Patents

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
federal funding, nanotech, patents



Next Tech Area To Be Hindered By Patents: Nanotech... And Much Of It Is Funded With Your Tax Dollars

from the step-on-up dept

As with any "hot" technology area, it doesn't take long for a massive, innovation hindering patent thicket to spring up. It effectively makes it impossible to bring anything to market unless you've got a huge patent portfolio yourself and deep pockets. Yet another example of patents harming the smaller players in the market. A new report is suggesting that the latest "hot" area to get patent crazy is nanotechnology.

However, the really worrying thing about the report is that it notes that the single largest "patent patron" in nanotechnology... is the federal government. Yes, the government is spending your tax dollars to have these new inventions locked up so you can't use them. We've discussed this before, and no one has yet been able to credibly explain why federally funded research should get a patent. Years back, it was determined that federal documents could not be covered by copyright for this reason, but why doesn't that extend to patents? It's especially disturbing because it's clear what's going to happen. Our tax dollars pay for the research, and then it's transferred over to a private company who uses the monopoly rights to keep it expensive and limit further innovation.

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  • icon
    The eejit (profile), 17 Feb 2011 @ 10:05am

    Because of 'cashflow problems'. As in, the cash goes to Congresscritters and Senators, and goes out of the Treasury.

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

  • icon
    KeithV (profile), 17 Feb 2011 @ 10:58am

    I could actually be a good thing

    There have been cases mentioned on this site about private companies getting patents on Federal research, so it could be a good thing that the Federal Government pre-empts the private sector in this way...

    ... Presuming of course that those patents remain free to the public in perpetuity ...

    ... Which of course they won't ...

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

  • icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:11am

    The line for assimilation and futility jokes starts here.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:18am

    Dude, if you know anything about nanotech, gray goo, the singularity, and the end of the world, then you know that our noble government is trying to avert those catastrophes by slowing them down.

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

  • identicon
    coldbrew, 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:56am

    RE: NREL

    I know that here in Colorado, the National Renewable Energy Labs' plan is to license the IP developed to private corporations to commercialize so they can fund their continued research. I know of a couple companies that have already licensed some, and are working to bring it to market (I know this b/c I know an investor involved with 2 of the companies).

    I doubt they have a plan to license tech to patent trolls, though it obviously could happen. I can find out if these licenses are exclusive, but I don't believe they are (IIRC).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 1:19pm

    the government is spending your tax dollars to have these new inventions locked up so you can't use them.

    I am trying to figure this one out. Are you suggesting the government is gaining patents on things and then purposefully locking them away? They aren't intending in any way to license them out?

    What is your source for this?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      No is better then that, the U.S. government is directly competing with the private sector for a piece of the pie LoL

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

    • icon
      The eejit (profile), 17 Feb 2011 @ 2:10pm

      Re:

      The government is patenting things developed from taxpayer's money (via funded research grants), then selling them (not even licensing them) to private entities.

      Which doesn't sound sensible at all, really. The Governmental patents should be public domain, as a service to the public.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re:

        It depends. If they are selling them for a profit, I am all for it. if they spend X and get 2 times X for the patent, they have done exactly what modern capitalism says they should do.

        Just as importantly, if they made things happens years ahead, it means the patent clock also started ticking years ahead. So even IF (unproven) companies buy it and lock it up and never, ever, ever, use it, the patent clock is already running. But that would of course assume that the companies are stupidly spending money just to spite the market, which seems like a very, very huge assumption.

        Again, I ask: Is there proof these patents are getting locked up and not used?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 6:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Noone is complaining they're not using the patents. We're complaing for many of them, their only use of patents is to sue other companies that's actually producing something usedful with that technology.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Apparently, few here are familiar with the Bayh-Dole Act, codified at 35 USC 200-212, as well as the FAR 52.227-11, 12, and 13. If they did have such familiarity, they would realize that much of what is said about Bayh-Dole is FUD.

    This does not mean I support Bayh-Dole (I do not express any opinion on the Act), but only that most of the indignation associated with it is based upon a lack of understanding about what the Bayh-Dole Act really says, and how it has been implemented via the FAR.

    Quite frankly, my concerns are directed to inventions created solely by federal employees as a part of their ordinary and customary on the job responsibilities.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:24pm

      Re:

      Oh good, the vague lawyer who doesn't actually say anything (because then he would actually have to defend it) is back.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2011 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re:

        I guess citing where the law can be found so you can read it and form your own opinion is out of vogue.

        If you did read it you would quickly discover that "sitting on a subject invention" is a "no-no", the USG holds a license under any subject invention for which a private sector participant to a "funding agreement" elects domestic/ international rights, there is one circumstance under which the USG can contract for title to reside in it and not the private sector participant, and the USG reserves "march-in" rights.

        These terms are all defined in the cited statutes and regulations, and taking the time to actually read them and assimilate what they say would provide some modicum of education that would give readily demostrate why FUD is an accurate term used to describe much of what is said about inventions funded in whole or in part by the USG.

        Knowledge is power. Refusing to acquire knowledge is nothing more that a symptom of laziness.

        By your comment you appear to fall within the latter.

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

  • identicon
    Dork from Ork, 17 Feb 2011 @ 5:55pm

    nanu nanu

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

  • identicon
    Solace, 18 Feb 2011 @ 12:38am

    If the money goes back into researching new patents does it not reduce the tax spend?

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

  • identicon
    staff, 18 Feb 2011 @ 6:49am

    theft of

    "innovation hindering patent thicket "

    As any truly innovative small entity will tell you, patents don't hinder innovation, but rather the theft of. At least they did when we could enforce them.

    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for an inventor’s perspective on patent reform.

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


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