Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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MRI inventor and patent beneficiary opposes Patent Reform Act

The New York Times today runs a full page ad entitled "STOP CONGRESS FROM TRASHING THE CONSTITUTON" (Page A13--it does not appear on the Times website) by opposing the proposed Patent Reform Act. The ad is paid for by "Fonar", but it shows nothing more about the company, not even that it is a company. A phone number is provided--1-888-633-3674--but when I tried it, I got the "order" department and was then put on hold for ten minutes before being cut off.

Googling Fonar brings up 21,400 sites. One shows the company was founded and is chaired by Dr. Robert V. Damadian. The sites also show that it has been involved in a slew of patent disputes, most of which it seems to have won link here

Damadian's claim to fame seems to be as a co-inventor of MRI, which is widely conceded, although he failed to be recognized when the Nobel for the invention was awarded to two rival M.R.I. innovators, Paul C. Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield link here

On the substance of the ad which begins by falsely asserting that Congress is about to amend the constitution, it argues that individual freedom founded on property ownership is to be abrogated and that the cost (sourced by nine categories) will be a "staggering" $1.66 trillion. It specifically opposes granting patents to "first to file" rather than "first to invent", "publication of all patent applications to the world at 18 months", and apportionment of damages, as we will lose our intellectual property to foreigners. The argument's details in each case eluded me.

Curiously, the ad peaks with a proposal to set up a separate Software Patent Division with separate patent criteria on the grounds that "unlike most inventions, software is continually evolving." The whole point of patents is to get the inventor to disclose so that follow-on invention can occur--not to reward him.

The ad urges the reader to write his senator and send him a copy of the ad. Sigh.


Pardon me for commenting on my own post, but I blew an opportunity and hope now to make up for it.

I should have made my response to Fonar's assertion that the bill would amend the Constitution much stronger. Neither Fonar nor I had read the provision of the Constitution carefully. It says "The Congress shall have the Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their Respective Writings and Discoveries." That gives the power to Congress to enact whatever it decides in its collective wisdom or to do nothing-a point that is widely missed. Moreover, in doing so, Congress is not amending the constitution--it is carrying out the mandate that the Constitution gives it.

Hey, John

Rather interesting (mis)interpretation of the US Consitution you have, dude

I doubt though that this misinterpretation of yours will be adopted by constitutional lawyers and general public

get a life, dude

The wording in the US Constitution:

The Congress shall have the Power ... To promote the Progress of Science.....

does not specify an option granted to Congress in this matter, it is a responsibility assigned to Congress to protect these rights granted to Americans under the Constitution.

Rusty Mase

Of course it means an option. Having the power does not mean having an obligation to use the power. Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution of which this is a part also specifies among many other things that "The Congress shall have power ... To borrow money on the credit of the United States." This certainly does not mean that Congress is obligated to borrow money. It means that Congress has the option to borrow money. Congress has not granted letters of marque and reprisal for quite some time, although Section 8 also grants it the power to do so.

To pursue this logic to its silly conclusion: despite the fact that the Supreme Court made the questionable decision that a constantly increasing time is limited, it is not very likely to decide that a time of zero is unlimited. As it happens there is a great deal of reason to believe that a limited time of zero will serve best to promote the progress of science and useful arts.

Does anyone know whether the Supreme Court has ruled on the meaning of the provision in a way that would contradict our reading?

I read it as David does, after he challenged my initial reading. Had the writers of the Constitution wished to make some time limit mandatory, the provision would have had to read "The Congress shall promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times, but no less than 10 years [for example] to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Mike Masnick picked up this story and provided a much more complete explanation of what was wrong with the ad link here. He also tells us that we can see the ad on the company website, link here.

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