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. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 13 Dec 2012 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Int he first video, you have a point. That, like the rounded corners nonsense, is a design patent, which isn't really a patent in the sense people think of them. It's more like a mutant form of copyright.

    Regarding software patents, you have a point, but the fault isn't with the video as such. It's that there is no clear consensus on what "software" actually is. Whatever it is, though, the amount of effort it takes to create software has (or should have) exactly zero bearing on whether or not it should qualify for a patent.

    Your criticism seems to be that the videos are oversimplifying the issues. That is true -- but it is literally impossible to explain patent issues to normal human beings without oversimplifying them. That's one of the main indicators that the patent system is in a state of extreme decay and needs to be completely rethought.

    I don't fault the videos for this. They do get across the essential points accurately, and it's important for people to grasp the main features of the problem.

    Funds allocated under contracts with DARPA and other USG agencies


    If government money is paying for the development, then no patent should be allowed, software or not. Not really on topic, but I couldn't resist getting my opinion out there.

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