A Couple Videos About Our Crazy Patent System

from the you-might-enjoy... dept

We're hearing more and more talk about how broken the patent system is, and recently came across a pair of videos we figured some of you might enjoy. The first is a comedic riff on Apple's recent page turn design patent, leading Ron Charles to post an amusing video of how Apple might explain its patenting of "letters":
There are some good lines in there. "Everything we've done, is designed to be very capable, but also familiar. So our goal, was to take all the amazing things that people like to do... and own them."

On a slightly more serious note, economist Alex Tabarrok, has put together a video arguing for the end of software patents:
It's not a bad video, though I think the analysis is a bit overly simplistic, in that it kicks off with the idea that pharma patents make sense. The more you dig into the details of pharma patents, the more you realize that's not true either. However, even granting that, the argument he makes is the commonly seen economics argument that, at the very least, things like pharma and software display such different economic characteristics that it's silly to use the same patent system for both. Specifically, the sunk costs of innovation for software tend to be relatively low, so the protection a patent grants might not be useful. It also notes how patents can impede innovation. One thing I'm happy it includes is a note about how you get less innovation when you don't have competitors pushing you to keep innovating. That's a point that often gets missed in these debates.

Either way, I figured folks might enjoy both of these videos.

Filed Under: patents, software patents, videos

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2012 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re:

    In the first video, the individual parroting Apple's recently issued design patent as covering the concept of "page turning". This is not what a design patent does, and Apple's design patent most certainly does not preclude others from "page turning" as a concept. It is directed to a "moving icon" having a specific shape and detailed characteristics. Did Apple really need to spend money to secure this patent because it is critical to its position in the market? Who knows? Certainly not me. Does this design patent hinder "innovation"? Hardly, but then this would not make for a good video.

    In the second video it makes zero attempt to mention what it means by "software patents". It suggests that the investment to create inventions for which such patents may be sought is universally minimal. I can say without the slightest hesitation that many, many times it takes the time of a team of numerous PhD holding contributors to conceive, test, and implement such an invention, and that the cost for such activities oftentimes runs into the millions of dollars. Funds allocated under contracts with DARPA and other USG agencies, as well as Internal Research and Development costs borne by companies time and time again have shown me that these are non-trivial, inexpensive endeavors. Quite the opposite. There are several other simplistic and inaccurate statements made in this video, but to review them in detail would make this comment interminably long and likely boring to the reader who is unfamiliar with the process.

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