Intellectual Property Infringement: That's Why We Have This Rice To Eat Today

from the it's-how-we-innovate dept

Miranda N. points us to this short NY Times story about a study into the genetic history of two popular subspecies of rice, in which new research shows that the two are actually quite closely related. What the study showed was that, through cross-breeding the two subspecies, each was able to take on the best characteristics of the other, while tossing off less desirable features (survival of the fittest at work). But, what makes it interesting is the quote at the end from one of the researchers:
The story of rice is really a story of how human civilization has progressed through borrowing, Dr. Wu said, adding:

"Intellectual property infringement has occurred since the beginning of civilization. Thatís why we have this rice to eat today."
Now, obviously, before anyone goes nuts in the comments, this has nothing to do with intellectual property laws, which quite clearly did not exist when all of this was happening. And, certainly, Dr. Wu appears to have been just making a little joke, which made its way into the final line of a short human interest piece. However the point is actually one worth repeating, which is that the history of innovation is the history of borrowing from others, adding it to something else, building on what works, and discarding what doesn't work. The really troubling part is how we seek to limit such efforts today, in the name of "intellectual property."


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2011 @ 10:22pm

    That's a huge problem with IP laws, they discourage trial and error. Trial and error is an important aspect of innovation.

     

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    aldestrawk (profile), Jun 21st, 2011 @ 11:45pm

    survival of the fittest

    A small quibble. Selection of a species' characteristics by humans is not survival of the fittest at work. An example is that breeding of crop grains, although leading to a grain crop that is more nutritious or easier to grow can lead to grains that are more susceptible to disease. It is evolution with artificial selection, however, natural selection (survival of the fittest) is still at work. How about bananas? They cannot even reproduce without human intervention. A more extreme example are the "exotic" dog breeds that have peculiar medical problems.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:49am

    Re: survival of the fittest

    No, it's basically gaming the system in place. IT's what RPGers do all the time to min/max their charcaters.

     

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    Anonymous Media Company CEO #201, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:31am

    Fuck progress. Fuck culture. Fuck the human species. Fuck all of you.

    Just give me my rightfully earned millions and shut the fuck up.

    That's right, I dont even care enough to pretend any more. Now lube up some of my artists and get me some grapefruits.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:41am

    Re:

    would you like some money for that air?

    i mean, how can you be properly compensated unless you get payed for every breath you take?

    everybody else? damn freetards, how dare you breath their air! pay up or stop breathing!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:14am

    Re: Re:

    Well, I breath out carbon dioxide, which contains two of the most important components for life (carbon + oxygen), (trace amounts of) water and nitrogen (also vital).

    I'm a walking factory of life. Why aren't you all paying me for keeping you alive? Freetards!

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hmmm...if normal air is more or less 70% nitrogen and you breath in that and expel just trace amounts where all that nitrogen go?

    ps: Just curious.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth#Composition

    A nice link for anyone who wants to confirm that nitrogen is a big part of the atmosphere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I was trying to be stupid. Guess I nailed it :)

     

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    Davey, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 5:27am

    Technology in evolution

    Your quote is right on, "the history of innovation is the history of borrowing from others, adding it to something else, building on what works, and discarding what doesn't work."

    It expresses the fact that technology is an evolutionary process, just like agriculture. When IP laws are used in the attempt to stop technological evolution, everybody loses.

    Unfortunately, change is inevitable but progress is not.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was expecting a funny comeback to an obvious stupid question, oh well next time maybe LoL

    ps: maybe something to do with nitrogen being fixated on the vegetables you eat producing rich nitrogen human manure that the freetards get for free :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:07am

    Re: Technology in evolution

    It would be a great statement if it was true, but it really isn't. I use the cellular phone / smart phone market as a great example of how things work these days, and how the end result is good for consumers.

    You have to remember that we are just about 30 years in the commercial cell phone universe, which is a bat of the eye in terms of history. We are only 20 years into GSM style cellular networks, even less time.

    Yet in that time, we have gone from a motorola brick style phone to smart phones and beyond. We have multiple companies making multiple products, we have different systems and choices for voice, data, and messenging, and all that combined to offer us products that nobody would have considered viable even 10 years ago, such as the Ipad or Android based smart phones.

    Now, Mike Masnick will go on and on about the patent thicket and all sorts of other misdirections, but the reality is in your hands: You have an innovative product that borrows from existing ideas, adds some more, building on what works and discarding what doesn't.

    As a bonus, we also have multiple avenues and roads taken to the best results. There are different types of networks, different types of data systems, and so on that have been conceived, built, and tried. Rather than being stuck on a single concept (which is what patent minimalists try to claim happens), we have seen an incredible spread of technology and ideas as everyone worked to come up with a better way to solve the puzzle and get the best products into the public's hands.

    All of this happening in a world packed with patents, copyrights, trademarks, and the like.

    If the patent-minimalists were right, we would just be starting to enjoy 2G cellular service, with phones slightly smaller than the motorola brick, which would have been the only phone for the last 20 years. Thankfully, their fear mongering is for naught, as I can sit on my Ipad and post comments like this without any problem.

    It sucks for them when the system works. No, Chicken Little, the sky isn't falling, that is just the digital zoom on the integrated 8MP camera in your smart phone letting you see up close.

     

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    Prisoner 201, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    How do you know that it would not have been even better with less IP laws?

    Is what we see today the best possible of all worlds, the fastest technological acceleration possible, all thanks to strong and plentiful IP law?

    Maybe we are abysmally slow developing, precisely because of patents and copyright. Only we can't see it until years from now.

    I dont know. And I propose that you don't know either.

     

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    Kaden (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Innovation occurs in spite of, not because of this 'system' of yours.

     

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    Transbot9, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    I seem to remember a number of lawsuits over vague patents and such. Isn't Apple involved in several right now?

    Excessive litigation does have a price tag, and it has hurt both the US & World economy. While John Stossel's recent report on frivoles lawsuits and problems-caused-by-lawyers skirted the "IP" mess in the report, the same concerns about lables-for-morons applies to IP litigation as well.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    You hit the correct answer: We don't know, and tossing out the current system because of a hunch would be a momumental failure if that hunch turned out to be wrong.

    All I know at this point is that Moore's Law seems to be doing well, and I rarely feel like "damn, I only have one company that can sell me this sort of technology". Instead, we are in a world of plenty, with tons of choices, options, competing systems, OSes, and designs.

    I can't say that the current situation is one that has left us deprived of anything.

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:51am

    Why we have a (superior) rice to eat today

    So, let's understand this. In one case, some people got together and combined rice strains. They had no particular motivation for doing so, so it likely took a long time for them to do it (why should they?).

    If there had been a (reasonable) IP system, they would have had a motivation for doing it, and doing it right away (note that I am not talking about our IP system, which is not reasonable).

    We would have had superior rice earlier, and might have progressed more than we have.

    But wait! We aren't interested in being reasonable, our only motivation is to prove that since the present system is defective, any possible system under any circumstances is unreasonable! So, time to turn off our brains.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    All of this happening in a world packed with patents, copyrights, trademarks, and the like.

    If the patent-minimalists were right, we would just be starting to enjoy 2G cellular service, with phones slightly smaller than the motorola brick, which would have been the only phone for the last 20 years. Thankfully, their fear mongering is for naught, as I can sit on my Ipad and post comments like this without any problem.

    Most of the underlying technology for mobile phones is old enough to be out of patent protection.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 7:06am

    Fitness function

    It depends on the fitness function. Once humans start being involved, being "better for the humans" (by some metric - it can be as bizarre as "this dog breed with peculiar medical problems looks pretty to me") becomes part of the fitness function.

    So, selection of a species' characteristics by humans is still survival of the fittest at work - but with fittest now being "with characteristics humans find more desirable".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    We can look into the past.

    One example I have read about is how, after patents on the first steam engines expired, innovation in the field exploded. So, at least in that case patents were holding things back.

    We will know about the current situation in the future, once the patents holding us back expire (the only good thing about patents is that, unlike copyrights, they expire).

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 7:19am

    No particular motivation?

    Having a better rice is not a good enough motivation?

    Having better yields and less losses for your crops is not a good enough motivation?

    Having a tastier and thus better-selling product is not a good enough motivation?

    You do not need to forbid others from advancing for any of these motivations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    I would disagree.

    During the patent period, I can bet that two things were happening:

    1) People were looking for alternates to steam power. I don't know if any discoveries came at the same time, but clearly "power" (steam or otherwise) was the future, and

    2) People were working to improve the steam engine setup and the machinery around it, such that when the patent expired, they were quick to market with improvements.

    Patents are not a period of time where "nothing happens", that is an old wives tale (or is that old bloggers tale?).

     

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  23.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    I would point out that in the mobile phone industry right now, everyone is suing everyone else.

    What a waste.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: No particular motivation?

    It is motivation, but perhaps not "fast" motivation.

    You have to measure the motivation in general against the term of a patent granted. If a patent last 20 years, is the end result today (better rice) worth the trade off? Would we have the "better rice" under a non-reward system in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Nature takes millennia to evolve. Are you willing to wait that long to see?

    It's why many arguments against patents are flawed, as far as I am concerned. The reward system that exists encourages investment, risk, and concentrated efforts to move forward. The anti-patent people will often claim after a patent is issued that "we would have thought of it!", but they rarely address the time frame issue. I am willing to give up a 20 year patent on something if it gets it to me 20 or more years sooner. Heck,I might even give it up if it gets it to me 5 years sooner (especially if it cures something I am dying of).

    You really have to consider the alternatives, the time it would take, and how things would work without the system in place. We benefit greatly from the advances that come from in the investments of time, money, and manpower to find better solutions. Without them, would we be evolving as fast as we are?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Then what do you call the suing of the Bittorrent technology for a ridiculously broad patent? Progress?

     

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  26.  
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    Jason, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re: survival of the fittest

    All you've managed to do is to politicize your view of ecology around your view of humans.

    Either humans are inherently part of the system and thereby a natural part of its ecology (wherein the significance of your statement is reduced to:the system interacts with itself) OR they are outside the system and thereby accountable to outcomes outside of the evolutionary/ecological forces that act so powerfully upon them(wherein your comments might actually make sense).

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    > I am willing to give up a 20 year patent on something if it gets it to me 20 or more years sooner.

    You are thinking about only one cycle. But innovation builds on previous innovations (much like the "tech tree" you can find on some video games). Even if this innovation got to you a few years sooner, for 20 years innovation building on that is blocked for all but a few players. Then innovation building on that is blocked for 20 more years. And so on. So instead of shorter innovation cycles, you are stretching them for the time the innovation gets locked up.

    It is much better to have something 5 years later but be able to build on it sooner than having it 5 years earlier but then be forbidden from building on it for 20 years.

    And as for the reward system... Well, it encourages getting the broadest possible patents to lock up your competitors, use the fact that you have a monopoly on a particular area to jack up the prices, and so on. The negatives outweigh the positives. There are ways of encouraging R&D which do not have such social downsides.

    My opinion is that, without patents, we would be evolving faster than we are.

     

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    Prisoner 201, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    And yet you claim to know when you say that patents and/or copyright has not held back progress.

    At least that is what I get from your 6:07am post.

     

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    aldestrawk (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: survival of the fittest

    Maybe it is a matter of semantics here but I will try to clarify my point. When humans get involved in breeding other species they provide an "artificial" selection pressure. I consider this part of the evolution equation. It is co-evolution and part of the system. Cross-breeding, as opposed to genetic modification, is a shotgun approach. While you attempt to select characteristics that humans desire, at the same time there are likely to be other characteristics, unintentionally selected, that make individuals of a species less fit. Even with genetic modification a single introduced gene may be expressed in multiple ways, some of which hinder survival. Humans don't control the entire equation and natural selection, or rather the selection pressures not due to human influence, may override the influence of humans in the long run. This is my point, that the selection pressure from humans is not the whole equation and that characteristics that humans find desirable may themselves reduce an individuals fitness or inadvertently come with other characteristics that reduce fitness.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    I call it an exceptional situation, based on over broad patents approved when the patent office wasn't up to speed on such things.

    It's also likely a legal fail.

    So now that I have answered your misdirection style question, how about addressing the points above instead?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    I think you are making the mistake that there is only one good solution to every problem. As has been noted in the steam engine world, once the patent went off the base technology, things went in all sorts of directions. If one patent technology spaws 25 next generation solutions, are we not better off?

    Overbroad patents will always be an issue, but for the most part they don't kill the system. There will be people willing to abuse any system that is in place, and we cannot allow the exceptional cases to determine overall policy.

     

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    Prisoner 201, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    i) Lets assume that there are five technologies { A,B,C,D,E }.

    ii) Lets further assume that B builds on A in some way that would be patent infringement. C builds on B in the same way and so on until we have E building on D.

    iii) We also assume that each of these technologies "kills" the previous ones.

    iv) We next assume that the creator of each technology is happy with the status quo, earning good money with little competition due to the threat of patent litigation, thus showing the lack of forward thinking and innovation we have learned to love in our benevolent overlords.

    Under these assumptions, the time to get technology E into the hands of the consumers takes as long as it takes patent D to expire, assuming the inventors of E have laid down the groundwork during D's patent period.

    This is 4 x PantentTime (A,B,C and D being four patent periods).

    The problem can then be isolated to two key points.

    Assumption (iv) and patent times. If we fix either (or both) we shorten the innovation cycle.

    If something is good enough to bring in a good revenue stream, there is little incentive to improve (or allow others to improve) upon it, expecially if it competes with your current line. Why make your own product obsolete (and potentially parts of the production chain) if you dont have to?

    Patent times plays a part in this issue, as it allows a competition free period where there is no need to innovate, to push the envelope, to improve.

    One solution could be shortening the patent times to the "sweet spot" where
    a) companies are forced to fight tooth and nail to stay on top of the innovation curve, yet
    b) have a high enough survival rate to acually get products to the consumer.

    I dont have the exact answer, but I think it is less than 20.

    PS in this post I use "assumption" in the mathematical sense, anyone ignoring that fact in a reply will be mocked. DS

     

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  33.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Quote:
    If the patent-minimalists were right, we would just be starting to enjoy 2G cellular service, with phones slightly smaller than the motorola brick, which would have been the only phone for the last 20 years. Thankfully, their fear mongering is for naught, as I can sit on my Ipad and post comments like this without any problem.


    That is what happens in America, a few companies produce anything and stop others from entering the result is less competition and less innovation, with less variety, with higher costs.

    Of all places why is China having thousands of different models, from hundreds of manufacturer's.

    Have you seen what they do there? thousands of handsets available at rock bottom prices, now go look at an American store and get frustrated to find out that you only get a very limited set of what is out there.

    Also there is one thing you forgot, those phones are all manufactured in Asia, at least the ones people want to buy, now ask if they enforce the IP craziness you think it is so important?

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Nope, what happened was that the steam engine development got bogged down for decades because the people who hold the patents threatened everyone.

    Quote:
    During the period of Watt's patents the United Kingdom added about 750 horsepower of steam engines per year. In the thirty years following Watt's patents, additional horsepower was added at a rate of more than 4,000 per year. Moreover, the fuel efficiency of steam engines changed little during the period of Watt's patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five.


    Also you got the Wright brothers story too, they single handed staled aviation in America for decades, only after world war II America really started to innovate but because they saw how the Germans where so far ahead of them with jets and stealth aircraft(i.e. Horten Ho 229).

    Also the most innovative and productive eras of American industry where the times where IP where not really enforced.

    IP laws lead to the tragedy of the anti-commons, which is the name given to the observed phenomenon of ownership being detrimental to development.

     

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  35.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Quote:
    After the expiration of Watt's patents, not only was there an explosion in the production and efficiency of engines, but steam power came into its own as the driving force of the Industrial Revolution. Over a thirty year period steam engines were modified and improved as crucial innovations such as the steam train, the steamboat and the steam jenny came into wide usage. The key innovation was the high-pressure steam engine ó development of which had been blocked by Watt's strategic use of his patent. Many new improvements to the steam engine, such as those of William Bull, Richard Trevithick, and Arthur Woolf, became available by 1804: although developed earlier these innovations were kept idle until the Boulton and Watt patent expired. None of these innovators wished to incur the same fate as Jonathan Hornblower.


    Source: James Watt: Monopolist
    Mises Daily: Saturday, January 17, 2009 by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Except that you miss the key: If there was no way for them to exploit their developments, might have the Watt engine been left on the side for 20 or 30 years, ignored for lack of a way to commercially move forward? Is not 750hp of steam engines for each of 20 years better than none for the first 10?

    "Also the most innovative and productive eras of American industry where the times where IP where not really enforced." - [citation needed]

     

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  37.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    How did Linux build a successful OS without incentives?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    Your assumption is that there is only one single "answer", and that each new "answer" is a single and sole "answer". After A, there is probably B1 - B99 solutions using the A technology. After each of those, there is a C1-C99 times B1-B99 answers, and so on.

    By your logic, as the cell phone patents came off, there would be one single more cell phone design, and we would wait 20 more years to move. That just isn't the case. Not only was there more B solutions, but in reality there were multiple A solutions as well.

     

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  39.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    Except in today's world you get a web of patents to navigate because you got not thousands of educated people but millions, each taking ownership of some piece of the process, as highlighted early on in the steam engine mess.

    Quote:
    Ironically, not only did Watt use the patent system as a legal cudgel with which to smash competition, but his own efforts at developing a superior steam engine were hindered by the very same patent system he used to keep competitors at bay. An important limitation of the original Newcomen engine was its inability to deliver a steady rotary motion. The most convenient solution, involving the combined use of the crank and a flywheel, relied on a method patented by James Pickard, which prevented Watt from using it. Watt also made various attempts at efficiently transforming reciprocating into rotary motion, reaching, apparently, the same solution as Pickard. But the existence of a patent forced him to contrive an alternative less-efficient mechanical device, the "sun and planet" gear. It was only in 1794, after the expiration of Pickard's patent that Boulton and Watt adopted the economically and technically superior crank.

    Source: James Watt: Monopolist
    Mises Daily: Saturday, January 17, 2009 by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine

    Now imagine if that engine was patented in parts by thousands of different people at different times, we could be talking about a hundred years of patents, and with each further iteration being patented as well things start to move mighty slowly, while others start to move faster because they can't or don't fallow IP laws.

     

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  40.  
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    Prisoner 201, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    Your father was a squirrel and your mother smells of elderberries!

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Are you trying to say profit is the only motivation for people to produce anything?

    The most brilliant minds of all times mostly didn't care about the commercial side of things, why do they did the things they did?

    Copernicus, Archimedes, Da Vinci, Einstein, Nicolai Tesla just to name a few.

    As for the citation needed, can you provide a citation to where in the 50's and 60's the apogee of the American industrialization people cared about IP laws?

    From what I know about it, IP was there but was not enforced or taken really seriously, only after the 80's things started to change.

     

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  42.  
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    Frost, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 1:01am

    Sharing and the like only has one downside

    The only downside to sharing any information, culture or art today is the fact that someone doesn't make money off it.

    In every other respect it is a good thing. More information shared is great, more culture and entertainment available to people is a good thing, more research shared leads to better research and so on.

    So instead of curtailing all the good things for just one reason (money), let's curtail the one reason sharing is "bad" and redesign society so money goes the way of the dodo. There are many reasons to still do research, art and music - starting with the fact that research still benefits all mankind, and that artists usually create greatness because they have to create, not because someone pays them.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 2:58am

    Re: Sharing and the like only has one downside

    Sorry to be a pick and risking being a prick, I must point out that sharing doesn't stop anybody from making money it may limit how much money any one individual can make from it, but it doesn't stop anybody form making money from it, like pizza joints one beside the other don't stop them from selling pizza's to people it just may make it more difficult to make money from it, but surely not impede anyone from trying or making money from it.

     

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

  44.  
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    Terry Hancock (profile), Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 3:48am

    Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Actually cell phone tech is a great example of why the strong IP model stunts innovation -- by comparison with the internet at large (dominated by the weak-IP models favored in internet standards development), cell phone networks are slow-growing, inefficient, and extremely limiting.

    In fact, it's probably not unfair to say that most of the innovation that does exist in the cell phone space is really just parasitic use of the innovation from the internet at large -- almost every new cell phone feature you encounter is just a copy of something already in use on the web.

    You might have a better case for the hardware, but even there the situation is ambiguous at best. The clear winners in hardware have been standardized commodity systems and even cell phones rely heavily on shared production of basic components and reliance on open standards for inter-component buses.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    Terry, you are confusing regulatory and competitive hurdles with technology hurdles.

    It took online connections a very long time to make it up to a reasonable speed. 30-35 years ago we were on 45.45 baudot connections, and got excited when we made it up to 110 baud. 300 baud was an absolute godsend, and 1200 then 2400 baud pretty much blew everyone away. We didn't make it to 28.8 modems until 1994, at the start of the commercial internet era.

    Cellular networks on the other hand are only 30 years old overall, and already we have voice, data, video streaming, and all sorts of other high speed offerings. In fact, we have competing standards for both voice and a data, and data transmission speed (2G, 3G, 3.5G, 4G) continue to move up quickly on the technology side.

    On the roll out side, you have regulatory issues and monopoly / lack of competition issues that fail to drive the market. But purely on the technology side, your cell phone is outpacing what happened on the internet, and will continue to do so.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    *crickets*

     

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

  47.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 24th, 2011 @ 2:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    Overbroad patents will always be an issue, but for the most part they don't kill the system. There will be people willing to abuse any system that is in place, and we cannot allow the exceptional cases to determine overall policy.

    The problem is that these cases are NOT exceptional. There has been serious patent abuse in every significant technological development in the last 250 years except for those inventions which occurred around the second world war (eg jet engine, computer, nuclear technology).

    Why were those inventions (relatively) immune? Because the imperative of fighting the war forced governments to basically switch off the patent system for the duration. The resulting burst of progress produced the great (relative) prosperity of the 1950s (you've never had it so good!) and fuelled the progress that we still benefit from today. To a large extent our progress still feeds off those wartime inventions.

    The patent maximalists have no case - the experiment with abandoning patents has been done and it worked.

     

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

  48.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 24th, 2011 @ 2:04am

    Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    It is motivation, but perhaps not "fast" motivation.
    Look at the history of Frank Whittle before and after he let his patent lapse and you will see how wrong you are.

     

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

  49.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 24th, 2011 @ 2:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No particular motivation?

    @ Anonymous Coward Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:18am

    He did warn you and you paid no attention!

     

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

  50.  
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    Natanael L (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    You DO know that the current system is the NON-NATURAL system, right? So if it proves to be wrong, isn't that then a double monumental failure since we stopped doing what's natural with the intention to do better but did worse?

    I am certain patents are causing more harm then good.

     

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

  51.  
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    Natanael L (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 11:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology in evolution

    It still keeps them from being able to get funding easily during that time, males it more risky, you can stil get sued if somebody thinks your design is close enough, etc...

    Isn't the need for a better enginge a motivation that's good enough already?

     

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


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