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Patents United Kingdom

Patents That Kill 240

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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  • In a nutshell: (Score:5, Interesting)

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

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:46PM (#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 Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:06AM (#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 ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:13AM (#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.

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:42AM (#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.


  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @11:27AM (#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.

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