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Patents Government United States Your Rights Online

US Patent Regime Is Absurd 202

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the self-inflicted-wound dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with an opinion piece in the Economist about the the effects of patent trolling on the US economy. The author argues that the U.S. patent regime is causing the U.S. essentially to harm itself. Things have gotten so bad that paying for protection is par for the course.
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US Patent Regime Is Absurd

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:30PM (#36964504) Homepage

    Human genes [acs.org] can be legally patented, according to a Federal Appeals court.

    Now, the difference here is that the genes are isolated from the body as a whole, but it seems like we're not too far from being in breach of patent every time we get it on.

  • In other news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by White Flame (1074973) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:35PM (#36964562)

    Water is wet, the sky is blue, and I didn't RTFA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:39PM (#36964600)

    You're missing the point. It's not that the patent system in the US is absurd...almost everyone here will acknowledge that. The story here is that a major publication like the Economist is taking that stance. When it's a bunch of nerds in an online forum whining about it, nothing will ever change. When it hits the mainstream, the politicians have to take notice.

  • Learn from History (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:42PM (#36964642)

    The exact extent of how much this can impact an Empire's economy can easily be seen by looking back a little bit into history. A couple of hundred years ago a major world-spanning power had quite restrictive and onerous patent and copyright laws (to the point where certain types of boats could only be constructed in particular home ports), and one of their upstart colonies took advantage of that with much more open and innovation-friendly rules.

    The countries in question of course are England and the USA.

  • Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:52PM (#36964752) Journal

    The US government plainly does not care whether their policies make sense, or help the people they ostensibly intend to. All that matters is that the right people get kickbacks and that politicians get reelected.

    See the War on Drug Users. This has always been an absurd effort. There has never been an honest argument in favor of criminalizing drugs, and every effort to define a rational policy(from LaGuardia in 1939 to the present day) has recommended decriminalization. Still, the US has waged war on its own citizens for decades, refusing to even allow serious discussion on alternative policies.

    You can expect to see the same here. There will be a war on patent infringers and a war on copyright infringers. They will be devastating to individual liberties, and they will be a drag on our economy. Still, the US will not consider alternatives, and will even put the full force of the US propaganda machine against those who do.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @04:02PM (#36964888)
    It is true that software patents, such as the one mentioned in the article, should never have been allowed in the first place. They have done almost nothing but damage.

    But aside from the bad decision of allowing software patents, the big problem has been the apparent incompetence of the Patent Office itself: issuing patents for things it never should have (because of things like prior art for example).

    If we want to have rational debate about the matter, we have to distinguish between bad laws (software patents), and bad administration of good laws (just about all the rest).

    Other than the software patent ruling, the system per se isn't flawed. It has just been badly administered, and in some cases abused. Those are not the same things.

    If you're playing poker, and somebody cheats (or fumbles while dealing the cards), that is not a flaw in the rules of poker. Similarly, the fact that our "patent system" is currently being abused in some cases and badly implemented in others is not a flaw in "the system", per se. It's just failure of the responsible parties to do it properly. There is a rather big difference.
  • Case in point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msclrhd (1211086) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @04:03PM (#36964896)

    Let's look at two areas of technology: video quality and JavaScript performance.

    With video quality, the relevant technologies for modern techniques are patented. This means that competing products are of a poorer quality or are artificially restricted. The companies that hold the patents are less likely to innovate and build on their existing work (except to create more patents), so the state of the art gets held back and is slow to advance.

    Now with JavaScript performance, take a look at the competition between Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer. All these products are competing against each other without resorting to patents. The net result is that you end up with faster JavaScript on all products, allowing for more advanced and interactive websites to be used. It also makes the competitors (Firefox and Internet Explorer) to improve and advance as the other products compete for user share. The net result is that the users of all web browsers benefit and the technology advances rapidly.

    So which one is better for innovation?

  • Re:Or not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tp1024 (2409684) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @09:24PM (#36967832)
    Patents that they were incapable of enforcing. Also, back then airplanes were disassembled and transported in boxes.

    Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wright_brothers_patent_war [wikipedia.org]

    The Wrights' preoccupation with the legal issue hindered their development of new aircraft designs, and by 1911 Wright aircraft were inferior to those made by other firms in Europe.[9] Indeed, aviation development in the US was suppressed to such an extent that when the U.S. entered World War I no acceptable American-designed aircraft were available, and the U.S. forces were compelled to use French machines.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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