defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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The NEP-HIS blog has a nice discussion of a nice paper by Alessandro Nuvolari and James Sumner on innovations in the beer industry before 1750. There was rapid innovation without recourse to patents, even though patenting was an option to innovators.
John Bennett says this needs to be shouted from the rooftop.
This is what Apple "invented" the idea of sliding a latch to open something. But because they were doing it on a computer they got to patent it. Probably it cost some effort to work out the code to create the image and so forth - although if it cost them millions their programmers are incompetent - even tens of thousands seems high for that particular coding job. But here is the point: Nobody gets to copy their code with or without patents. The thing they actually paid for is protected.
The New York Times on patents. Original reporting and a strong bias in favor of patents - after all Apple says they spent millions of dollars developing slide to unlock and they'd never have bothered if they couldn't patent it!
Some very thoughtful - dare I say innovative? - remarks about patents from Cecil D. Quillen, Jr., former General Counsel, Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Eastman Kodak.
The trial, Apple v. Samsung, promises lots of fireworks. The likely entertainment value, however, is far exceeded by its educational value. The harbinger is the publication of US Judge Lucy Koh's instructions to the jury link here.
For non-lawyers like me, it is a revelation. She lays out in detail what determinations each juror will need to make and the connections among them, which she will have to decide, and the background for each where that is important.
She is breathtakingly clear, but that only raises questions about the suitability of patent law. Most of us, including many lawyers, aren't so careful to parse the meaning of legislation or the meaning of precedent in order to come to a wise decision.
It confirms in my mind the weakness of the whole justification for patents. They can be connected to innovation only weakly at best. The legal process is incredibly expensive and uncertain. The side with the most money and the best lawyers is most likely to win. And for the layman, the whole business is a puzzle once you go beneath the obvious and wonder what finally determined the outcome.
If even the best lawyers and judges can't do better than this, why continue to delude ourselves with this nonsense?
The downside of drug patents is once again evident in this example.
As Andrew Pollack reports in the New York Times, "A combination of two pills proved extremely effective in treating hepatitis C in a small trial, raising hopes among researchers that the disease will be curable without an injected drug that has debilitating side effects." link here
The two companies "owning" the drugs, however, are refusing to enter serious negotiations. Instead, they seem to be guarding their current patent monopolies and the profits generated thereby, while offering the public pablum justifications for not getting on with a deal that seems obvious and hugely in the public interest.
The clinical results are admittedly preliminary, but the implied criticism of current law and practice once again is strong evidence that major modifications of intellectual property law is urgent even as the current political climate offers little likelihood that it will be changed.
KEVIN J. O'BRIEN writes in the New York Times about companies fighting over patents link here. The plaintiffs have taken to court-shopping by suing in Germany rather than in other jurisdictions. Companies fearful of having their German operations closed down by its courts are moving their operations elsewhere in Europe (Germany might now want to consider changing its law and practice).
The story fails to make the most important point, that patents under the US Constitution are intended to foster innovation. They should be so treated elsewhere. Instead, current company practice in both the US and around the world is to ignore that goal. They treat patents as a thing owned like land and physical objects, (in practice in perpetuity by amending the law to extend their life). Patents then become an important way to increase profits.
Patents and copyrights are happy-land for lawyers who also dominate our politics and write the laws that favor their profession. Candidates need to be asked their views on the issue.
Susan Decker writes in the Washington Post about changing tactics in fighting patent suits, particularly the patent trolls link here.
The crucial paragraph states, "Requesting a government evaluation of whether a patent was properly issued, known as reexamination, is cheaper than a lawsuit and has an easier standard for discrediting a patent than what is allowed before a judge or jury. With a success rate of about 90 percent, companies have almost doubled requests in the past five years, turning the patent office into a reliable forum to shoo away competitors' claims of patent infringement."
The patent office is ostensibly gearing up to handle the burdens of a greater workload so that re-exams will be done more rapidly and professionally. We will have to see how this plays out. Past experience suggests a high level of skepticism, but the game plan sounds good. For details, see the article.
Most Recent Comments
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry
at 05/08/2015 08:35 AM by Dan Dobkin
Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace
at 04/10/2015 10:44 AM by Stephan Kinsella
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default
at 04/10/2015 10:34 AM by Stephan Kinsella
Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without
at 01/08/2015 08:58 PM by Sheogorath
Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do
at 11/17/2014 04:48 AM by David K. Levine
Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous
at 10/29/2014 10:49 AM by Alexander Baker
Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.
at 09/20/2014 03:19 PM by Alexander Baker
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:
at 06/28/2014 10:03 AM by Doris
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,
at 06/28/2014 10:00 AM by Doris
What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic
at 05/05/2014 01:03 PM by Sheogorath
Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the
at 04/07/2014 04:47 AM by Dan McCracken
Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples
at 01/13/2014 06:13 AM by Anonymous
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at 11/28/2013 05:03 PM by Stephanie Smith
at 11/28/2013 09:23 AM by Anonymous
at 11/28/2013 09:22 AM by Anonymous
Patent Lawyers Who Don't Toe the Line Should Be Punished! Moreover "the single most destructive force to innovation is patents". We'd like to unite with you
at 11/24/2013 10:48 AM by SpaceCorp Technologies
at 11/20/2013 03:18 PM by Anonymous
Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? So, if our patent system was "broken," TFP of durable goods should have dropped. Conversely, since
at 11/02/2013 08:09 PM by Anonymous
Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? I wondered about TFP, because I had heard that TFP was increasing. Apparently, it depends on who
at 11/02/2013 08:08 PM by Anonymous
Music without copyright I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will
at 09/23/2013 07:46 AM by audience response software