Ideas Do Matter, But That Has Nothing To Do With 'Intellectual Property'

from the keep-up-folks dept

Glyn Moody points us to a website put together by Microsoft, Philips and DSM -- three giant companies that have relied heavily on intellectual property laws to fend off upstart competitors and disruptive innovation -- called Ideas Matter - the value of intellectual property. As you can tell from the title, the website focuses on two key points, which they then try to conflate as a single point: (1) Ideas matter and (2) because of that, intellectual property is important.

Of course, there's a huge problem with this: while ideas do matter, that has nothing to do with intellectual property. As people are quick to point out in our comments any time we suggest that ideas are being blocked or censored by intellectual property laws, such laws are not supposed to apply to ideas. In fact, it's explicit with both copyright and patent law. In copyright law, protection is supposed to be applied to expression, not ideas, and the difference is supposed to be key -- even if it isn't always observed. Similarly, with patents, protection is supposed to be applied to inventions, not ideas -- again even if that isn't regularly observed in practice.

To be honest, I find this particularly nefarious and disingenuous, in that any time people point out that ideas are being censored, defenders of IP laws insist that there's a split and "ideas" are not covered. Yet, when these same folks seek to push forth a propaganda campaign in support of greater protectionism, they use the claim that "ideas matter" to support those laws. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the site's name and premise itself, the rest of the site is filled with ridiculous and unsupported propaganda, such as this laughably misleading video that seems to assume that because certain things are protected by intellectual property laws, they wouldn't exist without them. It also tosses out ridiculous debunked industry figures on "losses" due to infringement. This is extreme propaganda.

Filed Under: copyright, ideas, intellectual property, patents
Companies: dsm, microsoft, philips


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    "Under no circumstances whatsoever is this law to be used to block the expression or use of generalized or specific ideas. This law may only be used when significantly specific expressions or inventions are used without permission. Any party found attempting to assert ownership of an idea will be liable for all reasonable legal fees and damages that result in such assertion."

    Doesn't go nearly far enough. Thanks to the corporations that write the laws, infringement damages are absurd. I want plaintiffs who initiate bogus IP lawsuits to potentially face damages that are equally as high. Why should the laws that protect the rich have steeper penalties than the laws that protect the public?

    and if you're a patent troll, or if you're suing over a patent that you do not use, you should automatically lose the case and be subject to equally high damages, since you don't directly use your patent for anything other than suing others and collecting licensing fees.

    If you sue for IP that you do not own, the damages should be at least equally as high as infringement damages. Plaintiffs are in a better position to know what IP they hold than defendants.

    Non-used patents should be abolished within a reasonable period of time. Books that are out of print should automatically enter the public domain. Copyright needs to be substantially shortened anyways. Tech related patents should also be substantially shortened.

    If a company goes out of business, any IP (patents and copyrights) they have should automatically enter the public domain. Companies do not invest in R&D for the sake of being able to pay 6% of their debt in opposed to paying out 5% after they go out of business. The company is going out of business anyways, whether it can sell its IP or not is meaningless to it.

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