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[News] The Economist Publishes Article Critical of the Patent Systems

  • Subject: [News] The Economist Publishes Article Critical of the Patent Systems
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 08 Feb 2010 10:22:48 +0000
  • Followup-to: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
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Hash: SHA1

Patent nonsense

,----[ Quote ]
| DO PATENTS help or hinder innovation? 
| Instinctively, they would seem a blessing, 
| especially for backroom tinkerers. 
| Patenting an idea gives its inventor a 20-
| year monopoly to exploit the fruit of his 
| labour in the marketplace, in exchange for 
| publishing a full account of how the new 
| product, process or material works for all 
| and sundry to see. For the inventor, that 
| may be a reasonable trade-off. For society, 
| however, the loss of competition through 
| the granting sole rights to an individual 
| or organisation is justified only if it 
| stimulates the economy and delivers goods 
| that change peopleâs lives for the better. 
| [...]
| If truth be told, few inventions are really 
| worth patenting. Time and again, surveys 
| show that in both America and Europe 
| companies rate superior sales and service, 
| lead time and secrecy as far more important 
| than patents when it comes to profiting 
| from innovation. And, although applying for 
| patents is relatively cheap, the cost of 
| maintaining them can be horrendous. If the 
| idea behind a patent has any commercial 
| merit, it will attract imitatorsâand the 
| inventor must be prepared to defend it in 
| the courts. In a majority of cases, the 
| cost of litigation will far exceed any 
| revenue the inventor may subsequently earn 
| from royalties or licensing.
| By and large, the inventions and 
| discoveries worth patenting are those in 
| the pharmaceutical and biotech fields, 
| where the pay-off for blockbuster drugs can 
| amount to billions of dollars a year. Also, 
| because the vast majority of inventions in 
| such areas depend on unique molecular 
| architectures, patents for new products are 
| easier to defend in the courts. A me-too 
| drug that is believed to violate a firmâs 
| patent is either based on the same molecule 
| or not.
| [...]
| An end to frivolous patents for business 
| processes will be a blessing to online 
| commerce. Meanwhile, the loss of patent 
| protection for software could make 
| programmers realise at last that they have 
| more in common with authors, artists, 
| publishers and musicians than they ever had 
| with molecular architects and chip 
| designers. In short, they produce 
| expressions of ideas that are eminently 
| copyrightable.
| That could be good news for innovation. 
| After all, who in his right mind would seek 
| a lousy old patent offering a mere 20 years 
| of protection when copyright can provide 
| monopoly rights for up to 70 years after 
| the authorâs death? That one fact alone 
| could spur more innovation than all the 
| tinkering attempted so far.


Common Sense


2009 patent litigation study



WIPO Patent Committee Prepares To Discuss Future Work Programme

,----[ Quote ]
| This week the Free Software Foundation of
| Europe is proposing the committee consider
| using a three-step test on whether a
| particular type of knowledge should become
| patentable subject matter or not.
| These three steps take the form of questions:
| â1, is there a demonstrated failure of the
| market to provide innovation in this area?;
| 2, are there demonstrated positive effects of
| disclosure from patenting in this area?; 3,
| in this area, does the patent system work
| effectively to disseminate knowledge?â
| âPatents are a form of regulation, and
| constitute state intervention in the market,â
| said Karsten Gerloff, president of the FSFE.
| And, he added, âas with any regulation and
| intervention, the first consideration must be
| to do no harm.â These questions should help
| ensure that patents aid the cause of
| innovation, he added.


FSFEâs opening statement at WIPO SCP/14

,----[ Quote ]
| This week, the WIPO Standing Committee on
| the Law of Patents is meeting in Geneva.
| From FSFEâs perspective, the two most
| important points on the agenda are the
| relation between standards and patents, and
| limitations to patentability.
| Weâll go into details in the coming days.
| On patents and standards, one obvious point
| is that Free Software runs into all sorts
| of problems when implementing standards
| that include patented technology - just
| think of MP3.
| The discussion about limitations to what
| can be patented is clearly very important
| for Free Software. Here, the delegates at
| WIPO will discuss, among other things,
| whether there should be international rules
| regarding patents on software.

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