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Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve 210

New submitter Optimal Cynic writes "Slashdot likes to argue about intellectual property and patents, and it's clear that both extremes are undesirable. Dr Alex Tabarrok has tackled the question — what is the right level of patent protection? His answer is the Tabarrok Curve, which applies the Laffer Curve methodology to innovation."
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Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve

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  • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @06:13AM (#44098973)

    An even more fundamental assumption he makes is that intellectual property legislation is desirable because it encourages innovation. Why should that be a given?

    Take for example, the very same example cited in TFA, Sir Issac Newton and his mathematical principles. Isaac Newton composed Principia Mathematica during 1685 and 1686, and it was published in a first edition on July 5, 1687 [wikipedia.org]. Copyright did not exist at that time; the very first copyright law, the Statute of Anne was enacted only 23 years later in 1710 [wikipedia.org].

    The point I am trying to make is that people will innovate and create, even without the protection of intellectual property laws.

    On a separate point, if the whole rationale for intellectual property legislation is to promote innovation, shouldn't the focus be on protecting the rights of the actual person doing the creating, as opposed to whichever faceless entity who may own the contractual right to make use of the invention? Start by making intellectual property rights vest only in the creator, and make it non transferrable. This will force commercial entities to grant a fair share of the profits to the real innovators instead of the giving an unearned bonus to the patent troll who own a large number of the patents today. The way it is structured today, it is very clear that intellectual property legislation only benefits those with the capital to buy over the rights and not the creators themselves.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:09AM (#44099283)

    what about an public defender system for patents that can be used by innovations and company's who can't pay the costs of attorneys. that can help from people being bulled by BIG company's who can / have staff attorneys that can use the court system to shut people down.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@nOSpam.worf.net> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:36AM (#44101085)

    It's just his opinion. And his curve is a straw man that he puts out of his ass.
    Where is the evidence that some patent protection is good? Ah right there is none. Everybody just assumes that some patent protection is good for innovation. That is just like creationism or like any other theology.

    There is evidence that more patent protection is bad. See software patents. But where is the evidence for the other side, i.e. no patent protection as bad?

    You can apply history to it - patents have been around only a few hundred years - dating back to just before America.

    You could also try to frame it in context of say IP protection. Is copyright good? Bad? Too much? Too little?

    Will open-source succeed without copyright? Would you write a program to scratch your itch if it wasn't under copyright protection? Realize that the latter means it's effectively modified-BSD licensed.

    Software is a tricky thing because until its invention, patents were used for "things" and copyright was used for "creative works" and neither the twain shall meet. After all, writing a book doesn't get patent protection (other than design patents, if the book has certain ornamental features). The work itself doesn't have utility other than being entertaining (hopefully), but that's it. Likewise, the printing press used to make the book isn't copyrightable - there's no "expression" going on other than maybe a few decorative items to give it better form.

    Software though, is both. It can be a creative work meant to be enjoyed, or a part of a machine. In effect, it's forcefully combining two areas of IP protection that were never intended to be combined in the first place. And both are being twisted to accommodate this ill-fitting piece.

    Perhaps what needs to happen is sitting down and realizing this - that software should not be patented nor copyrighted, but covered under its own IP protection category because of its unique nature. After all, if you get rid of software patents, you're saying if I build a machine out of electromechanical parts, I can patent that, but if I replace some of those electromechanical parts with software to make it more flexible, simpler and more reliable, it's suddenly unpatentable? (And software can be hardware, too, thanks to modern VLSI RTL).

    It's probably time to stop forcing software into copyright and patents and realize it's got its own attributes from both, and crafting IP protection appropriate for this reality than bending existing protections about.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb