Is It Really A Good Idea To Open A 'Mini' Patent Office Directly Within Cornell's NYC Tech Campus?

from the and-what-about-open-innovation? dept

I've been pretty excited about the fact that my alma mater, Cornell, won the competition last year to open a massive NYC-based tech campus -- with a key focus on actually spinning innovation out into the market. I'd been able to spend some time with the folks who put together Cornell's bid, and the plan is really, really ambitious in a good way for innovation in the region. However, I'm a bit troubled by the recent news -- announced with great fanfare -- that the Commerce Department is setting up its own "mini-patent office" directly on the campus. While various politicians celebrated the announcement, statements like the following one from Senator Chuck Schumer make me cringe:
“Creating a direct link between the patent office and inventors is a simple and virtually cost free way to reduce red tape, and help our best and brightest produce the next iPhone or microchip. When all is said and done, New York City will have the only college in the nation where you can get advice on patenting your latest invention between grabbing a sandwich at the dining hall and picking up your laundry, all without leaving campus.”
The problem, of course, is that this perpetuates the myth that patents correlate to actual innovation or bringing products to market. There is little to no evidence to support that -- but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that patents often get in the way of innovation. Embedding a patent office directly on the campus may skew the efforts there to focus on patents over alternatives. We've discussed how some businesses are focusing on open hardware and argue that avoiding patents is a better strategy. But somehow, I doubt the mini-Patent Office on the campus is going to talk about that when a student swings by.

The whole thing just reinforces the myth of how patents are a key part of innovation, when the research shows the exact opposite.

Cornell's President, David Skorton, claims that this will help "the dialogue":
“A key part of Cornell Tech's mission is to encourage innovation and economic development by helping to facilitate all aspects of university, industry, and government collaboration,” said Cornell President David J. Skorton. “This partnership with the Department of Commerce will not only bring a new resource to the campus and to New York's tech entrepreneurs, it will also help create a new dialogue about intellectual property in the information age to help improve the innovation process in the United States.”
But, how is that dialogue created when you have an embedded person with one viewpoint, but not competing viewpoints?

Even worse, the press release announcing all of this cites the silly study the Commerce Department put out that showed correlation between jobs and very loosely defined "IP-intensive industries" to support the argument that this mini-patent office will somehow create jobs. Of course, that report was laughable. Its definition of "IP intensive" was so broad, that the biggest impact IP had on jobs was... in grocery stores. Also, the key to its argument that patents are good was that Steve Jobs had patents and made some cool products, so patents are clearly a good thing. But even at its worst, the report made clear that it was taking no position on the policy questions and shouldn't be used for such purposes... Yet here it is, in this press release, as if it's gospel that more patents will mean more jobs:
According to a recent Commerce Department report, intellectual property-intensive industries supported 40 million jobs in 2010, and contributed $5.06 trillion to the U.S. economy. By providing IP protection and commercialization tools for entrepreneurs, this partnership will drive additional job growth and serve as a forum for exploring ways to balance the free flow of information with the protection of IP in a digital era.
It's a real shame that my own alma mater -- whose economics professors helped shape my understanding of why and how patents could be so dangerous -- seems to be perpetuating these kinds of myths.


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  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Apple and Google now spend more on patents and patent litigation than they do on research. When is someone going to do a study about how much each patent issued drags down the US economy?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:09am

    "s It Really A Good Idea To Open A 'Mini' Patent Office Directly Within Cornell's NYC Tech Campus?"

    I wouldn't be worried. It takes at least 5 mini-patents to match a fully grown patent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    "The problem, of course, is that this perpetuates the myth that patents correlate to actual innovation or bringing products to market. There is little to no evidence to support that -- but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that patents often get in the way of innovation."

    Ahh, more of the bizarre absolute trapping! There is no direct one to one correlation, in the same manner that there is no direct correlation between a sudden lack of patents and innovation either.

    Your problems as always is that you are caught in the very short term "what needed a license today" rather than the "what great things have been discovered". You are unable to even give an indication that removing patents would keep the creation of new inventions flowing.

    Now, your argument would point to all the things that would suddenly get made if patents were removed tomorrow, and that is likely true. That however is short term. What happens 5 or 10 years from now, when the money is out of R&D and into replication and paint color innovation?

    Really, would you care to address that directly (without referencing past posts that don't answer it directly either)? I would really like to see what you think would be the business climate IN THE LONG RUN without patents. How would it work? Why would anyone want to invest in R&D when their ideas get ripped off 10 minutes later? Wouldn't there be a big incentive to hide discoveries, rather than reveal them through patents?

    A nice full post on this might be nice, without any side stepping and tap dancing, please!

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    I'm of the opinion that the massive economic growth we experienced in the 90s derived from the fact that the net/web and software were not heavily patented. Anyone was free to start up a web based business or write and sell software without the fear of being sued into bankruptcy. And they did.

    Now you can't do anything online or produce software without violating someone's patent. You're better off buying up a bunch of old patents and suing true innovators in Texas.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:22am

    Job Creation

    Of course patents create jobs for lawyers, while preventing job creation in industry and services.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:48am

    Re:

    In the open-source community, innovation happens without the crutch of patents. It is often borne out of necessity: we need tools to get a specific job done, but such tools are unavailable to us. So we create them.

    That is how, ultimately, all progress is achieved, I believe: a certain "thing" is needed (or perceived as necessary), so some people, step in to create it.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re:

    I'm sure Richard Stallman will be given a satellite office any day now.

     

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    RonKaminsky (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    Really, would you care to address that directly (without referencing past posts that don't answer it directly either)? I would really like to see what you think would be the business climate IN THE LONG RUN without patents. ...
    Let's address your questions (which are actually assertions because of their internal assumptions) one by one.
    How would it work?
    One only has to look at the fashion industry to understand how a patent-free economy might function. I agree that it would probably function differently. If we want to assume that the analogy to the fashion industry is cogent, companies like Apple would do R&D in secret (nothing new, there) and would profit from being the exclusive source for a new, innovative product until other companies scramble and manage to copy the resulting product. This "lead time" would either be quite valuable, or on the other hand, if not, that would be a clear sign that the "innovation" involved was not significant enough for society having a net gain from granting it patent protection. In addition, the companies which manage to produce the innovative products first would necessarily gain a more positive reputation (assuming that other factors in their overall customer experience, like reliability or customer support were at the same level or better than their competitors), and they would glean more sales because of this.
    Why would anyone want to invest in R&D when their ideas get ripped off 10 minutes later?
    An innovation which requires 10 minutes to "rip off" is hardly going to be something from which society would have benefited by protecting it with a patent, right? (LOL, I just see an image of a strawman coming alive, picking up a sword off the practice field, and fighting back at the soldiers practicing on it).
    Wouldn't there be a big incentive to hide discoveries, rather than reveal them through patents?
    As someone who works in R&D in high tech, let me tell you, when a problem develops which needs to be solved, the absolute last thing we would do is comb expired patents for the solution. In addition to your assumption that the information in expired patents is very important to fuel innovation, you also assume that reverse engineering new technology is somehow difficult. It isn't (no, Virginia, DRM which actually works doesn't exist).

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 6:56am

    I can see it already...

    Student: 'Hello, I'd like to apply for patent on this invention I just came up with.'
    Patent officer: 'Alright, hand over the specs and I'll see what I can do. Should be done in a couple of minutes.'

    *6 months later*

    Patent officer: 'I'm sorry, but it seems your invention infringes on patent #12353232 'Doing anything at all on or with a computer' so your patent has been denied. Also you're being sued for your blatant criminal infringement. Have a nice day.'

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    "Why would anyone want to invest in R&D when their ideas get ripped off 10 minutes later?"

    An idea is mostly useless unless it can be implemented properly...in the market. The patent system no longer represents innovators who come up with a design and successfully bring it to market to benefit the public. Patents were a tool to help protect the innovator. Now there is a patent market, where the ownership and dealing of patents only, is used to gather up as many patents as possible and sue competitors and actual innovators.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    >>Your problems as always is that you are caught in the very short term "what needed a license today" rather than the "what great things have been discovered".

    Since you seem to be an ardent patent supporter let me ask you your own question. What great things have been patented in the last 12 months? There are roughly 250,000 patents granted in a year. I will set the bar very low at 10%. Could you show me 25,000 "great things" among them? I am also willing to set the bar low on the definition of "great things." Find 25,000 that are truly not based on prior art, and are not obvious to a skilled probationer in the field.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re: I can see it already...

    If it worked like that the patent office would soon be out of business. Word would get around that the risk of patenting is too high.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    Re:

    Mike covered this in 2007, I swear there was a more recent story here but not finding it.

    The two researchers have analyzed data from 1976 to 1999, the most recent year with complete data. They found that starting in the late 1990s, publicly traded companies saw patent litigation costs outstrip patent profits. Specifically, they estimate that about $8.4 billion in global profits came directly from patents held by publicly traded United States companies in 1997, rising to about $9.3 billion in 1999, with two-thirds of the profits going to chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Domestic litigation costs alone, meanwhile, soared to $16 billion in 1999 from $8 billion in 1997.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/business/yourmoney/15proto.html?ex=1342152000&en=17ab9 81b1b3cf1dd&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&_r=0

    http://www.techdirt.com/arti cles/20070720/012154.shtml

     

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    RD, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re:

    "That is how, ultimately, all progress is achieved, I believe: a certain "thing" is needed (or perceived as necessary), so some people, step in to create it."

    "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." - Ben Franklin, I believe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:20am

    Is It Really A Good Idea To Open A 'Mini' Patent Office Directly Within Cornell's NYC Tech Campus?

    It is if your Cornell's NYC Tech Campus.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So are you suggesting that the Ipod was necessary? I doubt it. We lived without it before. So that argument, no matter how "classical" the quote fails.

     

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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    Ohmigod, don't give them any ideas! "Mini-patents", the mind just reels at the (horrible) possibilities!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    If the students are smart, they will use a time honored rally cry...

    "Hell No, we won't go... to the patent office"

    Come on, who's with me.....

     

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    The eejit (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    So we get mini-patent gangs going round beating Big Patents up?

     

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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    You are unable to even give an indication that removing patents would keep the creation of new inventions flowing.

    Wait, are you actually suggesting that if patents disappeared tomorrow that no more new inventions would be created? The reason that no one needs to "give an indication" is that it is simple common sense! Humans are going to invent. It's in our nature. We won't stagnate because of some missing legalese. In fact, in our current position, we're still inventing *in spite* of stupid limiting legalese.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In a sense, yes. Not because of who invented it, but because the original iPod made it simple to move from track to track, to select a song, and to change the volume.

    It was not the contents, but the method involved which was simplified.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: I can see it already...

    Oh I know I squashed the timeline more than a little, the bloodsuckers generally wait until there's a company or start-up around to sue before coming out of the woodwork, as it increases the odds that the target will have enough money to justify the shakedown.

    Also I suppose the idea of pretty much any patent being rejected(as long as it mentions electronics somewhere anyway) is more than a little inaccurate too.

    I was going for 'humor through slight to moderate exaggeration' but I suppose humor isn't very fitting for a monday, should have saved the post for tuesday I guess.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    Why would anyone want to invest in R&D when their ideas get ripped off 10 minutes later?

    I believe you will find, if you examine the majority of human history, that people invented and created things even when their ideas could be "ripped off" 10 minutes later.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    It does seem to me that to say B&L are engaged in "research" when their factual predicates are based upon misunderstanding at best and misrepresentation at worst is a disservice to those who read and rely upon what is being presented here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: I can see it already...

    A patent officer denying a patent verges close to blasphemy these days.

     

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    trrll (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Patents and innovation

    We've had strong patent protection throughout the period when the US achieved preeminence in technology, so we mess with that successful formula at our peril. On the time scale of technological development, the lifetime of a patent is fairly modest; indeed, most people have forgotten the fact that development of such things as telephony, electric power, automotive and aviation technology were accompanied by pitched patent battles. So there is a period of a couple of decades after a new patented innovation whens there is a strong economic incentive for development of alternate methods to achieve the same thing, which helps to prevent a single approach from being so widely copied that it becomes prematurely "locked in" before other, possibly superior, strategies are fully explored--and then it passes into the public domain for all to use.

    Regardless, inventors at Cornell's campus have to work within the current legal framework, not an imaginary utopia of communal rights over all inventions. Failing to patent your own invention promptly exposes you to the risk that somebody else will patent it, and cut you out of the rights that are essential to attract capital investment to bring that idea to practical fruition.

     

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  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Depends on how you define "necessary". Convenience is one of the things people look for, and the pursuit of it has led to everything from the washing machine to the pre-washed lettuce. No, it's not necessary in terms of life and death, but it's a useful device and if somebody identified a need for such a thing - no matter how trivial - then the quote is apt.

    Perhaps you have something to add that doesn't depend on nit-picking? You could perhaps start by recognising that the iPod exists *despite* patents rather than because of them (e.g. Apple have been attacked for supposed patent infringement on the very concept of the iPod, by a company that has brought no such product to market).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re:

    "One only has to look at the fashion industry to understand how a patent-free economy might function."

    Not a good model. The cost of "research" in the fashion industry is a low and constant. You produce new clothes for the new fashion year. There is no sudden, massive innovation out there. Where there is, the innovation is usually in the materials used, and they are generally patent (or the process to make them is, see polar fleece).

    "An innovation which requires 10 minutes to "rip off" is hardly going to be something from which society would have benefited by protecting it with a patent, right?"

    10 minutes is figurative. Think of it as a short time. Basically, since almost anything can be ripped apart and copied fairly quickly, you have only the short lead time to market to capitalize on perhaps a huge investment.

    "As someone who works in R&D in high tech, let me tell you, when a problem develops which needs to be solved, the absolute last thing we would do is comb expired patents for the solution."

    Yet, I bet many of your solutions are based on things that were patent in the past. Perhaps you might want to start there next time.

    So I would say that you are 0 for 3. Mike, would you like to take a swing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    "I believe you will find, if you examine the majority of human history, that people invented and created things even when their ideas could be "ripped off" 10 minutes later."

    I believe you will find that mankind has made more advancements in the comparatively short history with patents than any other time in history.


    Another argument blown to bits.

     

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    rubberpants, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:24am

    Re: Patents and innovation

    I'm curious as to why you believe the things you do. What experiences have you had that lead you to believe that without patents innovation would be hindered? Do you personally have any patents? Have you been involved in patent litigation?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re:

    "Wait, are you actually suggesting that if patents disappeared tomorrow that no more new inventions would be created? "

    No, you are playing the bizarre absolute thing again. My suggestion is that we woudl go from a steady flow of significant moving forward innovation, to more of a trickle, as companies and developers are more likely to put their money on very small incremental improvements on existing things, rather than working hard to move things forward in a more dramatic fashion.

    "We won't stagnate because of some missing legalese. In fact, in our current position, we're still inventing *in spite* of stupid limiting legalese."

    Two misleading statements. Of course we would move forward, the question is "would it be as fast?". In the short run, perhaps without patents we would see a flurry of small incremental improvements that might seem like progress, but in the long run, with the R&D incentives removed, would we still see the same thing?

    Also, your "in spite of" is total crap, because patents continue to be issued, and new products continue to make it to market at a record pace. There is little that can indicate that whatever hindrance patents bring is more significant than what they promote. We are moving faster than any time in our history, isn't that a pretty good thing?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Bringing a product to market is not a requirement of obtaining a patent.

    A != B

    It's the basic stuff Paul, why are you confused by it?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
    Even if correlation did imply causation, though, the point stands. People invented, and do invent, without patents, as you asked.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    A patent vending machine would be a better. Just put in your patent, insert a $100 bill and get it stamped! Think of all the innovation that could be protected!

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Let's encourage innovation by drowning it in paperwork!

     

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  36.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    (see the post below yours, dickless)

    thanks for pointing out the obvious to the shill...
    i was going to say ridiculous crap along the lines of:

    'there have NEVER been as many MP3 players in the his story of the UNIVERSE until the last couple years; obviously, patents work...'

    'there have NEVER been as much useless crap denuding our planet and filling up landfills faster than EVER; not *that* is progress ! ! !'
    *snicker*

    as it is, we human beans are NOT dealing with the consequences of unbridled growth, why do we need 'more' ? ? ?

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is no sudden, massive innovation out there.

    You seem to understand zero of the fashion industry. Innovation comes in other ways in there the fabric really matters little if you can't come with design people will want. And much like Apple, many have built themselves a name that is worth more than their products (there are clearly better hardware in the market than Apple for instance).

    Basically, since almost anything can be ripped apart and copied fairly quickly, you have only the short lead time to market to capitalize on perhaps a huge investment.

    That's why he was talking about the head start thing. We know shaving blades as Gilletes here in Brazil. Gillete has a clear market advantage. Once you cue yourself as the innovator it's a big step forward. Even if it's easy to copy. Again Apple is a good example. Everybody copied Apple and yet it's heading to be the first company to be worth 1 trillion dollars. It won't get there if it doesn't stop focusing on patent lawsuits and focus on keeping the lead innovative position though.

    Yet, I bet many of your solutions are based on things that were patent in the past. Perhaps you might want to start there next time.

    Yes, because no1 can come up with an idea independently without ever knowing there's some patent on it.

    So I would say that you are 0 for 3. Mike, would you like to take a swing?

    Wanna lose by 4 to 0? U masochist, bro?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    Re:

    And then spend millions on lawyers. A patent is only a license to sue, and if you can't afford the lawyers it is only worth what a troll will pay to get hold of it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    "You're right! That's a win win!" says the lawyers.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:46am

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

    See, this is the basic problem right here.

    If a patent had to have had a prototype made before granting a patent, then half of the litigation wouldn't even happen, period. But that's not always necessary. This simple step would help fix one of the majjor issues with patents, as they are now.

     

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  41.  
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    Atkray (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re:

    After reading your post, and then re-reading it I realized that patents have become like the derivative market.

    Sure there are people that will argue they serve an important purpose, but in reality they are figments of imagination that insanely wealthy people trade amongst themselves in order to increase their wealth.

     

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  42.  
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    Atkray (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "but in the long run, with the R&D incentives removed, would we still see the same thing?"

    Yes!!!

    Because there will always be some sick, twisted overachiever who will not be content with the stats quo.

    I realize that you can't(or worse are willfully choosing not to) wrap your head around that, but people are competitive. They will compete in any field and they don't need patents to do so.

    Competition drives innovation, patents drive litigation.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Re:

    Hey, that's a neat idea... I'm off to the patent office. First to file and all that... thanks old bean!

     

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    Willton, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You seem to understand zero of the fashion industry. Innovation comes in other ways in there the fabric really matters little if you can't come with design people will want. And much like Apple, many have built themselves a name that is worth more than their products (there are clearly better hardware in the market than Apple for instance)."

    You seem to entirely misunderstand AC's point. He said "The cost of "research" in the fashion industry is a low and constant. You produce new clothes for the new fashion year. There is no sudden, massive innovation out there." AC noted that new fabrics were the exception to this rule. So unless you can explain how the development of new designs are on par with the development of new fabric with respect to cost, I don't think you've refuted his point.

    "That's why he was talking about the head start thing. We know shaving blades as Gilletes here in Brazil. Gillete has a clear market advantage. Once you cue yourself as the innovator it's a big step forward. Even if it's easy to copy. Again Apple is a good example. Everybody copied Apple and yet it's heading to be the first company to be worth 1 trillion dollars. It won't get there if it doesn't stop focusing on patent lawsuits and focus on keeping the lead innovative position though."

    In case you did not know, Gillette's parent company, Proctor & Gamble, has numerous patents directed to disposable razor blade technology. I can assure you that P&G uses much more than Gillette's reputation and good will to maintain its market position.

    P&G invests a lot of money into its razor blade products and technology. The advantage of lead time would not be enough for them to recoup those investments and still make a sizable profit.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Willton, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I can see it already...

    A patent officer denying a patent verges close to blasphemy these days.

    You clearly know nothing of what you speak.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Willton, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm curious as to why people think this is flag-worthy. Is it because he said something particularly nasty to someone? Or do the folks here just not like his viewpoint?

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I can see it already...

    When adding the magic words of on a computer, or on a mobile device can make existing technology patentable for a slight change in a system. I think not.

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    RonKaminsky (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is no sudden, massive innovation out there.
    And there is in other fields? Please give us some examples of recent patents which revealed to society a "massive innovation" which was totally unknown previous to its publication.
    Basically, since almost anything can be ripped apart and copied fairly quickly, you have only the short lead time to market to capitalize on perhaps a huge investment.
    When I said that it isn't difficult to reverse engineer, I did not mean to imply that it is something which necessarily can be done effortlessly and in a very short time.
    Yet, I bet many of your solutions are based on things that were patent in the past.
    This is not at all important if anyway they would have become common knowledge even without the patent system.

    I can imagine that very specific industries, like the pharmaceutical industry, might require some kind of special regulations in order to enable extremely large R&D expenses to be covered by the profit generated by their discoveries.
    So I would say that you are 0 for 3.
    Interesting. You seem to be much better at congratulating yourself for winning arguments, than actually arguing.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    This comment should not have been flagged. It is legitimate !

    There are a lot of nasty, personalizing troll posts, but this is not one of them.

     

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

  50.  
    icon
    RonKaminsky (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    With the "ritual invitation to Mike to duke it out", he outed himself as a particular poster who's been trolling this website for quite a while now (or, possibly, a copycat --- it doesn't really matter). I personally don't believe in flagging anything except for really disgusting posts, but others here, who are totally sick of hearing the same stuff from him over and over again, seem to disagree.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Willton, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I can see it already...

    When adding the magic words of on a computer, or on a mobile device can make existing technology patentable for a slight change in a system. I think not.

    And I suppose you think that implementing existing technology onto a computer or mobile interface is easy? Are there no challenges to doing so?

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I can see it already...

    Do not confuse the challenges of doing a good job with inventiveness.

     

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

  53.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "My suggestion is that we woudl go from a steady flow of significant moving forward innovation, to more of a trickle, as companies and developers are more likely to put their money on very small incremental improvements on existing things, rather than working hard to move things forward in a more dramatic fashion."

    I'm curious to know what your basis is for making this crazy claim, because it goes completely against human nature and basic economics. Assuming they're meeting a real market demand, companies that "move things forward in a more dramatic fashion" will always be in a better market position than competitors that only make "very small incremental improvements on existing things".

    The iPod is a good example of this. There were other MP3 players available, but the iPod was so different and so much better that it quickly achieved market dominance. The only product that could eventually surpass it was the iPhone, which was similarly so much better than any other smart phone that it came to dominate its own segment. Note that these two products emerged before Apple unfortunately turned full-on patent warrior.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 5:45pm

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

    That would be unfair, and would drive people away from doing basic research. Everything would be done only to create specific product, and not to create for the purpose of creating.

    Go look at the history of Gorilla Glass to get an understanding of what pure research (and a little luck) can do. They didn't intend to make screens for smart phones, did they?

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you Willton.

    Ninja, with all respect, you are talking out of your Brazilian hat here. P&G / Gillette spend an incredible amount of money on new products and developments, such as ways to get thinner but harder blades, shaving angles, and such. If you take your top of the line dual blade shaver from a decade back, and put it up against the current 4 or 5 blade models, it's clear there is research and innovation. They aren't sitting on patents waiting for the market to come to them.

    Remember: the basics, blades in shavers, isn't patent anymore - that is a very old concept. That is why companies like Schick are also in the market. There is no monopoly!

    "ou seem to understand zero of the fashion industry. Innovation comes in other ways in there the fabric really matters little if you can't come with design people will want. And much like Apple, many have built themselves a name that is worth more than their products (there are clearly better hardware in the market than Apple for instance)."

    You missed the point entirely, as Willton mentioned. Fashion has an incredibly low cost of entry, ready supplies of all basic materials, and the skill set required to make the stuff is very low. The only time major expenses come around is when a new process or new material is created, and generally that process is patent. Fashion doesn't have huge up front costs to get into the business, you can buy fabric, stitch together a dress, and sell it on the street corner for pennies. That's not the same as other, more R&D intense businesses.

    "Yes, because no1 can come up with an idea independently without ever knowing there's some patent on it."

    I know english is not your first language, but can you aspire to making it your second language? We aren't on cell phones here, you don't have to use silly abbreviations and 1337 speak to try to sound cool.

    Would you like to try to make your point again? This one is lost in the ether.

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "This is not at all important if anyway they would have become common knowledge even without the patent system."

    That is inclear. What would happen is no reasearch was done down certain paths, because there was no hope of financial return? What if drug companies decided that, without a good return on investment, they would not do as much basic research? If a new drug is delayed 10 or 20 years because nobody wants to fund research, are we not further behind than at least having it?

    Further, there is the step effect. Basic resaerch on something may produce a patent. Others may take the information in that patent and use it to direct their own research in related areas, generating a result faster than they would have otherwise. Wash, rinse, repeat 100 times over, and we are suddenly decades ahead of where we would be otherwise.

    Miek often talks about the concept of "on the shoulders of giants". There is one catch - you first much have a giant. If nobody aspires to be the giant, or if you giant is a pygmy on a step stool, are you as far up?

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Re:

    "Mike covered this in 2007"

    Actually, the NY Times ran an opinion piece - which all traces back to:

    http://researchoninnovation.org/dopatentswork/

    Which means it's a post about an op-ed about two guys who hate the patent system saying that patents don't work.

    It's not exactly damning evidence, is it?

    Mike didn't cover anything - he just made a repost - link to someone else's opinion. The lack of facts here is shocking.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ron, perhaps you need to just grow up and deal with ideas rather than trying to shout people down.

    You, RD, and a few other "report button crusaders" are pretty much trying to shut down anyone who dares oppose the king. That's really sad on a site that pushes so much for free and open speech.

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, lack of facts on an opinion blog, but can you actually refute what was posted? You state a lack of facts, but you can't prove the facts given are incorrect.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:29pm

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

    So, wait... He implicates that he did not flag it, but he can understand /why/ it is getting flagged, so you say he flagged it? And don't go off on the 'it was censored!' tangent. Trying to play the emotional game will more often just piss people off than get them on your side.

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    My suggestion is that we woudl go from a steady flow of significant moving forward innovation, to more of a trickle, as companies and developers are more likely to put their money on very small incremental improvements on existing things, rather than working hard to move things forward in a more dramatic fashion.

    Looking at the marketplace of today suggests they already do this in order to extend old patents, so what is the point?

     

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

  62.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Oct 9th, 2012 @ 12:21am

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

    That would be unfair, and would drive people away from doing basic research. Everything would be done only to create specific product, and not to create for the purpose of creating.

    I...WHAT?

    The point is that patents do nothing but incremental "innovation", but they considerably harm Iterative "innovation". For all that Edison was a bastard, he knew how to bring things to market from prototyping through to marketing.

    Now, though? That doesn't happen, because everything's patented. It's all "licenses" and "litigation" that are viable business models. That shouldn't really be possible unless the market is underserved.

     

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

  63.  
    identicon
    bikey, Oct 9th, 2012 @ 3:22am

    Cornell patents

    Amen, brother.

     

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

  64.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 9th, 2012 @ 4:58am

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

    This will be a reply for both.

    I agree I didn't address the low and constant cost part. That said, it does not matter if it is low or not. After the iPhone Apple has not added any novelty in the cellphone market and yet ppl still crave for their products. Same with the iPad, we are past the second generation and people seem to be willing to sell their souls for an iGadget. That's a direct result of the head start.

    P&G invests a lot of money into its razor blade products and technology. The advantage of lead time would not be enough for them to recoup those investments and still make a sizable profit.

    Disposable blades are old and widely copied yes. But in the past when they were a novelty Gillete benefited greatly from its reputation. I'd have to dig into historic stuff to fully explain that but in the early days of those disposable blades it was a mix of head start and marketing that gave them insane profits, not patents.

    If you take your top of the line dual blade shaver from a decade back, and put it up against the current 4 or 5 blade models, it's clear there is research and innovation. They aren't sitting on patents waiting for the market to come to them.

    Indeed. But again, patents don't mean a thing. They got a head start with the 3-blade system. Today if you talk about 3-blades people automatically think Mach 3 (the product). There are cheap knock offs but it's an empirical fact: they suck. If you go to the Fusion series (5 blades) then it's a whole new world of comfort while shaving. And there are knock offs already in the market. But they can'r achieve the same results because P&G simply knows how to do it right. And they have already recovered their costs with the head start and the reputation it granted them. Patents have little to nothing to do with it.

    You missed the point entirely, as Willton mentioned. Fashion has an incredibly low cost of entry, ready supplies of all basic materials, and the skill set required to make the stuff is very low.

    Yes, I didn't address the cost problem because it isn't a problem as I told before. The higher the costs of coming with a new product the harder it is to copy it with perfection.

    I know english is not your first language, but can you aspire to making it your second language? We aren't on cell phones here, you don't have to use silly abbreviations and 1337 speak to try to sound cool.

    Since we are at the Nazi point of grammar, English should be written with capital E. Also, if an abbreviation is really something you should be worried about? Care to address the point of the phrase where I used the abbreviation? No because you can't. It's simply a fact. Meanwhile I'll use abbreviations if I feel like thank you.

    Would you like to try to make your point again? This one is lost in the ether.

    No need, it stands. Your turn.

     

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

  65.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 9th, 2012 @ 5:07am

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

    hah, grammar fail

    Also, if an abbreviation is really something you should be worried about?

    Should read:

    Also, is an abbreviation something you should be worried about?

    1337 speak to try to sound cool

    90 L34r|\| 4B0U7 L337 $P34|

     

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

  66.  
    icon
    RonKaminsky (profile), Oct 9th, 2012 @ 10:58am

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

    > rather than trying to shout people down.

    Frankly I find the enormous volume of posts which this troll generates more similar to shouting than anything I do here.

    It's a form of argumentation which I would call "argument from exhaustion of opposition".

     

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

  67.  
    icon
    RonKaminsky (profile), Oct 9th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First of all, I see that you haven't produced any "massive innovation" which was first revealed via patent.
    That is inclear. ...
    Wow, I see that we're really gaining ground now --- before you were totally certain that without patents there would be little or no innovation.
    What would happen is no reasearch was done down certain paths, because there was no hope of financial return?
    It's obvious what would happen when you make that particular assumption. What isn't obvious (i.e., "inclear" [sic]) is whether without patents there would be more or less innovation. This question cannot be answered with certainty, because we have no way to make a controlled experiment in which we run the world down the two different paths and compare the results.
    ... Basic resaerch on something may produce a patent. Others may take the information in that patent ...
    Basic research is usually defined as research carried out by academics who do not have as a goal a particular application in mind, or a particular practical problem to solve. Such research is automatically published, because that's how the academics build their reputations. There is no need for patents for that. Furthermore, I daresay that in a world without patents, reverse engineering, both as a topic in itself (the development of new techniques) and as a source of interesting and publishable information, would be a much hotter academic topic than it is today.
    ... "on the shoulders of giants" ...
    You do realize that that quote is from Isaac Newton, and the last time I checked he didn't apply for any patents? Albert Einstein did apply for one patent, but it was for a refrigerator which is not in current use.

     

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


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