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Economists Argue Patent System Should Be Abolished

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  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:33AM (#42808013)

    For years, but ain;t gonna happen. The big corps will buy the senators and reps to make sure it NEVER happens.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cshark (673578)

      There are industries where a severely limited patent system makes sense. Any industry that's too tightly regulated by government, so that barrier to entry is impossible, like pharma or telecom. Of course you could solve the same problem by pealing back the red tape as well. Competition in the free and open market is the only thing that truly breeds innovation. No free market, no competition. It's easy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tyrione (134248)

        There are industries where a severely limited patent system makes sense. Any industry that's too tightly regulated by government, so that barrier to entry is impossible, like pharma or telecom. Of course you could solve the same problem by pealing back the red tape as well. Competition in the free and open market is the only thing that truly breeds innovation. No free market, no competition. It's easy.

        You live in a deluded fantasy that free market and zero regulation means honest brokers and business ventures. Grow up and get passed Friedman's fallacy along with Ayn Rand.

        • Believing that capitalism generally works (it does, and this is historically verifiable) doesnt mean youre in bed with Ayn Rand or that it makes all involved moral actors.

          He spoke of competition and innovation, not honest brokers. The beauty of capitalism is that it doesnt matter if youre honest or not, if you provide crappy service you will be out competed.

          • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:03PM (#42809103)

            He spoke of competition and innovation, not honest brokers. The beauty of capitalism is that it doesnt matter if youre honest or not, if you provide crappy service you will be out competed.

            That's the case when you're the little guy, sure.

            Once you start to get monopoly power, things get more interesting. In the absence of contrary regulation, you can prevent resellers or middlemen from handling competing products, preventing them from reaching market. You can get exclusive contracts on materials or infrastructure your competitors would need, driving up their costs and thus their prices; you can drive standards and make the creation of interchangeable or interoperable widgets unnecessarily expensive or complex... etc.

            "The beauty of capitalism" works fine when the startup and infrastructure costs are small, the inputs widely available, the output truly fungible, and customers and suppliers unhindered in their ability to select the product they wish to carry or purchase. Here in the real world, we need regulation to ensure that the free market keeps working outside those ideal conditions.

          • by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:11PM (#42809243)

            In an unregulated market, being honest means that your product/service will appear "crappy" when it is compared to something that it represented dishonestly. The biggest scam artist rises to the top.

        • You live in a deluded fantasy that free market and zero regulation means honest brokers and business ventures. Grow up and get passed Friedman's fallacy along with Ayn Rand.

          Your use of straw man arguments is an obvious sign of maturity...

      • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:41AM (#42808827)

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. You are obviously not in the medical business.

        No CAT Scan, MRI or Cancer drugs would have been invented without patents to give the inventors time to make their years of investment back by a period of exclusivity. Regulation by the government (mostly for safety & efficacy) is just another business expense, like fuel, that all players pay. The price to enter the game.

        I have spent over $1m with my partner over 5 years to develop a product and get it FDA cleared for sale with 3 patents. We simply would not have started this project without knowing we could patent what we do, because otherwise J&J and P&G would both copy our product starting the day we released it publicly.

        There would then be almost no way to make our investment back at that point, without patents.

        P&G and J&J can compete with us, but they can't do it by just copying. They will have to invent something even better that gets the results a different way. That is progress. Mankind has progressed this way at the fastest rate in the history of man, and virtually all of it in the last 200 years. Patents drive innovation. Ordinary citizens benefit from the release from drudgery as a result. It only took about a century to relieve about 80% of the population involved in hard physical farm work down to 5% of the population in farm work, supported mostly by farm machinery inventions.

        I am sick of the lack of knowledge (lack in the education system) of how mankind has advanced and how the business process aids new products when people can spend years of hard work and spending of large sums of money with no guarantee at all of success, but knowing that if they can get limited time protection for their work they can then have a chance to profit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > No CAT Scan, MRI or Cancer drugs would have been invented without patents

          IMHO research should be done on tax payers money, using global co-operation. Once the research is done, private companies can manufacture products. This would have several advantages.

          • History does not warant a government-only solution. Indeed, it strongly suggests against it.

            Typed from a smart phone that probably wouldn't exist even 75 years from now if left up to government.

            • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:31PM (#42809467)

              Interesting, I do hope you realize that what you are reading, and what you using as a medium to communicate did come from the government. Please check your facts... Thank-you and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

              • by vakuona (788200)

                You mean the internet. Well, the argument isn't that government can never invent anything useful. It's that for the most part, they wouldn't invest in the right thing. Back when the internet was invented, no one except for government wanted (or needed) a fault resistant network, so government had to create one on its own. And fair dues, they invented something useful.

                But would they have invested a smartphone? Unlikely

          • by pepty (1976012)

            IMHO research should be done on tax payers money, using global co-operation. Once the research is done, private companies can manufacture products. This would have several advantages.

            While Pharmas have certainly made plenty of poor drug development decisions, having biologically illiterate congressmen pushing their own agendas wouldn't help. If we let them choose which drug targets and phase 0 - phase II drug candidates to throw billions of dollars at (and it would be those congresscritters pulling the strings no matter what august body they nominally put in charge) we would end up following their whims, resulting in the lost decade of magic beans autism cures followed by the lost decad

        • by tap (18562) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:10PM (#42809221) Homepage
          Will you still feel the same way when P&G and J&J decide they can compete with you by finding some of their 20 million patents that are possibly related to your product and then keeping you in litigation until your $1m dries up?
          • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:49PM (#42809719)

            It's a different operating space ; pharma patents the molecule. Medicines only have a few components. Patents are narrow - a molecule is a molecule and can't be interpreted as anything else.

            Software has a multiplicity of components, it's virtually impossible to write any new software without infringing existing patents, since the ones we have are ridiculously broad. The scenario you describe is easy to encounter in the software world.

            The best way to avoid this issue, as far as I can tell, is base your company value on brand and service rather than patented technology. As you say - a big patent holder can almost certainly torpedo any new software project if they want to. But they can't torpedo your brand or reputation in the same way. Which is probably one of the reasons for the whole Software As A Service fad - if you hide it behind a firewall and don't show the innards off, you're less likely to get sued for patented tech in those innards.

            Better still, stop granting software patents. What constitutes "obvious to an ordinary practitioner" changes with such rapidity that the 20 year lifespan is just mental.

        • by DiniZuli (621956) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#42809449) Homepage
          You, Sir, has clearly not RTFP!
          Please at least read page 13 of the paper, and throw out your well preserved assumptions of how the world works.
          - I'll give you a taste of page 13:
          "There are four things that should be born in mind in thinking about the role
          of patents in the pharmaceutical industry. First, patents are just one piece of a
          set of complicated regulations that include requirements for clinical testing and
          disclosure, along with grants of market exclusivity that function alongside patents.
          Second, it is widely believed that in the absence of legal protections, generics would
          hit the market side by side with the originals. This assumption is presumably based
          on the observation that when patents expire, generics enter immediately. However,
          this overlooks the fact that the generic manufacturers have had more than a decade
          to reverse-engineer the product, study the market, and set up production lines.
          Lanjouw’s (1998) study of India prior to the recent introduction of pharmaceutical
          patents there indicates that it takes closer to four years to bring a product to market
          after the original is introduced—in other words, the fifi rst-mover advantage in pharmaceuticals
          is larger than is ordinarily imagined. Third, much development of
          pharmaceutical products is done outside the private sector; in Boldrin and Levine
          (2008b), we provide some details. Finally, the current system is not working well:
          as Grootendorst, Hollis, Levine, Pogge, and Edwards (2011) point out, the most
          notable current feature of pharmaceutical innovation is the huge “drought” in the
          development of new products."
        • by fatphil (181876)
          > No CAT Scan, MRI or Cancer drugs would have been invented without patents

          Can you please name an equivalent-sized economy and market without patent laws which didn't also see the invention anti-cancer drugs? Your stance is one of /post hoc ergo propter hoc/ - we had the patent system, then we had the inventions, therefore the patents caused the inventions. That's a classic logical fallacy.
        • by citizenr (871508) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:36PM (#42810425) Homepage

          Wrong, wrong, wrong. You are obviously not in the medical business.

          No CAT Scan, MRI or Cancer drugs would have been invented without patents to give the inventors time to make their years of investment back by a period of exclusivity.

          Dont forget aqueduct, sanitation, roads, irrigation, medicine, education, health! Would never happen without patents.

          Oh, did I mention Shakespeare would not write anything without Strong Copyrights?

        • by xiox (66483) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:11PM (#42810887) Homepage

          p>No CAT Scan, MRI or Cancer drugs would have been invented without patents to give the inventors time to make their years of investment back by a period of exclusivity.

          Really? Most fundamental medical advances are created in academia, mostly with public money. Many companies just take the relatively small step to a commercial product. William H. Oldendorf would have done his pioneering work on the CAT scan, whether there was a patent system or not. Indeed, looking at his wikipedia biography, he worked in public institutions for most of his life.

        • by nblender (741424) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:11PM (#42810891)

          You are wrong. Anyone can copy your patented work and market it if they have a larger legal budget than you do.

          I (and my business partner at the time) came up with a unique way to solve a problem. We patented it, and began selling product. We sold several thousand instances of said product and a big US company (we were a Canadian company) came along and duplicated our product, and began selling their copy for less than our parts cost. We had our lawyer send a nastygram, including our patent for reference. We received a reply from their legal department that said "We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated "... Our lawyer said that was lawyer speak for "come and get us, if you dare.". The best we could do was prevent them from exporting their product into Canada but since 95% of our customers were US based, we were screwed and eventually went out of business. It was estimated that it would take 5-10 years to fight and probably on the order of $1M.

      • Of course you could solve the same problem by pealing back the red tape as well

        In pharma, that red tape is known as "making sure the drug doesn't outright kill you." It's not perfect and it's currently being gamed, but the red tape is absolutely necessary.

        The other problem with pharma is that the red tape is only necessary for the first person to do it. Thus, if the patent system goes away but the red tape stays there, then innovation will disappear completely because everyone will jump on the new drugs with generics and no need to recoup the costs of making sure it doesn't kill pe

    • by fascismforthepeople (2805977) <fascismforthepeople@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:40AM (#42808091) Homepage Journal

      The big corps will buy the senators and reps to make sure it NEVER happens.

      You have that exactly backwards. Large corporations would prefer to have no patent system at all. To a large corporation a patent is a barrier to profit. A patent prevents a large company from making a cheap clone of an existing product and selling it to unsuspecting consumers at a profit. The reason why companies are buying up each others' patents is only to protect themselves; they would just as soon see the patent system go away entirely. It has brought about an arms race between companies, where none of the participants actually want to partake in the race - however they can't afford to abandon it either unless they know everyone else will do the same. And the only way to know that is to have everyone forced to do it.

      • by lorenlal (164133) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:02AM (#42808419)

        I think a middle ground is the more prudent course of action. I actually wonder if this suggestion was put out there as a starting point to begin negotiations. I'd certainly love to see us do away with software (since that's copyright IMHO), and business practice patents. But, I'm willing to bet that there are still plenty of justifiable reasons to keep patents for new inventions. I'm also sure we can reasonably debate how long these patents should be good for, and also address the processes of attaining one.

        I don't think the *only* reason companies are buying up other patents are for protection. I think we all know some cases where they're being bought up for the purpose of going on the offensive. There are also many patents out there that are even serving their original intent too, I'm sure.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'll take some of whatever you're smoking. Patent law is overwhelmingly used for offensive strategies, as opposed to defensive strategies (as you claim). And the vast majority of invocations of patent law are performed by mega-corporations, rather than the little guy (as you claim).

        It is almost too ironic that you told the guy above you that he "has it backwards".

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Yes. Large pharma companies famously hate the patent system. They would much rather generic versions of their new drugs be available as soon as they get FDA approval. All that lobbying Pfizer has done to get patent laws strengthened and to try to convince the US government to pressure other countries not to allow generic nelfinavir was in some parallel universe.

      • by Kingkaid (2751527) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:10PM (#42809225)

        You have that exactly backwards. Large corporations would prefer to have no patent system at all. To a large corporation a patent is a barrier to profit.

        In the software world - maybe. My world is pharmaceuticals and patents are needed, and should maybe even be extended in some cases. It isn't like the software world where companies buy patents for the purposes of some weird legal warfare. For pharma, patents represent a way for them to recoup the R&D costs made on a drug. Patents need to exist for pharma since there is such strict testing before it can be used on the general public. All this information has to be handed over to the government, where it doesn't remain a secret. No patents would kill new drug development in a heartbeat.

    • The complete abolition of patents is not a problem for the already powerful industries: they can reverse engineer and copy the small inventor before he can set up a supply chain for production of his items.

      In a nutshell: stupid patents used to own markets through extensive portfolios is ideal, no patents is ok. A system of serious patents empowers the individual inventor/small lab, which would be good for society, but a constant in human history is: stronger groups taking away weaker groups' freedoms.

  • Watch... (Score:2, Insightful)

    They're careers will be systematically destroyed.

    Not to mention what they say, even if perfect in its documentation and rationality, will just be ignored.

    Economists that don't toe the corporate line of thinking get booted.

    • Re:Watch... (Score:5, Funny)

      by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:36AM (#42808053) Homepage Journal

      Just to head off the obvious troll being obvious.. I messed up and did not use the proper version of "their." Soooo sorry.

    • Oh Give Me a Break (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:51AM (#42808257) Journal

      They're careers will be systematically destroyed.

      This was published in September of 2012 [stlouisfed.org] by the St. Louis Fed, when can I expect to see their careers systematically destroyed? Does that take longer than five months to walk someone out of such a highly visible position? Even Richard Stallman cited this [slashdot.org] when he responded to one of my questions.

      Not to mention what they say, even if perfect in its documentation and rationality, will just be ignored.

      After reading much of the report, I don't think it is "perfect in its documentation and rationality." While it brings up great examples of serious problems with the US Patent System (like software patents, the poster child for all that is wrong with patents), it does not examine examples where the patent system has worked. It seems to pretend like patents have never done anyone any good ever. Nor does it discuss how we would have to revert to trade secrets and lying awake at night wondering if one of our employees had just brought a bunch of documents over to our competitor for an undisclosed sum -- which employee would you charge with corporate espionage? All that fun stuff is completely ignored so I would consider the report lacking in thoroughness. They also spend a lot of time discrediting studies that claimed patents are beneficial which is all well and good. It doesn't follow that patents are completely bad, however.

      Economists that don't toe the corporate line of thinking get booted.

      I don't think that's true. I think it's true that economists who attack corporations for the sake of attacking corporations get booted ... but that's just because they let personal biases get in the way of research. It's odd, Blodrin and Levine actually cite a bunch of cases where the big corporations got bit in the ass (like the Motorola, Samsung, Apple, etc cell phone patent fiascos). So, you know, I think that patent reform (and maybe abolition) is actually starting to look beneficial for many corporations that want to expand even further.

      • by tyrione (134248)
        It's a couple of Supply Side Neo-con economists who were against Stimulus and Pro-Austerity talking about economic equilibrium as if Economies are in a fixed sphere with a fixed about of water that given enough release of pressure we level out and stabilize. Their applications are absurdly shallow and small in scale, which is ironic for two macroeconomic theorists. The best news is that the overwhelming majority of global economists think they're full of crap.
        • by Vaphell (1489021)

          as if Economies are in a fixed sphere with a fixed about of water that given enough release of pressure we level out and stabilize

          fixed no, but if you don't see for example outsourcing as a process of leveling out on a global scale then i don't know what to tell you. Trade is arbitrage and arbitrage is taking advantage of inequalities not unlike a watermill taking advantage of water flowing downwards or a lightbulb glowing because the electric current wants to level out the difference of electric potential
          The overwhelming majority of global economists is occupied with redefining the units of currency (apparently hoping that people won

      • Not to mention, you just opened a floodgate straight to hell in terms of crime. Each company would need to employ bigger sleazes and craftier spies than their competition to be able to stay on top. You start having corporate sponsored mobs
      • by steelfood (895457)

        I've said it before, and I'll say it again: not having patents would confer significant, often insurmountable advantages to large corporations.

        I do advocate patent reform, but outright doing away with it will be bad for all but a handful of people at the very top of the corporate ladder.

  • by fascismforthepeople (2805977) <fascismforthepeople@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:35AM (#42808043) Homepage Journal
    The patent system, for as much as it gets bad press, offers the little guy (independent inventor) a chance to get ahead. With no patents, anyone with money can make a clone of an existing product and do whatever they want with it, including selling their clone as the original item. Such a patent-less system undoubtedly favors the wealthy who have access to the means to do such things.

    And when you accelerate the acquisition of power, you encourage oppression in the name of profit. This leads directly to fascism for the people.
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:38AM (#42808061) Homepage Journal

      This might be true in a society where the corporate elite can use the court system as a weapon.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:38AM (#42808075)

      At one time it did that, now it does not.

      Go pantent something as the little guy, they big boys will then patent every use of your thing they can think of or tie you up in court until you are bankrupt.

    • by Skinkie (815924)
      Have you been looking at kickstarter? The independent investor does get support and funding now out in the open while in past times this didn't happen. Whats wrong with a bit of competition? If someone really could make a clone of a product at a tenth of the price, everyone benefits including the original inventor that could copy the production strategy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      The patent system, for as much as it gets bad press, offers the little guy (independent inventor) a chance to get ahead. With no patents, anyone with money can make a clone of an existing product and do whatever they want with it, including selling their clone as the original item.

      That's the theory, yes.

      The practice is that the wealthy just use the patent system as a weapon against small guys to achieve the exact same thing.

      • by Merk42 (1906718)
        So the patent system should be fixed to bring it back to that theory, not removed because of abusive practices.
        • by tepples (727027)
          Perhaps the argument is that the lack of a patent system is better than the present abusive patent system, and until the patent system can be fixed, abolishing the patent system is an improvement.
        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Sure that's another option. A much harder option since working out the details of a new system isn't trivial. An option that would take much longer.

          Why not remove it and then work on adding back a fixed version. That way you get the quick fix now, and you can still have the better fix later. You also get to observe the effects of not having the system at all which will be of great benefit when designing a new system.

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            How's this for a way to fix it:

            After the second (or third) year, patent damages are limited to 20 times the amount the patent holder pays as patent fees. The patent fees are voluntary, you pay as much or as little as you want and you can only increase the fee by 25% in any given year.

            Under this scheme nobody can afford to sit on huge piles of junk patents and collect any real court damages from them. People will only pay large fees (and be able to collect large damages) for patents which are earning real mo

    • Such a patent-less system undoubtedly favors the wealthy who have access to the means to do such things.

      From the perspective of many economists, this is not a problem for the overall economy. I've noticed that they tend to view consolidation as a good thing, as there are increased efficiencies due to economies of scale, etc -- i.e., better to have a big company with massive capital roll out an invention quickly and effectively than to waste capital and labor on a start-up doing the same thing and making t

  • Fix Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pete (big-pete) (253496) * <peter_endean@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:38AM (#42808063)

    I have my own ideas about patents, I think there should be categories, rather than all patents being valid for the same term.

    Patent duration should be related to the amount of R&D needed to develop and turn into a meaningful product, so if we absolutely have to have software patents, then they should have a duration of 1 or maybe 2 years - but a pharmacutical patent with a long development process and high costs can have the full existing term.

    This would maintain the purpose of patents to allow the "inventor" to control their product within a reasonable time, but it would not stifle innovation where other new developments are trapped by a massive maze of existing patents in a fast moving field.

    -- Pete.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Here's part of the problem with that proposal: What about inventions that include multiple kinds of components? For example, if you have a software modification to a medical device that makes it more accurately detect and respond to changes in the patient's body, is that a medical device invention, or a software invention?

      • Perhaps one of the factors in favor of software patentability should be that the claim of exclusive rights in an improvement is limited to a particular device or field of use, as opposed to a general-purpose "computer with memory" that the general public is buying for a completely different reason.
    • by thoth (7907)

      I have my own ideas about patents

      You should hurry up and patent those ideas...

  • Didn't this get posted last fall? (Maybe last summer)?

  • Cows argue that McDonald's should be abolished.

  • Now do the same analysis on copyright and the public domain. Trillions dollars of our public wealth has been sequestered by the corporate oligarchy. And they paid fractional cents on the dollar in "campaign donations". I'm fine with it if we tax the hell out of anything that doesn't go into the public domain after 17 years. You want to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain? Sure, just pay $1,000,000 the first year, doubled every year after that, and adjust the starting and ongoing amounts for infl
    • by tyrione (134248)
      Create something worth copyrighting. Then bitch about it being too long under your legal protection. Just Do It.
      • by Rob Riggs (6418)
        Software? PCB designs? Documentation? Photographs? Technical articles? Done. Now what, smart-ass?
      • Create something worth copyrighting.

        And get sued for accidentally having re-created something that someone else has copyrighted. Independent creation is difficult to prove, and such a legal defense may be cost-prohibitive anyway. What steps do you recommend taking to prevent another Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music?

        Then bitch about it being too long under your legal protection.

        On the one hand, you may have just described an impossibility because copyrights already last for decades after the author is dead. By definition, an author won't live long enough to complain. On the other hand, a time-delaye [creativecommons.org]

  • Somebody in the real (i.e., appointed) government has said something that large corporations will not like.

    I give it three days before they're fired.
  • They've been saying it for years. Here's a video of them saying it from 2009

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMuGnFdQ0s [youtube.com]
  • Well I for one welcome back the days of secret crafts passed down in guilds and enforced with thuggery. Forget patent reform; down with patents!
    • by Shagg (99693)

      The guilds are now corporations and the thugs are lawyers. Other than that, I don't see that much has really changed.

  • Apple is in full agreement with this except where they are concerned. So they are asking for exemptions which enable them to continue to leverage rounded rectangular patents and trade dress against everyone else.

    I say this largely because Apple has said as much in its legal filings you can read over at Groklaw. It's rather ridiculous to read how they feel patents which represent actual R&D and inventions of original technology should not be eligible for protection while their software based stuff shou

  • Like many people on this site, I feel that patents are granted far too easily for "inventions" that are hardly original or novel, but I feel that getting rid of the system entirely would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. However, if we are ever going to fix the patent system, we need to explore all extremes. Right now, we are living under a system of extremely heavy patent protection. This system has been so indoctrinated into most of the population that the suggestion to reduce patent protec
  • Ch-ch-changes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @11:39AM (#42808781)

    Incremental changes might be a better idea. Two such changes, for starters:

    Loser Pays. In Europe, when a patentee files an infringement lawsuit and loses, they are liable for the defendant's court costs and attorney's fees. In the US, unless the suit was frivolous (and this is a high bar to meet), each party pays its own costs.

    Compulsory Licensing. Consumers lose when a patentee uses patents to exclude other innovation from the marketplace. Rather than allowing a patentee to exclude others from producing an infringing product, allow infringers to continue paying a reasonable licensing fee. Essentially FRAND, but covering all patents.

  • Patent applications are abused right now. There's too many vague patents out there, and many have prior art. The time to invalidate a patent, and cost of litigation just makes patent law ridiculous.

    Patent applications should be screened much more thoroughly, but of course, this just means that it would take longer and be more expensive. Something needs to be done, but abolishing patents is not the way to do it.

  • The current interpretation of a patent is one where a company leverages an innovation against their competition, either by blocking the competition from creating innovations that use or build off of, or are in some way competitive to, the said invention, or to extort obscene profits in royalties and licensing to competitors that have no choice but to use the innovation.

    The reality is that patents are public disclosure of an idea which was intended to STIMULATE innovation by sharing ideas and having others

  • Here's an idea. Any patent that comes from research that received government funding, whether through colleges and universities, tax credits, TIFF, or whatever form, has to be made available to the public proportionately to the cost funded by the public. So, if UCLA develops a new drug for Merck and Merck contributed $5M and federal and state funds (including infrastructure, support costs, etc) amount to $10M, then for every $3 Merck makes on the drug, The government gets $2 and Merck gets $1. That way, g

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:20PM (#42809341)

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress:

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    The fact that the Constitution explicitly carves out this Congressional power, implies that there is no inherent right to intellectual "property", equivalent to ownership of tangible property. The aim is to "promote progress..." for the nation as a whole. Any legislation should be calibrated to maximize this benefit to society. This is not the same as maximizing the benefits to the authors and inventors. So the definition of "limited times" should be optimized to this objective of maximum benefit to the nation. Too short, and there is insufficient incentive. Too long, and the benefit to society is lost. I believe current patent and copyright durations are much too long and some objective rigor is needed to find the optimum times. Note that one-size-fits-all is not appropriate, and that different durations may be appropriate for different technologies and industries.

    Also, the definition of "writings and discoveries" should be much more narrowly defined. Round or square corners on a phone is no benefit to anyone. Reprinting Shakespeare does not entitle you to copyright.

  • More Evidence (Score:4, Informative)

    by zaklothar (2683091) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:47PM (#42809691)

    The most recent issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives is focused on the patent issue.

    http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.27.1 [aeaweb.org]

    All articles reach similar conclusions to the first (Boldrin and Levine). They have been saying the same thing about patents for over 10 years, so don't expect their careers to be destroyed or whatever other apocalyptic scenarios were discussed above. They are academic economists who have worked for a several strong research departments and feds over the years. They (and others) provide very strong evidence that the current patent system does not help consumers/citizens. That is the purpose of laws governing commerce, correct?

    It is highly likely that a perfectly designed and operated patent system would be better than no patent system. Given the reality of humans running things, this is unattainable and no patents are probably better than the current system for consumers. When examining the evidence, this claim appears obviously true (to me at least, but I read the Boldrin/Levine book a decade ago). The NIH and NSF could pick up the slack in funding pharma research, and in other fields, first-mover advantage seems to provide plenty of monopoly profits for innovators.

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