What Good Are The Patents On Oil-Eating Bacteria Doing Us?

from the bp-and-patents dept

Nick Dynice writes in with this interesting thought on patents and oil-eating bacteria:
"I have been wondering if or when Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty's and GE's patented "oil-eating bacteria" will be used to help clean the gulf oil leak. This patent was originally rejected, and the rejection was challenged in the landmark case before the Supreme Court in Diamond v. Chakrabarty. This was the first attempt on a patent for living organism, and after some back and forth, the Supreme Court narrowly decided that living organisms could, in fact, be patented.

So, thanks to patents, there are now oil-eating bacteria than can help out BP in the Gulf, right? Not so fast, according to Scienceblogs:
"Not only did the engineered oil-eating bacteria spark debate on ownership and patentability of living organisms, but it also began discussion of how and when genetically engineered organisms could be released into the environment. This question is far from solved, with the fate of genetically engineered organisms to clean up oil or perform other kinds of environmental bioremediation still unclear as the possible harm to the environment by uncontrolled growth of engineered strains is weighed against the environmental impact of what the bacteria are designed to clean up. In the case of the oil-eating bacteria, the interests of the oil company also play a role--you don't want uncontrolled growth of an organism that eats your product getting into your wells. While such uncontrolled growth is unlikely because the bacteria need injection of other elemental fertilizers besides the carbon in the oil to grow, it is something that has been brought up. Importantly, however, the bacteria often just can't compete with the scale of the disaster alone. The bacterial metabolism of crude oil cannot move faster than the oil kills wildlife, but oil-eating bacteria have been and will continue to be part of the long-term clean-up process for oil spills."
So the patent that opened the doors for patents on living organism can't even get us out of this mess because it turns out it might not be that practical."
Of course, you have to wonder if this kind of oil-eating bacteria wasn't locked up to one provider for many years due to a patent, if much of that research on how to make it both safe and practical would have been done already. Probably could have helped a lot. Instead, we set things up so that living organisms can be patented, limiting the ability to do actual research on the impact of those patented organisms to just one party, greatly limiting our understanding of their practicality and safety. Progress?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    What???

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Re: What???

    "we set things up so that living organisms can be patented, limiting the ability to do actual research on the impact of those patented organisms to just one party, greatly limiting our understanding of their practicality and safety"

    Having a patent does not limit research to only one party. Other parties are free to license the patent and move forward with research. It may just be that licensing it is cheaper than making your own. Either way in order to do research one has to have the stuff to test. Saying that a patent limits research to a single party is not true.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Hmm...

    "While such uncontrolled growth is unlikely because the bacteria need injection of other elemental fertilizers besides the carbon in the oil to grow, it is something that has been brought up."

    Not so fast there. Bacteria adapts, often at surprising speeds. One of the chief properties of a bacterial organism is cellular morphology. Morphology in bacteria is especially active when faced with adverse growth conditions. The idea that it could adapt wildly to reproduce without the injected fertilizers might not be outside the realm of liklihood....

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Hmm...

    Sounds like you are having a Jurassic Park moment.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: What???

    And what happens when a patent holder refuses to license the patent to researchers when they discover the organism is in fact dangerous? The holder could potentially just not license it at all and only let their teams release them when the clients come calling.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Hmm...

    Life..... finds a way.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: What???

    "Having a patent does not limit research to only one party."

    Yes it does. It gives others less incentive to research that which is being patented because the researchers and society will benefit less from the results of that research since the patent restricts how others can benefit.

    "Other parties are free to license the patent and move forward with research."

    Or the patent holder can

    A: Refuse to license it because it potentially competes with something else they produce.

    B: Charge monopoly prices, which necessarily limits what others would do and how much they would spend on R&D (since money going to R&D will instead go to licensing fees).

    "It may just be that licensing it is cheaper than making your own."

    It may be that making your own is cheaper than licensing it to a monopolist. In fact, this is likely the case. Unfortunately, with patents, one has no choice but to license it.

    "Either way in order to do research one has to have the stuff to test."

    Yeah, so?

    "Saying that a patent limits research to a single party is not true."

    It often is true, especially if the patent holder wishes to do nothing with what is patented. and since most patents never make it to product it most likely is the case that they merely exist to limit the ability of others to research and whatnot (after all, why have a patent and do nothing with it if it has no value. It has value, its value is in hindering the progress of others and preventing them from making competing products or in simply monopolizing anything that anyone can do to extort money from them minimizing how much society can benefit from something or how much they can research it).

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Hmm...

    Actually, that Ian Malcom quote was the first thing I thought of. Nice read. Remind me never to play Texas Hold'em w/you....

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Hmm...

    Well, if others were free to research it and didn't have to worry about who has a patent on what (and extortion patent licenses or whether or not someone would even license something) the degree that the bacteria can adapt could be better researched by others. But instead patents mostly just serve to hinder the progress by giving others disincentive to conduct further R&D.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: What???

    In other words, why should I conduct R&D on something if it just means you are going to monopolize it. Why should I conduct R&D on something someone else has a monopoly on?

     

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  11.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Hmm...

    Oh, I agree. That wasn't meant to be pro-patent. I was merely addressing the submitter's dismissal of the danger....

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    The solution, anyone or any institute or business that conducts R&D on something should automatically get a free patent exemption. This encourages more R&D and gives people a choice, they can either spend the money necessary to re - develop what is patented or license what is being patented.

    One may argue, "well, this will give people incentive to conduct bogus R&D simply to get patent exemptions." No less than the incentive our current patent system gives people to conduct bogus R&D just to get a patent. Heck, one doesn't even need to conduct R&D to get a patent, at least the above will give people and institutions/businesses incentive to conduct R&D.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    We're all fucked.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    In fact, not only should the patent office be allowed to grant patents, they should be allowed to grant patent exemptions. and they should be allowed to charge patent exemption application fees to give them more incentive to grant more patent exemptions. and if they deny a patent exemption, those who request for the patent exemption should be allowed to appeal the denial. and companies and people should be able to build patent exemption portfolios and they should even be allowed to sell their patent exemptions.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    If my invention is potentially unsafe and you are willing to research it then it is in my best interest to just give you a non-commercial license. Perhaps your motivation is not monetary but to advance your field or yourself, or to just help the world/environment.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    What is the patnet number?

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    i for one welcome our new crude oil eating evolved from engineered bacteria overlords

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: What is the patnet number?

    What is the patent number?

    According to TFA it was patented in 1971. The courts decided on it in 1980. That means that the 20 years provided by the patent has expired and anyone is free to use technology. Where is the issue exactly?

     

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  19.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re:

    No, dammit, you were supposed to say Helmeted overlords. HELMETED!

    Didn't you know that Schwartz is Yiddish for oil?

     

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  20.  
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    Korrosive, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: What is the patnet number?

    The issue is 20 years of research by other institutions has been lost. Sure it is free for use now, so in the next 20 years it will be finally a viable solution :(

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Hey there scarecrow

    Blaming expired patents on lack of research is a strawman.

     

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  22.  
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    Brian, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    The problem with the bacteria is that they found it it liked to eat other stuff too - not just the oil

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    "then it is in my best interest to just give you a non-commercial license."

    Not true, a non commercial license still competes with your sales. and even if you grant non commercial licenses, which many won't, the fact that people can't commercially benefit from something without the blessing of the patent holder gives people less incentive to conduct R&D on it. Again, why should I conduct R&D on something someone else has a monopoly on?

    "or to just help the world/environment."

    The pretext behind the patent is that it gives people a greater commercial interest to conduct R&D. The point I'm making is that patents actually do the opposite, they take away much of the commercial interests that encourage people to conduct R&D.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    "or to just help the world/environment."

    But if no one can benefit from my R&D without the patent holders blessings then my research will disproportionally help the patent holder more than society and myself and everyone else. Society will benefit much less because of the monopoly rents they must pay to benefit from any R&D society conducts (monopolies necessarily reduce aggregate output), which gives society much less incentive to invest in such R&D.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Hey there scarecrow

    How so?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Re:

    I think that's true of most bacteria :)

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: What???

    "Having a patent does not limit research to only one party. Other parties are free to license the patent and move forward with research."

    Several scenarios that I think could happen, if my understanding of patent law is correct. Every one of these scenarios limits research with no gain for society:

    Scenario 1: Guy has brilliant idea to solve world hunger and a relatively good plan to do so. Several of the processes he requires are protected by patents from several competing companies. He tries to acquire the licenses. Most companies demand huge licensing fees. End result: Research halted.

    Scenario 2: Team of researchers independently develop a cure for cancer. Patent troll has patents that sorta cover some processes used by researchers and sues for patent infringement. End result: cure for cancer research halted for undetermined amount of time until courts decide on the matter or researchers decide to cough up the dough.

    Scenario 3: Research lab is almost finishing an anti-gravity device. Discovers some guy has patented "Method for enabling the of transport of people and materials by lifting them in the air" that briefly and vaguely describes methods of achieving levitation (including helicopters, cranes and magnetic levitation...seems that one slipped past the patent office's prior art and obviousness test...oops). Guy demands exorbitant fees to license said technology. End result: Lab wastes many years fighting guy in court.

    Scenario 4: Scientists develop smell-o-vision (in 3D!). Patent troll has patents covering some of their methods. Scientists have no money to fight him in court. Hijacks research. End result: Patent troll patents hijacked research. Camps.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Hey there scarecrow

    That's not a strawman. A strawman is pretending the opposition said something they didn't and arguing against the made up point in an attempt to discredit your opponent.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    The linked site contains an editorial comment having absolutely nothing to do with the pros/cons of patents.

    The article here seems little more than once again taking gratuitous jabs at patent law.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    Proving that it is unsafe is of benefit to society and would severly limit the patent holder's ability to do much with the patent.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    "The pretext behind the patent is that it gives people a greater commercial interest to conduct R&D. The point I'm making is that patents actually do the opposite, they take away much of the commercial interests that encourage people to conduct R&D."

    Wrong. The ability to patent your work gives you the incentive to do R&D. It does not give me the incentive to R&D on your work, it gives me the incentive to do my own work. You have the opportunity to create your own bacteria, perhaps one that is better/safer/cheaper and you have the opportunity to patent your own work.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: What???

    Its fun to make stuff up isn't it? We can make stuff up all day long and it means nothing. Where are your real world examples?

    In this case, Mike's real world example is an expired patent and no evidence to support his assertion that the patent limited research.

     

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  33.  
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    Jeremy7600 (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:06pm

    Re:

    Mike has his own opinions, this is his blog, he shares them with us here. You have yours: if you had your own blog, wouldn't you be sharing your opinions with everyone there?

    Its not a secret that Mike has very strong opinions about patent law. How is gratuitous to offer his own opinion on his own blog?

    Isn't your comment gratuitous?

    Mine is only necessary given yours.

     

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  34.  
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    Josef, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: What???

    AC,

    You are correct in saying that the patent does not limit research to one party. I agree that saying a patent limits research to a single party is not true.

    The bit you seem to be missing is that the patent does greatly reduce incentive to innovate, which is the point being made. Can others research the patented organisms? Yes. Is progress aided or hindered by the patent? More likely than not, yes.

     

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  35.  
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    Josef, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:10pm

    oops

    should have read.....More likely than not, progress is hindered.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    "Wrong."

    Right.

    "The ability to patent your work gives you the incentive to do R&D."

    No, it takes away incentive to do R&D because someone else probably already has a patent on whatever it is I'm doing. You ignore the fact that people often discover similar things during similar times, you ignore independent invention.

    "It does not give me the incentive to R&D on your work"

    It gives me incentive not to do R&D and not to independently invent something that you just grabbed a patent to because you got to the patent office first. Most patents are granted before any R&D is even done, so patents really don't have R&D value.

    "You have the opportunity to create your own bacteria, perhaps one that is better/safer/cheaper and you have the opportunity to patent your own work."

    Or perhaps one that independently infringes on one of the many patents out there. and upon inventing a work around I risk someone else with a patent simply modifying his/her patent to cover what I invested money to invent/find.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Hey there scarecrow

    Blaming expired patents on lack of research is a strawman.


    The patent did exist for its allotted time, did it not? And during that time, research into this area was stifled. So there was approximately 2 decades where there was limited advancement in this particular area.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    "or to just help the world/environment."

    But if non commercial motives provide enough incentive for people to conduct R&D and invent then why are patents needed? and if non commercial motives do not provide enough incentive then patents only take away from the commercial incentives to conduct R&D and invent because society benefits less from the such investments, since monopolies reduce aggregate output, and hence society has less incentive to invest.

     

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  39.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    In this case, Mike's real world example is an expired patent and no evidence to support his assertion that the patent limited research.

    Indeed. How can you prove what didn't happen? But we can look at analogous areas and compare, and see that when new things are generated in scientific settings, and they are not locked up by IP, that there does tend to be more widespread experimentation. So, for example, why not compare this to HeLa cells. That's another case of a biological product, but which had no IP.

    And it spread rapidly, and had research done all over the world with those cells leading to tons of breakthroughs.

     

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  40.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    The linked site contains an editorial comment having absolutely nothing to do with the pros/cons of patents.


    Nor did I say it did. I was expressing my opinion based on the facts in that article.

    Why would you assume otherwise?

    The article here seems little more than once again taking gratuitous jabs at patent law.


    It is not gratuitous if it is accurate.

    If you would prefer a site where the author does not express an opinion, and simply regurgitates what he links to, perhaps you should look elsewhere.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    TAM, you are not addressing the issues here.

    Proving that bombs are unsafe for children doesn't do much to encourage R&D regardless of who has a patent on bombs. Explosives can have many other uses besides being used as a child's toy.

    Proving that something is unsafe for one application doesn't do much to help encourage R&D into other applications.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    Some people like to get paid. If you choose not to that is your issue, don't make it mine.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 6:56pm

    another fairly stupid friday techdirt thread.

    mike, you come off as a truly desperate man. the patent issue is nothing in this case, it is all about the implications of letting this organism into the wild. please check out monsato and their grass seed research, which has gone on for many years, with legal issues regarding genetically modified grass seeds. imagine if they came up with a whole new organism instead.

    it has little or nothing to do with patent, it has everything to do with people wanting to make sure the concept is safe before letting it lose in the wild.

    you truly are desperate to run with a story like this.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    No one is against getting paid. What we are against is a patent holder preventing others from getting paid for doing R&D.

    Some people like to do R&D without patents. If you choose not to, that is your issue, don't make it mine by getting patents that prevent or limit me from getting paid.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:03pm

    Re:

    No, it is IP maximists that are desperate because they are unable to justify their monopoly rents.

    "it has little or nothing to do with patent, it has everything to do with people wanting to make sure the concept is safe before letting it lose in the wild."

    No, it does have to do with patents. If patents give others less incentive to conduct R&D then that would make it more difficult to determine whether or not something is safe or to find safe alternatives if it is unsafe. Other entities likely want to determine if something is safe because they want to commercially benefit from it if it is safe. But since they can't commercially benefit from it, since someone else has a patent, then why conduct R&D to determine if it's safe or not since the patent holder will disproportionately benefit from that R&D now that its more aware of how safe this patented something is thanks to someone elses research.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:07pm

    Re:

    "you truly are desperate to run with a story like this."

    IP maximists truly are desperate. If it weren't so, all of the problems with our IP system would be on mainstream media (ie: 95 year copy restriction lengths and all the other stuff we talk about on techdirt) because IP maximists would easily be able to defend their position in the face of scrutiny. Instead, they censor scrutiny because they know their position is completely indefensible and they are desperate to keep their unjustified monopoly rents. Their position is ludicrous, obviously so, we have shown it here over and over here on techdirt, yet their position is practically the only position presented on MSM. IP maximists truly are morally bankrupt.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re:

    In other words, with the existence of patents, conducting R&D to determine that something is safe doesn't benefit society as much since, if society determines that something is safe, society still has to pay monopoly prices to actually benefit and use that something (hence lowering aggregate output and reducing the degree that society benefits from the R&D it conducted to determine that something is safe), giving society less incentive to conduct the R&D necessary to determine whether or not something is safe and to what degree/extent and under what applications and quantities/doses, etc... Why should I spend the resources determining that something is safe if I and others still have to pay a third party patent holder monopoly prices to benefit from that something.

    I don't see why IP maximists are having trouble grasping this basic concept. It's common sense and it's basic economics. Are they truly incompetent or are they just being disingenuous. I suspect the later but either way it takes credibility away from their position.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why should I conduct R&D to determine whether or not something is safe if it means that the patent holder will disproportionally benefit from my R&D and reduce how much I will benefit.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re:

    one guy, 4 comments. either mike or one of his minions. i figure when you try so hard to shout me down, it is because i hit a nerve.

    the story smacks of desperation to pin the tail on patent holders. it is sad to see techdirt stoop so low. it makes the **aas look like straight forward people.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you have a legitimate response.

    "i figure when you try so hard to shout me down, it is because i hit a nerve."

    It is because you are an idiot and do not make any sense.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "the story smacks of desperation to pin the tail on patent holders."

    No, the story helps demonstrate how patents are harmful and your inability to grasp basic concepts demonstrates how desperate you are to defend your position because you can't.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    who needs a legitimate response? your single handed actions to try to shout me down speaks volumes to the accuracy of my post. mike, i wouldnt think you would stoop this low, but it is clear you are. shouting people down? i guess it is on par with insulting them and calling them liars.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "who needs a legitimate response?"

    So you admittedly have no legitimate response.

    "your single handed actions to try to shout me down speaks volumes to the accuracy of my post."

    The mainstream medias single handed actions to censor opposing views speaks volumes to their dishonesty and the accuracy of techdirt and other anti IP opinions. If techdirt wanted to "shout you out" it could just block you from posting. It does not.

    "mike, i wouldnt think you would stoop this low, but it is clear you are."

    I'm not Mike and there is nothing wrong with showing the incorrect nature of your position.

    "shouting people down?"

    You mean like how the mainstream media censors dissent?

    "i guess it is on par with insulting them and calling them liars."

    What?

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re:

    It is gratuitous because the linked article has absolutely nothing to do with the purported evils of patent law. The article discusses an entirely different and unrelatent point.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and seriously, instead of complaining about my alleged "shouting you out", why not simply make a valid point instead. Wouldn't that speak louder than my alleged shouting you out. Yet, in all your ramblings, you have yet to make a valid point. Just make a valid point already or admit that you have no valid points to make. But don't keep crying about being "shouted out."

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    It is gratuitous because the linked article has absolutely nothing to do with the purported evils of patent law. The article discusses an entirely different and unrelatent point.

    Citation?

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 11:47pm

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

    8 posts to discredit 1, all by the same (apparently techdirt) person. that seems like shouting someone down to me.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    correction, 9 posts to discredit 1. a new techdirt record.

     

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

  59.  
    icon
    Nick Dynice (profile), Jun 19th, 2010 @ 1:09am

    Here is the point:

    1. The oil eating bacteria patent will not help us clean up the gulf oil leak.

    2. Living organism can be patented thanks to this patent and all I got was this lousy ability for biotech companies to block research of competitors who could come up with life saving medicines AND no solution for big oil leak clean up.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The article discusses an entirely different and unrelatent point."

    Which does nothing to negate the point that this post is making. Are you really that incompetent?

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 1:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, 1 post to discredit it. 8 posts to keep explaining why you don't have an argument because you keep on falsely insisting that you do.

    So, then, you admit that your argument has been discredited.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    Without the patent we would not be discussing it at all. If what you say is true then show me the research that started after the patent expired. Since patent include public disclosure the patent is now in the public domain. If the invention has value to society then there should be lots of research since the patent expired. Or it might be that the invention is not very practical or very good and thus not worth researching.

    Let's assume for a second that the invention was never patented. In that case it would have likely stayed a trade secret within GE. How does the technology being considered a trade secret further research/progress/innovation? It does not. We would never have known about this technology without the patent.

    Good ideas spread rapidly and patents do not stop that. Just look at what you call the patent thicket around smart phones, Apple and HTC are still very innovative and people are still benefiting. The harm you claim from patents is elusive, you cannot measure it.

    A lot of the comments I see here are people that seem to be afraid of patents, they feel limited by patents. If you go through life afraid of what might happen then you are only limiting yourself.

     

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

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 9:09am

    ya know

    FUCK OFF with this line a bullshit
    So lets keep yapping about it while someone puts a trillion gillion price tag on it and laughs while the earth gts SMACKED AROUND some

    fucking greedy bastards

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The point this post is making is yet another tome criticizing patents, something that is completely missing from, and not even suggested in, the linked article.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re:

    There is not a single "fact" or statement in the article even remotely suggesting that patent law is/has stifling/stifled research in this area.

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    Are you high? You just spent... I don't know.. 10-15 minutes typing that???

    Like he said, NO ONE CAN EVER present evidence of what happened in an alternate reality. Why not get on board with the movement, help us nix 90% of the patents and see what happens. Then you can present evidence to have the system re-broken and I'm sure you would be victorious.

     

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

  67.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 19th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    translation: I don't want your personal opinion in your own blog!

     

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

  68.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 19th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "one guy, 4 comments. either mike or one of his minions. i figure when you try so hard to shout me down, it is because i hit a nerve."


    In a world... where technical blogs strive to write their own opinions about different issues... One man... struggles to have their speech stifled by heavy use of... snark!

    Don't miss the latest summer blockbuster from the creators of the award-winning "The Masnick" and "Piggybacking in an Agenda", comes... The Anti-Mike's Conspiracy Theory. In a theater near you.

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Poor little baby!

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He is more than welcome to express any opinion he may want. However, there is nothing in the linked article that in any way supports his opinion, and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise.

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    The patent has been expired for a long time. There has been no barrier to research for a long time. Yet there is still no progress. The patent is not to blame for that.

    "Are you high?"

    Why? Are you high? Mike lives closer to the Emerald Triangle than me, I think he might be high.

     

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

  72.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 19th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It doesn't have to. The article doesn't exist in a vacuum. Opinions are not formed only from one source material, don'cha know?

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: What???

    "The bit you seem to be missing is that the patent does greatly reduce incentive to innovate, which is the point being made." - the difference is short term versus longer term. without patents, would anyone have made the research to start with? maybe that research would have come, oh, 20 years later, if at all?

    "Is progress aided or hindered by the patent? More likely than not, yes." - see the above point, without the original progress (the patent) there is in fact no progress to hinder. it might have taken a very long time for under funded or non-funded entities to get around to even looking at this stuff. basically, absent patents and the incentives created by short term control of an idea, would anyone have even gone there? to use your phrase, "more likely than not, no".

     

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

  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    "The patent did exist for its allotted time, did it not? And during that time, research into this area was stifled. So there was approximately 2 decades where there was limited advancement in this particular area." - the question is, was anyone else working on a similar concept before the patent was issued? or would it have been 20 or 30 years before anyone even thought about it, if ever? your assumption is that the same amount of money and time would be invested in research without patents, but you have nothing to back the idea up. as an mba, you should know the ideas of "return on investment", and you should be able to see the reasons why patents greatly influence the return on investment for any company putting significant monies into research. i just think you tend to ignore it because it would hurt you base arguments.

     

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

  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    Oh capitalization challenged troll... You so vain.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    boring. is that your best? why dont you spend a minute trying to figure out for mike how an invention that has been out of patent for quite a while is somehow blocked by patents? if people were dying to research or develop something, the day the patent expired they would have been all over it. yet mike appears to be blaming only patents. so rather than trying to bully posters, why not look at the story and wonder what your guru, the masnick, the master boot strapper, the agenda man, is actually doing.

    you dont think he will link to this post with a 'we showed how patents blocked technology that could have saved the gulf'? he will continue to manipulate the truth (and your understanding of it) and you will be too busy calling people names to bother actually thinking. congrats!

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    darryl, Jun 20th, 2010 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Correct.

    And yes, reading this you would think there was only ONE type of bacteria that eats crude oil, and that it is only because it was genetically modified.

    Thats is not the case, and if you have been folling the gulf issue. You will know there are MANY MANY naturally occuring microbes that eat the oil.

    No issues with patents, no issues with genetic modification, no risk of it going crazy in nature, (they are allready there).

    If there is oil in the water, their numbers increase to consume the oil, when there is no oil in the water, their numbers drop back down to very low levels.

    (again, with the supply and demand).

    The fact that BP patented one type of bacteria, does NOT stop other groups basing their research on that same bacteria, or in doing their own genitic modification, or methods with that raw product.

    Again, because someone patents a steam engine, it does not stop you designing your own better steam engine, that is what patents are for.

    All you cant do, is NOT INVENT a better steam engine, and just use the one the other guy invented.

    And what is wrong with that ?

    If you not capable of doing better yourself, why should you gain from someone else who can do better than you.

    Nothing is stopping you inventing things, or inventing things better than what allready exist. All is asked of you is not to use the things someone elses (better than you can do) invention.

    Just because someone invented and patented a steam engine, it has not stopped me from inventing a better steam engine, or a better engine, or improving upon that invention with other new inventions.

    that is how the human race progresses, we dont progress by doing the same things over and over and over again.

    We progress by looking at what we got, looking at what we need, and trying to INVENT something that meets our needs, based on what we got to do it with.

    Inventing is not looking at someone elses invention, and saying that will do, I dont need to think of anything, someone else has done it for me. so if I just copy it all is good.

    That is not progress, if that was the case, we would still be using the original design of the Watt steam engine.

    And are we ??

    No, how can that be ?

    Electric light was patented, are we still using edison incandensent lights of edisons design ?

    No, we have a vast array of lighting sources, electric lights.

    Was progress slowed by the edison patent of the light globe.

    Or, was the progress in computers slowed by the invention of the transistor, and subsequent patent on the technology.

    So you have a patented technology, the transistor, and a corrosponding explosion in technological advancement.

    How does that gel with your theory that patents slow advancement?

    Because what your saying does not agree with reality, how do you explain that ???? Mike

     

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

  78.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    the difference is short term versus longer term. without patents, would anyone have made the research to start with?

    Ha! Yes. This research was done before anyone realized it could even be patented. That's what the whole legal fight was about.

    So, yes, the research would have been done.

     

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

  79.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    it is intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise.

    I see. So you are saying that oil-eating bacteria are working? And it's all a big lie that we're not using them?

     

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

  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 7:15am

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

    no, the big lie is to some how blame patents for their success or failure. if they had been that promising a concept, someone would have been working hard on them since the patent expired. there are other factors not at all related to patents that have stopped them from being brought to market. you know that, but you are more than willing to hang the whole thing on patents anyway. nothing like using a buzz topic to try to slam patents.

     

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

  81.  
    identicon
    staff, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 7:23am

    stop whining

    "So the patent that opened the doors for patents on living organism can't even get us out of this mess because it turns out it might not be that practical"

    But the piece you quote said "but oil-eating bacteria have been and will continue to be part of the long-term clean-up process for oil spills"

    Even you don't read what you write. I don't blame you.

     

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

  82.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    "And during that time, research into this area was stifled."

    Utter bunk. During that time those who did not want to pay for use of the invention were stimulated to invent other methods of accomplishing the task.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  83.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re:

    "Nor did I say it did. I was expressing my opinion based on the LACK OF facts in that article."

    Note correction. The underlying problem with TechDIRT is an inability to recognize actual facts.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  84.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:20am

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

    "I see. So you are saying that oil-eating bacteria are working? And it's all a big lie that we're not using them?"

    Can you prove that no one anywhere is using oil eating bacteria?

    The invention TAUGHT and even if the art has not yet advanced enough to use at this time the invention was still the foundation of what may come.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:09am

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

    This is not at all related to my comment.

    The original article was devoted solely to environmental matters, and had nothing at all to do with patents and their pros/cons.

     

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

  86.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What???

    Research has been done on it since the patent expired, but the point is that we lost 20 years worth of research thanks to patents.

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/1992/bacteria-0401.html

     

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

  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    No, they were merely stifled from conducting research into this field.

     

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

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:26am

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

    but this article does have to do with patents and their pros/cons.

     

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

  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You mean your inability to recognize actual facts.

     

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

  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:32am

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

    But you ignore independent invention and assume that without patents inventions don't happen. But many many inventions have happened without patents but all patents do is allow whoever gets to the patent office first to prevent independent inventors from researching some inventions that probably would have been independently invented anyways for twenty years. I do not think patents should assume that no one would invent anything without patents (especially since the evidence contradicts this) and would much rather give society the freedom to independently invent things and advance their own independent inventions and the independent inventions of others.

     

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

  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:48am

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

    "if they had been that promising a concept, someone would have been working hard on them since the patent expired."

    and there has been research on them since the patent expired. Also see

    http://www.edvotek.com/pdf/956.pdf

    But this doesn't negate the fact that we lost 20 years of research on something that we had twenty years to develop without patents thanks to patents. and I don't buy that oil eating bacteria was created as a result of patents, they were likely created because at the time they were created we had the ability to genetically modify organisms and such an ability was (and still somewhat is) a rather recent capability. The patent was originally rejected for good reason and the inventor even knew that his/her patent might get rejected based on existing U.S. law at the time and so such an invention was risky in terms of getting a patent at the time. But he invented it anyways, suggesting that it would have been invented with or without a patent and all patents did was restrict further R&D into the field preventing and prevent someone else who would have independently invented the same thing within that 20 year period from conducting R&D on their invention and utilize it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_v._Chakrabarty

     

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

  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:53am

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

    Patents create a known harm to society and so if you want them to exist the burden is on you to justify their existence. You must demonstrate that without patents no one would have independently invented oil eating bacteria within the twenty year period that they were patented or else you have failed to justify their existence.

     

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

  93.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 6:06am

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

    Imagine if, shortly after the invention of the microscope, everyone was allowed to patent anything new they saw under a microscope. It would have totally destroyed future research. Of course the microscope will lead to tons of future research, now that we have the tools to conduct new research new research will get conducted and patents will only get in the way of this process. Likewise, just because we now have the ability to genetically modify organisms doesn't mean that a patent should be granted on every genetically modified organism. It only gets in the way of R&D by getting everyone to run to the patent office to obtain every possible genetic modification patent they can preventing future research into said modifications.

     

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

  94.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    Pfffft, so how many times are you going post anon to make it look anyone other that patent lawyers like yourself want 20 year innovation blackouts. The arguments laid out here are so obvious that even you should have no problem grasping them. So rather than going over the whole patent theory 101 farce - How about addressing the issues that you and your Ilk tend to shy away from?

     

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

  95.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hey there scarecrow

    I would ask you for evidence, but you never have any.

     

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

  96.  
    identicon
    darryl, Jun 25th, 2010 @ 10:31am

    bad idea is a bad idea, patented or not, it did not fly with patent, or after. Nothing to do with the patent.

    is this the best example you can find Mike, to show how patents hurt innovation ?

    What is that, one example of a patent, that was not acted on in the duration of the patent, AND was not acted on AFTER the patent expired.

    So how did that stiffle innovation ?.

    And what about the millions upon millions of patents, and innovations that are actively developed, used, enjoyed and superseeded by better inventions after a period of time.

    Clearly having a patent on a cellular phone has not stopped the development of mobil communications.

    Clearly having patents on computer chips, CPU, memeory, and related technology, does not stop the advancement of those fields, it does not stop further innovation, it does not hinder new things, or improvements upon the old.

    And all you can do if find one over 20 year old example, of a patent that was not acted on, DURING or AFTER the patent as an example of how patents are somehow bad !!!

    really, again, this speaks to your credability, and our ability to take you seriously.

     

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


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