Imagine There's No Patents

Posted by  $  Radio_Randy 1 year, 6 months ago to Business
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An article from a Texas university professor who thinks our world would be better if we didn't have to deal with the detriment of "Patents".
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 year, 6 months ago
    The professor obviously cannot create value but does desire to invent a way to steal the fruits of someone else's value creation...that's why I call creatures like those....parasitical humanoids.
    (humanoid, because they are nothing more than a retarded brain in a worthless body with no mind or conscience).
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      Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 6 months ago
      The problem is that patent's can also be a way for someone to steal the fruits of your creation. Unlike copyrights which generally require you to copy someone else's work to violate them, you can violate a patent by dint of your own creativity coming up with a similar idea.

      A patent is supposed to be only available for true spark of innovation and not the normal product of a practitioner in the field. Following this precept limits the amount of times an innocent innovator is robbed of his efforts by the existence of a patent. Unfortunately if this isn't followed then it becomes quite common.

      The area of endeavor where this is the most striking is in software development where the patent office has and is still given out patents for very obvious ideas, often ones that have been in use for years -- just not patented.

      The other problem is the fact that the idea of "having a program to do x" is usually quite simple and a very small part of actually developing the code to do the task. When someone invests all the time to realize the idea and make it marketable they may find themselves sued by an 'inventor' who didn't invent anything but wrote a patent application for something like "Use a computer to store files accessible from multiple places".

      While the idea of a patent is that you publish the secrets behind your idea so that others can use it, software patents are written in "patent speak" and are utterly useless for anyone who would actually implement the idea.
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      • Posted by term2 1 year, 6 months ago
        I agree that the patent system is antiquated and should really just be abolished. It retards progress instead of promoting it. The patent lawyers are the only ones who benefit from it.
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 year, 6 months ago
        Same thing happens with Copyrights. People have copyrighted phrases, like "Millennium band" etc and prevented me from using it as a designation of my last invention..."self adjusting ring band".

        Domain names as well have been acquired for sale too.
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        • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 6 months ago
          That's more in the nature of Trademarks and while it is annoying you can come up with a different phrase. If they challenge the existence of your entire product that's harder to deal with. The
          re are situations, particularly in music, where relatively small amounts of text or note sequences become involved in a copyright battle that are a gray area. Theoretically, we should be able to protect an individual's creation but allow people to independently create their own products and distinguish between that and them copying someone else's invention.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 1 year, 6 months ago
      He creates value by teaching. As I pointed out, patent law is not predicated on protecting your intellectual property but on providing a (so-called) "social good" or "social benefit." I suggest that you trace the actual evolution of patent law in the United States to see how we got into the mess we are in today. Doing away with all patent laws would knock the system back to about 1450 when the City of Florence created the first patents. (Earlier examples are known. But consider them. For instance, if you invent a new food preparation should everyone else be prevented from using it or modifying it? Why not? Just asking.)
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 year, 6 months ago
        I am well aware of the evolution of patent laws having several patents of my own, also the system in which obtaining one can be corrupt as well.

        There are new modified patents around, (and I am sorry I have not the links to share) that allow someone to build on what you created and you can still profit and assign the degree of profit you desire also.
        After selling my last patent, ( a spidel like stretch band for finger rings), I never looked any further into these new patents.
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      • Posted by term2 1 year, 6 months ago
        I say abolish the patent system. If I come up with an idea totally on my own, but someone else has a government granted monopoly, I cant commercialize my idea. How is that fair?
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  • Posted by davidmcnab 1 year, 6 months ago
    Hate to say it, folks, but a large proportion of patents dealing with software are actually the tools and weapons of looters.

    In the software industry, patents allow anyone to become a tax-man. Even the simplest and most obvious ideas - the kind that everyone invents in their mind as a matter of course even in a single day's programming work, can be patented.

    This means that it has become infeasible to perform a search of the patent registry for every idea one uses in a day's work. Even in just that 8-12 hours, you will infringe on at least a couple of hundred of vaguely-written patents, maybe thousands.

    If attacked by a patent troll, you can agree to pay their unearned "tax" of thousands or millions of dollars, and/or a percentage of your own business revenues. Or you can spend thousands or millions to take them to court and try to get the patent invalidated as being not a true invention.
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    • Posted by  $  CBJ 1 year, 6 months ago
      Also, software and artificial intelligence are increasingly able to come up with more and more "inventions" of their own, many of which build upon one another. This makes it increasingly difficult to determine the "originality" and "non-obviousness" of a proposed patent.
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  • Posted by  $  1 year, 6 months ago
    As a follow up...I did email the professor and he explained that while he agreed that we should not give up patents, the system, itself was in dire need of repair. With that, I could agree with him, but I told him that mentioning John Lennon's song about a Socialist Utopia was probably not the best way to begin the conversation.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 1 year, 6 months ago
      I imagine there is no heaven, no hell below us. It is a basic fact of reality, not imagination. Although, if you were raised otherwise, it does take some imagination to come to that realization.

      There's nothing wrong with living in peace, either. Capitalism brings peace. Mysticism and collectivism are the sources of war. People do not fight and kill for or die for things they can buy or sell. We fight and kill and die for mystical intangibles like "family" and "honor" and "country" and "tradition." Woodrow Wilson and World War I, Franklin D. Roosevelt and World War II, Harry Truman and Korea, John Kennedy and Viet Nam, and then the Bushes (who were mortal enemies of Ronald Reagan). How many examples are enough?

      Utopia? Here's a utopia: All of the producers get to keep all of the benefits of their productive labor. Put a label on that, comrade.

      To me, the real test of a free market is not how hard you are allowed to work but whether or not you allowed to be lazy. Capitalism brings leisure... to imagine things...
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      • Posted by Lucky 1 year, 6 months ago
        MikeMarotta, who says he does not like one-liners,
        has come up with one of the best:

        .... the real test of a free market is not how hard you are allowed to work
        but whether or not you are allowed to be lazy. ....

        This is quite deep, it really needs an explanatory paragraph.
        Maybe- consider the Stalin and Kim dictatorships, they encourage and reward hard work, not with money but with power and prestige. But do not get your head too high or it comes off! Laziness is not allowed, but to the extent that the state provides for all, the system encourages laziness.

        When a free market is working right success is rewarded, taking it easy may or may nor be admired but is permitted - as long as you live within your own resources. In other words, all the rules, incentives and rewards are in harmony with individual freedom and productivity in the economy.
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 year, 6 months ago
        Although Lennon was using the bicameral mystical interpretation, heaven as in "The Heavens", the universe is what it actually means or better yet, what we can observe and hell being just the opposite.

        I do like your definition of "Utopia" +1
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  • Posted by term2 1 year, 6 months ago
    He has a real point. Today the world is filled with "patent trolls" who simply file on just about anything with no intention of actually commercializing what they patent. They just lie in wait and pounce on whoever actually commercializes the idea (and the other person may have independently thought of it) in an attempt to milk them of whatever they can.

    I think that if you think of something you should be able to commercialize that without fear of being sued by some patent troll. Otherwise, the patent trolls provide no benefit to society and actually retard inventors from bringing things to market.
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  • Posted by  $  nickursis 1 year, 6 months ago
    I have seen paptents from a large tech company and it is getting really weird. If you take a trasistor, and change the angle of the part that serves as collector, then they patent it, and sometimes trademark it to boot, then they amass a huge number of patents. I have seen engineers with dozens of patents to their name, and none of them were huge breakthroughs. The definition of patent has warped over the last 40 year as "IP" becomes a commodity. Even copyright and paptent seem to have merged, the STar Trek Axanar thing showed that pretty convincingly when CBS sued for anything related to Trek as used and violating their "copyright", "trademark" or "IP".
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 year, 6 months ago
      What does it mean to change the "angle" of a bipolar transistor's collector? Do you mean the P/N interface has an angle or the package terminals they break it out into has an angle?
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      • Posted by  $  nickursis 1 year, 6 months ago
        That was simply a gross estimate of any one of a hundred characteristics you can have with transistors, like FINFETs. Any little configuration change, which may improve one or another performance characteristics, becomes a patent. Patents on patents for patents. It becomes so convoluted, you do not know what the real objective is. The system has been corrupted so companies can choke each other on whos patent it is and demand license fees from each other for what is essentially the same thing.
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  • Posted by wiggys 1 year, 6 months ago
    the purpose of patents is beneficial for the government. I have been issued 4 and after the first one ended still no company came along to copy me. So I stopped paying the service fee to the government for the other 3 and still no copiers. in this day and age so much is NOT made in the USA a product can be copied in asia and when you find out its to late and the cost of a law suit is exorbitant. I recommend that one make their product and say nothing and just sell it.
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    • Posted by  $  nickursis 1 year, 6 months ago
      There is a series on one of the channels about that exact thing, I think it is called "Cyber War". One episode focused on IP, theft, and Chinas huge theft ring it has. A company from the US made a control system for huge wind turbines, and it comes in 2 large cabinets and goes in the control hub of the unit, way up there. They showed theirs, and then showed the chinese knock off, identical down to location of name plates, and sold for 40% less. It had inferior components and yet was marketed as a cheaper alternative, but was a knock off, including the software package to control it. They could not sue, because of the huge costs of an international lawsuit, and even if they won in the US, they couldn't collect because the company was in China. Depressing, but illustrates why having all these nice laws and things is useless with no enforcement.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 1 year, 6 months ago
    Technically a patent is not insurance that can deny another party the right to develop a similar idea. In strict terms, only the party who brings the idea to concrete concept (a prototype) has solid grounds for challenge. Companies that cave to the trolls don't have a very good legal staff in my opinion. One of my friends had developed the concept of a metal plate form of heat shield for reentry and patented it. Lockheed later developed a prototype of the same kind of plate, and attempted to file a patent. When my friend challenged Lockheed in court, the judge simply said, "I recognize you filed the paperwork earlier, but where's your prototype?"
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 1 year, 6 months ago
    Johanna Blakely on TED Talks explains why the fashion industry eclipses all other protected sectors combined.
    https://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_bla...

    We can all agree that intellectual property is valuable. The best means and methods of protecting it are not so well defined.

    US Patent and Copyright laws have changed substantially since the Constitution was drafted. For many decades you could not get a patent without an actual working model.

    It used to be - contrary to myth - that the rights belonged to the first inventor.. A few years ago, the US joined the rest of the world and now give rights to the first to file..

    The basic theory of the patent is to provide "public benefit" to your idea: you have to publish what it is and how it works. In return, the patent gives you the right to sue anyone who infringes. You could just keep your ideas and methods secret. That works well for Coca-Cola. Note, therefore, that it is not the intended purpose of patents to protect your intellectual property. We can all agree that it should be but it is not. Therein is the fundamental philosophical flaw in the system.

    The professor's points are cogent and considerable. You might not agree with the over-arching conclusion but the facts in evidence are real.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 1 year, 6 months ago
    Why bother to create if there's no reward?Without patents the inventor could remain dirt poor, so why bother? So too with copyrights, Inventing may not be the single motivation for making money, but without it, there's not much reason to care.
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    • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 6 months ago
      My area of expertise and interest is in software. For the first few decades there were almost no software patents. Copyright law was used. In the late 80's and 90's patents came into play. In many cases being written for things that had already been in common use -- just not patented so a patent search didn't find them.

      The software industry moves fast, you don't need a patent on your ideas to make money, you just need them to not duplicate your code. Going from the idea to the working code is a major effort.

      I often say I would be glad for competitors to copy the ideas in my product. That will put them years behind me because those are the ideas I had two or three years ago. And a handful of years is forever in this world.

      Plus there is an interesting synergy between the competitors in the computer industry. We all need to have features and capabilities that make us stand out -- but customers have to use our products which means we have to share common approaches to getting things done.
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  • Posted by CaptainKirk 1 year, 6 months ago
    Patents are NOW a problem. I agree with the concepts. But the implementation, and usage are insane.
    IBM gets a LARGE portion of its money from its Patent book. Often times on OBVIOUS solutions.

    Patents are supposed to be non-obvious. When Apple got these 2 patents, I died a little:
    1) Slide to open (Available on bathroom stalls since I was a kid, and in Castles eons ago)
    2) Rounded Corners on the glass (reduces fracturing, and less risk of injury: Available on glass tables for years)

    Form and Material changes DO NOT get you a new patent, if the concept does not change.
    One company was DENIED a patent whereby carbon and styrofoam are poured first into a mold. Then when
    Molten Aluminum is added, their are no air gaps, and the carbon ends up strengthening the Aluminum, and
    making it lighter.

    The other side quoted the Bible: Add straw to the mud, and cook it. The straw will get cooked away, and the
    resulting brick will be stronger and lighter.

    The Judge bought it. Patent Denied.

    ==
    The pace of implementation and turnaround has changed. 17 years used to be 1/2 of a lifetime.
    Maybe we reduce it to 5-10yrs.
    ==

    The other downside with Patents is that countries like China can literally look them up and use them. Good luck suing them in Chinese courts.

    Finally, our government has been known to block some patents and either make them top secret, or make them public.

    You can determine for yourself what would happen if you tried to patent making a small nuke based on common materials! I am thinking they wont give you the patent, and they might arrest you for demonstrating it!
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 1 year, 6 months ago
    The man may know patents, but John Lennen ultimately said he regretted writing "Imagine". He became fond of Reagan, and came to see things differently when he moved to NYC, not quite as spacey as he grew older.
    I thought Clinton did all get could to give all patents to China. Some companies stopped registering for patents, and beefed up security, instead of laying their designs where they had to be shared.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 1 year, 6 months ago
    The professor did mention the patent lawyers and Trolls who make considerable more money from the patent process than the inventors do. Then towards the end of the article he talks about China's weak Patent system; hell they steal and use industrial espionage to leap frog ahead of the US. There is really no protection by the US govt. I almost believe that there're trolls in the Patent Office that steal from inventors. Part of the problem that the gov't makes it too time consuming and expensive. My brother came up with a cargo stripping for ocean going oil tankers, I urge him to patent it and he said it was to expensive to patent it because of the cost of an atty and filing fee's.
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  • Posted by NealS 1 year, 6 months ago
    Other factors for an inventor are not only the application and other fees, there are patent lawyer fees, and ongoing patent renewal fees to keep the invention protected up to 20 years. Then you need marketing skills and other finances in order to get your product out there. There a tons of companies that will charge you money to simply send copies of your patent to other companies that might be interested in it, usually a total waste in my opinion. Some of those companies might show interest in your idea mostly in order to develop a similar product with enough changes to get their own patent, just pick your brain, and/or just build something that does the same thing with enough different attributes to make it differ enough from your patent, again more attorney fees, usually to no avail. Unless you have a world winning idea that you can afford to follow up on all the processes and legal loopholes, just go ahead and make them or have them made and flood the market as fast as you can. Flooding the market with a stolen idea or a patented device is another scheme with no consequences until they are court ordered to stop, and that is only if you can afford a lawyer bigger and more powerful than theirs. I can attest to all these facts. I've been there, done that. Yes I caved to the trolls, but should have never even tried especially as a simple individual. By having them locally made even at high expense, I was able to sell a few hundred locally at exorbitant prices, and maybe even made a few dollars, but not worth the time and effort. Several who bought them came back for another just to give to a good woodworker friend, or bought themselves another just to have two.
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  • Posted by Kimbell 1 year, 6 months ago
    I was told many years ago by a patent attorney that if I apply for a patent, I will have to publish how I am doing it along with drawings, etc. All anyone has to do is modify my concept slightly and they can market my product as their product. His recommendation was to sell as many as I could as fast as I can. I do have Trademarks, which do provide some interesting protection. But even that is vage and not worth much unless you like to pay lawyers.
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  • Posted by ByzantineGeneral 1 year, 6 months ago
    Fairness is not the issue. It's first past the post, and you lost.

    The society that protects inventors with patents loses less from /actual/ re-inventors not doing adequate research before investing their efforts than by allowing /fraudulent/ re-inventors to climb onto someone else's gravy train.
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    • Posted by  $  CBJ 1 year, 6 months ago
      Is "benefit to society" a proper criteria for determining the worth of patents? Are all re-inventors "fraudulent"? Patents are fundamentally incompatible with individual rights. No one has a "right" to a monopoly, temporary or otherwise, on a process. Processes are not property.
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  • Posted by jdg 1 year, 6 months ago
    I think his objection is misplaced. Patents last about the right length of time (20 years) to reward innovation without becoming a hindrance to follow-on innovation.

    It's copyright (thanks to Hollywood) which goes way beyond that point of balance and perpetuates rent-seeking monopolies.

    I would reform copyright by reducing it, after the first five years, to only a right to collect a standard royalty (similar to the "automated mechanical licenses" that already exist in music publishing) so that an author can no longer veto follow-on creators using his material. I would also let the user pay that royalty to the patent office, thus solving the orphan works problem.

    I would also eliminate software patents and make them use copyright. Because in software as in music, after 3-5 years the amount of follow-on creation that IP stifles is much greater than the creation it protects.
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    • Posted by davidmcnab 1 year, 6 months ago
      "right amount of time"... unless you start looking in the software sector. In that space, 20 years is dozens of generations. By the time you've learned to develop with a given framework, that framework is already out of date with new frameworks hitting the prime time.
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    • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 6 months ago
      I agree on software, and the use of copyright. Although I don't think someone should be able to copy your binary code and sell your products after 3-5 years. Write their own code to implement the functions -- sure, have at it!
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      • Posted by jdg 1 year, 6 months ago
        You wouldn't want, for example, someone today to be able to create and market a debugged Windows XP (and pay the standard royalty per copy to MS) as an alternative to today's much-altered Windows 10 which many of us can't stand? Can you explain why allowing that would be a bad idea?
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        • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 6 months ago
          There is the concept of abandoned products. There are old games, etc. that are being distributed by various means for which the original company no longer exists. Presumably someone still owns the copyright in many cases and is simply not deciding to pursue it since the money involved is minor.

          I am aware of someone who is tracking down the rights to old science fiction and re-publishing them in electronic form so that they stay available. In some cases this is impossible because the owner can't be found.

          Certainly a mechanism could be designed to designate an "abandoned" property. It would be better to have it be used than lost -- probably the original author would think so.

          Of course none of that includes Windows XP since Microsoft is clearly still around. The problem with your idea is that if Microsoft accepts money for this they assume some obligation for the product no matter what they put in a disclaimer. It's still clearly their property and includes a whole lot of code that is in Windows 10.
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          • Posted by jdg 1 year, 6 months ago
            Yes, I'm aware of many sources of "abandonware" computer games, and I have no problem with them or their customers so long as the product really has been abandoned. (Besides, most of them require significant alteration to be able to run on today's computers.) My rule is, if there is still an authorized source for the product I'm going to buy a legal copy or do without.

            Old SF -- there is now an exception in copyright law for bona fide "preservation societies" to make a few copies to preserve. This is also being done with old movies.

            (An interesting comparison is the career of August Derleth, HP Lovecraft's executor. Lovecraft's copyrights were for only 28 years, which meant most of them expired in the 1940s-50s, and could not be renewed because of his death. Derleth would change just a few words, making them legally different works, so he could copyright them again, thus keeping them in print.)

            I don't like the idea of a mechanism to designate "abandoned" properties precisely because many of them have owners such as Microsoft, who would game the system in order to limit new customers to the new product, with its increased ability to dictate what the buyer may do with his own computer. I don't consider that a legitimate use of intellectual property law.

            The modified Windows XP would be a derived work, and if product liability law would hold MS responsible for flaws then that law is broken.
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