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Legislation To Overhaul US Patent System 336

Posted by kdawson
from the none-too-soon dept.
FutureDomain sends us to a PC World report on the filing yesterday of legislation to overhaul the US patent system completely. The US has the only system worldwide that tries to ascertain who first invented a thing — everywhere else the criterion is who filed first, and the new legislation would bring the US into line. Identical bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate by, in each case, bipartisan sponsors. The corporate roster of backers includes Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, and nearly everyone else. From the article: "The provisions of the Patent Reform Act would... restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits, create a new procedure to challenge the validity of a patent after it has been granted, and boost resources for the US Patent and Trademark Office."
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Legislation To Overhaul US Patent System

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:17AM (#18796655)
    The biggest problem with patents right now is companies patenting all sorts of things, ideas, systems, etc. that they didn't invent. A great example is Microsoft trying to patent [slashdot.org] "spectator mode" in games (despite the fact that PC games have been doing it for YEARS).

    This legislation basically sounds like a free pass for companies to do this, and throw out the idea of "prior art" altogether. It's little wonder the big IP corporations are behind this (since they have the resources to file scores of patents, strong-arming out the little guys who may have actually invented them). And it's little wonder the patent office is behind it (since it GREATLY simplifies their job). But, for the consumer in particular, and for innovation in general, this could be one of the biggest bonehead moves out legislators have ever made (and that says a LOT).

  • Re:First Post! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:17AM (#18796661) Homepage
    No, no more prior art. If you filed first, screw prior art. It's yours.

    I think this is going to break it worse than it already is.
  • by xiard (866646) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:23AM (#18796739)
    I think I understand the rationale for changing the law, but as an application developer it worries me. I'm not interested in trying to patent software that I create, or any of the techniques that I use. I'm more interested in creating applications that are so compelling that they set a high standard that is difficult for competitors to meet, and then continously innovate to stay ahead of them. However, I have always felt like I could rely on the fact that I would be able to prove that I had "invented" the software techniques I use in my applications by keeping good records of my design documents, source code control history, etc. My worry with this new proposed law is that someone could take advantage of the fact that I don't care to go through the hassle of patenting aspects of my software and swoop in and patent the concepts themselves. It almost seems like it could foster a new age of "patent squatters" similar to URL squatters. Opportunists took advantage of the fact that many companies didn't acquire their trademark URLs in the web's infancy. I could easily see a similar technique arising with patents. All you would have to do is: - pick some successful web sites - check to see if they're doing anything remotely worth patenting - see if there's a patent yet for that - file the patent if there's not - blackmail the web site, threatening to shut them down if they don't pay you a royalty/settlement for the use of "their" technique. Am I off base here? Of course, I haven't read TFA yet, so I very well could be.
  • by daeg (828071) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:23AM (#18796747)
    It also means that every company, big or small, will have to try to patent EVERYTHING. If you don't, you risk becoming an infringer later. The law will make patents a necessity for operating even the smallest of business, and could easily render nearly every business out there an infringer.

    The horse had a bad broken leg before, now we're going to add a bullet through its skull and still try to ride it.
  • by btarval (874919) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:27AM (#18796805)
    "The corporate roster of backers includes Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, ..."

    Each of these companies is well-known for abusing Software patents; the first two in order to maintain their monopolies. Usually "reform" by these folks means "give me a bigger piece of the pie in order to stifle innovation and keep the little guys out".

    Pardon my suspicions, but I doubt this so-called "reform" is here to help us. TFA isn't clear on this, but it sounds like this is just to establish the first-to-file basis of patents, rather thna first-to-invent. First-to-invent is advantagous for the little guy, so it's no wonder the big companies are behind this dubious "reform". This is not good legislation.

    If they really wanted to reform the system, it would be better to either toss out Software Patents (and harmonize our system with much of the rest of the world) or at least require a working prototype before a Software Patent is granted.

  • Re:First Post! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThosLives (686517) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:29AM (#18796821) Journal

    I have to agree here - this is a horrible development.

    In my view, the extreme solution is this:

    1. No patents will exist as of 2025.
    2. You can get new patents up to 2025
    3. Any patent existing before 2025 will be in effect but expire on 2025.

    A more agreeable solution would be this: Patents only last 5 years.

    That will truly spawn innovation, because for anyone to make a buck, they will have to create new novel things. And the consumer will benefit, because innovations in manufacturing efficiency will mean that things take fewer resources to manufacture and last longer - differentiation will be in the product attributes, not in the patent portfolio. Sure, some people will claim they won't be able to recoup development costs or whatever, but that will just mean that development costs will have to come down or people will actually have to *gasp* do something truly innovative to get business. This is mostly Big Medicine, and if Big Medicine can't manage to be profitable at the prices the public is willing to pay (generic prices) without patent protection, then they (and the public) need to rethink the model: The public can either have new drugs and pay a lot to support the development costs, or have cheap generic drugs and no new ones. Supply and demand, free-market style (without the protectionism of patents).

  • Re:First Post! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jguthrie (57467) <jguthrie@brokersys . c om> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:30AM (#18796829) Homepage
    Prior art determines patentability, not the determination of who the inventor is. Look, patents are issued to inventors. In order for that to happen, the inventor must be determined. Right now, the standard in the US is "first to invent", which means that the patent office has to examine the evidence and determine who invented the invention first. Now, since they obviously can't trust anyone's word on the subject, they have to examine evidence which is usually (always? IANAL) in the form of notebooks that have to be properly kept. In the absence of other evidence, the first person to file is declared the inventor.

    Now, this is not to say that the bill would not break the US patent system any more than it already is, but one really can't tell that just from reading a summary. You should read the actual bill before concluding that it makes any problems worse.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:33AM (#18796863)
    And, that in turn means that innovation will stagnate because it will become impossible for any small company of individual to invent ANYTHING which doesn't infringe on some big corp's patent. Only the most powerful corps (with the connections, reciprocal patents, and $$ to make deals with OTHER big corps) will be able to innovate. The little guy (like the guys who founded Netscape, Google, YouTube, etc.) will be completely shut out of the game.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:43AM (#18796997) Homepage Journal
    IF you think Patent abuse is bad now, this won't only hurt inventors, it will remove any recourse they have when they have been ripped off.

    This is not reform we need, it is reform large corporations need.
    Yes, the patent system needs some changes, but that is no reason to accept ANY change just for the sake of change.

    What the patent needs is to remove business methods and software patents. The rest of it is pretty good, expcially compared to other countries.

    Contact you legislators and tell them no, this isn't broken.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:51AM (#18797099) Homepage Journal
    Why don't they do something useful like void software and business method patents while they're at it?

    They never do anything useful, you silly person. They're the federal government. They're operating largely outside the bounds of the constitution and their primary foci are to (a) consolidate power, and (b) accrue money and distribute it to the power holders. See their current "interpretation" of the commerce clause for details. I'll give you a capsule: The constitution says the feds can govern INTERstate commerce. The feds say that means they can govern INTRAstate commerce. See how that works? Black is white, white is black, and your complaints are double-plus ungood. Now go back to sleep like a good citizen.

  • First to file (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paulxnuke (624084) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:54AM (#18797143)
    So if I invent something, can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for a patent, and someone else finds out and patents it, I'm screwed? I can either keep my invention a secret and hope no one thinks of it, or let it become known and wind up paying a lawyer for the right to use it?

    The new procedure for challenging validity (whatever it might be, and if it addresses such cases at all) is likely to cost even more (requires a lawyer, where it's at least theoretically possible to get a patent without one for only a few thousand in filing fees.)

    Unless they also get rid of software patents (ha!) this sounds from the article like it simply hands the whole system over to the large companies, rather than the current arrangement that forces them to at least pay some legal fees to rip inventors off.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:58AM (#18797213) Homepage Journal
    I smell large amounts of money, and am wondering which person in Washington D.C. suddenly has a huge wad of cash to spend.

    It isn't just money, you know. It is the promise of jobs after government employment. Low-rate loans. "Speaking" engagements. Lecture tours. Book deals. Boats. Houses. Sex. Vacations, junkets and "fact-finding" missions. Access to people in power. Tips - market and otherwise. All manner of free dinners and drinks. Power for its own sake. Oh, and of course - money.

    There is no more corrosive environment than a political position in Washington DC. It's a wonder our representatives don't outright grow horns the first day on the job. Sadly, a 100% corrupt person looks just like one that isn't.

  • Re:Bizarroworld (Score:5, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:06AM (#18797331) Homepage Journal
    It costs only $150 for a "small entity" to file a patent, and it doesn't take a patent lawyer to present the documentation to the court. If it exists, the patent holder can provide the documentation. The problem lies with inventors who don't patent their work, believing (often correctly) that it is obvious and unpatentable, but the patent office grants one to the "big guys" anyway.
  • Re:First Post! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikeisme77 (938209) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:09AM (#18797365) Homepage Journal

    I think it's already pretty clear that it will be bad as it will benefit patent trolls and hurt technologies developed by consortiums or open source projects (neither of which tend to patent their ideas--consortiums just establish standards that define the technologies, and open source projects normally don't waste the money on patents). For example, look at the Verizon vs. Vonage case where Verizon was the first to patent, but as of a Slashdot story yesterday it seems that a consortium of various IT companies actually met and established the standards/protocols/underlying technology of VoiP in question at least a year prior to Verizon filing for a patent.

  • BSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigDumbAnimal (532071) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:12AM (#18797413)

    But several tech trade groups and companies ... Business Software Alliance (BSA) -- praised the sponsors for reintroducing the updated bill.
    If the BSA is for it, I'm against it. They are by definition anti-consumer and anti-business (not named Microsoft).
  • Damage Caps Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:17AM (#18797487) Homepage
    The provisions of the Patent Reform Act would... restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits

    Ahhh, I love that. So it's going to be enough for the big guys (who are all backing it) to kill upstart competition. But if the big guys think they can ship a lot of product, they can simply; ignore the little guy's patent, bury him in lawyers if they do get sued, and in the unlikely event that the little guy can withstand that onslaught, the most the big guy risks is one quarter's worth of profits. Excellent.
  • by argoff (142580) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:31AM (#18797715)

    Yeah right, like this ever works

    He's right, it never does, it's like slave reform. Any "solution" that puts off complete elimination only openes itself up to the next level of abuse. Patents are arguably more evil than slavery. Like 15 million impovrished Africans being sued in the world court not to purchase generic AIDS drugs from India, like safety devices in cars held back 20 years while over a million people died in auto accidents. Like 20 million elderly being subjected to overpriced drugs that have unknown chemichal distortions only because safer classes aren't patentable. It's amazing the number of people we are willing to torture and kill in the name of fradulent property rights. People say "well, we would never be so barbaric as to allow fradulent use of the word 'property' to justify the torture and murder of innocent people like they did in 1850, we would never be like those idiots who just wanted the slave states to get along with the free states". NOT!

    Last time they did "patent reform" they created a patent court. But being a patent court means they had more incentive than ever to expand their influence by expanding the scope, role, and influence of patents. It totally blew up in our faces. This time it will probably mean that all the small company innovators who can't hire a staff of lawyers to file first are going to get screwed. Yeah, they may have prior art, but yeah they will need to hire an army of lawyers to defned it.

    The bottom line is that innovators and scientists are good at inventing things. Lwayers and governments and conglomerates are good at controling things. Think about it. Patnets punish people who share and collaberate, and now with first file that will be more true than ever, who will share R&D when that very sharing could lock them out and screw them. If people think R&D costs are high now, just wait, and watch .... then they will say "wahhh, we need more patnets because R&D costs more than ever". The phrase, "the bad tree bears bad fruit has never been so true as with patnets."

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:33AM (#18797739) Homepage Journal
    How's this for a compromise:

    First to file is presumed to be first to invent.
    2nd to file gets no rights but can cancel the patent.
    Fraudulent first-files don't count. The next guy in line is the first to file.

    • If I invent before you do and you file your independent work before I do, it's evidence that the invention is "obvious" and nobody gets the patent. This won't apply if you got wind of my invention. In the case of overlapping applications, only the unique parts can be patented.

    • Once you get wind of my invention, you must prove you invented it before you heard of my invention if you hope to invalidate my application using your work. You must also prove you intended to publish the details or file a patent within a reasonable time of the date of the invention. In other words, if you mothballed a project before publicizing it you can't use it to invalidate someone else's later identical invention.

    • Fraudulent applications are criminal offenses. If you steal my invention and file a patent before I do and I can prove it, you go to jail for patent fraud. If I can't prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal court but I can convince the patent office, your application is voided. The first non-fraudulent filer gets to be the "first to file."
  • Re:First Post! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:34AM (#18797769) Homepage Journal

    You should read the actual bill before concluding that it makes any problems worse.

    I have two arguments against your statement, and I'm only half joking.

    First, the bill is backed by every large technology corporation. The only bills large corporations ever approve of are ones that increase their profits, usually at the expense of smaller companies or individuals. And if both Microsoft and IBM agree to it, this trips all my warning alarms and signals about "bad ideas".

    The other argument is that Congress is horribly, horribly broken, and I simply do not trust them to pass good or useful legislation. This country needs fewer laws, not more laws. In general, if they're passing a piece of legislation, it's going to be bad for us regardless of the topic.

    That said, I'm actually looking forward to reading the bill. I mean the USPTO is already pretty screwed up, so this offers the faint glimmer of hope that it really will reform them. But I'm also prepared to be severely disappointed.

  • Re:First Post! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ect5150 (700619) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:36AM (#18797807) Journal
    Mostly big medicine? How long are any of Intel or AMD's chips in development before they reach affordable levels? Sure, dual core CPUs may come come out right before your 5 year mark, but how expensive were these? Its true that if its 5 years, you'd see generic dual cores and costs would come down. Intel and MAD would just quit making new ones because they could take their money someplace else.

    Same thing with the game consoles market. How long was that Cell processor Sony was making in development? We've been hearing about it for 5 years, should Nintendo be able to make a cheap version of the Wii with the Cell processors in it? "Hey, we play Wii games and PS3 games!"

    The worst part is, the above examples are just the tech industry. You mention 'big medicine' ... but big medicine typically takes a little longer to develop (and thus can be more costly) than 5 years. The patent system does need to apply to all industries.
  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:39AM (#18797857) Journal
    Does this mean you can publish Alpha-Null versions of TurboJunk that "SortaWorks" to prove your key concepts, even though it has a thousand other bugs?

    And is there a fast & dirty way to "publish" that's free?

    Seems to me this could be a great sneaky gift to OSS types, who LIKE publishing their work.

    Question: Can we outrace the Closed Source shops until "all the good stuff is open?"

  • by Snotman (767894) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:43AM (#18797937)
    It sounds like the patent office wants to put open source/public domain out of business. OS/PD projects will have to hire lawyers to scrub OS/PD for patents for protection from future legal action. I would estimate that the only way OS/PD will be able to compete is to be given time from a lawyer to do the work. I do not think many OS/PD projects have the budget to hire lawyers. And I am not speaking about copyright. If OS/PD projects do not do due dilligence, I imagine they can be threatened by someone that has been granted a patent on some "innovation" that was realized in the OS/PD.

    A smart person would scrub open source for patent ideas and start patenting away. Shoot, scrub commercial products for innovations that exist that others may have not seen previously. Now, if someone could lift out some patents from MS products, Amazon, etc that the respective companies hadn't thought of, we can patent their hard work and send them a bill for all the money that was made as a result of said patent.
  • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:50AM (#18798049) Homepage
    It's a wonder our representatives don't outright grow horns the first day on the job.

    "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."-Douglas Adams
  • by radtea (464814) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:51AM (#18798073)
    As for what the rest of the world does, who the hell cares?

    We care because a lot of people here are saying "This couldn't possible work! I can imagine it will lead to all kinds of bad effects like this..." and they then go on to describe something that is known to not happen in the rest of the world where first-to-file has been the norm for decades.

    These people remind me of nothing so much as a Renaissance mystic's response to Galileo's observation of the Jovian moons. He said that because there were seven seas on the Earth and seven openings in the human skull, there must be only seven planets in the heavens, so Galileo must be wrong. It "just made sense" to him that extra planets were impossible.

    Empirical evidence is always the final arbiter of reality, and should be the final arbiter of policy, and the people here who are basing their beliefs about the consequences of first-to-file on the contents of their imaginations need to start looking beyond the end of their own cerebral cortex.

    Just look at how attention to foreign implementations has been fucking up our copyright laws.

    Actually, speaking in my capacity as a foreigner, what is happening is quite the opposite. The US is continually trying to bully us into adopting your crazy copyright system. [theglobeandmail.com]

    Empirical fact. It's not just for scientists any more.
  • by AndyG314 (760442) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:10AM (#18798375) Homepage
    Imagine a world without patents though...
    There would be limited insentive for anyone to invent anything new. The people who spent the time, and invested the money in inventing new products and developing new ideas would have to live with anybody comming along and releasing a knock-off of their product. Honest inventors who developed new things would be very limited in their ability to capatilize on them. Patents allow for people responsible for something to get a head start to market before the patent expires (you might argue that currently they get too much time, and I might be persuaded to agree with you there).
    You talk about the drug companies, and how evil they are. But regardless of anything else they invent things that extend and improve our lives, don't they deserve to make money from it? Perhaps a tiered pricing model, which would allow people who can't afford it to buy their meds at a lower price would be a good thing, but at the end of a day, they deserve to make back their investment in the research to create a new drug, and patents allow that to happen. Without patents there would be much less incentive for research companies to invest all that money in new drugs, which means no future drugs that could improve our lives.
    There is more to the patent system than abuse, and just because some people abuse it doesn't mean that we should dismanle the entire system.
  • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:30AM (#18798711)

    Patents are arguably more evil than slavery. Like 15 million impovrished Africans being sued in the world court not to purchase generic AIDS drugs from India... It's amazing the number of people we are willing to torture and kill in the name of fradulent property rights.
    Hyperbole doesn't help your case. First of all, AIDS is a preventable disease. Second of all, agricultural import quotas and export subsidies by developed nations... coupled with poor property rights for Africans themselves (some of the countries are better than others, but just look at how Mugabe destryed Zimbabwe by taking away land from one group of people to give it to another group) hurt more Africans than patents do because they prevent (economically speaking) them from developing their own farming industry which would provide both food and enough income to purchase drugs legitmately. Besides, patents grant limited (only 20 years last time I checked) monopolies that allow profits to be made and THIS encourages investment in innovation. We would NOT be better off if it became unprofitable to develop new drugs in the first place.
  • Patents are not that bad ... only need two important modifications:

    Patents like "We have a way of doing X that has 2000 variables that describes how it's done. Each variable has 100 different possible values. I patent a method of doing X exactly like it's currently done only that variable number 1347 takes the value number 238 and i apply it to this particular field".

    There are certain concepts that come from common sense or are too similar to existing concepts applied to other areas that shouldn't be patentable. If, in the example above, we patented every possibility, we would have 2000 x 100 = 200.000 different patents. Let's say that to create a complex tech device you use 100 different components, and each is covered by 5 patents, you could have 100 million possible patents filed that cover what you are developing.
    Patents too general or too specific shouldn't be allowed. Also, there is an important difference between discovering and inventing. Inventing is combining different existing concepts in a new way that has enough differences to other invents to be considered innovative. Discovering is finding out that something exists or has a given set of characteristics or can be explained in a certain way. You shouldn't be able to patent e=m.c2, or what a chromosome does. That's why we have patents and copyright. Certain ideas that are either very general or very specific should be used to build some product or explained in documents and those can be copyrighted. When you have some idea that is truly innovative, then you can get a patent.

    If we accept patents for just anything that may be thought off that is a little bit different from something else, or hasn't been worded in that way before, we will end up by having everything patented.

    Think about this:

      - I patent the nail as "a cylindric piece of metal with a sharp edge that is inserted into other objects to hold them together."
      - I patent the nail as "a cylindric piece of metal with a sharp edge that is inserted into other objects."
      - I patent the nail as "a cylindric piece of metal with a sharp edge."
      - I patent the nail as "a cylindric piece of metal."
      - I patent the nail as "a piece of metal."
      - I patent the nail as "something."

    Those ideas are inclusive. As i progress to more general definitions, i could progress to more specific definitions ad infinitum.

    In order to fix the patent system we need to:

      - Set clear time limits for patents.
      - Define how specific an idea has to be in order to be considered for a patent.
      - Reject ideas that would actually stop innovation (for example, patents so simple and broad that could be applied to many things in many areas).
      - Reject ideas that are just an application of common sense, existing laws or formulas, or applications of ideas from one are in other areas.
      - Reject ideas that are so obvious, that it's just a matter of time that they appear.
  • by bcharr2 (1046322) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:43AM (#18798959)

    In most of the world the person who gets to the patent office first gets the patent and the one who gets there second gets nothing.

    If two individuals file for the same patent at almost exactly the same time, assuming one party did not "borrow" the idea from the other party, then shouldn't this mean that no patent should be granted? I mean, if two separate parties are arriving at the same conclusion at nearly the same time... then to me the idea is one that is obvious enough that most experts attempting to solve the same problem would arrive at the same conclusion. In my mind patents should only be granted on innovative ideas that completely shatter the status quo, not for simply being the first person to attempt to solve a particular problem.
  • Re:First Post! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:47AM (#18799027) Journal
    The answer might be that we properly fund our universities and government research labs to tackle these problems at cost instead of for a profit. The, the governments charge a nominal fee for the agencies in charge (like the FDA in the US) to come in and certify the drug company's implementation of the manufacturing line. All new drugs are generic, because the research was done by the public sector for the public. The drug companies that want to keep doing their own research can, and can file patents, but they'd be competing with well-heeled groups doing the research with no profit motive. Ban governmentally funded groups from keeping patents or letting the students and professors have them, too. IF it was done under hire for the government, it's public property. If a fully private university wants to patent stuff, that's fine because they're private. Tax dollars would be much better spent before the profits are figured in instead of buying the drugs for the public from the drug companies with the huge markups.

    I'm also all for anything written as part of a public school project or within a government agency falling under the "works for hire" idea for copyright. The incentive to create is already there, because it's a grade or a paycheck. That's all the incentive you need. A student or a government employee would still own anything they did independently away from school or work, even if it's related to what they do while there. This would keep things like tech startups with closed source software written as class projects from darkening the industry landscape. If you want to go proprietary, you should write it for the company. If you wrote it for school, it should be open source. Privately funded schools, of course, would be able to close source for the school or negotiate rights with the students or their parents.
  • by Znork (31774) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:52AM (#18799113)
    "There would be limited insentive for anyone to invent anything new."

    Not granting exclusive monopoly rights does not mean not paying for the research. The damaging monopoly aspects of patents, such as litigation warfare, overincentive for marketing, reduced competetive pressure for efficiency and slowed down dissemination of new products in the market can be removed while we could still very well pay the actual innovators as their products get used.

    "But regardless of anything else they invent things that extend and improve our lives, don't they deserve to make money from it?"

    Of the money society is currently spending on pharmaceuticals, less than 20% gets used for R&D. This means we could get _FIVE TIMES_ as much research for the money we're spending today. Ask the people who could have been cured if those 80% werent wasted on marketing and inefficiency what the pharmas deserve. Can you even imagine what kind of extensions and improvement we'd have today if we'd had that kind of research levels the last thirty years?

    "There is more to the patent system than abuse"

    Yes, there's also inefficiency, corruption, market failures, duplicated effort, slowed development, etc. Take a look at former communist run factories at approximately how streamlined industry becomes when it's protected from competition.
  • by mattcasters (67972) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:28PM (#18799795) Homepage
    I just can't believe that your post is being modded insightful...

    So what you're saying is that countries where half of the population has AIDS, need to pay up or wait 20 years for medication?

    Mmm, I wonder why they don't agree with your view of things... They must not be very well educated, such as yourself for example.
    Or is it perhaps because these countries risk milions of deaths and total collapse?

    Your reasoning for cold blooded capitalism without any regard for human life is simply put disgusting. Citing some other problems these folks have over there as an excuse for this blind cold "cash" point of view doesn't make it any better either.

    Enjoy your lunch,

    Matt
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:00PM (#18800315) Journal
    You, too, are propagating the same lie [slashdot.org] that the pharmas do. The patent system, and all other IP law is designed to provide control, not innovation. Things will be invented out of need, with or without the patent system. We're not just going to sit around and rot. We don't need it. Only the pirates needs such things, so they can "sell refrigerators to the eskimos".
  • by yfarren (159985) <yossi@farv[ ]om ['i.c' in gap]> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:59PM (#18802411) Homepage
    No. There are things, which are, factually WRONG. Not Morally Wrong. Not positions I disagree with. Just simply factually wrong. An Example:

    The GGGP ( The GP of my original post): "if filing first is all you need to do. Just steal somebody else's idea and file it first." OK. So he is using a question to make a statement. Yay. His statement is just so terribly misleading. Look, If I have a friend who tells me in confidence about his Idea, then his scenario is Plausible. I would be committing theft, if I did it, and sometimes theft is hard to prove. The proposed legislation does nothing to affect this situation. His next comment (again, a Suggestive Question, the recourse of cowards and lazy Journalists) is very simple. The Patent would get thrown out. In both cases, his proposed scenarios are irrelevant, or stupid, and unfortunately, problematically suggestive, to someone not versed in patent Law. Take For example the post I commented on. He takes the GGGP's post, and goes with the GGGP's train of thought: "A smart person would scrub open source for patent ideas and start patenting away. Shoot, scrub commercial products for innovations that exist that others may have not seen previously." Well, no, that would already be prior Art. Wouldn't work. Just wrong.

    Now, the GGP Does say something interesting, namely: "Now, if someone could lift out some patents from MS products, Amazon, etc that the respective companies hadn't thought of." Well, If I can come up with a specific way of using your product, in a non-obvious, but Useful way, then yes, I can Get a patent on it. Somewhat the way AZT is patented for its use in treating AIDS. AZT was created sometime in the 50's. However its use to treat Aids was discovered in the late 80's Early 90's. Some Drug company did Millions and millions of tests on known compouds, and found that one had a use, no-one had previously known about. And then AZT got patented for use in treating AIDS. Note that shortly AZT will fall into the public domain (if it isn't already). Also, consider that tens of millions of Dollars were spent investigating various existing chemichals, that would not have been spent, if a company couldnt recoup those expenditures. So, in Having a patent system, somone went and found out AZT was useful against AIDS.

    If, for instance, I found a way to use Microsoft Excel, to turn my laptop into a cheap Radio Telescope, I could absolutely patent that. Anyone wanting to use my method of making the Excel Radio Telescope would have to get liscenced from me, AND Microsoft. In fact, I couldnt use my method, without paying for my copy of excel (well, I just use OOMath. When I bother with spreadsheets. Which I dont do. Mostly I use PostgreSQL and some PHP.). However, you could do that. Patenting Excel to make a spreadsheet, however, wouldn't work at all, as that is what is was made to do.

    In short. Some things, that are based on facts, can be wrong. To say "there should be no wrong, everything is just an opinion, and all opinions should be respected eaqually" sounds real nice, but is, in fact a bunch of crap. The proposed legislation doesn't affect what is patentable, and to suggest that it does, is simply "wrong".

Your program is sick! Shoot it and put it out of its memory.

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