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[News] Red Hat Against 'Invention' of Thoughts, Maths

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Wanted: Empirical Patent Law Scholarship

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| There are now more than 200,000 software patents, and there is no practical 
| way to be sure that a new program does not infringe one or more of them. A 
| patent lawsuit can cost several million dollars in attorneys’ fees. The risk 
| of patent litigation is one that the FOSS community has learned to live with. 
| But it hardly seems likely that the risk is doing anything other than 
| inhibiting software innovation.     


If No One Sees It, Is It an Invention?

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| The video showed how, in a few easy steps, the Nintendo Wii remote controller 
| — or “Wiimote” — could transform a normal video screen into a virtual reality 
| display, with graphics that seemed to pop through the screen and into the 
| living room. So far, the video has been seen more than six million times.   
| That video, together with others that Mr. Lee, now 28, posted on YouTube, 
| have drawn people to the innovator as well as his innovations. Video game 
| companies have contacted him and, in September, M.I.T.’s Technology Review 
| named him as one of its top innovators under 35.   


More INNOVA~1 brainwash: http://spectrum.ieee.org/mar07/4943


Latha Jishnu: The mouse that bit Microsoft

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| Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had
| understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were
| invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
| standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some
| obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm,
| application extension or other crucial technique.”
| This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new
| operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet,
| three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was
| content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991,
| Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it
| was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of
| patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise
| in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the
| number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10
| per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still
| pending.
| All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct
| correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not
| true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised
| voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent
| filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred
| long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being
| investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents
| did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software
| industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software
| innovation, he warns.


Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates

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| Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede
| the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent
| thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued
| for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure
| to encourage innovation, he said.
| Another problem is that the social returns from innovation do not accord with
| the private returns associated with the patent system, Stiglitz said. The
| marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner
| than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a
| long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns.

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