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Patents That Kill 240

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-medicine-for-you dept.
wabrandsma (2551008) writes From The Economist: "The patent system, which was developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England, gave entrepreneurs a monopoly to sell their inventions for a number of years. Yet by the 1860s the patent system came under attack, including from The Economist. Patents, critics argued, stifled future creativity by allowing inventors to rest on their laurels. Recent economic research backs this up."
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Patents That Kill

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  • by WolphFang (1077109) <mjoyner.vbservices@net> on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:32PM (#47652581) Homepage
    And this is the same for copyrights.
    • by TWX (665546) on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:46PM (#47652635)
      I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property". For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer. For patents, there should be a requirement to produce and sell the idea in the patent after a few years or to demonstrate a reasonable attempt to do so, and that different kinds of inventions should have different lengths of patent protection.

      I want people to get paid for their work, but at the same time, if that work has caused significant cultural change then there should be a point when that work is released to that culture, instead of licensed to that culture for a fee.
      • by meerling (1487879) on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:32PM (#47652741)
        Since a stated reason of the copyright and patent systems are to encourage creation, how does letting someone collecting money off of one thing their entire life, much less after they are dead, encourage them to continue to do more work to keep getting their paycheck?
        • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:14AM (#47652821)
          Well for great feats of man, more investment is required. Could Pixar have been kickstarted for ToyStory 1? I think they went to great lengths because there was more money to be made.

          I agree there should be a limit on copyrights, but it shouldn't be much more than 10 years. At this time, people can use your characters and such, but guess what, after 10 years of the public enjoying something, it is a part of their life too.

          Finally, everyone remember radio? Radio was invented way before it was it actually became reality. Why? Because everyone had patents on different parts of the radio and they didn't want to collaborate. I hear it wasn't until around WWI that the government stepped in to be able to use it for the military.

          Anyone who thinks patents help the little guy haven't seen troll lawsuits smack little guys senseless. Anyone who thinks patents help the little guy haven't seen big corporations crush their competitors they perceive as a threat.
          • I guess I didn't complete my thought:

            Patents have gotten so out of hand that many patents for obvious things have been granted. Anyone who writes any software typically trips over dozens of obvious patents. And corporations collect thousands of obvious patents so they have the right to sue anyone they please.
          • by Sarius64 (880298) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:00AM (#47652963)
            OMG What will Capital Records and Disney do if they could only own their IPs for 10 years? Billionaires would starve and their kids would only have 15 lifetimes worth of money to inherit! Perish the thought!
          • by mpe (36238)
            Finally, everyone remember radio? Radio was invented way before it was it actually became reality. Why? Because everyone had patents on different parts of the radio and they didn't want to collaborate. I hear it wasn't until around WWI that the government stepped in to be able to use it for the military.

            IIRC something similar happened with aviation.
            It goes back rather further than that. Patents had a big influence on the first road vehicles at the beginning of the 19th century.
          • Characters are trademarks.
            • That depends on the jurisdiction. Here in the United States, Dastar v. Fox states that trademarks can't be used to extend the effective term of a copyright.
              • by ultranova (717540)

                Here in the United States, Dastar v. Fox states that trademarks can't be used to extend the effective term of a copyright.

                Because it's already infinite.

          • If the goal of patents is to encourage innovation, then the patent system is no longer necessary except for targeted fields where technological progress is slow. For example I'd welcome patents for a better rocket engine, a space elevator or a room temperature superconducting microchip. But for most information technologies, patents should be abolished altogether.

            Think of it this way, patent protection makes sense in a world where there are only a hundred or so inventors, but not where there are tens of mil

          • by westlake (615356)

            I agree there should be a limit on copyrights, but it shouldn't be much more than 10 years. At this time, people can use your characters and such, but guess what, after 10 years of the public enjoying something, it is a part of their life too.

            The geek imagination rarely extends beyond fan fiction.

            The geek tends to forget that patents and copyrights are meant to be an incentive to create something of your own, something new and something better. It's telling, I think, that the only two video game themed movies that are arguably worth a damn, Tron and Wreak-It-Ralph, both came from Disney.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              The geek imagination rarely extends beyond fan fiction.

              This is true of all people. Even original characters are simply embodiments of pre-existing archetypes. A truly new character or story would be incomprehensible, since you couldn't relate to it.

              That said, while Sturgeon's Law is in effect for fan fiction as well, so is it's reverse: good fan fiction is good literature, and has an added advantage of being able to draw from pre-existing mythos, often with considerable re-interpretation. And of course Cth

          • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @10:27AM (#47655171)

            Could Pixar have been kickstarted for ToyStory 1? I think they went to great lengths because there was more money to be made.

            Well, Toy Story 1 came about because a certain Steven P. Jobs had a few dollars to throw around, and with the relatively non-success NeXT was having, decided to buy a stake in the struggling Pixar and take it in a new direction.

            (Pixar was making computers back then - they sold a package for animation and visual FX). Jobs (yes, THAT Jobs) decided that no, let's do a feature film instead. The Pixar shorts you see about including Luxo were demo reels showing the power of their computers, while Toy Story was effectively their new direction from selling computers and software to doing motion pictures.

          • Could Pixar have been kickstarted for ToyStory 1?

            Perhaps if they had started out as a company that made stories with decent original plots instead of a expensive graphics company then yes. It wouldn't exactly hurt the industry if producers had to show actual story telling talent before getting fortunes for making shallow eye candy.

        • I know this is the popular stance on this site, but the reason is obviously to promote risk-taking. Many (most) creations never see the light of day. The patent system has some inherent usefulness, however it's somewhat corrupt and the terms under which patents are granted do indeed discourage innovation. I don't even think the system works very well for promoting inventions from small entities. I saw a talk by a researcher who invented sticky material based on gecko feet. The material is interesting becaus
        • by xelah (176252)
          If someone has built a bridge, how does letting him collect tolls from that one thing for its entire life encourage them to continue to do more work? Well....the same way they were encourage to build the first one, because they'll get paid for it. You think people don't consider the possibility of ongoing income from something when deciding if it's worth doing (or worth handing an author an advance for, or investing in research for)?
          • by TWX (665546)
            This analogy doesn't work because generally bridges are something that a significant number of people must use, while copyrighted content for entertainment purposes is generally something that one has a choice in the use of. Certainly there are some counter-examples like computer software, where one company has a disproportionate amount of market share to the point that one can't completely avoid them, but for the most part that which can be copyrighted isn't critical.
          • You know what industry thrives on rampant copying and 'intellectual' 'theft'? Fashion. No copyrights, no patents and it's a veritable bonanza of creativity. And of course knock offs that look almost as good as the originals. Knock offs which actually drive more purchases of the originals. People can purchase a knock off today and later when they have the ability, they still want the brand name.

            So, no, you don't need copyright to have robust creativity and rewards for that creativity.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Well, it is no longer about driving creation, it's about corporate profits.

          Has been ever since the Sonny Bono and Disney Corporate Copyright Extortion Act, because copyrighted things under corporate ownership is 25 years longer than you and I would enjoy.

          This is rent seeking, entrenched in law, and treated as a natural right of corporations. This is much more about guaranteeing shareholder value and executive bonuses than driving any form of creativity.

      • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:57PM (#47652787) Journal
        Why should a copyright ever extend past the life of the author? For those 10 years you propose after the author dies, what additional works will that author create as a result of the additional copyright protection? And will zombie works be good enough to be worthy of copyright protection?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Revoking the copyright at the death of the author would create a reason to have the author killed.
          In fact it is retarded to have it connected to the authors death at all. It should be from the creation of the work or when it was made available to the public only.

          • by redeIm (3779401)

            Revoking the copyright at the death of the author would create a reason to have the author killed.

            That's just ridiculous. How often does that actually happen in practice? Or is this just more fearmongering, much like terrorism or child porn?

            But there is another way to fix that 'problem': Have copyrights last 0 years.

          • Revoking the copyright at the death of the author would create a reason to have the author killed.
            In fact it is retarded to have it connected to the authors death at all. It should be from the creation of the work or when it was made available to the public only.

            It would be far cheaper to kill most patent trolls than to defend against them, but I haven't heard of them being murdered no matter how deserving they may be.

          • by Sarius64 (880298)
            All the better reason to revert back to original time periods instead of allowing Disney to decide what's best for us peasants.
      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:13AM (#47652817)

        I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property".

        TFA makes the opposite point that, at least for pharmaceuticals, the time limit is too short. After a drug is patented, it must go through a long series of testing, and once it is approved, there are only a few years of profit before the patent expires. So Big Pharma concentrates on drugs for critical illnesses, like late term cancer. That way they can run the test and get a die or no-die result quickly. They have little incentive to develop long term preventative drugs, because decades may go by before the result is clear, and the patent has long since expired. Since preventative drugs are often far more effective, this is a perverse incentive.

        My opinion is that most patent durations should be shortened, and we should get rid of most patents for medicine, and find a completely different way to fund pharmaceutical R&D.

        • except big pharma games the system, where they release a drug under patent protection, then shortly before the patent ends, they re-patent the drug to cover some other condition, then say that generics can't make the drug for the first condition because they can't prevent it from being used for the second.

          and in Canada, we are helpfully extending our patent time limits under the still secret Canada-EU trade agreement that Harper just signed. The Canadian people are too stupid to understand it, so we can't

          • by dk20 (914954)
            Dont forget the magical "reformulation" trick to extend the terms as well. "this is not the same drug, this is the super-time-release formula model 29" and should be treated as a new drug with a new term.
            • by suutar (1860506)

              I don't see how that would help. "Okay, it's not the same drug. So the original formula is still free to use now that the patent applying to it has expired." All you're losing is the "new feature". Are they able to use that to keep the original drug locked up, or is it a "you gotta get the new shiney, the old and busted is crap now" situation?

        • You patent something, everyone can make it but they have to pay you royalties (FRAND?). Put it into patent law so that automatically happens and everyone benefits.
      • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:42AM (#47652889)

        The problem I see with any life+ based duration, is it selectively rewards people who have a big hit that keeps coming back into print early in their careers, and then live a long time afterwards, and the converse of that is it punishes the author who doesn't have much success until late in life, or worse, gets his or her career cut short by a fatal illness. You've suggested a system that (sort of) fixes the later case, but it doesn't address the first half of the problem. Also, any life plus system is going to look like a better deal if the author has heirs he or she cares about, and less of a deal if they don't. If the whole goal under the Constitution is to provide an incentive, we have to look very carefully at how some people may or may not feel "incentivised".

                  To show you how your system might have worked if it had been in effect all along, lets take two Fantasy/SF/Horror authors:

                  First, H. P. Lovecraft. His first real hit of a story was 1926, with Call of Cthulhu. Just about everything that got reprinted when he first gained posthmous popularity was written after that. Then he died of Bright's disease, in 1937. Under the system of that time, most, if not all, of his work was still in copyright. But, it was still the great depression, and after that, there were the wartime paper shortages, so Life +10 would leave his work coming out of copyright just about when there starts being a chance of it getting printed. With your 40 year clause, some of his original copyrights would have lasted until about 1974, by which time he was starting to be reevaluated, and effectively expired just about the time his work finally caught on. Under the system actually in effect, most of his work was still under copyright until well after the first film adaptation (Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee in the Dunwich Horror). He did not have any direct heirs, and probably would not have believed as he wrote his last works that there was any chance he was leaving a literary estate that might actually become worth more than the cost of a cup of coffee. His closest heirs were a pair of aging aunts, and by the time there were payments, they went to very distant relatives indeed.

                Second, Michael Moorcock. He starts writing professionally at 15, and some of his biggest successes were written by the time he was 20. In his 70s now and still going strong, he'd enjoy life +10 on most of his work, and it's not inconceivable that Life +10 might apply even to his most recent books. I don't know if he even has direct heirs, but he has been married a couple of times and had some living relatives, so I suppose it's at least somewhat likely there are children, or perhaps nieces or nephews. Under the existing system, he would theoretically have a longer period of protection, but that may not matter in practical terms. The older US or British systems, current law, or your system are likely to leave him about the same, financially, but current law is, in theory, better for him. However, it's a mystery to many people why his work hasn't been optioned more by Hollywood, to the point of a completed film or six. Your system just might ding him financially, if there are people who are hoping to get film rights cheap after he dies - they could just wait 10 years and let copyright on such Characters as Elric of Melnebone expire completely. Rationally, a shorter term may matter not at all or a great deal to him, but not just for the money.

         

        • It's silly to punish authors who have a big hit when they are young, by cutting short the copyright on their works, solely because there may be other writers who become successful only late in their life. A life+ copyright doesn't punish late bloomers, only their heirs. And the purpose of copyright is not to ensure an income for writers' offspring, in fact I think the system should be life, not life+. The heirs are welcome to whatever fortune a writer is able to amass, but not to the IP.
          • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

            The best way to fight that is to have a copyright extended by further derivative works by the author. So for instance if we have a ten year term then given ten years to make money on it you release the sequel or next part in the series extending the copyright on the whole series to ten years from this new entry. Obviously this works best for Video and Writings and not so much for Music (at least outside of the written form), however I'd be ok with extending the copyright on a musical performance for as long

            • by TWX (665546)
              Then you run into problems where an author claims that a work is derivative or ties-in somehow even when it doesn't.

              Look at Asimov, who tried to tie all of his works into the same universe through their various sequels, even though it was kludgy at best. Imagine that being widened out now, where an author like CS Lewis could try to tie his fantasy stories in with his science fiction stories to make one big work. The only author that I've read that has really pulled that off was Piers Anthony, and it wa
          • It's silly to punish me by cutting the copyright on the scripts I wrote and configurations and systems I put in place at my sysadmin job. They should keep paying me for life+10 after I leave.
          • Life based copyright is totally stupid. It is far less reliable for all parties involved. If we are going to have copyright, it should just be X years. That way the same amount of protection is given for a work that is written in high school as a work that is written on a deathbed.

            Also, you can't 'punish' authors in this context since they are not inherently owed anything at all. The problem would be that it disproportionately rewards certain authors.
      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Even for copyright it's sometimes way too long. And when a company is registered as the creator, what happens then?

        For work of fiction the copyright is OK if it's until 2 years after the demise of the author (which shall be enough to bring a closure), but outright abuse of a work should be protected for longer (People doing porn or nazi propaganda of children's books etc.) [Insert Godwin here] However Satire and Humor tweaks of the works is already OK on works under copyright, and is not a big deal anyway -

      • Copyright of lifetime-plus is stupid. This, again, lets you continue to demand recompense for work you did ages ago. I just need to write one novel, get it standardized like Lord of the Flies, and let the money roll in until I die--80 years maybe.

        In today's world, copyrights and patents move slow. Technology moves fast, and information gets around. Terms too short get businesses waiting out the patent or copyright; terms too long create stagnation and litigation waste.

        Inventors don't always have th

        • by TWX (665546)
          You see, I don't actually have a problem with an author writing a book that's so good that it supports them for the rest of their lives. If it's truly that good then they deserve to make that money.

          How many authors does that really apply to? I can think of Margaret Mitchell and J.D. Salinger, as those that literally only wrote one work and lived many, many years past th release of that work. I'm sure there are others, but it's not exactly a big group compared to those that write well and continue to w
          • by suutar (1860506)

            I don't mind it supporting them. I do mind the generations who grow up with that work being around and part of the culture not being able to legally do anything with it (fanfic, mashups, whatever) until the author dies.

      • by pantaril (1624521)

        For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer.

        Reasonable limit would be 10 years initialy + 10 year extension if the creator wishes so. The best solution would be to abolish copyright completely and provide money for creators in some other way without artificial limits on content distribution. Current copyright doesn't help creators, it is tailored for the needs of distributors because it is a mean to control distribution. Creators don't need distribution limits (it is actualy bad for them as it lowers their exposure to potential audience), they need m

      • II want people to get paid for their work, but at the same time, if that work has caused significant cultural change then there should be a point when that work is released to that culture, instead of licensed to that culture for a fee.

        That's one of the points of the patent system, a time limited monopoly, enforced by the Government, and in return for the valuble consideration of the Government Enforced Monopoly, the methods necessary to produce the patented item are collected and published by the government. At the expiration of the patent,not only is the monopoly lost, but all of the information to tell someone "skilled in the Arts" to reproduce without limitations.
        While the system is being corrupted with vaguely described, trivial pate

      • I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property". For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer.

        Reasonable is the opposite of arbitrary. To be arbitrary is to have no reason behind a choice. "Maximum of life plus 10 or 40 years" is arbitrary. There is no reason to it. That is why there is no patent reform. Because a small handful can rally around "longer" because that does have reasons (even if you personally don't like them), but no one can rally around a random choice. Until you can actually come up with a plan with REASONS then no patent or copyright reform will ever occur because no one will

      • you've already missed the point. If copyright/patents are meant to encourage people to create, granting them rights after they are dead is utterly useless.

        40 years is also way way way to long. 10 would be a lot more reasonable. If you can't monetize your work in that amount, maybe you aren't that good at what you're doing. Besides, for music, people are still going to see the original artist play their music, not a cover band given the choice.
      • by NoKaOi (1415755)

        For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer.

        Ok, so, since corporations are people too, then if a corporation is the creator (and in the law it really means copyright owner), then as long as that corporation doesn't go out of business the copyright never expires? Doesn't seem so different from how it is now, other than a few remaining old copyrights that were owned by individuals (and now their estates).

        I think the copyright term should most certainly be shortened, by a lot, but shouldn't have anything to do with the creator/copyright owner's lifetim

    • Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s.petry (762400) on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:58PM (#47652663)

      I wish I could find the link, but no luck so far. There was a speech given to the house of lords in England in the 1700s where an attorney argues that copyrights are only beneficial to the copyright owner, which tends to not be the artist where the copyright is intended. Print shops would demand copyright to print a book, but of course they would pay the artist a few pennies for their troubles. The speech covers a well known English auhor's family woes after his death. Even though he was a well known author and sold enough books that he should have been wealthy, after he died his family was left destitute. The reason was because a publisher owned all of his copyrights and his family never received a penny in royalties.

      Of course the copyright holder (publisher) was suing the house to extend copyrights, because it's so beneficial to the economy.

      A bit off topic I realize, since TFA is about patents. The thing is though, the arguments stay the same. It is not like John the inventor gets to hold his patent and benefit, it's more like John the inventor's patent was 90% owned by the company he worked for because they sued him for the rights.

      Some things never change. This has a lot to do with why they try and make backroom laws like TPP, CISPA/SOPA type laws, etc.. Rational people would point out the flaws, so in the US we just make the discussions a matter of national security so people don't know. Thank goodness a few companies got on the bandwagon with CISPA/SOPA, but the next versions are not being discussed publicly and are works in progress in the Senate and House.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      No it is NOT,copyrights are waaaaaaaayyyyy fucking worse! Patents are to copyrights what a cyst on your ass is to rectal cancer. After all PATENTS END while copyrights are "forever minus a single day" thanks to the fucking house of mouse.
  • In a nutshell: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Type44Q (1233630) on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:36PM (#47652593)

    Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

    - Thomas Jefferson

    • Not specifically a written law.
      The practice started in Rome in the first couple centuries BC. Powerful men were granted license to exclusively produce something. Sometimes it was because they were doing something new. Sometimes because they owned the mine. Patent didn't mean new, just verified.
      The meaning of words change over time.
      As for the patent system, England did not invent it. Look to Italy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:01PM (#47652673)

    The patent on killing should have expired ages ago. That undead bastard Caine has been resting on his laurels ever since.

    • That undead bastard Caine has been resting on his laurels ever since.

      Didn't you see him as Alfred in the Nolan Batmans?

  • Alternatives? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by penguinoid (724646)

    The main problem is, what do we replace the patent system with? Can we rely on only government-funded research (which may become a crony system or refuse to fund politically incorrect things)? Can we rely on people inventing things as a hobby?

    I'm not against patents per se, but the approval rate of illegitimate patents is astronomical and the period is too long (would have to be different lengths based on different things).

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:43PM (#47652767)

      You replace patents with nothing. Empirical research has shown that patents don't do squat and lead to less overall innovation and wealth creation than without patents.

      There are many ways to research it empirically. You can compare/contrast countries where one country disallowed patents in a particular field. You can compare/contrast where one country had a stronger patent regime than another in the same field. (It goes without saying you want to look at countries with similar industrialization levels). You can compare across fields in the same economy by, for example, looking at innovation in a field with weak--or no--IP protection with a field with stronger protections. And you can use historical or contemporary data.

      Anyhow, there are many sources of empirical data to judge the efficacy of patent policies. It turns out that when you do rigorous research and look at all the data, patents are a net loss across the board. The only place where patents arguably make sense according to empirical data is in pharmaceuticals, but only because without patents companies provably couldn't afford the regulatory cost imposed upon them by the FDA. But FDA regulation is has been shown to be too strict and unnecessary at current levels. So we'd be better off with a market free of patents (more, cheap drugs with higher efficacy), as long as some other regulations were changed.

      You can read a short book describing all the arguments and with a summary of the empirical research. It's called "Against Intellectual Monopoly", and one of the authors also wrote the paper mentioned above.

      See http://www.amazon.com/Against-Intellectual-Monopoly-Michele-Boldrin/dp/0521127262/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

      Free version is here: http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm

      People love to use hypotheticals to defend patents and IP in general. But at the end of the day it's an empirical question, not a question of theory. Common hypotheticals always have unstated premises which even in classical economics are not necessarily true. When you look at the empirical data, those hypotheticals and their premises are shown to be bogus.

      • An industry without copyright, and where nothing has been patented for years woudl be without innovation and would not make much money ...

        Except the fashion industry has no copyright, nothing novel enough to patent has been seen for years, yet they do nothing but innovate, and seem to making large profits ...

  • The idea of patents going in to play was to enable an inventor to benefit from his work. Now we are seeing some information that patent protections stifle economies and progress. Both views are probably correct when applied to specific patents. A patent can work for or against progress. Here is the catch. We can't stand still and debate nonsense philosophies while the world moves on. Socialism or capitalism become the dance that all players get in set with. The reality is that technolo
    • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:06AM (#47652805)
      Since the end of the Cold War Russia and the USA have been following the same economic/political path: control by oligarchy/elites. In Russia the balance is that the government holds power over the oligarchs and they do the government's bidding. In the USA the government does the oligarch's bidding. Given a long enough time the two systems will differ only in insignificant details.

      Russia never had long period of democracy, so the slide to authoritarianism does not have that far to go. The USA has a much longer democratic tradition (except for women, racial minorities, Native Americans, etc.) so it it taking longer to eliminate democratic forms of government.

      Still democracy is slowly dieing in the USA, as evidenced by end of independent journalism, most criminal court cases being decided by plea bargains, the increasing costs of elections and the dysfunction of the legislative branch, the polarization of the Federal judiciary (the Roberts court decision on the Voting Rights Act) and the inability of the President to make deals with the Congress. (Note to Republicans: when there is a Republican President and the Democrats control the House and/or Senate, they will be just as unwilling to cooperate in running the country as in the current division of political power. Don't whine when you get bit by your own strategy.)

  • by silfen (3720385) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:03AM (#47652799)

    Overall, I agree that patents don't help much with innovation. However, I think pharmaceutical patents, unlike most other patents, do, in fact, encourage innovation. The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

    Sorry, guys, you can't have it all: lots of innovation, safety, and low cost. Pick any two.

    • by Jahta (1141213)

      Overall, I agree that patents don't help much with innovation. However, I think pharmaceutical patents, unlike most other patents, do, in fact, encourage innovation. The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

      Sorry, guys, you can't have it all: lots of innovation, safety, and low cost. Pick any two.

      No offense, but you don't know much about the pharmaceutical industry. Ben Goldacre's book Bad Pharma [wikipedia.org] is a good place to start. And this article [theguardian.com] explains how, contrary to being great innovators, the big pharmaceuticals are running down their own R&D in favour of cherry picking the work of small biotech outfits and publicly funded researchers and rebranding it as their own.

    • by mdfst13 (664665)

      The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

      Perhaps, but this is still addressable by changes in the patent system. In particular, they could change pharmaceutical patents to have three periods: testing, restricted use, open use. The testing period would last as long as necessary, perhaps longer than patent periods are currently. The restricted use period (primarily for antibiotics) would last as long as the approving agency desired. The open use period would last for a defined length of time (perhaps eight years). The effect would be to increa

  • Not a single death was reported. Hey, here's an idea: don't make your headlines misleading. Patents might not be my favorite thing in the world, but unless they are literally killing people, then this headline is horseshit. The Economist just got added to my blacklist for that. Good job, jackasses!
  • by felixrising (1135205) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:30AM (#47653173)
    No No NO! You are obviously not earning enough money from patents to appreciate the money that is being earned and therefore you must be wrong! We must fight this attack on patents!
  • One way to avoid the patent cliff (and perhaps foster innovation) is to use double declining balance deprecation in accounting. As in, if a patent-holding company sues another company for patent infringement, then the final damages will be reduced by the fraction of the residual value. So patent-holding companies will be compelled to innovate, since at some point less than lifetime of the patent, another company may decide to violate it anyway since it's economic to do so.

    Of course, I have no idea how thi
  • If some inventors will "rest," then it's the promise of money that made them invent and patent in the first place. If you take away the patent, and therefore the promise of money, you won't even get the first invention out of the money-motivated. Especially if the patent-free economy is dominated with idea-stealing industrialists. Those motivated by other-than-money will keep inventing, patents or not.
  • The central problem in our system is that because we treat IP as real estate, most of it ends up in the hands of middlemen who had no part in creating the work. Instead, I would eliminate the fungibility of intellectual property and recast it as a personal right of the creator. Any company exploiting a patent would have to maintain a contractual relationship with the creator for the life of the patent. This would mean no more buying up an artist's copyright for nothing and then cashing in on it with no part

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