How Patents Have Held Back 3D Printing

from the retarding-the-progress dept

The purpose of the intellectual property system that we have is to promote the progress. When there is strong evidence that certain elements of it hold back the progress, it seems like something that should be explored. Glyn recently wrote about the plans to make 3D object plan files available on the Pirate Bay. In that post, he pointed to a great interview with Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge, who had really been at the forefront of getting people to think about the legal consequences associated with 3D printing. However, there was also one interesting side note in that interview that didn't get nearly enough attention. It's that development and innovation has been held up for the last couple decades -- not because the technology wasn't available, but because of key patents that are apparently needed to build 3d printers. Those patents have started (but aren't entirely set) to expire, leading to the sudden interest and growing affordability of such printers.

We've seen this before, but here it's a modern example: work simply wasn't done on many of these efforts in part because there was no competition. And, in fact, there are still a few patents that really do hinder things, and this is a problem. Considering just how much good these 3D printers can do -- especially as they provide more power, do multi-color, and a variety of other features, it kind of makes you wonder just how much we've lost by having tons of researchers just sitting on their printer projects out of a fear of getting sued.


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  1.  
    identicon
    6, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:00pm

    I have a question. Why don't they just put money in their grant requests for some license fees/reasonable royalties in the event they are sued?

     

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  2.  
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    John, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:11pm

    Public Knowledge, not Public Citizen.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Re:

    That adds to the cost.

     

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  4.  
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    John Doe, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Lawsuits are the great invention of our time

    It is sad to think that one day society will look back on this time as a dark period in history because of all the progress that was held up by lawsuits do to copyright and patents.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:52pm

    I wish they would hurry up. I want to download a car and drive it into the MPAA headquarters. When they ask if it was my car Ill say "no, that's not a car its just a license."

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 4:53pm

    Re:

    Less money for research, more money for lawyers. Now thats progress.

     

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  7.  
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    Nick Taylor, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    Exactly - corporations that amass patents are like pine-trees... deliberately dropping needles toxic to anything smaller trying to grow underneath.

    We should abolish the entire "IP" system. It chokes innovation. That's what it's for.

     

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  8.  
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    abc gum, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Lawsuits are the great invention of our time

    It may be referred to as the Dark Ages, because no one expected the Intellectual Property Inquisition.

     

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  9.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 31st, 2012 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    I partially agree with you. IP is needed to a certain degree to encourage research and development but the current system is so flawed and broken, patched if you will, that I'm afraid we can only think of abolishing it right now.

    It's interesting, the fight on the copyright front is pretty much a rehearsal of what's to come on patents. Except that breaching copyright is much easier since everything is digital and you can replicate, remix and rebuild with almost zero cost. Patents is different, you need money to some extent to build new stuff because you need physical materials. If you get sued for copyright issues you can just say "ok, I 'quit', won't misbehave anymore" and let the pirates do the distribution for you. Patents is a whole different story.

     

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  10.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jan 31st, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    There does come a time when ideas that may have worked in the past just don't anymore. This is a perfect example of one.

    Throw your mind back to the nacient British Empire, you know, the one the sun never set on. Mostly it was built for trade and trading. The British and the Dutch hit on this idea that perhaps setting up monopoloy trading companies would, somehow, assist trade so firms such as the British East India Company, and the Dutch East India Company appeared mostly in competition with each other. Not at all in the territories the British, Dutch, French or whoever controlled or ruled but a sort of national competition. A rush to market to see who got the first tulips into Europe. And the cause of one of the first stock market bubbles.

    Then Britian started to industrialize. Suddenly these companies seemed less and less useful. So that while Silk from the orient was nice, beaver pelts from Canada were always good (the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company) the entire idea of mercantilism as an economic good rapidly declined despite the best efforts of the mercantile companies to avoid that.

    Oh, and there was this small issue of a rebellion in 13 colonies on the east coast of America who seemed to want to become industrial rather than stay attached to mercantilsim that was successful too.

    Industrialization brought with it what we call capitalism and free enterprise which the British and Americans promptly decided meant the trade had to be free as well. Beaver pelts, silk and tulips weren't what people wanted any more. Raw materials, wood, coal, grains and a host of other commodities were far more important that the stuff the great Mercantile companies traded in and had monopolies over.

    Along with industrialization came concepts such as copyright and patents, It only made sense, at the time, that there should be some pay for the people who came up with knew ideas, knowledge and such have a short period to make a few bucks on, after all.

    Fast forward to today. Copyirght and patents have served a useful purpose over the years. Authors and inventors have become extremely wealthy as well as folk heros. (To the point where most people forget that Edison bullied his way into most of his patents and is suspected of simply stealing the rest of them. Hey, it worked, right?)

    Now we're at the point where the original purpose of both copyright and patent are becoming lost in this recent development called "intellectual property". So the best way to "moneitize" your property is protect it forever.

    In that sense the 3D printer is a warning about what can happen when the notion that ideas are property runs amock takes too deep a hold.

    Charging too much rent to used a patent seems to me to slow wide spead adoption of the patent and what it contains. Whereas a lesser fee/rent may get more product out there faster meaning the smaller rend actually makes the patent holder more in the long run.

    But no, in our spreadsheet dominated world, the returns have to come early and this means high rents.changes. Perhaps, ovr time to make more later because the dream is to keep the rent the same once the 3D printer market takes off.

    In the meantime a development may be held up for years because of the cost of the rent on the patent. Either until it ends it's protected life (never if the SOPA/PIPA crowd had gotten their way) or until someone cleanrooms a way around it.

    From what I've seen the uses of 3D printing are huge ranging from design or proof of concept in three dimensions to a different way of producing art.

    Which brings me to this. As Mercantilism had the danger of slowing or halting the move to industrialism so, now, copyright and patents -- seen as property -- may slow the development of what's coming next. By weeks, months or years.

    That being the case, they've lost the valuse and purpose they once had. In both cases, advancing the state of the art. As they're being postitioned to do just that, then then, I'm afraid, it's time for both concepts to join many others in history's dustbin when their time had past.

    To paraphrase the bible money isnt the root of all evil; the love of money is. Copyright and patent purisists (as well as trolls) fall into the latter camp.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 6:44pm

    What the heck is "the progress"? There is a provision in the US Constitution about promoting the progress of the sciences and useful arts, but there is nothing about "the progress", per se.

    There is also mention made of patents that have apparently held back development of these printers for the "last couple of decades". Sounds as if the groundwork for an argument is being set up that printers of this type will flouish once these unnamed patents expire, as Boldrin and Levine did with respect to James Watt and steam engines. Of course, their view of history has been debunked repeatedly, so what is it here that is different?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Lawsuits are the great invention of our time

    "It is sad to think that one day society will look back on this time as a dark period in history because of all the progress that was held up by greedy self centered inDUHviduals that thought of no one but themselves."

    There I fixed it for you...no charge.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 7:43pm

    Re:

    Because most of the times the fees are not reasonable.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 8:12pm

    Re:

    Great idea! Create a pool of money specifically designed to pay people who come extorting money... that's not a lure or anything.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 8:40pm

    Several questions

    While I have no issue with the length of patents, if you invent something great then a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it, so you should be able to recoup some of that. But if you hold a patent, and do nothing with it for a year, it should be revoked! If there are patents related to 3D printers, why have we not seen any prior to recently?

    I do, however, have issues with the "types" of patents being issued: software, business process and design patents being the worst offenders here...but that is a rant for another day.

    Related to discussions about patents is, of course, copyright. Can someone please explain to this humble foreigner how your courts could possibly take the phrase from the constitution:

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    And extrapolate that to mean that an Authors children, and grandchildren, should also have those rights? It seems, to me, to be squarely at odds with what the constitution actually says!

    Now, I may be missing some uniquely American interpretation of "Author" to mean "The Author and all descendants". I realise that in Aldred vs. Ashcroft the supreme court focused on the word "Limited", but why wasn't the word "Author" considered? After all, it has a very specific meaning, Limited is more...soft.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 9:11pm

    How Patents Have Held Back 3D Printing

    I'm game. How have patents held back 3D printing?

    Or is this just another in a long line of articles taking great pleasure in making mountains out of non-existent molehills?

     

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  17.  
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    ken (profile), Jan 31st, 2012 @ 9:28pm

    The Airplane was held back by the Wright Brothers Patent Trolling

    Same thing happened with Airplanes. The Wright brothers were so protective of their patents that the US Aviation Industry could not take off till their patents had expired. The US had to buy planes from France and Britain to fight WWI because Wright Brothers preferred making money by suing rather than building airplanes.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 9:37pm

    Re:

    I think it is beyond that. It is once again ignoring the benefit that exists in the patent, and paying attention only to it's expiration date.

    Further, it requires that we ignore the benefits that patents have brought, such as the development of a couple of different general concepts for 3D printing, not to mention that, in the last decade, the industry for these devices has been growing and expanding very rapidly... with patents in play.

    Sorry Mike, but you appear to be trying to re-write history again, ignoring reality. Would this have something to do with your friends at The Pirate Bay suddenly expressing an interest in the field?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Several questions

    It's a little legal miracle, assignable rights. The rights granted include the right to assign those rights under contract to someone else, or for those rights to be inherited.

    The exclusive right does by it's very definition allow for assigning of those rights.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:28pm

    Re:

    "their view of history has been debunked repeatedly"

    [citation needed]

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:32pm

    Re: Re:

    "the industry for these devices has been growing and expanding very rapidly... with patents in play."

    The argument isn't that patents stop innovation, just that they slow it down. and they have slowed it down, tech has advanced mostly due to the fact that patents weren't traditionally created/enforced on many technological advancements.

    See, for example, see

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka4L0jGF_-Q

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:34pm

    Re: Re: Several questions

    Not sure what that has to do with the post you responded to.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:47pm

    Re:

    "What the heck is "the progress"? There is a provision in the US Constitution about promoting the progress of the sciences and useful arts, but there is nothing about "the progress", per se."

    Will you stop being deliberately obtuse. I'm not even sure what your point is, you don't seem to have one and so you have to resort to nonsensical statements that don't even seem to be presenting an argument.

    and the rest of your post is nonsense you made up out of thin air.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2012 @ 10:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Most of our big leaps in technology come from people not patenting things. The internet and the automobile for instance. Or people ignoring patents, the birth of hollywood comes to mind. ....but anyway if you can't see the huge problems and hindrances that have been caused by our patent system your blind or willfully ignorant.

     

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  26.  
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    Adam Reynolds (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 1:53am

    The change needed is relatively simple...

    The current system for IP is holding back progress. The big problem is that there is no 'cost' to maintaining a patent once given. I think the internet has already given us the solution with the way we deal with domain names.

    So you can submit your patent, you have 5 years exclusive use (and even that seeems a bit long). At this time you can purchase a 1 year extension to your 'patent' (at a cost of say $500) to a maximum of 10 years. I am not sure if, as part of the extension, you need to demonstrate the patent is part of a product you are selling.

    There must also be a process to allow somebody to raise an objection to a patent renewal based on non-implementation.

    A similar approach could be taken to copyright.

    There is no ongoing cost to maintaining IP.

     

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  27.  
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    Jason, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 2:03am

    The reason for patents

    I believe you all forgot the reasons the patents are made for. They are made to protect the creator from illegal copies made after his invention is presented in the world. In other words - from stealing the fruits of his work. First patents are used exclusively by a few representative companies and inventions are not hindered from us. The ability to copy the whole method and invention is limited to a time span of 20 years. The reason is simple - money. You want it badly - you can buy it, but cannot make it.

    On the other hand - this method is relic. We need somtehing new, because it clearly holds back the whole progress.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 2:31am

    Re:

    Want to see one story that is recent?

    Microsoft just bitch slapped Barnes & Nobles in court.

     

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  29.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:03am

    Re: Re:

    IP is needed to a certain degree to encourage research and development

    No one I have challenged has ever come up with a single good piece of evidence to support this argument - whilst the instances of evidence against it are legion.

     

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  30.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:10am

    Re:

    British East India Company,

    Led by Clive of India - who inspired the Clerihew

    "The thing I like about Clive
    is the fact he's no longer alive
    There's something to be said
    for being dead"

     

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  31.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:13am

    Re:

    their view of history has been debunked repeatedly,

    No it hasn't!

    Yours however has.

    (see - I can argue as well as you!)

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re:

    See, in order to claim the "the benefits that patents have brought, such as the development of a couple of different general concepts for 3D printing" you first have to provide evidence that your claim is in any way true.

    Good luck.

     

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  33.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Most of our big leaps in technology come from people not patenting things.

    Too right!
    For another example look at Frank Whittle anf the jet engine.
    He secured development funding a couple of months after he let his patent expire. That rather kicks out the argument that patents are necessary to bring in investment.

     

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  34.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 4:48am

    Re: The reason for patents

    I believe you all forgot the reasons the patents are made for. They are made to protect the creator from illegal copies made after his invention is presented in the world.

    The copies are only illegal because of the patent system - hence this argument relies on pulling itself up by its own bootstraps.
    In other words - from stealing the fruits of his work.
    It's not stealing...

    No the official excuse for patents is that they provide an incentive to invent and (crucially) disclose the invention.

    The concept that there is anything inherently wrong about copying somebody else's idea was really only invented after patents were in place.

    At least the first patent law drafters (in 17th century England) were honest about what they were doing - when they called their new law "The Statute of Monopolies"

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In fact, the founding fathers were very skeptical of IP, Thomas Jefferson was initially against it. Their skepticism has initially helped reduce the overreaching nature of IP laws which has helped spur innovation early on.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re:

    Also, if the grant is funding the R&D then clearly the patent isn't needed to fund R&D in this situation so the patent isn't doing the researcher any favors. It's highly unlikely that the researcher read the patent before conducting R&D, at least not for the sake of coming up with any ideas (except maybe for the sake of coming up with ideas to avoid so as to avoid having to infringe on any patents which will reduce costs), so the patent didn't help anyone come up with anything new. IOW, the patent wasn't needed.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How simply can I state this?

    There are two or three different ways to do 3D printing. One uses a system to put very small dots of a material in place, and harden it. Another completely different idea uses a laser to cause a powder to harder in certain locations, creating each layer as it goes.

    As one was patent before the other, it is logical to draw the conclusion that patents encouraged two separate paths. There are other promising technologies out there that do not use either of these.

    Without a patent, it is likely that the first method created would have been widely adapted, and the desire and need to develop an alternative lost.

    A patent may block a single path to a desired result, but that in turn encourages people to look for other ways to achieve it.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: The reason for patents

    So where is the patent that discloses how to build my graphing calculator, my computer, my microwave, my television, my car, etc...

    Wait, all that information is proprietary.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It continues to be an unproven concept, because it looks only at one side of things.

    The other side is the questions of "would they have developed it in the first place?" and "would they have allowed the secret out for others to see?". The patent system creates a buffer where secrets don't have to be so secret, where an individual or company has a period of time where they can use their patent in an exclusive fashion, or license it as they see fit.

    What would slow down progress would be if companies felt compelled to hide inventions until they had a totally complete product for the marketplace. It has taken nearly a decade to go from reasonable proof of concept examples to machines that can be purchased just like that. What would have happened if the first company with the idea would have hidden it until they had today's machine? Would things be faster or slower?

    From appearance standpoint, because you hadn't seen the technology before, you might think it faster. But if they sat on the idea for 10-15 years playing around looking for an end product, are we really any better off?

    As for your example, do you really think we should throw the entire system to the curb because of a couple of idiots looking to patent something that is totally obvious and already existing?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    One example can be found at http://www.terry.uga.edu/~selgin/files/StrongSteamApril2009.pdf, which you could easily have located had you looked for it.

    This paper led to a rejoinder by Boldrin and Levine, which was once again debunked by the authors of the above paper, which can be found at http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=10&ve d=0CGEQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2F128.252.251.212%2FCLIEG%2Fdocuments%2FApril2009%2FWattAgain30March2 009.pdf&ei=R1opT4KxKsXZ0QG9gKHHBg&usg=AFQjCNGBkHN9nN86xIwsD2ITwyixwOLdmA

    Revisionist history to support what is intended by Boldrin and Levine to be some quantum of proof of a causal relationship that Watt's patent "stifled" progress in the development of steam engines in the UK is too opportunistic to be taken at face value. It is intellectually dishonest since it makes no attempt to explore other, much more plausible, factors having nothing at all to do with the fact that Watt held a patent(s).

    My comment here is not intended to insult Messrs. Boldrin and Levine's work, bu merely to point out that there were a whole host of factors associated with the state of metallurgy in the early 1800's that they quite likely overlooked or did not understand.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:45am

    Patent Management stops you from getting the latest technology in practically every industry on earth. You don't get the latest energy saving devices. You don't get the latest communication devices because they want to squeeze a little more out of the inferior model before upgrading it. The only thing holding back the speed of communications is the modem. Fiber Optic is already supposed to be moving at the speed of light.

     

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  42.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Several questions

    Can someone please explain to this humble foreigner how your courts could possibly take the phrase from the constitution:

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    And extrapolate that to mean that an Authors children, and grandchildren, should also have those rights?


    Very large and repeated campaign contributions, that's how. (It's mostly Congress doing this, not the courts, the courts just defer to Congress - on that one I have no explanation)

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re:

    "The progress" is a meme that has taken root here, and yet no one, and especially the pricipals at this site, has defined what it means to them.

    "Progress" is used in the 1700's equated with learning/education. It is emminently fair to ask how it is being defined nere.

    It is hardly nonsense and making things out of thin air to ask questions relevant to the assertions being made in the article. Statements of fact have been made, and yet no citation(s) have been presented. At this juncture, if anything has been taken out of thin air then it is certainly such unsubstantiated statements.

     

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  44.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:


    A patent may block a single path to a desired result, but that in turn encourages people to look for other ways to achieve it.


    This assumes that the only reason to try an alternative is if the primary path is blocked by a patent. If there is an unmet need, someone will explore it. So if the dominant technology is inadequate in some way, someone will find an alternative. If the dominant technology satisfies the market, then why do we need patents to force others into some other path that the market doesn't demand?

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are much too quick to accept unsubstantiated facts at face value. What makes you think they are undisputably true?

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Re: The change needed is relatively simple...

    I believe you would find it quite interesting and informative to read up on US patent law. Your many assertions are incorrect.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    See my comment below concerning rejoinders to what Messrs. Levine and Boldrin stated in their book.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Several questions

    Assignability has been a basic tenent of US patent and copyright law since before the initial federal copyright and patent acts were ever enacted. For example, study the history of state patent law in the US commencing on or about 1783.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The conflation of "technology" with "invention" leads to much of the misunderstanding that permeates many discussions on this site.

    BTW, it is easy to envision "technology" that at the present time satisfies market demand. However, the same is most certainly not true when it comes to "inventions". The former is never foreclosed, and the latter's effect on a specific market for a specific product/method/service is almost invariably modest, if at all.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "This assumes that the only reason to try an alternative is if the primary path is blocked by a patent. If there is an unmet need, someone will explore it. "

    You looked at only one side. If the dominant technology is "good enough", will anyone want to spend money to develop an alternative? Perhaps they will, one day. But there is no pressing need if you have a somewhat functional technology already at hand for free - and no real motivation to work for an alternative.

    If the end result is desirable, and one path to it is blocked (by patent or other) it creates an incredible need and desire to find an alternative. It is one of the best things about the patent concept, you can wait until something is no longer patent, you can license the technology if available, or you can find another unique way to achieve the desired result. We get more options, we get more access to information (patent must be published, which reveals it's methods) and we get ways to license and use it.

    Mike's "patents block innovation" and "patents block us" is basically bullshit, with exceptional cases being used to try to prove the whole. Yet all around use are technology marvels, many made with patent technology, that might not exist without patents and process by which they can be licensed and used. Ignorance is bliss, and in this area, Mike is a very, very happy boy.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 10:02am

    The very existence of intellectual "property" makes research itself many times more expensive than necessary. Without it, progress would happen naturally, affordable to do at home or personal offices on personal time, without fear of any useful idea being stolen and banned from use. There would be no concept of any of the crises currently taking place; assuming other relevant liberties are afforded. The very concept of non-obvious is such a fallacy you'd think the three stooges are propping up the long since obsolete system; as only such a mindset would support it as necessary other than for the fact that it exists.

    Competition may be a great way for the best idea to come to a front, but it happens with much greater efficiency when there are no locking mechanisms stopping ideas flowing in any direction. Intellectual property and it's litigation are the greatest stumbling block to innovation. Not just how they are handled, but the fact of their existence.

     

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  52.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 5:30pm

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

    If the dominant technology is "good enough", will anyone want to spend money to develop an alternative?

    If the dominant technology is good enough, then who cares if anyone develops an alternative? By definition, it's not needed, because the other is good enough.

    We get more options

    No. No additional options are opened up by a patent, only more restrictions put in place.

     

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  53.  
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    Chris Norman, Feb 1st, 2012 @ 9:34pm

    Patents protect the little guy too!

    If you recall: Dyson Vacuum cleaners invented the idea of the no-loss of suction vacuum cleaner. He tried in vane to get it made...showing it to the big guys. They all copied it and stole his idea. Then his patents were awarded and he sued. Now Dyson rules the vacuum world and I love my vacuum from Dyson.

    The Intermittent Wiper was invented by a guy named Robert Kearns. He went around showing his invention to the auto makers and they stole his idea. He sued and won.

    Ideas are power. People who invent things should be able to make them without everyone else trying to steal the idea. Unfortunately in capitalism, everybody wants to make a buck.

    Its a necessary check and balance system to have patents. It prevents the big guys from always getting away with stealing ideas and levels the playing field a bit.

    The American Dream is to be able to achieve your dreams. Patents allow it! Regardless of their faults, patents are a valuable asset in the US, especially from the rest of the world.

    Did you know that in the US you can patent a business process, not just a machine?

    Food for thought!

     

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  54.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 1st, 2012 @ 10:55pm

    Re: Patents protect the little guy too!

    Did you know that in the US you can patent a business process, not just a machine?

    You're new here, aren't you? ;-)

     

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  55.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Feb 2nd, 2012 @ 4:59am

    Re: Several questions

    I believe the issue is not with patents covering the printer itself, but on what the printer prints. This would be an issue for someone distributing files that tell your printer what to print.

    Want to print a adjustable wrench? bet it is covered by a patent. Same for a wiffle ball or any number of other things.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2012 @ 5:29am

    Obviously, the virtues of being able to create 3d objects at some time in the future is appealling, but I wonder what all the comments extolling its virtures have anything to do with the title of this article? Have patents really held back the tide of creating new iterations of 3d printers, and if so which patents that are supposedly coming to the end of their terms? On this question the article is notably silent. Instead, it relies on arm-waving generalities that are no more than unsubstantiated opinion.

     

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    patent litigation, Feb 19th, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    job security

    We haven't even begun to see the raft of patent litigation that is sure to be unleashed, once 3D printers become increasingly common and IP holders (presumably) start suing everyone under the sun for "manufacturing" their patented products. Such interesting times will likely give patent lawyers job security.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Lawsuits are the great invention of our time

    I'll remember that when some giant corporation steals your idea and runs with it, snuffing you out of business and blocking your kids college tuition money from reaching your pocket.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2012 @ 11:09pm

    So you print whatever you want...and install it on yet our car...get in a wreck and blame who? Replace a baby stroller part, printed at your house by you do rom a design from pirate bay. Who gets to pay for yet our kide death when it breaks?

    I know...lets let the general public design the airplanes we ride in too!

    THAT IS MORE SCARY THAN ANYTHING I CAN THINK OF, EVERYONE MAKING EVERYTHING THEMSELVES AND SELLING IT TO EVERYONE TOO.

     

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  60.  
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    nasch (profile), Apr 1st, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    Re:

    So you print whatever you want...and install it on yet our car...get in a wreck and blame who? Replace a baby stroller part, printed at your house by you do rom a design from pirate bay. Who gets to pay for yet our kide death when it breaks?

    So your argument against this technology is that there wouldn't be anyone to accept responsibility for its users' actions? Also, what do you do with a stroller that would lead to the child's death if a part broke? I think you're using it wrong.

     

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  61.  
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    idiot, May 23rd, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    You certainly don't know what kind of unethical companies the Dutch East and Brit East were.

    Shame on you!

    Patents do indeed stop growth! We should stop patents!

     

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  62.  
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    BAN IP, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 10:31pm

    IP Does Not Exist

    IP is a fabrication, private monopolies for special interests. Patents are a particularly vile innovation in tyranny. The whole concept should be trashed and banned forever. The next person who tries to imply that the PC would have never been invented, or that Apple would not have "innovated" a touch screen phone (well, they didn't really invent this one) without patent law needs to get punched in the face.

    You are a moron if you think progress would not happen without these interventions. Progress occurred faster for the last century because technology and accumulation of knowledge accelerates the pace of progress cumulatively, similar to how better computers help you build the next better computers.

    I suppose the scumbag patent defending history re-writers think the wheel was patented and "protected" by the cave man government, and that the cave man inventor would have just said "Why bother?" without this guaranteed monopoly!

     

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  63.  
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    anon, Apr 14th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yep, sounds like patents are great at motivating people to invent new ways of doing things in situations where those new ways are technically completely unnecessary.

    (If a new method *was* necessary because it offered actual advantages over the original method, rather than artificial advantages manufactured by the nature of patent law, they would already be motivated to create it DUE TO THOSE ADVANTAGES.)

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2013 @ 5:53pm

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

    "You looked at only one side. If the dominant technology is "good enough", will anyone want to spend money to develop an alternative?"

    If it offers advantages, then yes, they will. If it doesn't, then it's not necessary.

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2013 @ 5:59pm

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

    I posted this a few seconds ago but I think I'm starting to see your point (although I still disagree). If it takes a massive expenditure, it might be discouraged because it helps all non-contributing competitors just as much. Having said that, I most innovations are not "game changers," but combinations of minor incremental changes. I doubt 3d printing methods are an exception.

     

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


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