Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Patents

A Survey of the State of IP 160

Posted by Zonk
from the owning-ideas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This week's Economist has a number of stories in its survey of the state of IP (link to lead article), written from a balanced, business-oriented perspective. If you do not have a web subscription it is worth picking up a newsstand edition, if only to read a defense of open source from being seen as a 'flaky, radical, pinko strategy not related to the competitive marketplace'." From the article: "In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Survey of the State of IP

Comments Filter:
  • by Seumas (6865)
    written from a balanced, business-oriented perspective.

    Balanced.
    Business-oriented.

    Is that sort of like a balanced discussion of Wicca or Islam from a 700-Club perspective?
    • by Winckle (870180)
      Imagine how Linux zealots discuss Microsoft, and you're getting close.
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @05:49PM (#13859863)
      Look, if the don't-care-about-business-use-of-Linux(et al) people don't care, well... then they don't care! But the people that wish more users would adopt Linux have to care what businesses and business people think. You can't have it both ways.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You don't seem to have thought this through.

        If the "don't-care-about-business-use-of-Linux(et al)" don't care, then they won't give a stuff about having it both ways, so there's no point in you wanking on about it like a slighted politician.
        • Re:You lost me . . . (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ScentCone (795499)
          No, sorry. The "don't care what businesses think" crowd shares a lot of members with the "Windoze is teh Suxx0r" crowd that can't understand why more people don't use Linux. When people use something every day at work, they're a lot more inclined to feel comfortable with it at home, sending picture of the kids to grandma, playing games, using eBay, etc. Wide adoption of non-MS stuff by large corporate users is a huge step towards making millions of people more comfortable with it at home. That will also sho
  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @05:51PM (#13859869) Journal
    Slashdot, I'm afraid you've lost the right to call yourself "News for Nerds". When "Internet Protocol" becomes anyone's SECOND definition of IP, they're no longer a nerd.
  • This says it all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2005 @05:52PM (#13859873)
    "There is a broad recognition in the US that the patent system, if not reformed, will...begin to impede American competitiveness around the world," says Bruce Sewell, general counsel of Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker.

    so while USA is busy in court the rest of the world will be busy innovating and actually moving forward
    of course i think this has much to do with the "culture of greed" that permeates the US and will ultimately be its downfall, or to put in in biblical terms (as that seems to be a more popular line of reasoning in 14th i mean 21st century America)
    the moneylenders will kick themselves out of the temple

    • There is little doubt that the patent system needs reform desperately, particularly when it comes to software patents, but there is also another solution that should be pursued in parallel. That other solutions is a simple, centralized place, like a wiki (maybe even a wiki), where people post publicly, and contribute "inventions" to the public domain. While there is a serious issue with the Patent office's enforcement of the obviousness standard, they are quite good about enforcing the "novelty" standard
      • The hard part is actually realizing what a big company might try to patent. A lot of ideas that are being patented llately are things that are so ridiculously obvious that it would never occur to anyone other than a parasitic patent lawyer.

        • Simple - do what the guy in the "Accelerando" sci-fi story did - think up anything and everything yourself, patent it or copyright or trademark it, then release the IP into the public domain (or barter it to companies in exchange for free whatever for the rest of your life).

          No matter how crazy, copyright or patent or trademark it, then give it away. Then nobody can do it later.

          Use the system against itself - true martial arts.
          • To prevent things like that is one of the reasons you have to pay several thousands, if not tens of thousands, to have something patented worldwide.

            Nice try, although!


            • Well, don't patent it then!

              Just release it into the public domain so it acts as "prior art".

              Same result.
              • Nope. Sueing $EVIL_COMPANY because of prior art is even more expensive than patenting $INNOVATION. Goal missed by lightyears.

                We gravely need a cheap (if not free as in beer) and easy way to protect one's knowledge and innovations, that he doesn't use commercially, from being sucked into any compay's pool of patents.

                • Who said any given individual has to sue said company?

                  Anybody who wants to profit from the idea can do the suing - in other words, big companies can kick each other's asses. Let our opponents do the work for us.

                  Our goal is simply to free the ideas.

                  How are you going to protect any idea from being expropriated and closed if it isn't out in the open for everybody to use?

                  Anybody who thinks the patent system can be renovated is living in a fool's paradise. The government is owned by the big corporations, and the
      • "That other solutions is a simple, centralized place, like a wiki (maybe even a wiki), where people post publicly, and contribute "inventions" to the public domain."

        That's a terrible idea. Companies would spring up to do nothing but patent those ideas, and then sue others for using them, on the assumption that if the original poster could afford a decent patent attorney, he wouldn't have put the ideas into the public domain.
    • the moneylenders will kick themselves out of the temple
      I swear to God I'll dance a jig.
  • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @05:56PM (#13859896)
    I'm for IP legal protections, but there's some big problems I see with the current regime:

    Ring-fencing: This is the creation of a ring of patents around the primary thing you're trying to protect, so that even when the original patent expires, competitors won't be able to reproduce the invention without violating your other patents. Often used to protect chemical processes used to manufacture drugs.

    The blindingly obvious: RIM's Blackberry troubles stem from patents on the wireless transmission of email. If you're an EE or a CS guy, you'd think "information is information, a channel is a channel, and every combination of information x channel isn't a novel idea waiting to be thought of, it's the obvious thing" but alas, the patent office doesn't see it that way.

    And the worst thing is, large companies with large stables of IP become very resistant to change (or, if they want change, it's for more protections for the patent-holders and less quid-pro-quo for everyone else) and, with cash-fueled American politics, things only get worse. Witness the effectively perpetual copyrights that the Mouse buys.

    • RIM's Blackberry troubles stem from patents on the wireless transmission of email.

      There are a hell of a lot of patents of the form:
      1. Take something that people are doing today
      2. Insert the word computer
      3. File for a patent
      4. Profit

      I think that the length granted to a patent should be proportional to the amount of time developing the invention, maybe the patent lasts for twice the invention time with a 10 year cap, that way drugs and small time inventors would probably get the whole 10 years, but Microsoft
      • "I think that the length granted to a patent should be proportional to the amount of time developing the invention"

        Then companies could just say, the invention started with the wheel....

        I think that every year or so patent holders should have to prove that the invention is directly making them a profit, if its not then they no longer need exclusive control of their invention.
      • There are a hell of a lot of patents of the form:
        1. Take something that people are doing today
        2. Insert the word computer
        3. File for a patent
        4. Profit


        The real problem here is that step 4 should be "Get patent rejected". The problem is that too many patents are being issued.

        I think that the length granted to a patent should be proportional to the amount of time developing the invention, maybe the patent lasts for twice the invention time with a 10 year cap, that way drugs and small time inventors wou
    • Ring-fencing: This is the creation of a ring of patents around the primary thing you're trying to protect, so that even when the original patent expires, competitors won't be able to reproduce the invention without violating your other patents.

      You also have other abuses such as "Evergreening". Which involves filing a variation of a patent about to expire.

      The blindingly obvious: RIM's Blackberry troubles stem from patents on the wireless transmission of email. If you're an EE or a CS guy, you'd think "in
  • by argoff (142580) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @05:57PM (#13859903)
    Patents and copyrights are really the anti-christ of free markets. They have nothing to do with freedom, and especially nothing to do with respect of property rights. From the outside, it simply amazes me to see time and time again how people treat them as if they were real property rights. It is almost as if I was living in an 1850's throwback, trying to prove that slavery was anti free market - "what's amater don't you believe in property rights? Don't you believe in the wealth and prosperity of American commerce? They have no incentive without it!" Those are the kind of arguments I get.
    • by smose (877816) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:18PM (#13859998)
      Patents and copyrights are really the anti-christ of free markets.

      Not necessarily. Imagine that you and a competitor manufacture widgets. You create a process that radically improves the efficiency of manufacturing widgets. Free market: you can keep it for yourself and reap the rewards of your efficiency relative to your opponent. As long as they don't figure it out, you win. Alternatively, you can patent the improvement. It exposes the idea to your opponent, and if the cost savings for implementing your patented process is greater than the cost of paying you for it, your opponent implements it, and you still make more money. Perhaps your opponent improves it further, and reduces the cost of making widgets yet again. In the end, all the widgets get made more efficiently, and competition can bring the price down.

      Perhaps you meant that modern patenting practices are anti-free-market. On that I could agree; the point isn't to profit from your idea into eternity; it's to set good ideas into permanent practice so that better ideas can come from it.

      • Not necessarily. Imagine that you and a competitor manufacture widgets. You create a process that radically improves the efficiency of manufacturing widgets. Free market: you can keep it for yourself and reap the rewards of your efficiency relative to your opponent. As long as they don't figure it out, you win. Alternatively, you can patent the improvement. It exposes the idea to your opponent, and if the cost savings for implementing your patented process is greater than the cost of paying you for it, you

        • Of course they restrict freedom, but that restriction of freedom is a trade off for complete freedom after a set period of time. The idea is if you cannot restrict freedom of use of your invention, too little effort will be spent developing new things since both the inventor and everyone else gets the full benefits (so everyone free rides and nothing gets invented). Sure the Tesla's of the world might well continue to research, but there are many others who would do something else.

          I think debate about
          • "The idea is if you cannot restrict freedom of use of your invention, too little effort will be spent developing new things since both the inventor and everyone else gets the full benefits (so everyone free rides and nothing gets invented). Sure the Tesla's of the world might well continue to research, but there are many others who would do something else."

            Never been proven. Not even a shed of evidence. Pure theory. Doesn't even follow from conventional or even Austrian economic theory.

            Total bullshit intend
            • too little effort will be spent developing new things since both the inventor and everyone else gets the full benefits.

              Never been proven. Not even a shed of evidence. Pure theory. Doesn't even follow from conventional or even Austrian economic theory.

              Try a little thought experiment - (note that some common sense is a prerequisite for this): You think research scientists & engineers will work for free? Maybe they'll support themselves by moonlighting as batenders. What about the equipment they need


              • Absolutely nothing you've said is relevant.

                Just more excuse. More theory. No evidence from any historical period. Not even evidence from economic theory.

                Nobody has ever said that without IP ANYBODY has to work for free. Doesn't logically follow in any respect.

                Support for inventors and their inventions could come from any source that has resources developed from other lines of endeavor and whose profits would be influenced by new inventions.

                There is NO difference between someone committing resources to ANY b
      • I agree that it's the modern implementation that's the problem. The patent system was originally created with two goals: one to give an incentive to innovate and two to give an incentive to share your inventions with the world. It's just not doing that today. Back then, 17 years was not a lot of time to bring an invention to the world, manufacturing, distribution, communication, etc was a whole lot more rudimentary back then.

        I believe if Thomas Jefferson could see what's happened to the Patent syst

        • With all due respect, we have had over 200 years to tweek, implement, and fine tune the patent system. This is not an implementation problem, it is a fundamentals problem. Patents are going to hell just at they are being brought to their logical conclusion. It is not morally or fundamentally ok to controll how people use invnetions and discoveries. Perhaps I have a good sounding reason to controll peoples free speech too, so what.
          • we have had over 200 years to tweek, implement, and fine tune the patent system

            You're assume that the people writing the laws are working in the best interest of the public.

            We've had 200 years to obfuscate, subvert, and bypass the patent system. The original concept was great: to secure the rights to the original author or inventor. The day the law allowed those rights to be sold or signed to a "copyright holder", the whole concept of securing anything to the original author or inventor went right out

      • by xoboots (683791) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @07:06PM (#13860214) Journal
        The US/Western/Modern system has severely confused the related notions of "free markets" with "competetive markets". First, there are no free markets: they are all heavily regulated. On top of regulation, there is usury (interest), rents and taxes at multiple levels. For the most part, exchanges are not made between equal players (eg: householders vs. corporations).

        Unfortunately, the entire debate of "intellectual property" is framed within the lexicon "free markets" and "property". In fact, instruments such as patent and copyright are tools that restrict use and beget monopolies rather than competitive markets. This is especially true of the modern incantations of these systems which fly-in-the-face of their original intention. Originally, these tools were meant as temporary and necessary "evils" as a means to stimulate an increase in artistic and technical know-how, artifacts and techniques for the general public's USE -- both private and public (not merely via consumption). Of course, it turns out that modern society has MANY OTHER means of establishing these goods (eg: public research, universities, community based good will, etc) but we are stuck with a system that AROSE IN AN OLDER AND LESS FREE ERA.

        So, in a competitive market without patent/copyright restrictions we face the threat of the "secret guild" monopoly regime; however, we also face that under current patent/copyright law since the length of the restrictions fairly much gaurantee monopolies for the lifetime of a product/technique. Worse, in an era of scientific progress conducted in large by universities, grants and other forms of public research, this is tantamount to stealing public resources. Even worse, in technologically reliant societies, inter-relation of technology is paramount. It is in everyone's interest to share ideas. In other words, the threat of "secret guilds" is not worth protecting against at this point in our evolution.

        In game-theory we can see this as a form of the prisoners dillema: everyone is better off if all co-operate, but if only one player "cheats" by not co-operating (secrecy or patent/copyright), they will do much better than everyone else. If no one co-operates, then no-one does as well as if they would all co-operate (due to interconnection of ideas and implausibility of any single entity developing all ideas on their own).

        So it comes down to this: as a society, how much longer do we wish to reward (reward!!) those who do not want to naturally co-operate?
        • F. A. von Hayek, "'Free' Enterprise and Competitive Order". In Individualism and Economic Order, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1948, p 113-114.

          The problem of the prevention of monopoly and the prevention of competition is raised much more acutely in certain other fields to which the concept of property has been extended only in recent times. I am thinking here of the extension of the concept of property to such rights and privileges as patents for inventions, copyright, trade-marks, and the like. It seems

        • The free market (and I agree - IF IT EXISTED) would take care of the game theory cooperation problem. That is merely a restatement of the concept of monopoly profit. Every new business concept starts out as monopoly profit, then the concept is invested in by others, reducing the rate of return to the "general rate of return" (usually around 2-3% IIRC).

          This is why coercion doesn't work. If it works, people invest in it until everyone is spending all their resources on either seizing other people's property o
        • First, there are no free markets: they are all heavily regulated
          Holy shit. Somebody else gets it.
      • I see you disagree, but patent and copyrights are anti-free markets.

        If the government gives someone a monopoly on a good, there is not a free market in that good any longer. Seems like a pretty simple concept.

        Or do we hold that we can have a free market in, and a monopoly over, the same product at the same time?

        all the best,

        drew
      • If your method to make widgets is really novel, it will not be easy to copy, and thus you will be able to milk it for all what is worth.

        If you are stating the obvious from a technological point of view, you don't deserve to become rich and any competitor that could quickly copy your "invention" should be able to do so.

        No need for patents, truly great inventions would give a real technological advantage to the inventors, any small incremental improvement would give you a very small incremental advantage whic
    • Patents are supposed to be incentives. The idea is that if one discovers Really Neat Discovery X, they should profit from it for a while, and that by setting up this system, we're creating a feedback loop that makes lots of people want to discover Really Neat Things.

      Now, of course, the setup has been turned in to a weapon in corporate battles, and almost none of this has anything to do with people doing Really Neat Things in their basements.

      So, the question that people should be asking is, what do we wa

      • Patents are supposed to be incentives.

        That really isn't a fair point though. Patents were supposed to be incentives 200 years ago, we have had a nearly infinite amount of time to take them to their logical conclusion and teek them to make them work - and all we have gotten is bullshit, and people calling them "intellectual property" while society gets riped to pieces with litigation. Even if they were an incentive, did it ever occur to you that you have no moral right to restrict how other people use di

        • That really isn't a fair point though.

          I think it is. Intent always matters. Even if it is completely misguided, it is worth looking at what was intended. The old homily about (and I don't remember who came up with this) a fence in a road goes, don't rip down the fence just because you can't see why it is there. The fact that the fence is there indicates that someone else thought it worth building. Understand something, before you destroy it.

          and all we have gotten is bullshit, and people calling them "i

        • did it ever occur to you that you have no moral right to restrict how other people use discoveries and inventions?

          An easy question to answer. No, of course not, nobody owns ideas. Nobody can tell me I can't have fun or save my own life because somebody patented an idea that I used.

          But here you reveal your ignorance of patent law: Patents protect the commercialization of ideas, and when it comes to commercializing, you can restrict people all you want in the name of fair market competition. For example,
  • nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:03PM (#13859926)
    from the article:

    "Already, businesses are having to negotiate with other firms in order to do basic things such as reading files from different proprietary formats; and the design of new technology products now involves lawyers as well as engineers. The proliferation of patents might prove a serious encumbrance to businesses, just as travellers along the Rhine in medieval Europe were slowed down by having to pay a toll at every castle.

    James Boyle, a legal scholar at Duke Law School in North Carolina, claims that the current increase in intellectual-property rights represents nothing less than a second "enclosure movement". In the first enclosures, in 18th- and 19th-century Britain, the commons--open fields used by many, belonging to all, owned by none--were fenced in, and nearly all land became private property. By analogy, the granting of property rights on ideas, to the extent it is happening today, is plundering the intellectual commons of our public domain. "

    amen
  • by xtal (49134) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:03PM (#13859934)
    They're usually more on par with energy problems and it's relation to the global economy. No cheap energy, no economic growth - that's not economic theory, that's PHYSICS.


    "In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials"


    I bet my entire life savings against that statement last year. Go look at a energy fund index and tell me I was wrong. Everything - land, raw materials, and IP is about energy. The cheap energy is running out, and the people who have it are doing very, very well at the moment.

    If IP is the future.. well, I guess I have a couple years to go back and get a law degree. Here's another tip for the economist: Lawyers don't produce capital. They are a legislated tax on a free market.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head here. They want to create artificial limits on supply and demand of information and discoveries while there is actually plenty of natural limits in supply and demand of things like oil, metals, and natural resources. I'm sorry, but property rights aren't about artificial scarcity for the sake of incentive, but about allocating scarce resources effectively and justly which in itself leads to incentives.
      • I'll bet you the most effective methods of extracting oil are still patented. If these were rolled back, i'm sure the short run supply would be higher and cheaper. Unfortunately, i'm also of the opinion that in future centruies we may need those last few drops for something more important than combustion.
    • Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bluGill (862) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:50PM (#13860124)

      Everything is about Food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. More or less in that order. (though you can argue about the order of shelter and clothing)

      Energy is a factor in several of them, but not in itself a basic need. You need energy for anything more than subsistence farming. You need energy for heating your shelter. You need energy to create clothing by modern process. (I'm not counting human input as a part of energy for this - though clearly that is a form of energy).

      If there is too much rain, crops will die of overwatering, no matter how much energy you have. However if there were crops that could stand this over watering, and you bet your life savings them, you would have the same effect, even though energy was not a significant factor.

      Despite your wish to think otherwise, energy is a much smaller part of the economy than previously. Now it was one of the (if not the) fastest growing parts last year, but will that continue? IP is growing too, and could replace energy. All it takes is a breakthrough in ethanol/biodiesel producting and energy will go down, while IP goes up farther (fueled by the breakthrough.

      Personally I'm betting on such a breakthrough coming along fast. Though not with all my assets. Ethanol is already energy positive by .34, and shows promise of getting over 1 (that is for every energy input we get 2 out). Biodiesel can reach 3 in the lab. If I'm right, energy will have a short blossom, and then fade again like it has been for years. I've been wrong before though.

    • But note that the richest man in the world got that way by selling 1's and 0's, not by selling hydrocarbons.

      Notice further that it's only because of inventions and improvements that the energy is getting from rock formations into gas tanks.

      After rain and wild berries there are very few natural resources. Everything else is the result of humans inventing agriculture, irrigation, mining, hunting weapons, and ranching.
      • But that's only because no one exactly knows how much the Sultan of Brunei really has. William III Gates has to declare his income every year to the U.S. authorities. The Sultan of Brunei has only himself to declare to. And he gets his money from energy resources.

        Another problem with Ingvar Kamprad, which is not really owner of IKEA, just the person who controls the foundation which controls IKEA. There is no definite number for his fortune, just some guesstimates, which put him between US$ 18 bn and 50 bn.
  • When establishing my companies, I made sure to separate the IP R&D from the commercialisation processes. Although a lot of the research that is coming out of the R&D company is patentable, the decision whether to patent has been a long and well thought out process.

    Ultimately, a lot of the research will be protected under trade secret and standard copyright law. The process of patenting requires disclosure of methods and techniques (even with legalese), and places a small company in a bind when larger companies can infringe at will (when the cost of compliance is less than the profit they will make from infringement). By definition, the patent allows one skilled in the art to recreate the invention, so it puts on public record the specifics to allow a competitor to recreate the result that has come from our significant effort and expenditure.

    While we hold nothing against software patents (when issued properly), we do have major concerns about the patent process, and the ability to patent processes instead of inventions. When the next global superpower, and some of the largest companies in the industry, have a history of subverting IP restrictions to suit their own ends, the presence of a patent only stops the honest from ripping off the work we have carried out (and they are getting fewer and fewer in number).

    Even in discussion with the patent office, and the Government body established to promote and assist the patent process, they readily admit that the model is broken, but it is the best we have at the moment - so we need to keep supporting it (which is a cop out if I have ever heard one).

    Without a warchest of millions to fight legal battles, or huge patent holdings, the little guys are running on hope that no one picks their patent for willful infringement.

    Probably the best advice for people involved in IP development - get yourself good legal counsel (even at the start of the research process), and remember that there is more than one way to achieve the same outcome (so if you get sued for an implementation - change it to something else).

  • IPv4 (Score:1, Redundant)

    by coolnicks (865625)
    From the title i thought this was the state of IPv4 ... oh how i was disappointed
  • ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets maybe this has less to do with the fact that IP has become more numerous or "important", and more to do with the fact that recent extensions to both the breadth and lenght of copyright has produced an inordinate amount which actually surpresses the production of more tangible goods. Let me explai
    • qt1:ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets

      qt2:maybe this has less to do with the fact that IP has become more numerous or "important", and more to do with the fact that recent extensions to both the breadth and lenght of copyright has produced an inordinate amount which actually surpresses the production of more tangible goods

      Actual

      • Why was the great wealth of historical America founded on its slave plantations? Why is the great wealth of modern America founded on its latino chefs and landscapers?

        Because there are two forces driving human civilization. One is Capitalism, practiced since the dawn of time. The other I call Darwin's Dirty Secret (in other words, the pernicious effects of random evolution).

        First, Capitalism: It is so old that it predates the solar system. Capitalism is an aggregative, extractionist model that requires
  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:41PM (#13860088) Homepage

    "In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s."

    Wrong, the reason intellectual property has been recieving a lot more attention is because its the easiest way to milk capital from a technology dependant society without having to actually produce anything. Don't get me wrong, there are some valid legal complaints in the courts but, as most people here have noted over and over again, many of the companies submitting these complaints don't actually produce anything, they simply lay claim to some idea, label it as Intellectual Property, and make plans to profit from the work of others.

    This whole Intellectual Property scam has got to go. So keep these concepts in mind in your day to day workings:

    Copyrights are not Intellectual Property. Somebody did some significant work to express a story, a concept, an solution, whatever, in a written document, a film, a painting, a song, etc., and once the expression was completed the duplication of that expression is easy and inexpensive due to the technology we have for duplication and distribution. The copyright provides protection to those who expressed the work, however, the expression is NOT INTELLECTUAL! Its a peice of paper, a plastic disk, magnetic media inside a harddrive, its no longer intellectual. Since it is so easy to duplicate the work that has been done a copyright is a nice protection to those who did the work so that they may have some say over the duplication and distribution. If however, somebody comes up with a similar idea or is even influenced by someone elses expression and they go through and do the work over again then they have not infringed on anyones copyright or intellectual property.

    Trademarks are not intellectual property. If you concieve a name, an image, whatever, and you express that conception onto paper, in writing, in any way, and you register it as your trademark then you can use the registration to ensure that others do not use your trademark in ways that would confuse others as you or your product. However, again, this physical thing which is an expression is no longer intellectual. The final product, the trademark is not some intangible asset, if it was intangible it would be useless.

    Patents are not intellectual property. You come up with an idea and build a prototype or write down a conceptual design and present this for registration at the patent office so you will have the opportunity to profit from the idea by producing an end product. And once again none of the end results are intellectual, they are hard cold physical results. Even software code is physical, the CPU doesn't read your mind to run the code and the RAM and harddrive on which it is stored is not some magical ethereal thing, its a tangible chunk of hardware you use when you do the work of turning the ideas into something.

    I think this entire intellectual property circus is just a scam to confuse the masses and make them believe that any thought in their head belongs to some corporation somewhere for whom they should be working. And nobody should be attempting to do any work outside of what they do for the corporation as that would in some way be stealing some "intangible asset" from the company. Well forget it, its just one big smoke and mirrors freak show designed to rape the masses for every penny they have and any penny they may ever have.

    I mean really, can you believe this crap, "As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets". Does anybody really believe that everyone is paying all this cash to companies in America because some marketing guy, the salesman, and the chair slinging CEO said "I have this great idea, and if you pay me I'll tell you wh

    • Wrong, the reason intellectual property has been recieving a lot more attention is because its the easiest way to milk capital from a technology dependant society without having to actually produce anything. Don't get me wrong, there are some valid legal complaints in the courts but, as most people here have noted over and over again, many of the companies submitting these complaints don't actually produce anything, they simply lay claim to some idea, label it as Intellectual Property, and make plans to pro
  • by denissmith (31123) * on Sunday October 23, 2005 @06:43PM (#13860100)
    As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s. Of course the argument that IP is important because intangible assets are so important to business valuations could be seen as a misunderstanding. Maybe the company valuations are 50% too high, and IP is a rationalization of an untenable market?
  • I liked them better in 1851, when they thought patents were a bad idea.

    If you believe in "Intellectual property" and debate policies about IP, you are chasing something that does not exist. [gnu.org] Patents, copyright and trademarks are radically different concepts and should never be lumped together. The term IP is designed to confuse the real issues and muddy the publics' concept of what should and should not have state protection. Blather about software cross-licensing is equally foolish and anchored in disp

  • The whole patent problem can be reduced to a single point: the patent system, as currently implemented, does not scale, both in registration (filing for patents), and in resolution (resolving disputes). This is the natural result of trying manage a decentralized process (R&D) with a centralized system (patents); we are feeling these effects the most now, because of the drastic increase in the importance of information.

    There have been a number of solutions to this problem proposed, including eliminating patents altogether [homeip.net], or significant patent reform of some kind. Both could resolve the situation.

    However, one thing is clear: the problem is one of scaling a centralized system. Each patent that comes in requires decoding from legalese, and comparison with every other patent in the system that was ever recorded for prior art. For you programmers out there, that's an O(n) algorithm. 'n' is very large nowadays. 'n' will continue getting larger. Without managing this complexity in some sort of structured fashion, it will inevitably become unmangeable, just like any poorly chosen algorithm. If this is the best we can hope to do, then we have to scale our efforts at O(n) to keep up with the growth (funding, man power, etc.).

    I think they could do better. Heck, hire Google properly index some the patents and come up with an appropriate process for the examiners. Personally, I prefer as little intervention as possible; in other words, a decentralized system, which can scale with decentralized development, or no patent system at all; the patent system imposes significant hidden costs to the economy via litigation and lost time. But a centralized solution can work, as long as it is designed to scale properly.

    Now all you smart computer scientists, programmers, hackers, and mathematicians, let's hear some decentralized and/or scalable solutions; that's what we really need if we want to keep patents around. :-)
    • the patent system imposes significant hidden costs to the economy via litigation

      I should further note that the original reason behind patents, to ensure that knowledge of improvements to science and engineering is not lost but publicly documented, is a fairly moot point today. Employees move from company to company fairly frequently nowadays, and carry their knowledge with them. Without patents, there's really no reason they can't share that knowledge with future employers.
    • FFII promotes patent examination privatisation. Might be a solution.
    • I think the obvious first-cut to the patent problem is to disallow any patents that do not result in a physical object. In other words, all the software patents, the patents on genes, the patents on ideas (like one-click shopping) need to go in the trash. I get the sense that the bulk of today's patents are for IP-related concepts and if you got rid of those, patents would become real again.

      There are a lot of people out there who think that "a patent is for a process" and that's one of those ideas that so
    • However, one thing is clear: the problem is one of scaling a centralized system. Each patent that comes in requires decoding from legalese, and comparison with every other patent in the system that was ever recorded for prior art.

      Actually you'd need to check against every patent application and expired patent. Even then that is not the only possible source of "prior art".
      The other problems are that what is obvious dosn't tend to get written down and that the same thing might be possible to describe in dif
      • Actually you'd need to check against every patent application and expired patent. Even then that is not the only possible source of "prior art".

        Right, which is what I said. :-)

        The other problems are that what is obvious dosn't tend to get written down and that the same thing might be possible to describe in different ways. (The latter is especially a problem with a dishonest applicant who is deliberatly trying to make something commonplace sound like a new idea.)

        That is indeed another issue, since the paten
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @08:21PM (#13860569) Homepage
    As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s.

    We've farmed our manufacturing capacity out to countries that do not necessarily share our best interests. Our business economy is no longer based on things we make, but on brain share products.

    I'm not an economist but from a common sense perspective that just seems like a really shaky foundation for an economy. Why would the countries that make everything we buy give a rat's fanny about respecting our brain share assets? What are going to do if China starts pirating Disney movies? Or if they get tired of monkey boy and decide to field a chinese version of Windows? Threaten them with economic retaliation? Good luck with that, they own us. We take our money and buy things they produce, many time with machines we shipped over there so they could do it cheaper. Then they take our money and buy tangible things like property, oil, and natural resources.

    The feeling I get is their economy is based on things with some intrinsic value while ours is fundamentally based on things with very little intrinsic value.

    • Yes! Someone else finally gets it. I believe that (by content) nearly 50% of our military hardware is produced abroad (*cough* CHINA *cough*). China has been coming to the US for years and buying manufacturing capacity and then literally moving the plants brick-by-brick over to China.

      One day Chairman Mao could call the president of the US and demand a surrender saying, "I am the subcontractor of your subcontractor of your subcontractor for all your military hardware. I win, All your base are belong to

      • Only thing wrong with your rant: where did you see a "free market" in any of this?

        The entire economy of the world is regulated and controlled by the state - which in turn is bribed and financed by the rich. There's nothing "free" about any of that.

        As for the US military situation, I personally hope the US gets bombed back into the Stone Age as soon as possible (excluding my personal location, of course!) - or at least Washington, D.C. and related locations where the assholes of the world hang out. While thi
  • Clueless As Usual (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @09:15PM (#13860788) Homepage
    "firms increasingly rely on innovation to remain competitive. Yet the return on investment in R&D is short-lived because more people innovate at a far faster pace than before. That means margins have shrivelled, explains Ragu Gurumurthy of Adventis, an IT and telecoms consultancy. "How to recoup the cost of innovation? By licensing the technology," he says."

    In other words, we don't know how to compete by innovating and marketing, so we're going to stop innovating and use the state to make our money for us.

    Typical corporate thinking.
  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:13AM (#13861485) Homepage
    The vaunted Economist must be careful about its reputation. Last year, they had a long story on patents in which they expressly said: "The patent systems of the world aren't working." Now they come up with this pseudo-objective praise of software patents. That's schizophrenia, not pluralism.

    The competence of the author(s) with respect to the software industry must be seriously called into question, as the article says that companies selling open-source company are pro-patent, and then a Novell person is quoted. Novell only derives about 4% of its revenues from open source (the SuSE acquisition is a near-total failure). In contrast, Red Hat, MySQL AB, Mandriva, JBoss and other (real) open-source companies have publicly spoken out against software patents. It wouldn't have taken much research effort, even if only performed by a person with an extremely limited understanding of the software industry, to track down those statements. They're all over the Web, and in case of Red Hat and MySQL AB, they're on the corporate websites (plus those two companies co-sponsored my NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is also easy to find out).

    I'm also wondering why a publication that calls itself "The Economist" can't give serious consideration to economic studies (such as Bessen/Hunt) that take a much more critical perspective on the implications of today's patent regime. It seems that the Economist was under strong PR influence from Microsoft in this case because there are some typical MSFT points in it, such as this claim that software patents are needed in order to be adequately protected when publicizing information (which MSFT says in reference to governmental demands to disclose source code).

    The Economist article is fundamentally flawed, but this has to be attributed to the fact that the pro-patent forces like Microsoft make an incessant effort, day in day out, to pitch journalists with their story of patents and how they serve innovation. From time to time, they find an impressionable or credulous author who serves their purposes (or a journalist whose goodwill is easy to get by just inviting him somewhere for a week or whatever). In contrast, those companies and organizations which are critical of software patents have been relatively inactive since the European Parliament's decision on 6 July. As long as we were making an aggressive and professional PR effort ourselves, we also got better results. Nothing comes from nothing, it's as simple as that.

    At least there is one activity going on these days: We're very likely to win the Internet poll for the "EV50 Europeans of the Year" [nosoftwarepatents.com], the EU's premier political award. By pushing our candidates through (I'm also running in two categories myself) and preventing pro-patent politicians from winning anything, we can get another publicity opportunity for our cause and demonstrate to politicians that our movement is still to be reckoned with. The "EV" in "EV50" means "European Voice", an EU-focused publication that belongs to the Economist publishing group, and one of the three main sponsors is Microsoft :-)

    Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox (Linux kernel maintainer), Rasmus Lerdorf (PHP) and Monty Widenius (MySQL) have made a public statement in which they call on the FOSS community worldwide to participate in that Internet poll:
    ag-IP-news: Luminaries Call on Worldwide Community to Vote Against Software Patents [ag-ip-news.com]

    They have specifically endorsed our voting recommendations [nosoftwarepatents.com]. Please read those voting recommendations and give serious consideration to supporting our cause that way.

    • The competence of the author(s)...must be seriously called into question

      The problem with this article is that it doesn't have authors . If you follow the link, there is a decent amount of text and no author's name. Now, it's possible that somewhere, maybe in print, there is a person's name associated with this puff-piece, but even if there is, you can read the article and see that it doesn't contain any author's viewpoint at all.

      Instead, this Economist article is a high-school level survey of press relea
  • Guess what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phantasmo (586700) on Monday October 24, 2005 @01:26AM (#13861743)
    Guess what? If you're calling it Intellectual Property, you're already siding with the people who abuse the copyright and patent systems. Intellectual Property is not a legal term. It was invented by people and organizations that control large bodies of copyrighted work and patented "inventions" who work very hard to resist the public domain.
    It's all about controlling language. When you say "tax relief," you're asserting that taxes are a burden. When you say "Intellectual Property," you're asserting that copyrights, patents and trademarks are property (they're not) and that they're all fundamentally the same (again, they're not). That's why copying a CD results in being charged with copyright infingement, rather than theft (as the music industry calls it - another attempt at controlling language).
  • I see several very well argued points about the phony-scheme that "Intellectual Property" is.

    If there is a magazine that decision makers read, that is The Economist, if the magazine receives a load of arguments against the current system it will get noticed.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

Working...