As Congress gets ready to pass a greatly watered down patent reform act - watered down largely due to the lobbying of the two biggest patent trolls, IBM and Microsoft - and the Supreme Court begins to contemplate abolishing software patents, there are a few other news items.
First, there is the letter of Cecil D. Quillen, Jr. whose efforts on behalf of patent reform we have mentioned here before. Needless to say, despite the thoughtful comments he has received little response.
Next, Salvatore Modica send us this link to an article documenting how patents on the human genome have reduced research in the area. There is a message here, especially for people like Andrew Sullivan who exaggerate the role of pharmaceutical companies in saving their lives.
Finally I'd like to draw attention to the excellent paper of Bessen and Nuvolari in which they nail the reason for widespread knowledge sharing: the existence of a competing existing technology.
[Posted at 12/08/2013 01:59 AM by David K. Levine on Against IM comments(0)]
Bilan takes them on
...if you read French.
[Posted at 07/09/2013 02:09 AM by David K. Levine on Patent Trolls comments(2)]
Are you familiar with the ISBN? A unique identifier issued by the U.S. Government to identify books? Did you know that the U.S. Government has granted a private company Bowker
a monopoly over issuing them? They are very proud of it...as if it is a good thing!
[Posted at 05/21/2013 05:20 AM by David K. Levine on Against Monopoly comments(0)]
Do we want to innovate our way out of crisis? How about government getting out of the way of innovators? Real innovators and small businesses are obstructed not helped by patents. Don't listen to me. Listen to someone in business
[Posted at 05/21/2013 05:18 AM by David K. Levine on Patents comments(0)]
If you read this blog you must have an internet connection, so presumably have heard of 3D printing. It is a very disruptive technology with potential to change manufacturing in a variety of ways - and indeed even things such as medicine. I recently had some correspondence with Joshua Pearce whose engineering group is working on materials for use in 3D printing. He is concerned about a patent arms race in this area being drag on innovation. He is looking at creative ways to preempt some of the patent nonsense.
Joshua has also been active in nanotechnology, another important areas of innovation. His article in Nature highlights how patents are helping to obstruct rather than help progress - again with innovative ideas for an open source model for key building blocks that will enhance rather than hinder innovation.
It is not a tribute to our system that genuine innovators have to spend their time trying to figure out how to avoid the hindrance of patents rather than devoting their effort to innovation.
[Posted at 05/21/2013 05:14 AM by David K. Levine on Patents comments(2)]
In the dimension of copyright, the issue of plagiarism often comes up. There is a common misunderstanding that there is a connection between copyright or plagiarism. Plagiarism is not generally a violation of copyright law - although in some cases where extensive copying takes place it may be. Rather it is a failure of attribution. Basically plagiarism is not illegal - but it is heavily punished through contract law. It is a good example of "why we don't need a law for that" contrary the oft expressed opinion if something is bad we need a law against it.
The key point is that if we got rid of copyright the existing penalties for plagiarism would continue unchanged. The recent story of the economist Brian Swart is a case in point. It involves Theoretical Economics a journal which I helped to found, and my friend and colleague Martin Osborne who is editor of the journal. The key point is that Swart while violating no law, lost his job and had his PhD rescinded as a consequence of his plagiarism. So be warned: the punishment for plagiarism is severe.
[Posted at 05/21/2013 05:05 AM by David K. Levine on Plagiarism comments(0)]
I wanted to draw attention to a Libertarian Blog
. It covers a lot of ground, but also IP issues from a libertarian perspective, including a recent interview with Stephan Kinsella.
[Posted at 05/21/2013 04:57 AM by David K. Levine on Against IM comments(0)]
Been very busy with other things, so this is a "catching up" post.
1. I was offered the opportunity to syndicate an article. Usually these things are scams, but in this case it seems to be legitimate. The article in question seems to have some interesting stuff about non-practicing entities (i.e. patent trolls).
2. Ruth Lewis has a nice post pointing to yet more example of innovation that thrives without effective IP.
3. Riccardo DiCecio points to a long and detailed article about the original of patent trolling in Wired...
4. and Sylvain Ribault directs us to an article in Nature that the Chinese are headed down our same bad path - but luckily for both us and them, haven't arrived yet.
[Posted at 01/29/2013 07:49 AM by David K. Levine on Against Monopoly comments(1)]
[Posted at 10/21/2012 01:20 AM by David K. Levine on Patents comments(2)]
There is a lot of talk in academic circles about open publishing models - but mostly for journals. However efforts are underway for books as well: Openbook publishers has been taking the lead in this - they are the publishers of my recent book Is Behavioral Economic Doomed
. They publish under a creative commons license that allows free reproduction and modification - yet we still think we can cover the costs and even make a buck or two.
There is a nice article about them here.
[Posted at 10/12/2012 07:09 AM by David K. Levine on Copyright comments(2)]