do not even understand what a patent is at all. You don't get a patent for the sale of anything. Also, you cannot patent concepts like 'bottled water'. You could get a patent on how the bottle is made or how to put the water in the bottle. That would not however prevent someone else from selling bottled water, it would prevent someone from using your same method of making the bottle or your method for putting the water in the bottle. While there are some bad patents, for the most part they are very specific. If you do not believe me then feel free to obtain a patent on something broad, general and obivous, please prove me wrong.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Also, you cannot patent concepts like 'bottled water'. "

          But you can get patents on concepts like swinging sideways on a swing, the wheel, using a laser pointer to have a dog chase it for exercise, one click buying, and all sorts of other bogus patents that the patent office grants.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "for the most part they are very specific."

          Do you have examples of good patents and evidence that these good patents promote the progress in any way? For the most part most patents don't make it to market so why do companies and individuals obtain them if they have no value? They obtain them because they do have value but their value has nothing to do with promoting the progress.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            and if you get a patent on every specific implementation of a bottle (or of the collection of patents covers every specific implementation of bottles) there might as well just exist a patent on the bottle as a whole. Sure no one may have a patent on a bottle but the point is that when you get patents on things it is no different than simply telling others what they can and can't do with their property. It's anti free market capitalism and to assume that you're the only one who can think of an idea or a solution to a problem and therefore you need a patent for it to be thought of is nonsense. Others who encounter a problem will likely obtain a similar solution if the solution is the most optimal, you shouldn't immediately be allowed to patent the most obvious and optimal solution to any problem restricting others from using the idea. That doesn't promote the progress, it only enables you to extort others.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Do you have examples of good patents and evidence that these good patents promote the progress in any way?"

            Look into the history of the bar code.

             

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    Richard Cauley, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:45pm

    Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

    Mike: I don't remember seeing a patent you liked or a patent lawsuit you thought was anything less than an assault on competition, but I was wondering if there was a limit.

    Hasbro sued Buzz Bee Toys, its direct competitor, for patent infringement for selling what appears to be a direct copy of its Super Soaker and Nerf Disk gun products. I have the same low opinion that you have about patent trolls who, in my opinion, are just leeches on the patent system who assert their patents for no good economic purpose. But what about using your patents to protect your market segment from copycats? Aren't you entitled to protect your market share which you have gained through your own innovation from competitors who have just copied you?

    If you can't sign on to a patent lawsuit in these circumstances, I think you are just writing off the patent system as a whole.

    BTW, check out my blog post on this case which has a really cool picture of a Nausicaan holding a Super Soaker. If you don't like patents, just pretend he's pointing it at the USPTO.

    http://bit.ly/cNLswV

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 11:14pm

      Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

      Hi Richard,

      Mike: I don't remember seeing a patent you liked or a patent lawsuit you thought was anything less than an assault on competition, but I was wondering if there was a limit.

      To be fair, there are millions of patents I don't write about and thousands of patent lawsuits I don't write about. There's not really much to express an opinion on if there were such a scenario.

      But, you are right that I do feel the vast majority of patents are unnecessary and a mistake.

      Hasbro sued Buzz Bee Toys, its direct competitor, for patent infringement for selling what appears to be a direct copy of its Super Soaker and Nerf Disk gun products. I have the same low opinion that you have about patent trolls who, in my opinion, are just leeches on the patent system who assert their patents for no good economic purpose. But what about using your patents to protect your market segment from copycats? Aren't you entitled to protect your market share which you have gained through your own innovation from competitors who have just copied you?

      Here we disagree. I think that competition is the hallmark of innovation, and if someone copies you in the market, that's part of the competitive landscape. You "protect" your market segment by building better products, doing better marketing, better understanding your customer -- etc. All of those things lead to greater progress and greater consumer good.

      As for the general worries about "copycats," as we've discussed at length, in most cases, it's not so easy to just make a direct copy of something. First, if you do, you're just catching up. So the other player already has a first mover advantage, and that advantage can be quite strong. Second, it's easy to copy the specific product, but that's not the same as really understanding the customer or being able to copy the marketing aspects that work. See our discussion on cargo cults: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090827/0353036021.shtml and http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100331/1538058817.shtml

      Next, if you just copy the product, and even copy the marketing, you haven't actually internalized what the originator learned. For example, in our own business, we've recently seen a bunch of companies pop up to offer a service that we started offering four years ago. And it's amusing to watch them all make the same mistakes we did. They're copying us, but we're already on to something much better, and they don't even realize it!

      Also, if they're just copying, then they're far behind on new product development. As the originator learns from the market and continues to improve, when the copycat hits the market, the originator should already be on to the next better product.

      And... finally... after all of that, if the latter company really *can* do a better job of creating, building, marketing and distributing a product that consumers want.. then, isn't that a net benefit for society? If the originator isn't doing as good a job, then they should lose in the market (or learn to step up their game). That's the nature of capitalism and a competitive market. Right?

      If you can't sign on to a patent lawsuit in these circumstances, I think you are just writing off the patent system as a whole.

      Not so. I could certainly envision a scenario where the patent was a necessary incentive to create the work in the first place. But research has shown that to be incredibly rare.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 11:54pm

        Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

        "But research has shown that to be incredibly rare."

        and this is basically the position of the founding fathers and my position. If used correctly patents can help innovation, but for the most part they should be RARE. but then if they're rare everyone still wants monopolies, people will claim unfair discrimination if one person gets a monopoly and others don't, etc... and you wind up with all sorts of abuse. and patents shouldn't last 20 years, that's entirely too long. 7 years MAX for both patents AND copyrights. and for software patents, 5 years MAX (if at all) and same thing for software copyrights (and I think software copyrights are OK, but no more than 5 years).

        But Pharma is kinda more complicated because clinical trials can take MANY years to study the long term effects of a drug and that's reasonable. Perhaps for Pharma, in addition to no patents or seven year patents, perhaps we can allow the federal government to also fund R&D (which they already do) and ensure that government funded R&D does not contribute to any patents. Also, conducting R&D on something shouldn't be enough to justify a patent, if you conducted R&D on something after the government or someone else did then you shouldn't get a patent (or if you apply for a patent after someone else or the government conducted R&D on something). and NO patents on synthetic variants of naturally occurring compounds (and no patents on naturally occurring compounds) even if those synthetic variants aren't exactly identical to the naturally occurring compounds (since they almost never are). It gives corporations incentive to make the FDA ban the naturally occurring form of it for no good reason other than to eliminate competition for patent holders and the FDA's decisions should be science based, not politics based. and no patents on naturally occurring genes either, in fact, perhaps there should be no gene patents since artificially engineered genes will likely unintentionally infect the gene pool of naturally occurring life forms (ie: plants) and that gives Monsanto et al an excuse to sue. Only in cases where the artificially engineered genes can be contained should they be allowed to exist.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 11:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

          Only in cases where the artificially engineered genes can be contained should patents be allowed to exist *

           

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        Richard Cauley, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:02am

        Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

        Given the fact that the patent system exists and will continue (as will patent litigation), I prefer to inveigh against patent trolls, which I view as inimical to the patent system and to distort the economic value of patents. Whether or not patents increase innovation or not, they are still around and we have to deal with them, What I don't appreciate are the people whose only use for them is to bring lawsuits.

        And I do disagree with you about copycats -- copying a website is a far cry from copying a piece of technology which took years and millions of dollars to develop. I don't think that someone who didn't spend that money in R&D should be able to just market the heck out of their copy and outsell the innovator without penalty. That's a little too "free market" for me. [Not that the Super Soaker is a complex piece of technology -- though it is AWESOME].

        I do admire your intellectual consistency, though -- however misplaced :)

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

          Given the fact that the patent system exists and will continue (as will patent litigation), I prefer to inveigh against patent trolls, which I view as inimical to the patent system and to distort the economic value of patents. Whether or not patents increase innovation or not, they are still around and we have to deal with them, What I don't appreciate are the people whose only use for them is to bring lawsuits.

          Sure. That's a more obvious and clear abuse of the patent system. But don't be fooled. Patent trolls are a symptom of the larger problem, and the inevitable result of a bad patent system (check out the history of "patent sharks" who did the same thing in the 19th century as patent trolls are doing today).

          And I do disagree with you about copycats -- copying a website is a far cry from copying a piece of technology which took years and millions of dollars to develop. I don't think that someone who didn't spend that money in R&D should be able to just market the heck out of their copy and outsell the innovator without penalty. That's a little too "free market" for me. [Not that the Super Soaker is a complex piece of technology -- though it is AWESOME].

          Who said anything about copying a website? My post about it was talking about an auto plant that indeed cost millions. In fact, I'd argue that there's even LESS of an argument when you're talking about millions of dollars to develop: because that's what makes it so much more difficult to really copy anything more than the superficial aspects of the product.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

            Heck, Google bought youtube for a billion dollars. Anyone can just copy them. So why would Google invest in such an idea if anyone can copy them? Viacom wanted to buy them too. But anyone can just copy. So why buy them?

            People invest money despite the fact that others can try and copy.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

            "I'd argue that there's even LESS of an argument when you're talking about millions of dollars to develop: because that's what makes it so much more difficult to really copy anything more than the superficial aspects of the product." - it is pretty easy to copy all aspects of a product, especially if it can easily be taken apart and examined (mechanical systems). replication of such takes much less time and much less money than producing the original, and allows the copycat to enter the market swiftly, with a major price advantage. a billion dollars of development, or a few million of copying, the cost structures are completely different. yes, their marginal costs are similar, but the massive setup costs that must be recovered are there only for the original creator. so they must charge a premium price for the original product, all the while losing many sales to the similar and signficantly cheaper copy.

            generic medicines are exactly the same. without the protections offered by copyright, generic copies of new drugs could be produced literally within days of the original going to market, with only a pittance of development costs. the original creator is stuck having to either sell at a premium price and hope that it will sell, or sell at the discounted generic price, and perhaps never recoup their investment to develop the drug. at that point, you can easily see that there would be absolutely not incentive to move forward with new drugs. why spend billions to allow others to make a living?

            most of your arguments ignore the very basics of why companies (and individuals) invest time and money into a process. they do at the end of the day expect to make some money (or for individuals fame, maybe money) relative to the amounts of efforts and cash they have put on the table. you have an mba, perhaps you can explain how pharma companies could go about financing their next drugs if they had no patent protection. i would love to hear your thought on this one.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

              "at that point, you can easily see that there would be absolutely not incentive to move forward with new drugs. why spend billions to allow others to make a living?"

              Except that this is not true. Plenty of drugs were developed without patents and if you look at history the most innovative in the pharma and chem industry were in countries without patents.

              http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

              When you say this you are either being very ignorant or you are being dishonest (I suspect the later). Investment and R&D did occur in R&D without patents, even by the private sector. Not to mention the government already funds much of the R&D and someone ends up with a patent that benefits from the government funded R&D (be it a government body or a private entity).

              Where there is an incentive for a solution to a problem people (and businesses) will contribute money to entities that conduct R&D because everyone contributes a tiny fraction of the cost but they receive the benefits as a whole (provided you have an open communication structure of course). People find ways to fund R&D. Google spent a billion dollars on Youtube but anyone can pretty much easily copy a video hosting site. You may argue Google has the equipment already in place, they know what equipment is necessary, etc... The same thing is true for a device, there is a difference between looking at a device and being able to make a copy of it. If there weren't, we would easily be able to make life out of non life but we can't. Patents merely get in the way of non patent holders who want to research something since the patent holder will unfairly benefit and take away the benefits to the non patent holder and to the rest of soceity. To me, that's unacceptable.

              and making a new drug is just as easy as making a copy. You just decide on the molecular formula and figure out the best way to make it. It's very cheap, just as cheap as making a copy. To the extent that someone can look at a drug and know how to make it, the original was just as easy to make. The same is true for just about anything including non drugs. The hardest part, when it comes to drugs, is the R&D/clinical trials necessary to test if the drug works, is the drug safe, what are the recommended doses for adults, children, should pregnant women take it and what are their recommended doses, etc...

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                Also, making something often requires equipment. If we, for instance, saw an alien ship, that doesn't mean we can instantly make it. We need to know what equipment and technology they used to make the ship. We may not have that equipment. Same thing for anything. If a company makes something that's simple to make using currently widely available equipment, then there really is no reason to have a patent since anyone can pretty much easily make it anyways. and if it's difficult to make and requires a lot of sophisticated equipment then that would keep newcomers out for a while until they figure out how to develop that equipment. But upon figuring that out, everyone has advanced, now we can all make better technology, and if the incumbent wants to stay in business they should already be making something even more advanced. If not, they deserve to go out of business for not innovating and thinking that they can make money without innovating and keeping up with the competition. But don't ask the government for a monopoly, innovate instead. and if it's easy for a newcomer to figure out how to make the equipment required to make something, then it wasn't hard for the originator of that equipment to figure it out either and so patents aren't necessary.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:38am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                  "If a company makes something that's simple to make using currently widely available equipment, then there really is no reason to have a patent since anyone can pretty much easily make it anyways."

                  Something may be very difficult to invent, but very easy to reproduce. Drugs are a pretty good example of this.

                   

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                poor answer. what worked 50 years ago isnt what works today. taking a single new drug to market costs millions (some say billions) with all of the clinical trials and the like. generic manufactures would not have to do any of this. how does the pharma business support r&d when there is no way to get it back?

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 9:08am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                  "poor answer."

                  Yes, because you said so, it's true.

                  "what worked 50 years ago isnt what works today."

                  No, the same excuses to have patents that were given 50 years ago are also given today. Those excuses were invalid then and are invalid now. The only reason why what worked 50 years ago doesn't work today is ONLY because the laws don't allow for them to. You remove the laws and it does work.

                  Of course you have incentive to say that patents are necessary, you have the incentive to say they are necessary today, they had the same incentive to say it back then. and when it's proven to be false back then, your only possible defense is an unfalsifiable one, one that contradicts all of the evidence, that somehow things are different today and that makes patents useful. Of course you would say this, you unfairly benefit from the patent system and have no regard for morality, what else could you say? Patents are an outdated model, heck, they weren't even good during the time they were created and are even worse today. and in the case of pharma, with all these patents, all we see is me too drugs, no true innovation, we simply have innovation that would occur perfectly well without patents. So clearly, what worked then is better than what we have now.

                  "how does the pharma business support r&d when there is no way to get it back?"

                  The assumption you are trying to dishonestly force is that without patents there is no way to get it back.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 9:12am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                  "how does the pharma business support r&d when there is no way to get it back?"

                  If you want to have a meaningful serious discussion then that's fine. but when you assume the assumption that we are criticizing, that you can't make the money back without patents, and when you require others to answer questions based on assuming that the assumptions that others question are true, you show that you aren't serious and that you are dishonest and so no one takes you seriously.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                    It seems like he's just doing what many other do here in reverse (assuming IP is necessary/unecessary for innovation and make the other side prove the opposite).

                     

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 9:31am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                  "with all of the clinical trials and the like."

                  It's also worth noting that most patients in a clinical trial are volunteers, they don't get paid for it or if they do they get paid very little. So people are willing to put their time (time/labor, time is worth money) into helping out R&D and the time they volunteer is very valuable. The only people who really have to get paid are those conducting the research.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:40am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                    None of that refutes the assertion that clinical trials are really f-ing expensive.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:46am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                      and lawsuits are very expensive and fighting a lawsuit takes away from money that can go into R&D.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:01am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                        also, Youtube cost a billion dollars, people can copy it, yet google still invested. People invest in things that are copyable, if it weren't so why would anyone even open up an ice cream shop anywhere since anyone can copy if it's successful and open up an adjacent one. Necessity drives investments, inventions, and innovation, not patents. At least that's what the evidence shows.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:50pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                          "Necessity drives investments, inventions, and innovation"

                          Nobody "needs" a cure for baldness, but $$$ sure motivates people to create one.

                           

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                      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                      None of that refutes the assertion that clinical trials are really f-ing expensive.

                      Indeed. Clinical trials are *somewhat* expensive. How expensive is a matter of a lot of false claims from pharma. Merrill Goozner's research absolutely *destroyed* pharma's massively inflated cost claims.

                      But, the real issue here is that the reason we have clinical trials and FDA approval systems is because of a public good: making sure that these drugs are safe. The problem is that we're talking about a public good, but assigning it a private cost. That's a huge mistake, which has grossly distorted the system.

                      There are much better ways to allocate this cost that don't involve monopoly rights on drugs.

                      Imagine, instead, if you moved the costs to those who actually got the most benefit?

                       

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                      •  
                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:12pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                        and not to mention that pharma won't allow independent auditors to audit their costs to ensure that the patents are justified.

                        http://www.mindfully.org/Industry/Pharma-R&D-Myths.htm

                        You want free markets, no patents. If you want a monopoly (patents) it should be regulated, you shouldn't be granted an unregulated monopoly. Society should be allowed to ensure that the patent privileges that the government grants are justified. Patents are there to promote the progress, lets ensure they are justified and doing what they are intended to do.

                         

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                •  
                  identicon
                  DH's Love Child, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:18am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                  "poor answer. what worked 50 years ago isnt what works today. taking a single new drug to market costs millions (some say billions) with all of the clinical trials and the like. generic manufactures would not have to do any of this. how does the pharma business support r&d when there is no way to get it back?"

                  You know why it costs millions or billions to bring it to market? Advertising costs. Pharma spends several times more on marketing and advertising than they do on R&D. Have you ever noticed that the companies that make the generic drugs don't advertise or market the generic drugs... Maybe there's a link there.. perhaps..

                   

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:29am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                    What is your point?

                     

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                    •  
                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:56am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                      and lets not forget how much they spend on lobbying. The point is that if they didn't spend so much on lobbying and marketing and advertising they can better use that money to do R&D or else go out of business and allow others to use such money to do R&D with without worrying about bogus patents.

                       

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                      •  
                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:06pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                        What does that have to do with patents?

                         

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                        •  
                          identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:33pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                          Patents are what enable wasteful corporations, corporations that waste money on bad causes, to continue their existence instead of being replaced by more efficient entities that spend their money more efficiently on R&D and not lobbying and whatnot. Instead, those more efficient companies are restricted from benefiting from R&D they do or from doing R&D on something since they have to worry about being sued by inefficient third parties with patents.

                           

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              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

                "Where there is an incentive for a solution to a problem people (and businesses) will contribute money to entities that conduct R&D because everyone contributes a tiny fraction of the cost but they receive the benefits as a whole"

                Now, with a patent system this is difficult to do, especially with our patent system where just about everything gets a patent and the USPTO grants tons and tons of very broad patents. Why would people and businesses contribute their money to a research facility who does research on something only to risk some lazy irrelevant third party parasite suing the research group out of all of its money and restricting how much you can benefit from the new development for no good reason.

                 

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            •  
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              Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 2:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

              most of your arguments ignore the very basics of why companies (and individuals) invest time and money into a process. they do at the end of the day expect to make some money (or for individuals fame, maybe money) relative to the amounts of efforts and cash they have put on the table.

              Oddly, you seem not to have read what I write, despite posting on this forum for years. We have explained how embracing basic economics opens up a wider market with more potential to profit. I have not ignored the need to make money. I've explained how they can make more money.

              you have an mba, perhaps you can explain how pharma companies could go about financing their next drugs if they had no patent protection. i would love to hear your thought on this one.

              I have addressed this issue multiple times in the past. Directly to you, in fact. Rehashing it again to someone who will ignore it makes little sense.

               

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      •  
        icon
        SteelWolf (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Patent Lawsuits Between Competitors for Copying

        Not so. I could certainly envision a scenario where the patent was a necessary incentive to create the work in the first place.

        I'd be genuinely interested in hearing an example of that, because right now I can't envision such a scenario.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    NAMELESS ONE, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:50am

    WHY dont a govt buy them

    then lease very cheap to its own people and slightly higher for other nations
    that would make toooooo MUCH sense and what your gonna get will be just lawsuits otherwise with trolling.

    THIS is what our govts should be doing. BUYING up rights of successful artists( copyrights) and patent holders and freeing it as above. the people then wold have far better control and you shrink htem moron riaa /mpaa bsa IP TROLLS

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Joe Patent Asset, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 6:12am

    An interesting aspect of reform

    Why should patents, or any aspect of IP for that matter, live beyond the life of the entity that originally registered it?

    Wouldn't it make things easier for innovation and for businesses in general, to simply expire them, and let the rest of the world benefit?

    This looks like one more example of how patents are treated less like a legally granted privilege, and more like an actual piece of property, and how that skews their purpose (promote innovation) against the reality of their use (a club to wring money out of businesses).

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:08am

      Re: An interesting aspect of reform

      At least in the US, patents have a 20 year life. They do expire, they absolutely expire. They can even expire early if you do not keep up with fees to the USPTO. You are confusing patents and copyrights.

      Also, patents do not exist to promote innovation, they exist to 'promote the progress'. Here on techdirt there is a big difference between invention and innovation. Invention is just something new, innovation is something new that is also has success in the market. Invention by itself is progress, innovation is the next step after invention. Techdirt seems to think that innovation trumps invention. So if you invent something but for whatever reason there are constraints that prevent you from being sucessful in the market place then suddenly that invention has no value. But according to techdirt, someone else with a different set of constraints should be able to use said invention to generate value for themselves. There are lots of reasons that Nortel has been reduced to only the value of its IP. Why should the whole world get Nortel's IP for free now? TFA is an example of how patents add value to a company, they are proof that Nortel's output has value, even if they failed in the market place. Techdirt also seems to overlook the fact that all of the technology is publically disclosed in the patents, disclosure absolutely benefits society.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:20am

        Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

        "Why should the whole world get Nortel's IP for free now?"

        Because patents only exist to promote the progress, nothing more. Why should anyone get special privileges to monopolize things if it doesn't promote the progress?

        "someone else with a different set of constraints should be able to use said invention to generate value for themselves."

        Absolutely, they have a RIGHT to. It's their right, you shouldn't be allowed to extort money from them just because you thought of something first and they could have easily independently invented the same thing without your help. Why should you get compensated for failing by others who succeed?

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:25am

        Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

        "TFA is an example of how patents add value to a company,"

        Saying that patents add value to a company isn't the same thing as saying that they add value to society.

        "they are proof that Nortel's output has value"

        Value to whom, the patent holders?

        "even if they failed in the market place."

        If they failed in the market place others should be allowed to succeed without paying money to failures.

        "Techdirt also seems to overlook the fact that all of the technology is publically disclosed in the patents, disclosure absolutely benefits society."

        No one overlooks this. Being able to tell others what they aren't allowed to independently invent without paying you money isn't a benefit to society, it's a restriction of everyone's rights. It's simply the government telling me what I can and can't design without paying some irrelevant and unnecessary third party money. They have to disclose to me what it is I can't design and sell for me to know, that's just a necessary part of being able to control me and tell me what I can and can't do.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

          "Value to whom, the patent holders?"

          Obviously, if Nortel's IP is valued at as much as 1.1 billion then it has value to someone. If that IP did not benefit society then it would have zero value.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

            Yes, monopolies have value to the monopoly holder who are part of society but monopolies reduce aggregate output hence reducing value to the rest of society other than the value it gives to the monopoly holder.

             

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

          •  
            icon
            Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

            Obviously, if Nortel's IP is valued at as much as 1.1 billion then it has value to someone. If that IP did not benefit society then it would have zero value.

            Do not confuse value to someone as value to society. I could also claim that getting a monopoly on selling hamburgers in the US has tremendous value. Obviously, lots of companies would pay quite a bit for just such a monopoly if it existed.

            But I think you would agree that such a monopoly would not benefit society. Or do I assume too much?

            Just because something has value to a particular buyer it does not mean it has value to society.

             

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      •  
        icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

        At least in the US, patents have a 20 year life. They do expire, they absolutely expire. They can even expire early if you do not keep up with fees to the USPTO. You are confusing patents and copyrights.

        I believe you misread the original commenters point. He was asking why patents should last after the company that got them goes out of business. He did not state that patents last a lifetime of a human. But he was referring to the lifetime of the company.

        Also, patents do not exist to promote innovation, they exist to 'promote the progress'.

        Can you explain how progress is different from innovation?

        Techdirt seems to think that innovation trumps invention.

        Not that it "trumps" it, but that when you're discussing progress, innovation is the key to progress. Invention is a necessary component, but there are plenty of existing incentives for invention sans gov't granted monopoly rights.

        But according to techdirt, someone else with a different set of constraints should be able to use said invention to generate value for themselves.

        And society as a whole. Don't forget them.

        There are lots of reasons that Nortel has been reduced to only the value of its IP. Why should the whole world get Nortel's IP for free now?

        Because Nortel failed in the marketplace. But, really, the bigger issue isn't about the world "getting" Nortel's IP. It's about the world *not being stopped* or *hindered* from innovating in areas where Nortel holds monopoly rights. That's quite different.

        TFA is an example of how patents add value to a company, they are proof that Nortel's output has value, even if they failed in the market place.

        Do not confuse making money for a single entity as proof of the value. I could similarly argue that a sugar monopoly clearly has value as well. Or a burger monopoly. After all, it would be quite valuable to those who owned it. And, even if they failed in the marketplace, those monopoly rights would still be valuable.

        But most thinking people recognize that those monopoly rights come at a huge societal cost, and thus we have done away with them.

        Techdirt also seems to overlook the fact that all of the technology is publically disclosed in the patents, disclosure absolutely benefits society.

        You really must be new here. We have discussed the myth of disclosure multiple times.

        http://techdirt.com/articles/20070321/021508.shtml
        http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070814/01 5013.shtml
        http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100310/0437118502.shtml
        http://www.techdirt.com/arti cles/20081107/0135002767.shtml

        To say that we have ignored it is false.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

          In order to tell someone what they can and can't do you must disclose to them what they can and can't do. Patents are merely a method of telling others what they can and can't do, disclosure is just a necessary consequence.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

          "Do not confuse making money for a single entity as proof of the value. I could similarly argue that a sugar monopoly clearly has value as well. Or a burger monopoly. After all, it would be quite valuable to those who owned it. And, even if they failed in the marketplace, those monopoly rights would still be valuable."

          Umm, those monopolies would only be valuable because people (society) wants the products. If no one want the product then the monopoly would not be valuable. It would be perfectly reasonable to get a patent for processing cane into sugar or getting a patent for turning beef into burgers. That does not stop someone else from making sugar or burgers, it might however prevent them from doing it in the same way for a limited time. Even where there are so called patent thickets around a technology no one is getting monopoly rights on an entire industry, that is a strawman.

           

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          •  
            icon
            Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: An interesting aspect of reform

            Umm, those monopolies would only be valuable because people (society) wants the products. If no one want the product then the monopoly would not be valuable

            You are arguing something entirely different. You (if you are the same AC -- why don't you pick a name?) claimed that just because the monopoly had value that it meant there was proof that it had societal value. I proved that wrong.

            Your response is a non sequitor.

            That does not stop someone else from making sugar or burgers, it might however prevent them from doing it in the same way for a limited time.

            If only that were true in practice.

            http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=GCYXAAAAEBAJ&dq=6004596

             

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  •  
    identicon
    CrushU, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    Randomness

    I just had a funny thought. People in the future reading archives of these are likely to assume there's just one guy on here arguing with himself named 'Anonymous Coward'. It makes it hard to track the debate, guys.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:55pm

      Re: Randomness

      I just had a funny thought. People in the future reading archives of these are likely to assume there's just one guy on here arguing with himself named 'Anonymous Coward'. It makes it hard to track the debate, guys.

      I agree. Frankly, I don't understand why those users don't pick a random name just to make it clearer and easier to understand.

      We've considered assigned numbers to ACs, but frankly, that's not an ideal solution either.

      So, I'd suggest that the two debating ACs at least pick a name and stick with it. It's not hard.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Darryl, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 2:41am

    InventCo and LeachCO two tech companies

    They both have a million dollars capitol, InventCO hires engineers, technicians, and designers and they spend their million dollars on developing a new 'thing', called the Gruntmaster 2000.

    It's a great product and took a million dollars and alot of time to develop, it's a new method of doing something, so it able to be patented.

    Great for InventCO, they have contributed to the total population knowledge base, and increased the ability for people to do things they were not able to do before.

    LeachCO, did nothing, they employed no engineers, no designers, no inventers, nothing.

    They just put their million in the bank, and collected interest while waiting for InventCO to create a nice product.

    LeachCo then buys, serial number 00000001 of the InventCO Gruntmaster 2000, pulls it appart and copies it.

    Remember LeachCO still have 1 million Dollars in the bank and InventCO has very little money but a great product.

    LeachCO copies the Gruntmaster 2000 invented by InventCO, and with the million dollars they still have spend that money on advertising, and promotion and distribution.

    So what has LeachCO contributed to the advancement of technology ?

    All LeachCO has done is deliver a product to customers for a lower price, because they did not have to spend time or money developing that product.

    This is clearly an unfair practice, and that is what patent law, and copyright law is designed, (and does) work to stop.

    If you want to make a profit on someone elses hard work, perhaps it would be better to make a profit on you're own hard work.

    It's all about, what is morally right, regardless of the law, (which agrees it's also illegal and immoral), it's just "NOT RIGHT", to take someone elses work and use that for you're own gains.

    And if you cant understand that life fundamental then that in itself is a major problem.

    Patents and copyright are designed to protect companies like InventCO who prefer to spend their time and money inventing things, for fame and profit. As opposed to LeachCO that invents nothing, but uses the efforts of others to rip them off of their efforts and profit from their work.

    Monopoloies, are not illegal, for one. Monopolies are common, and can occur when one company produces something no one else creates, or what they produce is of a quality or popularity that ensures continued use.

    Microsoft is not a monopoly, from both a consumer and supplier perspective, MS is not a monopoly by definition.

    Patents and copyright, is a form of monopoly on YOU'RE INVENTION or Creation, after all no one else can ever intent or create that thing and say it's the first time it's been done.

    Therefore, if you have an idea, in you're brain, it HAS to be a monopoly, copyright and patent gives you the ability to make that idea public, and retain it as you're idea.
    After all it IS you're idea, you have every right to it.

    If patents and copyright did not exist, and you have that great idea, you would not be able to make that idea public for risk of someone else using that idea.

    There are thousands upon thousands of examples of peoples inventions, ideas, or discoveries have been taken by someone else and used to great profit by that person.

    I dont know of too many examples of the reverse, where once something has patent or copyright protection that that has occured.

    But again, many thousands of historical and present day examples where inventions or discoveries have been lost to others who did not invent it, because there was not protection in place for that idea.

    Patents give that protection, and gives the ability to put that information into the public domain, for advancement of further development.

    You cannot use the invention directly, but you can improve, innovate and build upon that invention to create you're own independent invention.

    You dont have to invent steel every time you want to invent a new type of car engine.

    You dont have to invent a programming language every time you want to write some software.
    You dont have to invent printed circuit boards every time you envent a new circuit, nor do you have to invent new transistors, resistors, inductors, capacitors etc.

    They have all been invented and patented, does not stop you from using them for you're own inventions or innovations.

    So where does patents or copyright harm the progress of technology, and would InventCO even bother to spend their million on R&D if they knew that LeachCO was waiting to take their invention and make $100 million dollars profit on the backs of InventCO, who does not have the money left to either fight LeachCO or to market and promote their own product.

    Mike, I guessing you would tend to want to be the CEO of LeachCO, and just try not to think about all the engineers and designers you dont employ and that you will put out of work because you want the product of their labour without having to pay for it. And you dont mind putting them out of a job, so you can pay you're google advertising bill, and lawyers to keep "the trolls" off you back..

    Or would you rather be CEO of InventCO, working to build a better world, and put money in the pockets of engineers, not some advertising agent ?

     

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    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 4th, 2010 @ 3:12am

      Re: InventCo and LeachCO two tech companies

      Darryl,

      I love it how you have to invent a totally bogus made up hypothetical, because even you *know* that what you described is not how the real world plays out.

      We've discussed this before, but despite your claims (I'm guessing you've never actually built a product or run a company that succeeded in the market) copying most products *is not easy*. The original inventor, in your silly story, InventCO, has much greater knowledge of their product and their market. That's because they did not just invent their product in a vacuum, despite your suggestion that they did. They probably went through multiple iterations. They learned what worked. They did focus groups. They know what consumers liked and what they don't like. They figured out how to market the product to play up what customers liked.

      LeachCO has none of this knowledge. They can copy the product, but they can't copy that insight and knowledge.

      And, of course, with *most* products, the product process is not one-and-done, as you imply, but an ongoing process. So, by the time LeachCo gets around to making its Gruntmaster 2000 knockoff, InventCo is already on to the Gruntmaster 3000 and perhaps the SuperGruntMaster or some other offshoot products as well. They're staying ahead of the market.

      On top of that, because they were first to market, they got all the press coverage, they were able to secure more investment, so that they now have a much bigger war chest than anything LeachCo can do. LeachCo is unable to raise much more investment, because InventCo has such a huge lead in the market, and customers know about InventCo, they don't know about LeachCo.

      Oh, as for the claim that LeachCo buys the very first product and starts making copies right away? That doesn't happen either. Because when the first Gruntmaster rolls off the line, there's no proof that there's a big market for Gruntmasters. LeachCo tends to wait, and by the time they realize there is a market, InventCo has already established its brand.

      Finally, based on your own logic no LeachCos would ever exist. After all, any LeachCo would automatically face competition from LeachCo2 and LeachCo3 and LeachCo4 etc. And you claim that no one will invest if others are going to copy them. So, there will never be a LeachCo in your world, because it *too* will be copied.

      See how this works? The thing is, my hypothetical is a lot more like what actually happens in the real world than your myth. So, yes, I'd want to be CEO of InventCo, because of all those reasons -- and it's for all those reasons that patents are still not necessary.

      Darryl, I have no idea what your background is, but perhaps you should spend some time working on actual products before you make up mythical scenarios.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    "patents can be dangerous"

    Sure...for large companies who like to steal the discoveries of small entities.

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

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    staff, Jun 4th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    Patent reform is a fraud

    "patents can be dangerous"

    Sure...for large companies who like to steal the discoveries of small entities.

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

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Darryl, Jun 5th, 2010 @ 3:50am

    No experience eh :)

    " (I'm guessing you've never actually built a product or run a company that succeeded in the market)"

    You would be guessing wrong then, im a fully qualified electronics and instrumentation engineer, and very experienced programmer, especially in embedded systems.

    As for it being hard to reverse engineer a good idea, Im guessing you are the one who has not had much design, or engineering experience, LeachCO, would only have to hire a single junior engineer, and reverse engineering is trivially easy.

    If you've ever designed something, that hard part is the method, the easy part is the design. Therefore, all you are taking off InventCO is an effective method, that you dont have to think of yourself, that's the hard part in any design or invention, it's the actual idea.

    It's take no brains to take someone else's idea, and copy it. And reverse engineering someone elses design, does not improve the technology or the state of the art.

    And yes, I owned and ran my own very successful engineering consultancy business, Designing (and patentings some) new concepts and methods in the "S&I" field. (Scientific and Industrial), also worked for 10 years in quite a large organisation as a communications and cryptography specialist that was the military.

    So having 35 years in the electronics and computer industry, including much engineering, design, and programming. Running my own successfull business for over 10 years. I can safely say I know more about the "real world" that mabey someone who lives in an echo chamber of like minded people, with no ability to object to your biased logic.

    At least there are some that do, and it seems you mostly dont delete their posts..

    So there is my brief experience, or some of it at least, so how about you ?

     

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


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