IP Lawyer: If You Are Against Software Patents, You Are Against Innovation

from the oh-please dept

I used to read a blog by a patent attorney named Gene Quinn. Sometimes it had some interesting posts on it with a strong pro-patent viewpoint. But too often he would just become a parody of the pro-patent position, making declarations that something was fact, when the evidence suggested otherwise. Late last year, he insisted that it was impossible for a patent attorney to think patents harm innovation. He also insisted that it was an economic impossibility for patents to not help innovation. When we presented an awful lot of evidence to the contrary in the form of numerous studies that looked at the historical evidence and made clear -- from a variety of different angles -- that patents do not lead to greater innovation, Quinn responded by saying he didn't care about what the studies said, because he just knew that patents increase innovation based on what he saw. Consider it faith-based economics. Evidence be damned. Gene Quinn is right because he just knows it (oh yeah, and he profits from it too...).

Anyway, after that, I realized there was no reason to read his blog, but reader Brad points us to an absolutely stunning argument that Quinn has now made, saying that true innovators want patents, and only those who don't innovate don't like patents:
If you are against software patents you are not an innovator. Innovators want patents, those who do not innovate and copy others do not want patents
This was in response to Ian Clarke, a well known software developer, entrepreneur and someone who has argued strongly and articulately against software patents, pointing out in great detail, the harm they have done to the software industry. Clarke does a good job explaining his position, but Quinn doesn't bother responding to Clarke directly, but makes up strawmen. For example, Clarke points out that he's raised plenty of money from investors, despite being against software patents, and Quinn mocks the idea that any VCs would fund businesses without patents:
I would love to know who the investors are that are willing to provide funding for a software business that relies on trade secrets and copyrights. Naive investors like that would certainly be interested in companies with real protections. Simply stated, software cannot be adequately protected with copyrights, which I am sure you know or you should know. Likewise, trade secrets do not offer much, if any, protection for software. If the software is released the trade secret would be lost because anyone can get to the code.
Note that Quinn is both ignorant of the factual situation (many of the top venture capitalists around are against software patents -- and Clarke lists out his investors, which include top tier VC firms) and then twists the story to something that Clarke did not say. Quinn seems to be of a belief that the only way a software company can be in business is with some sort of gov't backed monopoly to "protect" them. It has apparently not occurred to him that businesses survive not based on protections, but on selling products and services, and you can do that without protectionism. In fact, here in the US, we tend to recognize that competition is a good thing. I'm not sure why Quinn is so against it. Oh yeah, as for VCs against software patents, we've discussed quite a few.

Clarke does a nice job responding to Quinn. Quinn -- as he has done to me multiple times -- refused to let Clarke's post go live until Clarke complained and noted that it wasn't worth responding any more, leading to this next extraordinary claim from Quinn, who seems more like a parody of the pro-patent side than anyone arguing seriously:
Everyone knows that those who don't want patents just want to copy the work of others. Copyists are not innovators, they are a drag on everyone. Free riders are not innovators. I know you understand that, and suspect that is why you are leaving, having been defeated by logic and rational arguments. Sorry if I hit too close to home. Sorry also that you couldn't stand up to the debate and chose to run and make false allegations in the process. Not surprising though.
Funny thing? Those are the same arguments used for ages before Quinn came along. He's copying them. According to his own logic, he's a drag on the system. Also, he went to law school at some point, and was given a bunch of information that he has copied into his brain. Free rider!

The debate goes on and Quinn continues to make fantastical assertions like the following:
Innovators by definition create things that are innovative, which means they are new, non-obvious and otherwise unique. Those who engage in endeavors that are unique do not begrudge others from obtaining protections themselves, because if what they are doing is really unique there is no skin off their nose for others to obtain protections. An innovator who concerns themselves with what others are doing and demands they stop obtaining patents are really only logically saying one thing. You shouldn't get a patent and patents shouldn't be issued because I want to copy you and I don't want you to be able to prevent me from doing that.
This statement has so little connection to actual innovation (especially as done in the tech world) that it's difficult to think what Quinn is possibly referring to. As anyone who has been near real innovation knows, actual innovation isn't created in a vacuum. It involves building on the ideas of others and doing more with it -- the proverbial standing on the shoulders of giants. But, in Quinn's mind, apparently, standing on the backs of giants is free riding. He goes on in that same comment to accuse Ian of lying in claiming he has raised $15 million from some of the top VCs in the world. This is stunning. Ian is not lying. The facts are not hard to find. Ian is well-known and well-respected, as are many of his investors. Quinn did, of course, try to leave himself an "out" by saying that if Ian is not lying, then his investors are "the most naive investors in the world," yet fails to note that they are actually some of the most well respected and successful VCs in the world. But, apparently that's meaningless to Quinn.

Later on Quinn again makes the usual fallacy of claiming that any startup that is truly innovative and doesn't get patents would go out of business quickly, because a big "Mega Corp." would just copy the tech and the startup would go under. Of course, once again, the historical evidence suggests otherwise. Does this happen? Sometimes... but rarely. The reasoning is obvious if you've actually been around innovative companies. First, if your idea is truly innovative, Mega Corp. doesn't recognize it until its too late. In typical innovator's dilemma fashion, they dismiss truly innovative products as being "not good enough." By the time they realize what's happening, it's usually way too late to jump on the bandwagon. Second, innovation is not a once-and-done thing, but an ongoing practice. If big Mega Corp. just copies, by the time they're done copying, the innovative startup is already innovated past that and big Mega Corp. is just playing catchup. Third, by that time, the innovative startup has the reputation as the innovator, and people trust them more than the Big Mega Corp. doing the copying. We've seen this over and over and over again. Gene apparently missed it.

From there, the conversation spirals further and further out of control. If you ever want to see what the extreme pro-patent position is, then this is it. It presents no evidence at all (nowhere in any of the posts does Gene back up a point with evidence, but he does, repeatedly insist that "everybody knows" or something is "100% true" when neither is the case). When actual evidence proving him wrong is presented, he either ignores it, pretends it says something different than it does, or blatantly says that the evidence itself is a lie. Even if you believe in patents (software or otherwise), Gene Quinn is making a mockery of the pro-patent argument by arguing such things and ignoring any and all evidence that proves him wrong. There may be legitimate arguments in favor of patents out there, but Gene isn't doing that side any favors by making himself look so ridiculous in the face of strong arguments to the contrary.

Obviously, I'm pretty strongly in the opposing "camp" on the question of patents, but even I can admit that, as with any monopoly, patents create two countervailing forces. The first increases activity in an area due to the promise of monopoly rents and monopoly profits. The latter decreases activity in an area due to the limitations created by a monopoly, and the power for such monopolies to prevent competition and continued innovation. The question is which force is stronger. And I've read many dozens of studies and historical evidence and nearly every one points to the latter being the stronger force. I'm willing to be convinced however by compelling evidence in the other direction. However, someone like Quinn doesn't even seem willing to admit that these two forces exist and are in conflict. I don't see how one can argue in favor of patents without at least admitting that the second force exists and has been proven over and over again -- even if you still believe that the first force is stronger.


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  1.  
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    Just an ordinary muggle, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Cue TAM rant in

    5.....4.....3.....2.....

     

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    The first increases activity in an area due to the promise of monopoly rents and monopoly profits. The latter decreases activity in an area due to the limitations created by a monopoly, and the power for such monopolies to prevent competition and continued innovation.

    You got the first part right, but you sort of fail on the second part. You pretty much hit this mental road block every time you talk about patents.

    One of the things patents do is expose a new idea to the market place. Even in software, there is often more than one way to get to a desired destination, and plenty of different models and concepts that can come as a result of that patent being out there. I consider it the "better mousetrap" theory, which explains why there are thousands of mouse trap patents, and not a single mouse trap patent with everyone else blocked out of a market.

    True innovation often happens when companies look for different ways to accomplish the same end goal (and more). This is why, example, we have hybrid cars with wheel motors, parallel drive motors, inline electric motors, motors integrated into the transmission, etc. Even if an entire hybrid design was patent, there are still many other ways to accomplish the job, and some of those methods are more effecient or package things better.

    In software, you can accomplish things in many different ways. The existance of Facebook and it's single status line didn't stop Tweeter people from coming up with their single status line messaging system.

    In the end, there is that third force: publishing a patent (and more so if it is put into service) may encourage others to want a piece of that market, and they then have to actually innovate to come up with a different (and usually improved) way to accomplish this same thing. Patents do not create black boxes that people are not allowed to examine. They create real world products that other strive to beat.

    As some inventors have noted, the lack of a patent system would likely lead to companies and individuals hiding developments until they have a product going to market. As that often takes many years past the date of patent, society as a whole would be kept from knowing that an advance had occurred, because the inventor is too scared that someone else will take their work and profit from it.

    So claiming there are only 2 potential outcomes from a patent is just not right.

     

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:40am

    Re: Cue TAM rant in

    Cue the cue moron in -1, -2...

     

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    :), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:45am

    Software patents?

    If they are needed why is open source gaining so much ground?

    Should the lack of protections not have killed the thing already?

     

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    DH's love child, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    This may very well be the most rational post I've ever seen from you.

    You make some very well reasoned arguments here.

    That being said...

    You say "One of the things patents do is expose a new idea to the market place."

    And I'll take this at face value, the problem with (insert your favorite flavor of IP) maximalists is that they are convinced that patents (or copryights, you get the idea) are the ONLY way that new ideas (songs, movies....) AND when presented with evidence to the contrary (how DID Bach write those 1500 pieces of music without copyright protection. Shakespeare was a hack - recycling old stories) they dismiss or ignore it.

    Now before you jump on me as a "don't want to pay for anything - everything must be free" person, my company provides a product and we rely on IP protections to keep copycats out of our space. And I am a musician and composer. I understand the value of IP protections in LIMITED ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    I'm confused. If you intend to "live by the sword", it seems that you need to "stake your claim" in virtually every function of moving bits and bytes around.

    I'm not sure the market would survive if it had to patent and license every ten lines of functional code.

    That seems to be what Quinn desires, and shows how clueless he is to the art of programming which remains very different than say designing a product with physical properties.

     

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    Andrew F (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    In software, you can accomplish things in many different ways. Depends on the language =). In Python for instance, one of the guiding principles is "there should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it, although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch." http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0020/ The existance of Facebook and it's single status line didn't stop Tweeter people from coming up with their single status line messaging system. I'm pretty sure Facebook hasn't been granted a patent on the single status line. If it had, then it could have sued Twitter out of existence -- which is the problem.

     

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    spaceman spiff, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    To patent, or not to patent

    I'm not for or against software patents per se. After all, I am the inventor of record of one. However, I do believe that the standards for innovation when granting most software patents is sorely lacking in the USPTO and other patent authorities world-wide. My patent was for key components of adaptive systems so that the structure and behavior of machine-code compiled software can be modified at run time without further programming, but via specification only. This was innovative in that it addressed a set of real-world problems in manufacturing systems (though not limited to that domain) which no-one else had been able to solve. The solutions were non-obvious, even to those with highly developed skills in software engineering. In any case, it still took 5 years to get through the patent process.

    That said, I have looked at a number of recent software patents, and I have to say that they are absurd on the face of it! They mostly cover areas that have been well-developed already, and are obvious to most any software practitioner of average ability. The fact that they are getting passed through the patent office(s) without rejection tells me that qualified examiners are not looking at them. Perhaps (likely) there are no or not enough qualified examiners for software patent applications, but that is no excuse. If the problem with inadequate and incompetent examiners cannot be solved, then the entire software patent process should be scrapped. That is just the humble opinion of a software engineer (and member of the IEEE) with about 30 years experience in the design and development of systems ranging from embedded micro-controllers to large-scale distributed transaction processing systems that run some of the biggest enterprises world-wide.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Maybe this Quinn Guy isn't all wrong...

    As a result of making everything extremely complex, there could come new innovative business models around IP Maximalism approach to software design. Take acting or the music business as an example.

    There could come into existence things such as "Programmer Guilds" who will assist folks in understanding and properly licensing code. There could also come into existence things such as "Unions" as well, which will ensure it's members apply proper licensing techniques into their products.

    There would also be "Coding Assistants" and "Coding Producers", and more interns. Lots of interns. As well as others whose roles remain yet undefined. Basically, it would do much to increase overhead within the industry.

    None of which do much to motivate the industry to bring more creative user-friendly software to the market, but would accomplish a great deal in raising the barriers of entry for new companies that may look to the software industry as a livelihood.

    Quinn's ideas are simplistic in nature. However, when you chalk up his ideas of "being anti software patents means being anti-innovation", it really means one thing: Increase legal overhead. But, I don't think the idea of "increasing overhead" is the type of "innovation" Masnick desires to accomplish.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:43am

    Maybe this Quinn Guy isn't all wrong...

    As a result of making everything extremely complex, there could come new innovative business models around IP Maximalism approach to software design. Take acting or the music business as an example.

    There could come into existence things such as "Programmer Guilds" who will assist folks in understanding and properly licensing code. There could also come into existence things such as "Unions" as well, which will ensure it's members apply proper licensing techniques into their products.

    There would also be "Coding Assistants" and "Coding Producers", and more interns. Lots of interns. As well as others whose roles remain yet undefined. Basically, it would do much to increase overhead within the industry.

    None of which do much to motivate the industry to bring more creative user-friendly software to the market, but would accomplish a great deal in raising the barriers of entry for new companies that may look to the software industry as a livelihood.

    Quinn's ideas may be simplistic in nature. However, if you were to chalk up his ideas of "being anti software patents means being anti-innovation", it could really mean only one thing: Increase legal overhead. But, I don't think the idea of "increasing overhead" is the type of "innovation" Masnick desires to accomplish.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Re: Andrew F

    A large part of the problem is that many of these software patents are for trivial ideas that should have never been granted patent status in the first place. As I said in another comment, the problem isn't patents (which for software should be language-neutral) but the rigor with which they are examined. As far as I can tell, the USPTO and other patent authorities are not applying the same standards to software patents as they do to patents on physical devices, perhaps because they are not sufficiently qualified to examine software patents as they may be for more concrete inventions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Software Patents

    How can one patent 1's and 0's????? that is the base language of any software, and is not language unpatentable?

     

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    Mark Murphy (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:51am

    Proof-Challenged Individuals (Was: Re:)

    In the end, there is that third force: publishing a patent (and more so if it is put into service) may encourage others to want a piece of that market, and they then have to actually innovate to come up with a different (and usually improved) way to accomplish this same thing.


    Proof is in the pudding. You seem to be lacking in the pudding department.

    FYI, the hyperlink is not patented, AFAICT. Feel free to embed links in your posts that provide evidence for your points. For example, you might consider, just maybe, linking to any example that demonstrates your "third force", where the existence of somebody else's patent materially and positively impacted others entering that market covered by the patent.

    It's ironic that you make these claims as a comment to a post where the primary theme (IMHO) was Mr. Quinn doing the same thing you're doing -- making claims without adequate evidence.

    After all, millions of patents have been granted in the US alone. Surely, you can come up with just one example, right?

     

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    AC, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Andrew F

    Amen! My thoughts exactly.

     

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    KevinJ (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Re:

    "In the end, there is that third force: publishing a patent (and more so if it is put into service) may encourage others to want a piece of that market, and they then have to actually innovate to come up with a different (and usually improved) way to accomplish this same thing."

    Okay. Let's say that there are three forces here. Then what evidence can you provide that proves that this third force is stronger than the other two? What evidence can you provide that counters the evidence for the "limiting" force? These are "please provide proof" questions that pro-ip advocates like Quinn don't answer, except with responses similar to "everybody knows" and "100% true".

    This is similar to what I've seen you do many times here. You make claims, then provide no solid evidence to back it up. Then when asked for evidence, you either ignore them or you start making other claims. With that behavior, it's not unexpected that :Lobo Santo has taken to calling you Igtor (ignorant troll).

     

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    mike42 (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    Re:

    Your post shows a complete ignorance of how software patents work, and the software marketplace in general. Software patents tend to be extremely general. Look at the Eolas patent: it patented the automatic activiation of an object on a web page. Not a specific implementation of automatic activiation, but any automatic implemenation. That's why you had to manually click on controls to get them to work for a while - Microsoft's route-around-a-bogus-patent.
    Also, software development is measured in days, weeks, and months, not years. If you have a feature that will take 2 years to implement, it is completely useless, as the entire computing world will have changed by then.
    I think you have a bad case of future-shock, compounded by a lack of experience with software patents and software development. Perhaps you should read up on the subject, starting with the LZW-compressed GIF fiasco. Then read a couple of software project management books, and after that, you should be a little more knowlegeable about the subject. Right now, you just sound like an ignorant noob.

     

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    vastrightwing, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    Against!

    I am totally against software patents, perhaps against patents in general. It's incorrect to assume that not allowing patents will in any way stop innovation. I write software and I don't bother to copyright or patent anything I do. I rely on innovating. By the time someone copies my code or idea, I'm well on to the next thing. Sure, it would be cool if I could monetize my ideas forever without having to create again. But to suggest I'd stop innovating (or anyone else) because I can't monopolize my ideas for 100 years is idiotic (at best).

     

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    Sethumme, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Software patents vs. copyright

    Copyright on software prevents others from copying the work the innovator created. It doesn't prevent others from copying the same functionality or behavior, however, as long as the output is achieved through independently written code. Software patents, on the other hand, general monopolize the end result. Combined with the patent office's painfully lax standards on extremely broad software patents, this type of monopoly *can* effectively block out the market, if the patent is actually being respected by competitors.

    Take IBM's software patent on machine translation of acronyms. There's no other way of expanding an acronym into the phrase it represents. Applying user preferences and context is not a novel approach, as these factors are required to perform the same function when acronyms are translated mentally, without the aid of software.

    Another example. Amazon's 1-Click patent. There is nothing innovative about removing the need for separate clicks to complete a commonly performed action. If you can one-click to insert data into a database table, then you can one-click to do anything. And there is only one efficient way to combine the user/client information with the product/shopping cart information into a single click.

    Copyright can protect your hard-earned code, if you need protection; but I see no reason why software patents should exist to cover step-based, language-free, processes. It is effectively patenting pseudo-code, which (by its very nature) can be the single most efficient process for achieving a result.

    Perhaps if software patents were strongly limited to only the applications demonstrating truly innovative processes, there would be a call for them. But I have yet to see an example were a patent is called for.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Flash of Genius

    What if you are a small inventor selling an idea to a big company? Mike...what are your thoughts about the movie "Flash of Genius"
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1054588/

    This scenario puts both parties in an awkward position. The big company accepting an unsolicited idea, and the small guy worried about the big company just copying his idea. Do patents help the situation? Apparently not. But what does?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Re: Flash of Genius

    >>What if you are a small inventor selling an
    >>idea to a big company? Mike...what are your
    >>thoughts about the movie "Flash of Genius"

    Techdirt has this neat thing called "Search". It can be found in the upper right hand corner. I bring this feature up because Mike already wrote up a commentary about this some time ago.

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080930/0326032416.shtml

     

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    Tyanna, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Cue TAM rant in

    That was timed so perfectly. You actually made me laugh :P

     

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    Tyanna, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Re: Proof-Challenged Individuals (Was: Re:)

    A troll...provide evidence? But then he wouldn't be trolling! We can't have that now can we? :P

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Flash of Genius

    It is not a requirement to be rude or condescending when offering unsolicited advice.

     

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    Trails, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    So Twitter exists because facebook got a patent?

    Which patent was that?

    "As some inventors have noted, the lack of a patent system would likely lead to companies and individuals hiding developments until they have a product going to market."

    Having done a fair bit of work with startups, I can say that this generally is the case. The product is kept super secret until it launches. NDA's abound.

    Additionally, competitors do not generally appear unless they were on a parallel/similar track to being with, or have decided the market is lucrative enough to enter.

    You propose that a filed patent application, seen by others, spurs competition. Not really.

    Competition occurs by multiple providers entering into a market, and this is based off of a valuation analysis, in laymans terms a search for an unfilled/underexploited niche. I'm not seeing how patents fit into this, let alone drive it as you seem to claim.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Flash of Genius

    Noted. However, your perception is different than mine.

     

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    END User, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    END User: If you are for patents you are greedy , selfish and lazy

    hrm title says it all.

     

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    and instead of, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    and instead of hiding inventions

    they instead make them too costly , too hard to use with other stuff and thus stifle innovation again

    drug patents are evil and if patents were reduced to 3-5 years you get a drug that they make money off for a few years then the world gets a benefit
    no no no
    what we want instead is to be able to have a patent for ever and over charge and screw the world and yes in case of drug patents thusly cost lives

    so i guess what i am saying is drug patenters are murderers

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Re: Against!

    You're right. Like yourself, I finish something and then move on. However, IP protections have been shown time and time again that don't protect creators, but rather the interests of distributors, or those who can't create.

    Sometimes people believe their business or software (read: Excel Macros) are uniquely theirs and for some reason are worthy of IP protection. But if you are successful in solving a problem, you'll often go forward to fix a similar crapshoot problem elsewhere, so there should be some expectation of idea and concept overlap as we apply our k-rad VB Macro skillz to each circumstance. :-P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    I’m not sure how much experience you have with reverse engineering, but I have quite a bit. - Ian Clarke


    WHAT A SURPRISE!

     

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    thank you (I think).

    In the times of Bach and others, the entire system was different. Most artists had "patrons" who paid their way, and sadly their music and their skills were often kept to the elite. The closest match to today would be "work for hire", or something similar. They were in a position to be entirely creative because they didn't have to worry about actually making enough money to eat. In some ways, they are in the same position as a Trent Reznor or Bono. The means by which it happens is different, but the end results are the same.

    New ideas come out in all sorts of ways, often from unlikely sources. But much of the new developments require investment and time, and often that expense would limit people's ability to work on new ideas without a system that allows for a potential return on that investment of time and money.

    I am sure as a musician that you would appreciate being able to choose if your music is used for, I dunno, an anti-abortion commercial or as music for a girls gone wild video (two ends of the spectrum!). I am sure you would appreciate to get paid when someone else uses your work. That isn't about maximizing anything, just making sure you get some control and some return for your efforts.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Utter nonsense

    > One of the things patents do is expose a new idea to the market place.

    Not quite. What patents do is declare new idea OFF LIMITS. If someone decides to build something that's not terribly difficult but looks new enough to get a patent, then they can PREVENT EVERYONE ELSE IN THE INDUSTRY from recreating it. It doesn't matter if it's trivial. It doesn't matter if everyone's college interns can recreate the "invention".

    That idea is effectively removed from the industry or the "inventor" gets to set themselves up as a sort of bridge troll. All that does is create a drain on the industry and a reason to AVOID looking at patented information (due to treble damages). So the value in "disclosure" goes straight out the window.

    The overhead of patents is generally less damaging than the "problem" of everyone creating their own version of things.

    un-inventive patents just raise the cost of doing business.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Gene Quinn, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:19am

    Why so intellectually dishonest Mike?

    Is there a particular reason you distort everything I write? Just curious. I would think someone in your position would at least try and keep it honest and accurately report what I say and write.

    For example, you know as well as I do that I said I was not going to concern myself with mere studies, but rather choose to look at the reality that history shows us over and over again, and the reality of the real world with respect to countries that do not have patent protection or do not have strong patent protection. I know you know this because we e-mailed back and forth about it, and it was a running comment thread on my blog. But why do you find it necessary to engage in distortions?

    Why also do you find it necessary to lie and say that I said it was impossible for a patent attorney to think patents harm innovation? Anyone who can read knows what I said, and I didn't say that. All I observed was that if you wanted a patent why would you go to someone who openly believes no patents should be obtained for anything? Seems incredibly naive.

    I also NEVER say "just believe me" but rather lay out my points and positions over and over again. So again, why the distortions?

    In any event, thanks for continuing to read. Although you start by saying you "used" to read my writings it is apparent you still do.

    To all those who would believe what Mike writes, I invite you to read my articles and judge for yourself. You will see that what he says is not true and a wild, one-sided exaggeration of my position. Why he does that, I can't say. I suppose he needs a villain and it is easier to make stuff up about me than the debate me or address my points head on. Truly sad.

    -Gene

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Steve Brock, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Gene Quinn Knows Nothing

    Not only does Gene Quinn make moronic statements that are not based in fact, he is also a complete self-absorbed douschebag!

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Why so intellectually dishonest Mike?

    I also NEVER say "just believe me" but rather lay out my points and positions over and over again. So again, why the distortions?

    -- You lay out your points using circular logic, and generalizations. Where are the concrete facts? Where is your proof? If you are debating a position, then you should at least have some facts and counter arguments. You are correct in that you "NEVER say 'just believe me'" - but then you don't provide any counter arguments or facts to back up what you say, then you are in FACT asking us to take your arguments at face value.

    -- "concern myself with mere studies" This is probably the weakest point of your argument. Looking at the "reality of history" is a very weak argument - Who's history? The history of settlement of ancient mesopotamia? The rise and fall of the roman empire? What history are you talking about?? Come on man! You will never win the hearts and minds of the readers of this site by coming here and presenting unsound arguments without any sort of backing data... If you are so convinced of the righteousness of your arguments, then you should have *no* problems providing the data and facts to back them up. Until you do, your wasting your breath and our time.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Patronage is still going on in this modern world. In the past you had a few wealthy patrons. Today you have poorer patrons. A lot of poorer patrons.

    We call them fans.

    Work for hire has nothing to do with patronage.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Why so intellectually dishonest Mike?

    For example, you know as well as I do that I said I was not going to concern myself with mere studies, but rather choose to look at the reality that history shows us over and over again, and the reality of the real world with respect to countries that do not have patent protection or do not have strong patent protection. I know you know this because we e-mailed back and forth about it, and it was a running comment thread on my blog. But why do you find it necessary to engage in distortions?

    Uh, the "reality" is what those studies showed. They went and looked at what actually happened -- not just your random assumption of what happened.

    And we did email back and forth about this, but not the way you describe. I asked you to actually respond to the studies and you responded "OK. We are done."

    But you never actually responded to the evidence.

    Why also do you find it necessary to lie and say that I said it was impossible for a patent attorney to think patents harm innovation? Anyone who can read knows what I said, and I didn't say that. All I observed was that if you wanted a patent why would you go to someone who openly believes no patents should be obtained for anything? Seems incredibly naive.

    Again, this was explained -- in great detail -- to you. I'm not sure why you choose to ignore that. And, in the comments you did, in fact, claim that you could not understand how a patent attorney could claim that patents harm innovation.

    I also NEVER say "just believe me" but rather lay out my points and positions over and over again. So again, why the distortions?

    I have yet to see you lay out an argument. Instead, when many people -- such as myself or Clarke -- did in fact lay out an argument you do not respond. At all.

    I will note, for example, that while you respond to this comment, you DO NOT respond to the arguments raised in it. You do NOT respond to the clear FACT that you lied about Ian's investors.

    In any event, thanks for continuing to read. Although you start by saying you "used" to read my writings it is apparent you still do.

    I do not. A reader pointed out that one particular thread, and I figured it was so ridiculous that anyone looking for a patent lawyer would want to know your position on these matters so they can judge for themselves your competence in this subject.

    To all those who would believe what Mike writes, I invite you to read my articles and judge for yourself. You will see that what he says is not true and a wild, one-sided exaggeration of my position. Why he does that, I can't say. I suppose he needs a villain and it is easier to make stuff up about me than the debate me or address my points head on. Truly sad.

    I quoted you in great detail. Anyone can read your words and my words and decide for myself. I stand by my words, and I will note that you failed to respond to any of them. Shocking.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    DH's love child, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Most artists had "patrons" who paid their way, and sadly their music and their skills were often kept to the elite.

    Um, you need to bone up on your common practice period music history. "Most" is WAY over stating it especially as you get into the 19th century, and as a matter of fact MOST court composers are virtually unknown. The most well known 'court composer' was Haydn. Mozart, for example, could never hold a job as a court composer as he pissed off his benefactors. He free lanced as much as he composed for hire.
    Most of the great composers "stole" from each other ALL the time, as a matter of fact, and the stolen from parties were flattered (imitation being the sincerest form and all...)

    As a musician, and composer, I don't care how my music is used when I release it into the PD. If Rush Limbaugh (who I loathe) wanted to use it as his theme song, more power to him. If I write something for a specific purpose (for hire), then me and the other party agree to licensing terms on how it is to be used. The entire purpose of any art is to express something from inside one's self. Art is meant to be experienced, NOT controlled. Once you start controlling art, you have LOST the creative process. Most composers I know say that the music they write on contract is much less satisfying artistically than music they write for themselves.

    I realize that this has been a LONG rant about the creative process and music history and all, but...

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Why so intellectually dishonest Mike?

    "I said I was not going to concern myself with mere studies"

    You're right, why should you concern your self with mere studies when you're own unfounded assertions are so much more compelling?

     

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

  39.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Gene Quinn Knows Nothing

    Agreed!

    Have a look at the discussion on this post on his blog if you want to wallow in some more of it.

    There are some really good comments from other posters here.

    They include the choice fact that Gene Quin - who spends much time complaining about the anti-patent attitude of the Free Software community -admits to using free software to run his blog!

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2009/11/29/obscure-patents-these-are-so-much-better-than-software /id=7476/

     

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

  40.  
    icon
    Grae (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Why so intellectually dishonest Mike?

    I wasn't sure at first, but you've convinced me that "Gene Quinn" is just a pen-name for Bill Oreilly.

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Slammer, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    One and Done

    Quinn's business model makes sense if you are concerned not with continual innovation but with that one brilliant (at least in your mind) idea. A one hit wonder needs patents because then he can prevent people from out innovating him.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Once you start controlling art, you have LOST the creative process.

    Which is why the future will not be kind to the control freaks.

    But TAM is doing it for the artists.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    fishbane, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    In the end, there is that third force: publishing a patent (and more so if it is put into service) may encourage others to want a piece of that market, and they then have to actually innovate to come up with a different (and usually improved) way to accomplish this same thing.

    So why then do we so frequently see the following fact pattern:

    1) Someone is issued a patent on invention X and never does anything with it.
    2) Someone else creates a product or service that sort-of does something similar in a different context, in a different way, or both, if you squint.
    3) The patent holder (not always the same someone in step 1) sues the someone in step 2, once that someone demonstrates some degree of commercial viability.

    Masnick has basically built this blog documenting examples of this.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

    Anti-Patents = Evidence, Pro Patents = Hand-Waving

    Consider the Wright Brothers. Lots of people were working on powered, controlled flight at around the same time; it was a race to see who would succeed first. The Wright Brothers did, got a patent on the idea, and proceeded to kill the US aviation industry.

    So where was the benefit from the patent here? If the Wrights hadn’t invented controlled flight, someone else would have beaten them to it. And because the Europeans were not subject to the patent, they were free to keep on innovating (except when they were unwise enough to visit the US and expose themselves to lawsuits). In the end the Roosevelt Administration had to strong-arm the Wrights into compulsorily licensing their patent.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 5:41pm

    Re: Anti-Patents = Evidence, Pro Patents = Hand-Waving

    Bad analogy. Today the entire aviation industry is surrounded by government regulations.

    Is any one of them better off?

    To compare, BestBuy as a company is worth 8 United Airlines. Or put another way, BestBuy as a company is worth United Airlines, Contenental Airlines, American Airlines, US Air, and Delta Airlines combined.

    So are the commercial airline companies that resulted from "strong arming" better off when there is no perceivable difference between any of them? Is the industry as a whole better off?

    Or maybe it just easier to say that the US Government should just bite the bullet, buy out all the airlines stock, and mandate what ever they want, and put passengers through body scanners, and run whole the business the way they want, or is this "Terrorist" stigma too profitable for other third parties?

    In 2008 we gave $787B to the bankers to keep us safe. This would have been enough to by out the US airline industry 23 times over.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Anti-Patents = Evidence, Pro Patents = Hand-Waving

    I'm starting to see a pattern, and I'm getting tired of feeling like the one who should be getting screwed here...

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Burgos, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 8:52pm

    If you are against software patents you are not an innovator. Innovators want patents, those who do not innovate and copy others do not want patents

    Patents are for inventions, yes? Innovators don't invent, they innovate (/facepalm). Innovators build on of existing things, regardless of the things' being patented or not. This is evident especially in the software development arena where the saying "Not Invented Here" is a slap on the wrist of developers who waste precious time and resources trying to write software from scratch instead of building on already available libraries and frameworks.

    Fix'd: if you are against patents you are not an inventor.

    It still won't hold true though. Especially when this statement is contrasted with the wealth of Free (as in freedom) software that is out there that lots of people innovate on.

    This Quinn person is funny.

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re: Anti-Patents = Evidence, Pro Patents = Hand-Waving

    First - it's not actually an analogy - so it can't be a bad one.

    Second - it's the aviation industry (== Boeing Airbus McDonnell Douglas. Rolls Royce etc) not the airline industry that you refer to.

    Third (for a mature industry) the size of the industry is mostly determined by the size of the market - not the effectiveness of the companies in it.

    Fourth The Government regulations we have today are to do with safety and security - nothing to do with patents.

    Fifth even is Roosevelt's strongarm tactics didn't have a good result (maybe arguable) the real point is that the patent system made them necessary. You are complaining that adding more government regulation didn't fix the problem created by the first set of government regulation - but that doesn't prove that NO GOVERNMENT REGULATION AT ALL (ie no patent system) wouldn't have been an even better solution.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    staff, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    unsound reasoning

    "Anyway, after that, I realized there was no reason to read his blog..."

    The only reason many of us read your pieces is to clear up all the misinformation and unsound reasoning you present.

    Patent reform is a fraud on America.
    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

     

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

  50.  
    icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    Precisely. Software patents are WAY over-generalized, and do in essence create

    """
    ... black boxes that people are not allowed to examine.
    --TAM
    """

    Meaning, you can have two completely different back-end implementations that both solve similar (or even exactly the same) problems... why should the first company to create their implementation get to tax every other company to come up with a solution?

    And TAM, don't say this doesn't happen, because it does, every day. Software patents are by their very nature flawed.

     

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

  51.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Re: Software patents?

    FTW!

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous cowherd, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 6:47pm

    Patent arguments?

    "There may be legitimate arguments in favor of patents out there".

    Legitimate arguments in favor of patents are like Bigfoot: lots of putative sightings, no actual proof, and plenty of circumstantial empirical and theoretical evidence against their existence.

     

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

  53.  
    icon
    Alex Macfie (profile), Apr 19th, 2014 @ 5:29am

    Soverain

    Gene Quinn is pretty extreme: he is one of the very few people to defend the dead Divine/Soverain "shopping cart" patents.
    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/01/13/supreme-court-refuses-soverain-bank-v-newegg/id=47392/
    H e actually believes that internet shopping wouldn't be where it is without that patent!

     

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


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