If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product

from the misguided dept

Certainly anybody with patents, copyrights or other intellectual property has every right to enforce them, or at least try to. But a point we've made is that it often makes more sense for a business not to waste resources trying to enforce its IP rights and shut down its competition, and instead to focus on continual improvement and innovation. The WSJ's got a piece detailing a small company's fight to keep companies from selling cheap imitations of its product -- "a plastic cage that looks like a Wiffle ball and prevents bras from getting tangled in the spin cycle" called the BraBaby. The company of ten employees' boss apparently spends countless hours online and in Asia tacking down makers of the knockoff products, and from the sound of things, he's having little success, despite his patents and trademarks. So, with all that effort in mind, what's the point? If your invention is a cheap piece of plastic that's easy to copy, clearly you're going to have a problem dealing with imitators and knockoffs should it become successful. If you're a small company making such a product, trying to clamp down on those imitations is, as the article makes clear, going to be a long and difficult practice that stands little chance of success, so your resources would be better devoted to improving your product and staying ahead of your rivals. Contrast the approach of the company behind the BraBaby to that a maker of a similar product, the BraBall. That company holds a patent for its product that predates the BraBaby, but an exec says it doesn't plan to sue, instead, it's "competing on quality." If the only way you can succeed in the market is by keeping your competitors out of it, whatever advantage you have is fleeting. To remain successful, you need to continually have the best product, not the only product. And how does chasing the makers of knockoff goods to the far ends of the earth help you make a better product?
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  • identicon
    :(, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:07am

    Yeah, leave IP infringement to it's best stars: Corporate oligopolies keeping the small fish out of the market with high licensing fees.

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

  • identicon
    ranon, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:22am

    Thats the whole idea if IP protection. A small company does not have the resources or the time to chase copiers, They should spend time improving the product. However copying a product or "reverse engineering" it takes far less time and money than actually developing it. For any company it is a far more profitable and safer route to wait for somebody else to develop a product and then simply copy it. This is exactly what happens in countries where IP protection is lax. In such cases there is less incentive for innovation and more incentive for copying.

    This has not happened in the US market as the IP protection has been traditionaly very strong, but you must ask yourself as to why the most innovation hapens only in countries with strong IP protection.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:35am

      Re:

      He makes a good point. Perhaps IP protection is *too* strong in places, but better too strong than too weak.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:46am

      Re: ranon

      But you have the problem that every little thing in existence is getting patented these days that you get people afraid to do anything because it seems like every possible idea infringes on twelve separate patents.

      Stronger IP laws wouldn't be so bad if they were actually used to protect things deserving of protection. Right now they're being used to protect things that shouldn't be getting protected.

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

      • identicon
        ranon, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:57am

        Re:

        The IP system in the US needs improvement. Especially in the areas of obviousness tests and in the granting of new patents. But let us not throw out the baby with the bath water.

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

    • identicon
      Nasty Old Geezer, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:38am

      Re:

      Please provide the studies that show the relationship of "strong IP protection" to "innovation" -- or did you just make that up?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:46am

      Re:


      This has not happened in the US market as the IP protection has been traditionaly very strong, but you must ask yourself as to why the most innovation hapens only in countries with strong IP protection.

      What goes up must come down.

      Thats all good until everything little detail is patented. You can barely build any electrical device now without running into several patents. And we all know that IP protection isn't being used these days to insure that the original innovator is compensated. For the most part IP protection is being used to stop competition. Because when competition is sqashed the one holding the patent has no more reason to continue taking their IP to the next level. And that is when the quatlity of their product/service will suffer but that have nothing to worry about becuase due to IP protection laws they would litterally be the only show in town.

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

  • identicon
    dorpus, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:48am

    Can you patent electrically conducting skin?

    Mr. Doku Chan, a 71-year-old man living in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China, claims to have a special gift that lets him pass 220-volt AC through his body without harm. He is able to light bulbs on his skin, fry fish with his hands, and treat his friends' rheumatism with electric shocks.

    Pictures at

    http://j.peopledaily.com.cn/2007/07/09/jp20070709_73445.html

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

  • identicon
    Brian, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:52am

    I dont think he makes a 100% good point at all

    There are simple, easy-to-copy ideas that are new and worthwhile. It sounds to me as if Carlo's suggestion is "if you come up with one of these ideas, don't bother." That's ridiculous. If I come up with a simple product to solve a niche need, why _shouldn't_ I profit from it?

    Or maybe I'm being misled by an unnecessarily sarcastic headline. Who knows?

    It seems to me that the right suggestion might be (a) stronger international IP enforcement (you know...trade agreements that actually work for us instead of...well, not working for us), and (b) mention of the possibility that if you create a product that doesn't really justify buiding an entire company around, then perhaps the best route is to _sell that product_ to someone who can build it and compete.

    Just me.

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

  • identicon
    JBB, 9 Jul 2007 @ 3:54am

    No room! No room!

    Yeah, there's no room in this market for smaller ideas. If your idea is so small it can be easily copied, don't bother with it, we don't need it!

    Of course, if it's a good enough idea that you could make some money off it, possibly prime the pump for more and bigger ideas, and employ ten people gainfully...of course someone will copy it.

    Small inventors! Give up now!

    What a stupid techdirt article. This is the sort of thing IP laws SHOULD protect. Fleeting advantages are what give you time to establish yourself so the big guys (and horde of little guys) don't crush you before you're capable of bringing the product to market.

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

    • identicon
      ehrichweiss, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:46am

      Re: No room! No room!

      I guess you've never heard of licensing an invention instead of patenting. Not all inventions need to be patented to be protected while you get that small jump you refer to. NDA's and other contracts can protect you as well if not better than a patent can, without all the cost.

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

      • identicon
        Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:09am

        Re: Re: No room! No room!

        ehrichweiss - almost NOBODY TREATS A NDA SERIOUSLY, except for NDAs signed between company and employee, or with subcontractors.

        NDA between other bodies is usually meaningless. One of the cutest things to do to start-ups or inventors is just ignoring their NDA request, and make it clear that you won't talk to them if they require a NDA.

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

  • identicon
    Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 4:08am

    You sir, piss me off

    "If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product"
    Has got to be the dumbest title on Techdirt ever.

    This isn't a hi-tech company, or a company with dedicated research dept. It's there to just produce something, sell its 3-5 million $ per month, and that's it. It's just a small nice company, that has patented a product.
    It deserves a cookie for coming up with it.
    And if the other company(BraBall) had a clear case of a predating patent, then it would be them having all the deals with major retailers, or at least going to court, specially when all those deep pockets are involved, so don't be so naive .

    Real industry is not about innovation, it's about repeatedly making something that works, adequate products at adequate price.
    In real industry, nobody wants to produce something better than others, you just produce something with a demand, hope you fit into the price range, and that's it. Nobody will buy your product for 2.50$ a piece when they can get a slightly worse version of your product for 2.35$.

    I simply don't understand why you support low-quality Chinese knockoffs that have the advantage of cheap labor and machinery over the company that came up with the product, and was successful in selling it.

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

    • icon
      Vincent Clement (profile), 9 Jul 2007 @ 4:23am

      Re: You sir, piss me off

      And if the other company(BraBall) had a clear case of a predating patent, then it would be them having all the deals with major retailers, or at least going to court, specially when all those deep pockets are involved.

      But the exec from that other company said he has not sued or does not plan to sue. He has figured out that suing does not generate any revenue and likely introduces an element of uncertainty that retailers may not be interested in.

      Real industry is not about innovation, it's about repeatedly making something that works, adequate products at adequate price.

      Um, that's what innovation is: making something that works for a target market at the right price.

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

      • identicon
        Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 4:32am

        Re: Re: You sir, piss me off

        I simply don't believe the exec of that company(Braball), this is why I said "don't be so naive".
        If he had a clear case of predating patent and ability to produce, he would be signing deals with Procter&G, Walmart, Target.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:14am

          Re: Re: Re: You sir, piss me off

          I simply don't believe the exec of that company(Braball)...
          You got any evidence to back up your accusation? Sounds like maybe you have stock or something in the other company.

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

          • identicon
            Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You sir, piss me off

            nope. I'm not even from the US. But I have a clue in how low-tech insdustries work, and know that Procter&G are very careful when it comes to such issues.

            And I a not accusing him. I am just saying that I think he is a liar.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 8:01am

      Re: You sir, piss me off

      Shohat? Asshat, more like.

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

  • identicon
    Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 4:24am

    God damnit

    Your title just pisses me off every time I read it.
    It's a perfect -5 Flamebait.

    "If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product"

    "If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product"

    "If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product"

    If anyone deserves IP protection, it's those small brilliant ideas, that are easy to understand and implement, and inventors should be rewarded for coming up with such products, especially when they have actually turned an invention into a commercial success.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 4:51am

    "If anyone deserves IP protection, it's those small brilliant ideas, that are easy to understand and implement, and inventors should be rewarded for coming up with such products, especially when they have actually turned an invention into a commercial success."

    I agree wholeheartedly, my friend!

    Now explain to me how a small plastic cage is a brilliant idea that is difficult to understand and implement. Explain to me how a little plastic cage is innovation. Hell, explain to me how it is INVENTION.

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

    • identicon
      Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:18am

      Re:

      I am not going to explain it. It IS easy to understand and implement. That's the whole point.
      My advice is - consult an experienced mechanical engineer that works in low-tech industry, and ask for an explanation what patents are for. You should never consult a digerati on mechanical IP issues, they simply don't understand.

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

      • identicon
        ME, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:26am

        Re: Re:

        I am not going to explain it. It IS easy to understand and implement. That's the whole point.
        My advice is - consult an experienced mechanical engineer that works in low-tech industry, and ask for an explanation what patents are for. You should never consult a digerati on mechanical IP issues, they simply don't understand.
        Well, it just so happens that I am an engineer. I've engineered many things that, while well designed, I certainly would not have considered "inventions". They were just the kind of solutions any good engineer could have come up with. Of course, that didn't slow down the company lawyers filing patents on them.

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

        • identicon
          Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ME - big difference.
          Since in the last 60 years there hasn't been much invention and innovation (compared to earlier years), certainly the system must be adjusted to not cover obvious patents caused by finding solutions during standard product development, but when the product itself is the invention, and is not some by-product of research, why not grant the person that came up with it and turned it into financial success, some credit ?

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

        • identicon
          Brian, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "They were just the kind of solutions any good engineer could have come up with."

          And yet you were the one who did. The mind boggles. ;)

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

      • identicon
        ehrichweiss, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:41am

        Re: Re:

        If it is easy to understand and implement then it immediately falls under the "obvious" category, and seeing as how they likely derived the idea from the gadget that does the exact same thing except to a hat, I don't see this as deserving a patent or any protection in the first place.

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

        • identicon
          ehrichweiss, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If it is easy to understand and implement then it LIKELY immediately...


          P.S. I too have many creations/inventions. Most are not worth the time/money to patent. This bra thing...not worthy.

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

        • identicon
          Shohat, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ehrichweiss, Is Balancing a tall rocking building by deploying a large mechanism that autmatically adjusts a huge counterweight whenever the building moves obvious to you ?

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

  • identicon
    My 2 cents, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:54am

    obvious to me

    The first thing that struck me is that this boss loves to travel, and write it off! That and he has a strong desire to support a small army of lawyers (the only winners in many legal civil matters).

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

  • identicon
    Witty Nickname, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:54am

    Bra baby

    We have an article about BRAS here. We are discussing intellectual property. Where are the tasteless boobie jokes?!? Come on TechDirt readers - I expcet much less from you!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:56am

    the author is a moron

    The comment "If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product" is just moronic. You might as well say if you're so concerned about theft, don't put windows in your house.

    Go after the criminals ripping off the product, not the poor guy trying to make a buck.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 5:58am

    This is ****

    Why shouldn't he be able to protect his patent just because China doesn't have to follow the rules and his invention is a cheap piece of plastic. Does its nature as cheap plastic automatically give a Chinese factory the rights to it? (for all I know it might be in the WTO charter that China gets to manufacture anything made entirely of petrochemicals!)

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 9 Jul 2007 @ 6:33am

    Very true.

    And history has already proven it true.

    Sony Betamax (for a long time) = Only Product.

    VHS = Many makers... but whoever had the BEST VHS - made the most.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:26am

    My girlfriend has a bra ball. Pretty amazing. I spend hours every day deciphering its mystery.

    But seriously, it is neat. And, I agree with Shohat. Even if the product is simple in design, the function is innovative and they deserve the rewards for coming up with it.

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

  • identicon
    Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:28am

    So obvious

    For a plastic cage that hold bras in a washer machine to get patented, then the patents system in the US must definitely be broken. My wife has been using a similar home made pastic thingy since 1998. How can a patent be granted to something as obvious as this?

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

  • identicon
    Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:45am

    There must be a line drawn between real inventions and between obvious products that just hasn't been manufactured on a production scale and hasn't been patented yet.

    Think about it, imagine if a patent is granted to every single first of a kind product that has an innovative function. Well plastic bags are innovative because they let you carry your grocery out of the super market, what if it was granted a patent when it was first made? What about show laces? What about knifes and forks and spoons? What about picture frames? What about trash baskets? What about paper clips? I mean come on people!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      Don't forget toilet paper, starafoam plates/bowls, bleach, and other common housefold items.

      I'm surprised that some car manufacturer hasn't tried to patent the automoble.

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

  • identicon
    angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 7:59am

    a line between real inventions and obvious product

    It's not always easy to draw this line...

    Think Post-It Notes... Is it a real invention or just an obvious product ?

    It looks like an obvious product to everyone, but from its huge commercial success when it was first introduced one can say that it's a REAL invention...

    Same story with Velcro - once you hold it in your hand it is instantly obvious to you.

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

  • identicon
    Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 8:51am

    Honestly, I think that the concept of patents should be limited to protecting the research that goes into making an invention as opposed to rewarding the first company who come up with an idea.
    Take the Viagra product as an example (or any drug for that purpose). There is an idea behind it, but it also cost millions of dollars of research to bring it to market. Once the ingredients are known, it may cost only few pennies to make the pill, so other companies should be prohibited from just copying the drug and selling it cheaper.
    Now, how much research went into making the bra thing for it to deserve protection?

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

    • identicon
      angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      Sam,
      you are obviously ignorant as far as patents are concerned...
      Viagra was NOT a product of methodical research
      - it was a purely accidental discovery, for your information
      same with penicillin

      patent is supposed to promote the progress by encouraging public disclosure of new and useful inventions and discoveries.
      R&D by itself does not matter, What matters is its final result.
      If you can get to the final result by pure lucky accident then good for you - you saved a lot of money
      Patents are NOT about R&D spending - they are about final RESULTS and what you do with those results: keep them secret or publicly disclose them in a patent application

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re:

        keep them secret or publicly disclose them in a patent application
        Huh? Your logic is seriously flawed. If a company *could* keep its so-called "invention" a secret and still sell it to the public then why in the world would it disclose it in a patent? The *only* use for a patent is to protect something that *can't* be kept secret. The idea that patents encourage inventors to disclose secrets is a fairytale. Can you provide even one example of a company disclosing an otherwise secret invention in a patent that it could just as well have kept secret while still selling it to the public?

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

      • identicon
        Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re:

        Angry Dude:

        Please go back and read my comments before you start calling me ignorant.

        I wasn't describing what patents are about now, I was saying my opinion about what patents should be about.

        I did not mention penicillin, but do you realy think that Viagra was an accidental discovery? Do you know anything about clinical trials and the process of approving drugs and releasing them to the public?

        Do you think that an idea that someone come up with in their sleep deserves as much protection as a product that required millions of dollars in research?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      Yeah, I like that idea. Maybe you should get, say, a year of patent for every million dollars you spent on the invention. So a drug company that spent a hundred million dollars would get a hundred year patent. Meanwhile, some schmuck trying to milk the system who only spent a lousy couple thousand bucks would get like a one day patent. Only seems fair to me!

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

  • identicon
    IP Litigation, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:30am

    Litigation Costs

    I had my source code copied and used by a firm even though the application was encrypted. They sold it to a company and collect $30,000 in fees each year. I did sue and we ended up settling 6 weeks before our Federal District court date. What most small companies aren't told is that it will cost at least $4000 a month for the first 2 years in pre-legal items and closer to $10,000 a month heading into the trial. You are not sure what you will win monetarily. Many times it is $7500 or so and no attorneys fees. Seems like only the big corporations will and of course the attorneys.

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

  • identicon
    Brad, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:33am

    He's been talking to Mike

    Who's always ranting about his "scarce goods" argument -- that the recording industry should give up protecting it's artists IP and just let copying happen, all in an effort to drive a different revenue model. He constantly mistakes the plastic the music is encoded on for the actual product -- the music.

    I'm tired of his junk too. I think I'll start taking all the posts from this site and copying them on mine. I'll keep the ad revenue generated. After all I'm just "sharing" their content and it's okay 'cause I wasn't going to buy it in the first place, and the site owners are just "fat cat capitalists"...

    This site is going south -- a bunch of smug 20-somethings who think they're the only ones who "get it"....

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

    • identicon
      angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:50am

      Re: He's been talking to Mike

      Mike might not be a simple and honest dude he claims to be

      There is a big underlying agenda behind a constant anti-patent rant in the mass-media. This agenda is promoted by the big tech patent pirates: MS, Intel, Cisco, HP and other members ofd the "Coalition for Patent Fairness"
      (better known as a "Coalition for Patent Piracy")
      I think Mike is getting some kickbacks from those IP thiefs, directly or indirectly (he does run a paid "corporate intelligance" service for some of those companies)

      Talking about "honest" journalism...
      Does it really exist these days ?

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

    • identicon
      Carlo, 9 Jul 2007 @ 9:57am

      Re: He's been talking to Mike

      Brad -- go for it.

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

  • identicon
    angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:03am

    patents are about final results, not an inventive

    "Do you think that an idea that someone come up with in their sleep deserves as much protection as a product that required millions of dollars in research?"

    Absolutely YES

    Gordon Gould came up with his idea of laser in his bed... so what ?
    I came up with some of my best ideas while drinking beer at the local karaoke bar on a Saturday night
    Do you think that only people (or rather their corporate masters) who come up with ideas from 9am to 5pm while sitting at their desks deserve patent protection ?
    Come on, dude, this is still a free country

    You can sit on a toilet and write your patent - it will be entitled to the same degree of patent protection if it's really novel and non-obvious :-)

    "Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made"
    (35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter. - Appendix L Patent Laws)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:08am

      Re: patents are about final results, not an invent

      You can sit on a toilet and write your patent - it will be entitled to the same degree of patent protection if it's really novel and non-obvious :-)

      "Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made"
      (35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter. - Appendix L Patent Laws)
      See? That just shows how much the patent laws really need to be changed!

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

      • identicon
        angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:21am

        Re: Re: patents are about final results, not an in

        "See? That just shows how much the patent laws really need to be changed!"

        Why? And how about copyright laws ?
        Some people write novels while sitting on a toilet...
        Do yoy suggest that those people do not deserve copyright to their work ?
        Besides, how could you ever know ?

        "Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made". Period.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:17am

      Re: patents are about final results, not an invent

      The same thing happens with artists too. I've come up with some of my most creative work while sitting on the toilet. In fact, if you'll excuse me now I need to go to the toilet right now ... I think I feel a masterpiece making its way out!

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

    • identicon
      Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:20am

      Re: patents are about final results, not an invent

      Alright I totally disagree but you're entitled to your opinion.

      The idea of laser isn't what made laser, it's the scientifical and technological research that allowed laser to be implemented.

      What is worth protecting is not the idea to make something, it's the research and investment that allow it to be made.

      Every single product we use now, used to be a new and innovative idea when it was first made. New ideas will always be found normally as life advances. Imagine if every one of those products we use daily can only be made by one company, what would that do to competition?

      Protection should not be granted based on who come up with something first, but rather based on who devoted his time and money to invent.

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

      • identicon
        angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: patents are about final results, not an in

        "Protection should not be granted based on who come up with something first, but rather based on who devoted his time and money to invent."

        Sam, forgive me, but you don't make any sense at all..

        So you want to give most protection to the least efficient entities - ones who spent most of their time and money inventing "something" (Provided that 'something" is not just a fictional idea of laser but a functional scketch or blueprint, like the one Gordon Gould produced and notarized at the corner candy store)

        Way to go, Sam...

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

        • identicon
          Sam, 9 Jul 2007 @ 12:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: patents are about final results, not a

          Angry Dude:

          Are you serious?

          1- Forgive me but your logic is obsurd, you really think that spending more time and money on an invention automatically means that you're less efficient? Couldn't it mean that the invention is complex enough to require that extra effort?

          2- Even if I go with your faulty logic, why should the patents system be used to reward efficiency? Doesn't the free market do that already?

          The difference between your opinion and mine, is that I want to be rewarded for real work that leads to scientific breakthrough, and you want to earn easy money for an idea that you came up with while sitting on your toilet. Now that is making sense.

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

          • identicon
            angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 12:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: patents are about final results, n

            Sam,

            I think you misunderstood my point
            I am talking about the same invention made by different people...

            E.g. suppose you are Alexander Bell and you spent last 5 years of your life trying to build a working phone from a bunch of wires and membranes..
            And I am some kind of child prodigy who made a sketch of a working phone while taking a toilet break...
            If Bell's working model is described by my toilet scketch, then it comes down to who did it first, not to who spent most time and money..
            Don't you get it, dude ?
            And forget about free market: free market only rewards efficient stealing of other's inventions
            That's what China is all about

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

  • identicon
    The infamous Joe, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:19am

    I missed Brad on my vacation.

    Correct me if I'm wrong-- and I know I'm not-- but it's been stated that Techdirt doesn't care if someone copies their posts. It's been explained before, even to you, the last time you mentioned doing this.

    More directly, it seems you've confused copyright and patent, that, or God forbid, you're a dirty, no good troll. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt on that last part. Next you'll be insisting that making a cheaper plastic cage for bras in China is child pornography. I really can't wait, Brad. :)

    As for a BraBall or BraBaby or whatever it is, I can't say if it's worthy of a patent-- it certainly wasn't intuitive to me-- I don't wash that many (read: any) bras-- but perhaps those of the distaff side who do wash bras would find this as a "duh" invention. (and I use the term invention loosely)

    The real problem is twofold: We have a sham of a global legal system in regards to this sort of thing and the patent system is no longer functioning like it was designed.

    As it is, we as Americans seem to ignore WTO rulings when it isn't in our favor, and if we ignore them, then why would other countries pay attention? Also, there seems to me to be very little real consequence to ignoring the WTO. And judging by the variations of IP laws from country to country, a global system is the solution that jumps out at me.

    As for the patent system-- well, we all see that it's broken.. the debate is on how to 'fix' it. I, myself, feel that we should severely limit the duration of a patent-- to something like 5 to 10 years from filing-- with extensions available and those being rarely given. Also, remove the ability for a corporate entity to hold ownership of a patent, and the passing of a patent from one person to another further limits the duration by half or one year, which ever is larger, each time. Of course, I hold no patents, so maybe this is a horrible solution. :)

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

    • identicon
      Carlo, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:29am

      Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

      Indeed it has -- here's one recent example of many (which I intended to link in my reply to Brad above).

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

    • identicon
      angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 10:35am

      Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

      "As for the patent system-- well, we all see that it's broken.. the debate is on how to 'fix' it. I, myself, feel that we should severely limit the duration of a patent-- to something like 5 to 10 years from filing-- with extensions available and those being rarely given. Also, remove the ability for a corporate entity to hold ownership of a patent..."

      Good solutions, go for it, dude, lobby the Congress

      I have another excellent idea: abolish money and all property deeds in this coutry
      This will go just about as far as your idea of limiting corporate ownership of patents and copyrights...
      keep dreaming, dude...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 1:25pm

        Re: Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

        "Good solutions, go for it, dude, lobby the Congress"

        He should go lobby congress and everyone else that believes the system is broken should to. We the people control this country in the end and corporations will have to bow their head at some point. There is only so much raping and pillaging by corporations of the world resources that we will put up with.

        Don't disempower people! Maybe that's why you are so angry dude? lol

        "I have another excellent idea: abolish money and all property deeds in this coutry"

        Or better yet patent owning property and rule the world.

        "This will go just about as far as your idea of limiting corporate ownership of patents and copyrights..."

        Limiting corporations is the best idea anyone has thought of recently. Don't knock thinking until you try it!

        "keep dreaming, dude..."

        Keep trying to think.... dude

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

    • identicon
      reed, 9 Jul 2007 @ 1:08pm

      Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

      "As for the patent system-- well, we all see that it's broken.. the debate is on how to 'fix' it. I, myself, feel that w"

      I don't think many people who own patents or fight for them consider the system broken

      "should severely limit the duration of a patent-- to something like 5 to 10 years from filing-- with extensions available and those being rarely given. Also, remove the "

      Once an exception is made it will be exploited, no exceptions IMHO.

      "ability for a corporate entity to hold ownership of a patent, and the passing of a patent from one person to another further limits the duration by half or one year, which ever is larger, each time. "

      Sounds interesting, especially the part of NO corporate ownership which makes a ton of sense. Corporations should not be able to claim other's works if we truly respect IP (which we don't, just the money that can be made from it)

      "Of course, I hold no patents, so maybe this is a horrible solution. :)"

      You can't ever expect those in power who own everything to just give it up. They have manipulated our system already to the breaking point just to make a few bucks. We can't listen to those who own or fight for patents because all they do is lie and obscure the truth. Patents and IP in general is a universally flawed idea that takes credit away from society and gives it to the few so they can control wealth and power.

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

      • identicon
        angry dude, 9 Jul 2007 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

        "We can't listen to those who own or fight for patents because all they do is lie and obscure the truth. Patents and IP in general is a universally flawed idea that takes credit away from society and gives it to the few so they can control wealth and power."

        Dude,

        are you serious ????

        I own one patent, spent years and $$$$$ working on invention and more years (and more $$$$$) waiting for that shitty paper called US patent.
        Now, where is my "wealth and power" dude, where is my fucking power "to exclude others from making and selling patented invention" ?
        I just don't fucking see it
        Do you think I am lying to you ?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 1:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

          So what's your patent?

          Do you think I am lying to you ?

          About this patent you're always talking about -- yes.

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

        • identicon
          reed, 9 Jul 2007 @ 1:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

          "I own one patent, spent years and $$$$$ working on invention and more years (and more $$$$$) waiting for that shitty paper called US patent."

          As others have said in the past what is your patent about?

          "Now, where is my "wealth and power" dude, where is my fucking power "to exclude others from making and selling patented invention" ?"

          You have no power because you are not rich and powerful in the first place. Sucks being born into a non-powerful family but you could always marry into power eh?

          Patents are not the power, they are the tool. You have to have the power in the first place to use the tool. You just don't have the power.

          "I just don't fucking see it"

          It is because you are owned. You are frustrated because the system doesn't work for you, but against you. On top of that your are probably guilty of doublethink where you hold two oppositional opinions both as true. It is a confusing world nowadays, that's for sure.

          Do you think I am lying to you ?

          Honestly, I don't think you outright lying, but perhaps stretching the truth a little (like we all do).

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2007 @ 8:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: I missed Brad on my vacation.

          I own one patent, spent years and $$$$$ working on invention and more years (and more $$$$$) waiting for that shitty paper called US patent.
          Now, where is my "wealth and power" dude, where is my fucking power "to exclude others from making and selling patented invention" ?
          I just don't fucking see it
          Do you think I am lying to you ?
          The paper probably got "shitty" when it got too close to your "shitty" idea that no one wanted anyway.

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

  • identicon
    The infamous Joe, 9 Jul 2007 @ 11:05am

    So very angry.

    I have another excellent idea: abolish money and all property deeds in this coutry[sic]

    Now, don't you think that is a little extreme? My semi-random thoughts on fixing the patent system, of which, I might restate, I am in no way an expert, weren't even to such an extreme. Instead of giving a poor and sarcastic response, perhaps you could (calmly, if it's possible for such an angry, ah.. dude) explain to me where I went wrong. Now, this isn't to say that I want some pessimistic baloney about the evil scheme's of corporations, mind you.

    The way I see it, the patent system should give the creator (inventor?) enough time to bring an invention to the market.. now, I don't know how long that would take, having never done it before, so I picked 5 to 10 years. Also, if you are inclined to want to acquire ownership of a patent from someone else, it should stand to reason that you have a specific use for the patent and need less time to bring it to the market.

    You really are very angry, aren't you? Maybe someone will get you some soothing wind chimes for your birthday. :)

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

  • identicon
    Matt, 9 Jul 2007 @ 12:08pm

    Patenting "Duh" ideas

    The practice of patenting things that would only make you go "duh" in retrospect is over a century old.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_clip

    So this is not some new basterdization of American patent law, but a way of rewarding the first to register the idea and bring bring it to market.

    Making sure that the patent durations don't grow like copyright, and watching out for "submarine patents" are our protections against abuse.

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

  • identicon
    The infamous Joe, 9 Jul 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Oh, it's broken all right.


    I don't think many people who own patents or fight for them consider the system broken


    Oh, even Mr. Angry Dude knows it's broken, and I quote:

    I own one patent, spent years and $$$$$ working on invention and more years (and more $$$$$) waiting for that shitty paper called US patent.(Emphasis added)

    Everyone *knows* it doesn't work as it should-- the question is if we'll mess it up more if we attempt to 'fix' it or not, and how to go about fixing it. I dare say that the only people who don't want the current system to change are large corporations and patent trolls, if there is a difference between the two. :)

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence B. Ebert, 11 Jul 2007 @ 4:38pm

    Who owns the IP rights to the brababy invention?

    The gist of Cheng's initial WSJ article was that Engel was the inventor of brababy and a variety of Engel's IP rights were being violated by various third world manufacturers in China etc. Techdirt zoomed in on a comment by someone related to a competing product BraBall, who was going to compete on quality.

    The real story is somewhat different.

    Engel is the named inventor of NO US patent (or published application) related to BraBaby. The holding company, Angel, has one design patent, the inventor for which resides in Hong Kong. That design patent cites to an earlier utility patent to inventor Phan, the originator of the BraBall concept. Cheng did not mention Phan, or the details of the Bra-sphere wars between BraBaby and BraBall, wherein BraBall was priced out of the market, especially the catalog market. The remark about "competing on quality" should be viewed in that context. And, yes, there are issued US patents on holding devices for washing bras that precede Phan's.

    Neither the WSJ nor TechDirt got the real story, which is about one group of (third world) price undercutters beating a US group who had beaten a different US group (the underlying inventor for which was Phan, a student at the University of Texas).

    Details had been published at IPBiz:

    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2007/07/piracy-of-brababy-wall-street-journal.html

    http://ipb iz.blogspot.com/2007/07/followup-on-jonathan-chengs-article-on.html

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


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