Innovation Happens When Ideas Have Sex

from the get-them-mating-faster dept

A few months back, we wrote a bit about Matt Ridley's new book called The Rational Optimist. I still haven't had a chance to read the book, but reader sehlat points us to an essay that Ridley has written for Reason Magazine that is adapted from the book, which is an absolute must read, on how innovation occurs. Many of the points won't surprise regular readers of Techdirt, since it talks about concepts and studies that we've discussed many times before. For example, it discusses some of the same research we recently wrote about how government funding of basic science research often does more harm than good for innovation. It also explains how money is often not a key ingredient in innovation. It's helpful, yes, but not the key ingredient. There's a nice bit on the fact, as discussed time and time again around here that intellectual property laws have never been shown to increase innovation:
Yet intellectual property is very different from real property, because it is useless if you keep it to yourself, and an abstract concept can be infinitely shared. These features create an apparent dilemma for those who would encourage inventors. People get rich by selling each other things (and services), not ideas. Manufacture the best bicycles, and you profit handsomely; come up with the idea of the bicycle, and you get nothing because it is soon copied. If innovators are people who make ideas, rather than things, how can they profit from them? Does society need to invent a special mechanism to surround new ideas with fences, to make them more like houses and fields?

There is little evidence that patents really drive inventors to invent. In the second half of the 19th century, neither Holland nor Switzerland had a patent system, yet both countries flourished and attracted inventors. The list of significant 20th-century inventions that were never patented includes the automatic transmission, Bakelite, ballpoint pens, cellophane, cyclotrons, gyrocompasses, jet engines, magnetic recording, power steering, safety razors, and zippers. By contrast, the Wright brothers effectively grounded the nascent aircraft industry in the United States by enthusiastically defending their 1906 patent on powered flying machines.
So what is it that leads to innovation? Well, it's the sharing of ideas and building upon them -- again, a point raised here time and time again. Ridley describes it as "ideas having sex." This isn't a new idea (though it's "newish"). In the past thirty years, a growing number of economists have recognized that economic growth comes from the collision of information and new ideas, shared openly. As Ridley notes: "Innovators are in the business of sharing." While he doesn't bring this up, there's actually a tremendous amount of research that show that communities that more widely and openly share ideas tend to have greater innovation (and, no, that doesn't mean through such false disclosure systems like a patent system -- which teaches little, and doesn't let anyone really make use of the knowledge shared). But the key point that Ridley makes is that innovation happens when people keep building on what's been done before:
The secret of the modern world is its gigantic interconnectedness. Ideas are having sex with other ideas from all over the planet with ever-increasing promiscuity. The telephone had sex with the computer and spawned the Internet.

Technologies emerge from the coming together of existing technologies into wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Henry Ford once candidly admitted that he had invented nothing new: He had "simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work." Inventors like to deny their ancestors, exaggerating the unfathered nature of their breakthroughs, the better to claim the full glory (and sometimes the patents) for themselves. Thus, Americans learn that Edison invented the incandescent light bulb out of thin air, when his less commercially-slick forerunners, Joseph Swan in Britain and Alexander Lodygin in Russia, deserve at least to share the credit.
It's a great read that really highlights and ties together many of the points I've written about here for years.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    something does not add up

    Patents share ideas through disclosure. If idea sharing drives innovation then patents drive innovation through disclosure.

    Besides, Swan gave the rights to the lightbulb in America to Edison, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Swan. And Lodygin was not commercially viable, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Lodygin.

     

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  2.  
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    MAFIAA, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:02pm

    It's nicer to ask permission before having sex with someone

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:04pm

    The thing is that those who work in industry are best suited to come up with good ideas, NPE's won't have enough knowledge in an industry to come up with a non - obvious idea to someone who worked in an industry for a long time. An NPE, with no experience, will be an idiot and will only be able to come up with obvious ideas that reflect his/her lack of knowledge on the subject for not being able to come up with something less obvious. So this idea that inventors need to be separately rewarded from those who innovate is nonsense, inventors come from innovators in the industry, those who do. It's like saying a person with no experience or education in biology and who hasn't read much on the subject can suddenly come up with an idea in the field of microbiology that someone with a Ph.D. in biology who has worked in the field for many years would never think of and hence this nobody needs their inventions protected against these experienced Ph.D.'s. It's nonsense.

    That's why these Juries consider ideas obvious to us and to everyone in the tech industry for many years now (ideas that have been used by Oracle and many corporations for many years) non-obvious, because these juries are tech illiterate and wouldn't even know an IP address from a MAC address. Imagine a first grader making a decision on what constitutes an obvious idea, s/he would consider everything non-obvious, calculus or even algebra would be non - obvious to him, simply because s/he hasn't learned anything in any field yet. The idea that those who invent need to be protected from those who innovate is just silly, those in the field are the ones who innovate, those who actually make things because they're the ones who have experience making things and hence would know more about making things, and what constitutes a non obvious idea, than those who simply sit around and think up things without actually practicing anything. Just like with anything else, those who have been doing something for many years tend to be much better than those who haven't and something non obvious to a non experienced person is obvious to an experienced person.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    Re: something does not add up

    Tyranny shares ideas through disclosure. Telling someone they're not allowed to do something requires disclosing to them what they can't do. That's called a dictatorship. Controlling others requires disclosure, telling others what they can and can't do requires disclosure. That's not a method of helping anyone, that's just a method of taking away people's rights. Taking away people's rights requires disclosing to them what they can't do.

     

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  5.  
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    Karl (profile), Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:18pm

    Sex

    This is the first time in recent memory that Techdirt has been blocked by porn spam filters.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:22pm

    Hey, where is the troll button so I can select, Show troll comments and Don't show troll comments.

     

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  7.  
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    Justin Mason (profile), Jul 30th, 2010 @ 10:02pm

    Left Hand / Right Hand

    To be honest, I'm not completely sure where I stand on this topic. On one hand I see that patents can in some instances hinder building upon ideas or honing existing inventions to be more practical and useful, but at the same time I see the need to protect ones idea for a time in order to turn a reasonable profit; especially in instances where large amounts of funding into research may have been involved. In the end I think I've decided that the underlying issue is not the functional concept, but rather the potential misuse of the system by frivolous and shady entities. I find disclosure a reasonable middle-ground between the two schools of thought, measured by a bit of common sense.

     

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  8.  
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    Mitchells00, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 11:34pm

    Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    I think most likely the best balance between those two positions is to limit the effect of patenting and copyright to apply only to commercial use. If personal and academic institutions can be free of these restrictions, then innovation can thrive without having to fear legal repercussions.

    There is an entire political movement gaining a lot of support in Europe with more or less this stance on copyright and patients called the Piraten Partei/Pirate Party... Hopefully soon it will become a reality.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 1:16am

    I only clicked this article because it had sex in the title... I'm a little disappointed at the contents :(

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    I think in the U.S. it's already the case that you don't have to worry about patents much for research purposes. and a private company that internally violates anothers patents, and doesn't sell anything that violates a patent, I think is also in the clear (ie: if a company builds its own software that violates a patent but it doesn't sell any violating software).

    The problem is that much of the incentive to conduct R&D is so that you can make a product out of it. Why should a researcher conduct R&D on product X when someone else has a patent on it.

    Not to mention most patents don't even make it to product, they're mostly held either for patent trolling purposes (ie: to extort money out of others who accidentally infringe), for defensive purposes (to counter sue someone who sues you for infringement), or to prevent others from entering the market with competing products. None of this promotes the progress.

    and most patents are granted before any R&D is conducted which means most patents have no R&D value whatsoever and are just ideas that anyone can think of without the need for any further R&D. Patents are supposed to encourage further R&D and the transparency of ideas that require expensive R&D to come up with, not merely the transparency of obvious ideas that anyone can independently think of without spending any time, money, resources, or effort on R&D.

    Just look at the pharma industry, the pharma industry is probably one of the oldest industries to embrace patents and patents are more completely ingrained in the pharma industry than most other industries and the pharma industry is probably the least innovative industry in existence (agriculture is also not that innovative). Pharma used to be innovative back before patents got the stronghold that they have on it now, but now it's just stagnant.

     

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  11.  
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    abc gum, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: something does not add up

    Unless you're a photographer in England.
    As I recall, there are so called sensitive areas where photography is not allowed. These areas are so sensitive that they cannnot tell you where they are. So, I guess, this allows them to stop photography in England.

     

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  12.  
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    abc gum, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    NPE is the AIDS of intellectual property

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    The problem is that much of the incentive to conduct R&D is so that you can make a product out of it. Why should a researcher conduct R&D on product X when someone else has a patent on it.

    You are confusing technologies and products. You do not do R&D on a product, you do R&D on a technology. You might do R&D in an area where someone else has a patent because there is a good potential market for a product that uses the technology. Ever heard of a better mouse trap?

    Not to mention most patents don't even make it to product

    [citation needed]

    they're mostly held either for patent trolling purposes (ie: to extort money out of others who accidentally infringe)

    [citation needed]

    Not to mention most patents don't even make it to product, they're mostly held either for ... defensive purposes (to counter sue someone who sues you for infringement)

    I do not think you understand you own argument here. You would not need a patent for defensive purposes if you did not have a product that was competing. If you have your own patent then you just might not be infringing at all.

    or to prevent others from entering the market with competing products.

    No, to prevent for a limited time someone using the technology without an agreement. You need to support your position with actual evidence. Basically, you are making stuff up.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Way to troll

    Patents are *government granted*. Its only tyranny when one just takes something without authority. Patents do not take away anyones rights. Nothing stopping you from getting your own patent. Nothing stopping you from competing with your own technology. Nothing stopping you from licensing patented technology.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:12am

    When boxes and wheels had sex their offspring are in every road on the face of the earth since.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Re: Way to troll

    "Patents are *government granted*. Its only tyranny when one just takes something without authority."

    All tyrant governments have the governmental authority to do what they do. It's still a tyranny and it's still a restriction of my rights.

    "Nothing stopping you from getting your own patent."

    Which doesn't negate the fact that any patents that I have restrict others of their rights.

    "Nothing stopping you from competing with your own technology."

    Patents that interfere with technology that I or someone else independently invented.

    "Nothing stopping you from licensing patented technology."

    Not patented technology that I don't have the patents to.

     

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  17.  
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    bob, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: something does not add up

    WTF are you on about, Tyranny is when the tyrant tells you what you can and can not do with your property and efforts.
    Disclosure in and of itself is not the tool of the tyrant.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    "You are confusing technologies and products."

    Nope.

    "You do not do R&D on a product, you do R&D on a technology."

    and why can't you conduct R&D on a product. Pharma conducts R&D on their products (drugs) all the time.

    "You might do R&D in an area where someone else has a patent because there is a good potential market for a product that uses the technology."

    The patent will likely prevent me from doing R&D in that area because I don't want to release an infringing product.

    "Not to mention most patents don't even make it to product"

    Even patent proponents know this and used to bring this up in techdirt debates to somehow argue their position. If you're really that ignorant on the subject perhaps you shouldn't be telling me I'm confusing anything when I'm not.

    "99.8% fail. Only 3,000 patents out of 1.5 million patents are commercially viable. “In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them. ‘There are around 1.5 million patents in effect and in force in this country, and of those, maybe 3,000 are commercially viable,’ [Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office], says. ‘It's a very small percentage of patents that actually turn into products that make money for people. On top of all that, to get ripped off for tens of thousands of dollars adds insult to injury.” What percent of patents make money? How many patents become products? Percent of patents commercialized. Percent of patents that get approved. (Richard Maulsby, director of public affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, quoted in Karen E. Klein, Smart Answers, “Avoiding the Inventor's Lament,” Business Week, November 10, 2005) "

    http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Innovation_Risk_Taking_Inventors.html

    I don't know that the rate is that high but there area also many other sources citing the fact that most patents never make it to product. If you can't be bothered to even do a Google search perhaps you should refrain from looking like a fool by commenting.

    "they're mostly held either for patent trolling purposes (ie: to extort money out of others who accidentally infringe)

    [citation needed]"

    Then why are they held? Why would companies invest in obtaining patents if they have no market value? They are held for something. Here is some data for you.

    "As of April 1, 2010, PatentFreedom has identified and profiled over 325 distinct NPEs (a number which continues to increase). Since 1985, these NPEs have been involved in litigation with nearly 4,500 different operating companies in over 3,100 actions. And the pace of activity is clearly increasing. Nearly 75% of the suits between these NPEs and operating companies were filed since 2003."

    https://www.patentfreedom.com/research.html

    There you go.

    "I do not think you understand you own argument here. You would not need a patent for defensive purposes if you did not have a product that was competing."

    Why not? If someone was suing you for infringement and you wanted to counter sue you need a patent to counter sue with. It happens all the time. You must be new here or something.

    "No, to prevent for a limited time someone using the technology without an agreement."

    That's another reason, and I listed that. but an agreement costs money. So you're exactly right, the purpose is to prevent anyone from using a competing technology, at least without an expensive agreement.

    "You need to support your position with actual evidence. Basically, you are making stuff up."

    I haven't made anything up, what I am saying is supported by evidence. You need to stop ignoring the evidence. If you want patents to exist the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate their social benefit. You have done no such thing.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    sp/area/are *

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: Way to troll

    Huh? What rights exactly are restricted? Please name the rights that you have that patents restrict and point to where those rights are documented. You are not making sense, you are just trolling.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: something does not add up

    No one said disclosure by itself is sufficient to implement tyranny. It's disclosure with the subsequent authority to control or limit others that's the "tool" of a tyrant. Patents are basically a method of disclosing how you want to limit the behavior of others. This isn't helpful to anyone.

    Why would I look for ideas on a list of ideas that I'm not allowed to implement? That doesn't help anyone. I would rather the list not exist so that I can implement any idea that I independently come up with without having to worry about who has a patent on what.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    http://www.google.com/patents

    There you go, my rights to freely implement all of the technologies that can be found here are being restricted. It makes perfect sense and you know it.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    "Not to mention most patents don't even make it to product

    [citation needed]"

    If you are arguing that companies holding onto patents that aren't implemented into products isn't a problem because they have no impact then does this mean you agree that patents that aren't implemented into products should automatically be negated since they do nothing to promote the progress?

    I already know the answer, the answer is no, and the reason the answer is no is because you know that non implemented patents do have an impact.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    (and that impact benefits somebody, but it's not the consumer).

     

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  25.  
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    darryl, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 8:48am

    Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    The list of significant 20th-century inventions that were never patented includes the automatic transmission, Bakelite, ballpoint pens, cellophane, cyclotrons, gyrocompasses, jet engines, magnetic recording, power steering, safety razors, and zippers.

    If your going to quote someone or make claims, thats fine, but please, be at lest HONEST.

    You "list" of significant inventions, (not that I would put Bakeelite or cellophane is significant).

    But for example:

    The first automatic-transmission automobile to enter the market was designed by the Sturtevant brothers of Massachusetts in 1904. US Patent #766551 was the first of several patents on their gearshift mechanism. Automatic transmission technology continued to develop, spawning hundreds of patents and numerous experimental units; but because of cost, reliability issues and an initial lack of demand, several decades passed before vehicles with automatic transmission became common on the roads.

    So what do you say about that, obviously, the statements made in this article are completely false, and based on those false statements you draw conclusions.

    Conclusions based on falsehoods, will most probably be themselves FASLE, and wrong at best.

    A total lie at worst, deliberately misleading at best.

    _____________

    The claim for example that the swiss did not have patents, and saying these inventions were "NEVER" patented is again, simply wrong, misleading, or an outright lie

    Sorry to use strong language, but what else is it, and why did you not check the fasts before posting, like a proper 'editor' or Journo would have done.

    The Swiss,

    neither Holland nor Switzerland had a patent system, yet both countries flourished and attracted inventors.

    There was this guy, you might of heard of him, he knows a thing or two about inventions, innovation, and creating, he is also an expert on patents.

    He in fact worked for the swiss patent office

    His name was Albert Einstein, (hear of him).

    He famously WORKED FOR THE SWISS PATENT OFFICE

    Why would the Swiss have a patent office if they did not have a patent system ??

    If I was going to believe anyone about the value of patents, invention, IP and so on, I think I would listen to Albert Einstein before TechDIRT, I dont know, it might just be me.


    The list of significant 20th-century inventions that were never patented includes the automatic transmission, Bakelite, ballpoint pens, cellophane, cyclotrons, gyrocompasses, jet engines, magnetic recording, power steering, safety razors, and zippers.

    "Meanwhile Marinus
    Gerardus van den Bos and Barend Janse of the Netherlands applied for a patent for a gyrocompass (DE34513) on 19 April 1885 in Germany (see Fig. 1); Siemens and Halske purchased this patent but a commercially viable gyrocompass was never produced [3]."

    "In 1904 the instrument
    was tested onboard the cruiser Undine of the German Navy
    and he immediately applied for a Reichspatent (DRP) on 27 March 1904 [5] (see Table 1). Patent number DE182855 was issued on 2 April 1907."

    "In 1908 the American born inventor and entrepreneur Elmer
    Ambrose Sperry (1860–1930) obtained his first British patent for a gyroscopic ship’s stabiliser (GB190811513). The following year he filed a patent in the USA for a gyrocompass but this was not granted until 1917 (US1242065). In 1909, Sperry had visited Anschütze
    in Kiel Germany and in 1910, the Sperry Gyroscope Co. of
    Long Island, New York was founded. The prime objective was to manufacture marine equipment of Sperry’s own design, including gyrocompasses (GB191115669; see Fig. 2) and marine stabilisers (see Table 2). The Sperry Gyroscope Co. launched its first commercial gyrocompass in 1911 [6]."

    "Einstein had worked as a patent examiner at the patent office in Bern, Switzerland from 1902 until 1909 [8]. Scientifically, this has now been established as the most prolific period of his life. In 1888, Switzerland had established its own patent law with major amendments
    introduced in 1907 [9].
    Einstein’s experience in the Bern patent office gave him a great deal of expertise in this profession and he was familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of
    the patent system.
    "

    "He was well aware of the legal protection that a patent system gives to the inventor not only in Germany but also in other industrialized nations complying under International Convention, even during times of war.
    Therefore this position together with his patent office experience put him in a very advantageous position as a technical expert in patent disputes."


    "Ball-point pen - Patent 6902334"

    As well, (again as you should know) you do not patent something like "magnetic recording" that would be like trying to get a patent on "electronic component".

    NO, what you patent is a specific method, and technique that is new and unique to achieve a result.

    So you may not see a patent on "magnetic recording" but you WILL most certainly see many patents on methods or why to achieve recording of information on magnetic media.

    So if you invented a video cassette recorder, you would not patent 'magnetic recording' you would patent 'a method for recording video and audio on a magnitic tape medium. or some such thing.

    Just like you would patent a specific type of transistor, not patent an "electronic component".

    That Mike, is just common sense, do you really think your readers are that nieve ?

    You dont hold us 'readers' very highly do you Mike !!!

    Asking us to swallow that crap, please be a little more professional..

     

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  26.  
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    darryl, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Damn Write Bros. no wing warping (except now its in Public domain),

    And the write bros. with their patents, that really screwed up the avaition industry right !!!

    Um, have you look up in the sky recently ? or in space ?

    Do you think any of the inventions the write bros. came up with and patented has stopped the development of modern aircraft ?

    I guess that is why modern jets no longer use "wing warping" for stearing control. And they have to develop inefficient "flaps, rudders and so on.

    And ofcourse all those super important inventions that Write Bros. patented are now in the public domain, so you can see why the industry is now rushing to incorportate that 'new' technology..

    So I must expect that the Airline industry will now be able to incorportate all the inventions the Writes 'locked up' and that will hugly advance aviation !!!..

    I cant wait..
    (end sarcasm).

     

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  27.  
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    darryl, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:01am

    And again.

    "In 1928, RAF College Cranwell cadet [4] Frank Whittle formally submitted his ideas for a turbo-jet to his superiors. In October 1929 he developed his ideas further.[5] On 16 January 1930 in England, Whittle submitted his first patent (granted in 1932).[6] "

    "Fascinating facts about the invention of the Ballpoint Pen by ... The principle of the ball point pen actually dates to 1888 when a patent was taken out by John J. Loud "

    Never say 'never'

     

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  28.  
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    Lyle, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Reading the book the Most Powerful Idea in the World, on the steam engine its clear that only thru patents was James Watt able to Bolton to invest the money to give Watt the time to build a condensing steam engine. It may well be the issue then that if you need to refine a basic idea with lots of work, then patents do work well, by allowing one to profit from the refinements. Note that Watt had to work around a patent held by Pickard on the crank. What took the time for Watt was building an infrastructure that could build the engine, particularly the cylinder. The author maintains that the introduction of the patent in the 17th century was a necessary condition for the industrial revolution.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    "The list of significant 20th-century inventions that were never patented includes the automatic transmission
    ...
    A total lie at worst, deliberately misleading at best."


    The problem with saying things like, "the automatic transmission was never patented" is that "the automatic transmission" can include a composition of such a broad spectra of technologies and incremental improvements that it's likely some of the included technologies and incremental improvements were patented and others weren't. Ideas and implementations of the automatic transmission existed considerably before 1904 even, some of which were patented and others weren't.

    Cell phones also include a lot of technological features, some of which were patented and some weren't.

    So I don't think it was deliberately misleading, just more of a sloppy and poorly thought out, overly broad, statement. I would tend to refrain from saying that any very broad technology never obtained a patent, such is not likely to be the case.

    My position on whether or not patents should exist is constantly changing. Perhaps some patents are good but I definitely believe that NPE's should not exist and that no one should be allowed to hold a patent on a technology that none of their products currently implement. Perhaps a compulsory licensing system or some sort of maximum royalty licensing rate might be in order for existing patents, different products can have different royalty caps depending on the industry and nature of the product and associated cost of R&D.

    I also don't like this one shoe fits all scenario where all patents last twenty years when different industries have different product turnover rates. In Pharma where many R&D years are needed before one can reasonably conclude that a drug doesn't have any substantial long term negative impacts, longer patents could be in order and make more sense. In tech, and especially things like software (where I really think patents shouldn't exist even), 20 year patents are absurd being that in 20 years the technology would be completely obsolete.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    A lot of time and money was also spent on legal issue associated with patents as well, time and money that could have gone into R&D, invention, and innovation instead.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    blu-grn_AC -> "What rights exactly are restricted?"

    Here's an example for ya, I'm sure there are many more:

    A corporation called Nonkando has a patent on fubar seed. They plant their fubar in a field next to your field in which you have planted natures best seed. Nonkando then sends their agents into your field to collect samples. To your suprise, you get invited to court for patent infringement because their fubar cross pollinated with your natures best. Nonkando wins the case and takes your farm in payment for your transgressions.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    I am also very concerned about the quality of currently granted patents.

    This patent is probably one of the very few more recent inventions I think to be deserving of a patent. The overwhelming majority of patents these days seem to be of very poor quality, often implementing obvious ideas with plenty of prior art (ie: this one).

    I don't want field illiterate judges and juries deciding the validity of a patent. I want experts in relevant fields making those decisions. If you're not an expert in the field of a patent that you're looking at you should consult with some experts, spend a considerable amount of time actually listening to them, and take them very seriously before granting a patent. On top of that I don't want some appellate field illiterate judge overturning a patent denial.

    By and large patents should be the exception, not the rule. I already came up with a potential solution a long time ago. Have a panel of, say, twelve patent examiners examine each patent and require at least a 2/3 majority vote in favor of a patent for it to be granted. If we find that 2/3 isn't sufficient to exclude bogus patents, perhaps we can change the consensus factor to require a 3/4 majority agreement. Once a patent is rejected there is no opportunity to appeal it. However, granted patents can still be later revoked (even after the panel changes members) if 1/2 or more of the panel later decide the patent is obvious. Also, patents can still be overturned by judges or juries.

     

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  33.  
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    abc gum, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    Grn_AC -> "I think in the U.S. it's already the case that you don't have to worry about patents much for research purposes. and a private company that internally violates anothers patents, and doesn't sell anything that violates a patent, I think is also in the clear (ie: if a company builds its own software that violates a patent but it doesn't sell any violating software)."

    IANAL, but I would not be so sure about that. I would guess that it is not the sale that would trigger a suit, but rather the use in a commercial endevour. The company which owns the softare patent might be upset that the infringing comapny is not paying them for use of their software patent. For example, you might sort customer records based upon some criteria. Unbeknownst to you, someone has obtained a patent upon the particular sort routine you have chosen. Not sure how the software patent holder would find out about your use of their "property", but if they did a suit might follow. The likelyhood of this occurring would be high if you were a competitor.

     

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  34.  
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    abc gum, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Re: Damn Write Bros. no wing warping (except now its in Public domain),

    I can excuse the occasional typo, but "write bros" ?
    Are you really that ignorant ?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    and perhaps the panel should also be allowed to decide on the patent length and royalty cap limits, some procedure can be developed for that. Perhaps first the patent is granted, requiring a 2/3 majority. After which they need a 1/2 majority to determine the royalty caps and patent length.

    uhm... then you might need a panel of 11 or 13 judges to make it an odd number? Or maybe 12 and if length or royalty cap is split between exactly two possibilities, the lowest of the two takes effect. The rate or length can later be changed if a 2/3 majority decide it should be changed, but it can't be increased, only decreased. There should also be a statutory maximum possible length and royalty rate as well, perhaps set differently for different fields?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re:

    Also, patents did a lot to slow down the progress of the steam engine.

    http://mises.org/daily/3280

    Many of the patents were on ideas that would have been implemented by others without patents and those others got sued by the patent holder. Those others didn't need a patent to implement the ideas that they implemented, they implemented them without a patent, and then they got sued by the patent holder. and I don't buy the argument that the patent helped non-patent holders develop anything.

    Only after the patent expired did lots of innovation take place. Sure, some of those new inventions may have also been later patented as well, but the fact that patents existed on inventions doesn't mean that patents are required for those inventions to exist. What I want to see is evidence that patents help advance inventions and innovation, not merely that certain inventions were patented. That doesn't prove anything with respect to patent utility. After all, something has to be patented for patents to exist. The question we need to ask is are patents required for that something to exist, and I would argue that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer is no and that patents do more harm than good and that they do more to stifle invention and innovation than to help it.

    Patents are a government distortion of free markets, those who want them to exist must justify their existence. Simply pointing out that certain inventions were patented in no way justifies the existence of patents (of course certain things were patented if patents exist). Pointing out that patent holders believe in them also doesn't justify their existence, of course monopolists who benefit from their monopolies believe in them. You need evidence that they actually promote the progress, that without them no one (else) would have invented something.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re:

    One may argue, when this person got patent X no one else invented or innovated on X. Well, duh, no one else was allowed to.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    "Why would the Swiss have a patent office if they did not have a patent system ??"

    Notice when Einstein worked for the patent office vs when the article says that Switzerland didn't have a patent system.

    http://www.lalive.ch/files/dri_Sitzerland_s__Patent_law_History_2004.pdf

    Before the early 1900's the Swiss didn't really have much of a patent system (it was very limited) and yet they were extremely innovative.

     

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  39.  
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    Hartley Comfort, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    1+1=3

    It is just like my philosophy that states 1+1=3
    Meaning one idea plus another idea equals a new third idea.
    Perfect example: Chocolate + peanut butter = Resess peanut butter cups.
    Ideas and inventions can grow exponentially this way.

     

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  40.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jul 31st, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    Patent-Free Zones

    I don't really understand so much effort trying to abolish patents in countries that already have a system in place. It seems like it would be faster to create showcase areas that are patent-free. Then if they become model locations for innovation, presumably it will be much easier to abolish patents in IP-protection countries once they see how well such a patent-free system works.

    Patent-Free Zone

     

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  41.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:28am

    Re: Never patented ?? Misleading at best, Lie at most

    Hi Darryl,

    As always, nice to hear from you. Odd, though, that you attribute statements from others as if they were from me.

    Anyway, we've discussed the Swiss patent office at great length in the past. Ridley is referring to Eric Schiff's research on innovation in the Netherlands and Switzerland. In 1869 the Netherlands got rid of their patent system and it remained nonexistent until 1912.

    Switzerland, on the other hand, did in fact establish a patent system in 1888, but Eric Schiff's research covered from 1850 on and showed tremendous advancement in that period prior to the patent system being in place. Furthermore, the patent system putt in place in 1888 was an incredibly weak one, that covered almost nothing. The research in question was about areas that it did, in fact, cover, which was most of what drove Swiss innovation and industrialization in the second half of the 19th century. Specifically, the chemical/dye industries -- which were of major industrial importance to Switzerland -- were excluded from patent coverage. Separately, the law required all patents to come with a physical model (something no other patent systems required at the time, and which greatly limited patents in Switzerland). Switzerland (under pressure from foreign firms) did adapt a much broader patent system in 1907. But, again, we were referring to the 19th century.

    Ridley wasn't wrong, but he did simplify the statement a bit.

    You're right, however, that he exaggerates some of the products that had no patents. The one that I am very, very familiar with is the zipper. It did, in fact, have a patent, but it's worth noting that the success of the zipper did not really begin on a widescale basis until there was real competition in the market.

     

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  42.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:32am

    Re: Damn Write Bros. no wing warping (except now its in Public domain),

    And the write bros. with their patents, that really screwed up the avaition industry right !!!


    Um. No one said that it *stopped* innovation. But it's well established that the US aviation industry was dead in the water until the US gov't forced the Wright brothers to license their patents (after threatening to take them away entirely).

    Yes, the US aviation industry caught up later.. but it was only after that. Before that, it was definitely held back by patents. That's not arguable.

     

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  43.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:33am

    Re:

    Reading the book the Most Powerful Idea in the World, on the steam engine its clear that only thru patents was James Watt able to Bolton to invest the money to give Watt the time to build a condensing steam engine.

    Yeah, that's been debunked:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100727/10432810380.shtml

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 9:17am

    Resources

    http://patentabsurdity.com/
    http://endsoftpatents.org/resources-for-economists

    Estimated economic benefit from software patents, as calculated by several pro-software patent economists: $0. (See the list of null results on the resources for economists page.)

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re: Patent-Free Zones

    No, are you crazy?

    We should do just the opposite an allow people to patent, musical processes and movie plot processes.

    Music may not be patentable but musical processes that culminate in sound may very well be, that would be great wouldn't?

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Re: Patent-Free Zones

    You know what we should do?

    We should bet all our economic health in something that is near impossible to enforce, goes against every other nation national security interests and have no empirical way to be measured.

    We will hire 100's of thousands of people to man the watch police so they can try and enforce those things, we can watch the courts fill up with lawsuits and prices go up, we also can watch countries going to war to try and enforce this on others that don't want it and also have guns and nukes and we can watch Asian countries pass laws to satisfy the U.S. but never put any effort in actually enforcing them(e.g. how many people got disconnected in South Korea? I don't see them disconnecting anybody).

    Yeah lets bet our money and financial security in such a great idea, that have no flaws whatsoever, we will make ideas property and force others to pay us.

    Oh wait, the U.S. actually doesn't innovate in anything, where those ideas will come from?

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    No, it does not make sense. What makes sense is that you are too afraid of what could happen. Nothing is stopping you from freely implementing whatever you want. The disclosed patents you pointed to are there so that you can learn how to implement those things without having to figure it out for yourself. You can live in fear or you can take those disclosed ideas to the next level. I'm not talking about just implementing someones patent, I'm talking about figuring out how to do it differently. The trade off is limited control for disclosure. Patents are not some great conspiracy to give the government tyrannical control. Get over your fear and do something useful.

     

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  48.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 11:30am

    Re: Resources

    I think eliminating software patents would be a much easier approach than tackling the entire patent system all at once.

    Since many in the software industry are skipping applying for the patents in the first place, seems like public opinion would likely support a change in legislation.

    Some of the "abolish all IP protection" comments seem like tilting at windmills, so I think being pragmatic -- creating patent-free zones, correcting abuses, mounting legal campaigns (the way the EFF does), preventing questionable new legislation -- will produce actual results rather than just endless discussion.

     

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  49.  
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    abc gum, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Resources

    "Since many in the software industry are skipping applying for the patents in the first place, seems like public opinion would likely support a change in legislation."

    AFAIK software patents did not come about as a result of any particular legislation, but rather as a result of the judicial system. Hopefully, SCOTUS will be presented with another case from which they can provide a ruling against software patents.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    "Nothing is stopping you from freely implementing whatever you want. "

    Except the laws that say it's illegal for me to do such without first obtaining approval.

    "The disclosed patents you pointed to are there so that you can learn how to implement those things without having to figure it out for yourself."

    No, they're there to tell me that I'm not allowed to implement ideas that I can figure out all on my own without first getting permission from some irrelevant parasite. I find the claim that the Facebook developers looked at this patent before implementing Facebook to be dubious at best. The argument that Facebook in any way benefited from this patent or the patent holder is no more valid than the argument that steam engine competitors somehow benefited from the patents that enabled others to sue them for infringement. Patents are supposed to promote the progress and I'm just not seeing how patents do anything to promote the progress of anything but frivolous lawsuits.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    "I'm not talking about just implementing someones patent, I'm talking about figuring out how to do it differently."

    Uhm... A trait of a tyrant government is that people need to keep finding legal loopholes to continue by finding ways to undermine the language of the law or finding different ways of surviving that don't break ridiculously absurd and restrictive laws (or organizing ways to survive by breaking the law).

     

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  52.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Resources

    AFAIK software patents did not come about as a result of any particular legislation, but rather as a result of the judicial system. Hopefully, SCOTUS will be presented with another case from which they can provide a ruling against software patents.

    Okay.

    But one of the links provided in this thread talks about legislative reform.

    The Patent Reform Act - End Software Patents

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    "I'm not talking about just implementing someones patent, I'm talking about figuring out how to do it differently."

    If doing it differently is what the economy wants then people can find ways to do it differently without patents. When a patent is the most efficient pathway then patents only restrict what people can do forcing them to pursue a less efficient process to circumvent an unnecessary monopoly.

    I highly doubt that those who get sued for patent infringement looked at or benefited from the patents they violated before developing anything, they developed it without those patents and those ideas were implemented without the alleged need for patents. and in many cases, as in the Facebook case, those who get sued were sued for ideas that they implemented before the patent was even granted. And lets not forget about all the submarine patents where someone doesn't violate a patent and some non-contributing parasite later changes their patent to accommodate for it and still sues. and how does an NPE do anything to promote the progress when they don't even implement anything or even have the experience to know how to apply for any patent that's beyond ridiculously obvious to those trained in the field?

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    When a patented method is the most efficient pathway *

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    "I'm not talking about just implementing someones patent, I'm talking about figuring out how to do it differently."

    So then you admit that by requiring me to do it differently you are indeed restricting my rights to do something a certain way and hence patents serve as a restriction of my rights.

    Again, these restrictions on our rights don't help out anyone, they only serve to negatively interfere in our lives.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    Also telling me how I can't do something is just an obfuscation of telling me what I can and can't do because how something is done is simply a series of steps of what to do to get something done and telling me that I can't do something a certain way is just telling me what series of steps I'm not allowed to do to get something done hence equivalent to telling me what I can and can't do.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Resources

    No, no, no, we should enforce more patents, that is good right?

    We should create more unenforceable rights so everyone can have a job watching others. We have to bet our financial security in imaginary goods because the U.S. don't produce anything else so we must concentrate in making others see how IP is beneficial. What are you a communist or something?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Resources

    Who wouldn't bet all their financial security in something that doesn't exist in the physical world, is not enforceable outside of ones borders, can be copied anytime, only and idiot wouldn't want to be part of that, further who wouldn't want a system that only permit a few to grow and let the rest practically as slaves inside their own countries, imagine all those people having to pay me, that is brilliant, who would be against that, not the people of course that will be left without the tools to dig themselves out of problems if they arise.

    We are all born in Texas!

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    God bless patents.

    Lets patent everything and start living from royalties and not produce anything ever.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    God bless patents.

    Lets patent everything and let everything in the hands of a few and let the majority of the population without jobs and tools to dig themselves out of problems and see how fast those good folks will thank those people for doing so.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    God bless patents.

    Patents will fund everyone in the country, it will create jobs and keep everybody happy how can anybody be against patents? seriously?

    Patents create the perfect welfare system, where you collect your royalties that everybody in the world will pay you for sure.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    God bless patents.

    How can anybody be against patents when they permit you to seize real physical assets from others just by claiming infringement on imaginary boundaries?

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    "For example, it discusses some of the same research we recently wrote about how government funding of basic science research often does more harm than good for innovation. It also explains how money is often not a key ingredient in innovation. It's helpful, yes, but not the key ingredient."

    Im some situation such as software what you describe is true but please do not peddle this at to the physicists at CERN.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    Resources.

    This article examined the patenting behavior of firms in one ‘‘cumulative inno-
    vation’’ setting, semiconductors, where the gap between the relative ineffectiveness of
    patents as a means to profit from innovation (as reported in surveys) and their increas-
    ing use is particularly striking.


    http://www.card.iastate.edu/research/stp/papers/hall-ziedonis-rand-spring01.pdf

    The study done in 2001 show no conclusive positive aspects to patents, but it did highlight that patents are used as bargaining chips in negotiations, many in the semicondutor industry didn't see any real value for patents as they were forced to innovate anyways by competitors.

    http://plotpatents.com/

    Andrew F. Night is a highly educated man that believes the process behind a story should be patentable.

    Big Biotech is gearing up to substantially increase their market share in the face of a global food and climate crisis -- in hopes of cashing in on desperation. The patenting office has never been so busy.


    While some are sleeping and not paying attention some very bad people are busy building imaginary fences, waiting to cash on human suffering.

    http://www.celsias.com/article/the-food-crisis-spurs-patenting-race/

    CONCLUSION:

    A physician has the ethical responsibility not only to learn from but also to contribute to the total store of
    scientific knowledge when possible. Physicians should strive to advance medical science and make their
    advances known to patients, colleagues and the public. This obligation provides not merely incentive but
    imperative to innovate and share the ensuing advances. The patenting of medical procedures poses
    substantial risks to the effective practice of medicine by limiting the availability of new procedures to
    patients and should be condemned on this basis. Accordingly, the Council believes that it is unethical for
    physicians to seek, secure or enforce patents on medical procedures.


    CEJA Report 1 – A-95
    Ethical Issues in the Patenting of Medical Procedures

    http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/code-medical-ethics/9095a.pdf

    http://www .bu.edu/law/central/jd/organizations/journals/scitech/volume1/YANG.pdf

    http://www.fdli.org/pubs/J ournal%20Online/53_2/art10.pdf

    It is not just the software industry that see a problem with patents.

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:41pm

    http://www.examiner.com/x-24152-Healthy-Living-Examiner~y2010m5d13-Pharmaceutical-companies-abuse-In dias-patent-laws

    India despite not having patents for drugs until 2005 flourished why?

    Now Big Pharma from other countries is threatening that market with stagnation through patents.

    Will India let outside players destroy their industry?

     

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  66.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Resources.

    If the people patents are supposed to aid aren't interested in having them, perhaps they should put their research into the public domain in some fashion so that everyone has access to the information and no one can patent it. That might be easier at this point than waiting out the legal process. Seems like there are workarounds that can be implemented quite quickly.

     

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  67.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Resources.

    If the people patents are supposed to aid aren't interested in having them, perhaps they should put their research into the public domain in some fashion so that everyone has access to the information and no one can patent it. That might be easier at this point than waiting out the legal process. Seems like there are workarounds that can be implemented quite quickly.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Resources.

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Resources.

    Any more obvious suggestions that had been already implemented and are growing?

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 5:13pm

    Open Source Drug Discovery

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    Are you advocating anarchy then?

    Like I said, don't be afraid. Innovation involves investment, work and risk, not everyone succeeds. Put in the time, come up with something useful and the market will reward you.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    Hence no need for patents.

     

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  73.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 1st, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

    I think in the U.S. it's already the case that you don't have to worry about patents much for research purposes.

    I wouldn't be so sure.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=patents+hinder+research

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 8:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    "Are you advocating anarchy then? "

    Who said anything about anarchy?

    "Innovation involves investment, work and risk, not everyone succeeds."

    The question is does it require patents.

    "Put in the time, come up with something useful"

    and face lawsuits from NPE's who have put in relatively no time to acquire patents or to conduct any R&D whatsoever.

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Left Hand / Right Hand

     

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  76.  
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    Griff, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 12:51am

    Re: Re: something does not add up

    -- Taking away people's rights requires disclosing to them what they can't do. --

    Not necessarily. Someone has just fought a long court case in the UK to be allowed to know whether doing something would result in prosecution (in this case assisting a terminally ill person to travel to a clinic in Switzerland to end their life).

    After a recent terror alert the TSA would not disclose exactly what you could not carry on an aircraft (you just found out at the airport when the told you no).

    Readers of last week's economist may remember the article about US laws so complex/arcane that people cannot possibly know whether what they are doing is illegal. They are simply told after the fact and prosecuted.


    Now you may claim this is unacceptable (I certainly would) but it is still possible. Hence I take issue with your statement that "Taking away people's rights requires disclosing to them what they can't do".

    In reality with software patents, small developers cannot possibly really know in advance if what they do infringes. You could therefore argue that publication is not really about showing the world what is patented, but about allowing a small interested section of the population to challenge patents they feel have been incorrectly granted.

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    Schmoo, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:16am

    While his arguments should stand on their own merit, naturally, please do bear in mind exactly who Ridley is when evaluating that merit.

    He's the guy who fucked Northern Rock to the point of being bailed out, got paid handsomely for doing it, and then wrote this book saying that governments should never bail banks out. His walk and his talk ain't the same - approach with caution.

    Some more debunking of his book can be found here: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/06/19/ridleyed-with-errors/

     

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

  78.  
    icon
    Miguel Moura (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:23am

    Zippers were actually patented...

    The author could have checked his facts.. zippers in one form or another were actually the subject of patents, just google it... from the looks of it, it seems that these patents probably locked zippers for a couple of years, and that's why they didn't become popular before (as an example, see US1219881, from 1917)...

     

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

  79.  
    icon
    herodotus (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 6:53am

    "Some more debunking of his book can be found here: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/06/19/ridleyed-with-errors/"

    A collectivist 'bravely' disparages the work of yet another proponent of free markets, all the while pretending to be a lone voice of reason in a wilderness of right-wing party hacks.


    Yawn.

     

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

  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 7:09am

    Patents. You pay the Government to protect you. But you still have to sue any other party that infringes. This is protection? I can do better with the mafia.

     

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

  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way to troll

    Keep hiding your head in the sand. More opportunity for me.

     

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

  82.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    No when boxes and wheels had sex and their offspring had sex with the old sailing ship Royal Navy dockyards (the originators of what we know as the assembly line) Henry Ford was born!

     

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

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Damn Write Bros. no wing warping (except now its in Public domain),

    I can excuse the occasional typo, but "write bros" ?
    Are you really that ignorant ?


    Of course,you know that he meant "Right Bros"

     

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


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