Concerning software (inexpensive to play the game), there are a ton of people that could be filing patents (assuming costs were $0, ie, submitting an email with the patent claims) once they master the art of writing patents. Instead of writing open source software, which actually benefits society greatly, they could be filing patents in order to defend themselves against the trolls and other companies. Now, how does that help society? On the other hand, if the courts and/or legislators keep software patents in play, then it will become almost a necessity for open source developers to become patent trolls themselves. After all, you need money in order to defend against patents and pay for the many infringements your software is likely to have.
Short story: monopolies that do not promote the progress of science and useful arts are unconstitutional, and software patents almost surely fall into this bin in likely all or just about all cases. There is simply too high of a cost to society. And the sad part is that there are so many ways to reward inventors without having to break the ankles of every other developer (and potential inventor) out there so that the sole official inventor can indulge in a monopoly or monopoly profits for 20 years. Talk about society shooting itself in the legs despite knowing better (unconstitutional monopolies).
When more people (eg, artists) start leveraging open licenses and learn the joys of experiencing and being a part of what can be created when you work in concert with others, then we will be creating such a high volume of interesting material that we will be using these draconian laws against these very companies as they try to "leech" of us and "pirate" us and "steal" from us etc etc etc. We already know that they employ a double standard when it suits them.
It doesn't take a super person to create something interesting. With modest determination and collaboration much can be achieved even with modest "talent".
The industry still has the ability to tap into expensive productions and marketing, but the little person is getting close because of the low costs of the Internet, of free open source software, and of sophisticated cheaper hardware.
It's also important that people creating also include the source material to the works and not just the finished product. This way value can be added throughout the various parts of the production by different contributors with different talents.. and so that the secrets get spread faster.
People, if you don't want to share your secrets with the public (the "public" will include like-minded peers you never knew existed), then you won't learn the benefits of leverage.
In short, to humble the large industry players down, we need to create more things through inexpensive tools and through collaboration and through share-alike licenses (see Creative Commons share-alike licenses and GPL license). Also, we should try to rely 100% on legally licensed material in order to really gain the leverage we want. Today, people adding value frequently are starting off with material already copyrighted and owned by these titans.
Also, the open source software movement will have to reach out because most artists don't know how to create their own tools and many (inexpensive) tools today are digital tools that can or have been created using open source and would be /are available for $0.
[staff3]>> The point is that without the promise of patent protection no one or few will make the effort to find new discoveries.
That's obviously absolutely false with respect to mathematics, literature, software, and many other things were there is a huge human desire to participate in trying to be the first to create something or something the best. Success in all of these (and even failure) additionally can result in the bills getting paid.
With respect to drugs and other products or services related to gene research, I think there is absolutely no shortage of people willing to do the research. I also think there is no shortage of companies willing to manufacture and sell the drugs (just look at the generics industry as well as related natural health industries). There is a huge demand for the products and services. Humans need their periodic oil changes.
In terms of getting money to those that want to do the research, academic institutions, government grants, and numerous private sector sources have always been available for this. Those already participating have an incentive to invest some of their profits in research or look for partnerships.
Increased affordable computing power and do-it-yourself kits are allowing many people to participate (distribute costs and risks.. and rewards).
In any case, there are alternatives to a full monopoly grant for 20 years that would do less harm. Consider 5 years or instead of a monopoly, a guaranteed X% marketshare.
Without patents there will be some losses, of course. These will include the huge industry of overpriced goods and services that exists because of the patents. Some people would have to take a pay cut. Additionally, multi-billion dollar profits per quarter left and right will also have to be diminished.
On the plus side, discoveries should be faster since blocking off development in a field to a single player is never efficient as long as you have a healthy number willing and able to carry out the same work.
There are many organizations that would fund this research. You just wouldn't have a small few spending huge dollars trying to grab all the patents for themselves. Instead, you'd have more sharing and distributed costs and risks.
Patents lead to a great many inefficiencies all over the place. That is what happens when you give away monopolies. Just look at how vague are most patent claims. People are laying claim to things they hardly understand.
NIN should start investing in a Linux distro if they haven't. In a year or two, they could provide their fans one mean NINX. Why settle for an app when you can control the whole shebang?
Fans wouldn't all download the distro (eg, LiveCD) and run it, but many would look at it and start talking about it. NINX could be one of the first music groups to tap into the future. In five years they would have a personal distribution channel to their fans plus have extra appeal and market share for being one of the first.
I knew someone with a patent on gaming consoles (taken out, as a graduate student, in the first half of the 70s decade) who also let the patent expire.
He was a very nice person. Lawyers wanted him to act. Lawsuits are not in everyone's blood. It affects your life negatively (these are engineers, remember).
Not sure what was his deal. He did have great plans for using the money to improve the technology infrastructure of the country where he was born. He also planned to fund a one person company he owned which was prototyping (with very inexpensive parts) some products to cater to the electronic hobbyist. He was on top of the state of the art (as well as you can be when you don't work in special labs) in a number of tech disciplines. He loved to spend the day on engineering. Did I mention he was a nice guy?
Perhaps not everyone that takes out a patent feels good about it afterwards. After all, no man is an island. Is having an idea a few months or years or seconds before anyone else worth a 20 year monopoly on the general concept or worth a guaranteed income stream? And to add insult to injury, a patent writer likely is not the first person to think fully of the particular invention, but merely the first person to file for a patent on it.
Having waited so long, likely didn't help either. The fear of change and of ensuing court battles may have also played a part. Finally, one probably expects to have the media's (and new well-funded enemy's) cynical microscope placed on your life. People that don't live normal lifestyles can get extra apprehensive about the inevitable public focus that would ensue.
Techdirt has not posted any stories submitted by hozelda.