Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Outrageous and Ridiculous Patents and Judgments

Taken from the Appendix to my Mises Daily article Radical Patent Reform Is Not on the Way:

Examples of Outrageous Patents and Judgments

Examples of (at least apparently) ridiculous patents and patent applications abound (more at PatentLawPractice): The Supreme Court, in the 1882 case Atlantic Works v. Brady, 107 US 192, itself lists examples of patents issued to "gadgets that obviously have had no place in the constitutional scheme of advancing scientific knowledge … the simplest of devices." These included
  • a particular doorknob made of clay rather than metal or wood, where differently shaped doorknobs had previously been made of clay.
  • making collars of parchment paper where linen paper and linen had previously been used.
  • a method for preserving fish by freezing them in a container that operates in the same manner as an ice-cream freezer.
  • rubber caps put on wood pencils to serve as erasers
  • inserting a piece of rubber in a slot in the end of a wood pencil to serve as an eraser
  • a stamp for impressing initials in the side of a plug of tobacco
  • a hose reel of large diameter so that water may flow through the hose while it is wound on the reel
  • putting rollers on a machine to make it movable
  • using flat cord instead of round cord for the loop at the end of suspenders
  • placing rubber hand grips on bicycle handlebars
  • an oval rather than cylindrical toilet paper roll, to facilitate tearing off strips
Below are a few notable or recent examples of large, significant, troubling, or apparently outrageous injunctions, damages awards, and the like:

[StephanKinsella.com cross-post]


If IBM holds a patent for 'Posting messages to an interactive service':

US 5,796,967 - Presenting Applications in an Interactive Service. US 5,442,771 - Storing Data in an Interactive Network. US 7,072,849 - Presenting Advertising in an Interactive Service. US 5,446,891 - Adjusting Hypertext Links with Weighted User Goals and Activities. US 5,319,542 - Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog.

When you put that much power in the hands of big business they do what they always do, eliminate competition, just eliminate them. Then suppress markets until a foreign market emerges to catch up.

American companies cannot compete with the "liability" (I say that scoffing; as you simply cant write a remotely useful piece of software without infringing on hundreds of patents).

I would like to point out that the Obama administration has filed a brief in the Bliski case. They / he is missing the point here. They want an idea to be patentable just long as its a process that involves a computer. Patents were never intended to be applied to anything abstract. http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/09/bilski-briefing-government-argues-that-section-101-processes-are-limited-to-technological-and-industrial-processes.html

In the long run it's going to be impossible to coheres other nations to accept our IP. The reason is, THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN!!! Everyone has the same ideas. The first one to the PTO gets to sue everyone else. It's bad enough in a nation, but the one person in the entire world owning the exclusive rights to a concept is utterly asinine. An emerging economy has NO incentive to wait twenty years to implement technology that could enable it to compete in the global marketplace. So what your really left with is US companies falling further and further behind.

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