logo

Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Blocking Technology

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


earlier posts

SOPA/PIPA and ??

This domain closure stuff is seriously bad news. If the report is to believed a site that provides online forms to hundreds of thousands of users was cut off by their internet provider (Go Daddy - well they were idiots for using Go Daddy for DNS services) at the request of the Secret Service who were investigating something or other - and investigating so hard that they promised they'd look into the site closure in a few days.

If every government bureaucrat (not to speak of those from the MPAA and RIAA) can close down a site with hundreds of thousands of users for a few days because of alleged bad behavior by one of those users we are in deep trouble.

Look, suppose somebody committed telephone fraud in the State of North Dakota. Would that justify shutting down all telephone service in North Dakota while the fraud was investigated? How well would the economy function if we allowed this sort of thing?

Your patent system at work

The conclusion seems to be that we can't have tablets or smart phones because every device violates someone's patent. See how the patent system encourage innovation?

NPR notices patent trolls

The notion that patent trolls, made possible by the institution of patents, are a very serious impediment to innovation is slowly making its way in public opinion. A nice and recent example is a nice piece by NPR, the national public broadcaster in the US: When patents attack. The link includes an MP3 of the episode.

Hat tip: orgtheory.net.

Nortel patents; Guess who pays!

If you read either the newspapers or the business press, you still won't really be sure about the details of Nortel's sale of its patents, but apparently some were sold to a consortium of Microsoft, Apple, etc. and some were sold to individual companies link here. This is being played as a defeat for Google which made an initial bid and subsequent competitive bids but dropped out after the price rose above $4 billion. It might equally be viewed as a victory for Google, having made arch-competitors pay far more than they dreamed of having to.

The real losers here were us consumers who will pay more for things produced under the patents. We will also see less inter-company competition and less innovation. This further cements the already long standing position of the incumbents, which will also restrict innovation.

Still think patents promote innovation?

ACTA in Europe

The Americans are trying to force ACTA - think super-DMCA - down the throat of Europe. While it's been watered down a bit, it's still quite obnoxious, and almost bound to choke off innovation. Via Hinnerk Gnutzmann a group of European academics, largely lawyers, has a petition against the current form of the ACTA. It's quite a moderate document - it conceded the basic usefulness of ACTA, which I view as very counterproductive - but still represents a step in the right direction. If I were a European academic I would sign it.

All too believable

Is there no technology so good that "patent holders" don't want to block it? This is why I hate IP. If they had patents when the agricultural revolution hit, we'd still be hunter-gatherers.

Intellectual Property vs. Global Warming

The damage done by intellectual property goes well beyond the prevention of the downloading of music. Yesterday's story about a Goldman Sachs employee downloading proprietary information was not exactly an example of a violation of intellectual property laws, but rather a theft of trade secrets -- perhaps a distinction without a difference.

Below, is a story about Toyota, supposedly benign force in the green economy by virtue of the Prius. Here is another side of the story in which Toyota is using intellectual property to make competition difficult.

One might be sympathetic to Toyota you were selling socks or toothpaste, but global warming seems to be too important to be gamed by such shenanigans.

Murphy, John. 2009. "Toyota Builds Thicket of Patents Around Hybrid To Block Competitors." Wall Street Journal (1 July): p. B 1.

"The Obama administration's tough new fuel-efficiency standards could pose problems for some car makers, but Toyota Motor Corp. is hoping to benefit. The Japanese company is betting the rules will give an advantage to its expanding lineup of hybrid vehicles, and it also aims to boost revenue by licensing to other car makers the patents that protect its fuel-saving technologies. Since it started developing the gas-electric Prius more than a decade ago, Toyota has kept its attorneys just as busy as its engineers, meticulously filing for patents on more than 2,000 systems and components for its best-selling hybrid. Its third-generation Prius, which hit showrooms in May, accounts for about half of those patents alone. Toyota's goal: to make it difficult for other auto makers to develop their own hybrids without seeking licensing from Toyota."

French firm has patents on using computers to choose medical treatment

Is anybody here aware of the website, HarmfulPatents.org link here? It is a new ally in the fight against patent-based monopoly. Mike Masnick gets a hat tip for this one, in his site, link here. HarmfulPatents is run by a doctor-professor at Stanford, Dr. Robert Shafer. He had developed a database on HIV that is used to identify possible treatments. Then he and his university got sued by Advanced Biological Laboratories, a French firm which claims that its patents cover the use of computers to make diagnostic decisions. Stanford settled, but the doctor hasn't, starting the website and asking the patent office to re-examine and invalidate the patents. ABL's settlement with Stanford ends the suit against Dr Shafer and allows not-for-profit use of his database. Final irony in this outrage: the European Patent Office rejected the patents on the grounds they were obvious.

Elsevier

Elsevier is a publisher which now owns the rights to most academic journals. This has been a sore point in the academic community for a long time. In effect because of the way copyright works, they own the rights to a large fraction of existing scientific publications, as well as the names (and reputations) of journals. Their business model is one of squeezing libraries for high subscription prices usually for a package of journal, including one reputable one, and a lot that are not so much so. You can read about efforts by economists in general and Ted Berstrom in particular to end this situation here. There are two key points: first Elsevier makes articles expensive and difficult to access. Second, they recognize that they are a dying industry - the model of authors, editors and referees providing their services for free and Elsevier collecting from the libraries is obsolete now that redistribution is possible via the web. So (smartly from their point of view) they are squeezing out the last drops of blood. But it is worse than that - they apparently have a new business model in which they are paid by lobbyists to create fake journals to publish articles supporting the lobbyists point of view. You can find detail on the Economic Logic Blog,

They haven't got rid of the libraries yet

Although they are working hard. Stephan points us to a list of libraries available online.

earlier posts


   

Most Recent Comments

Killing people with patents AIDS is a dangerous decease. I have watched the trailer and it is heart touching. I wish no one to

Terence Kealey: This post is very helpful for my writing because I am doing the research paper work so I search

Dr. Who?

The Other Dr. No: HIV Researcher Fighting the IP Pirates Hi, First off, I came across your site and wanted to say thanks for providing a great HIV/AIDS

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy Buy college papers at http://buy-essays-now.com and make sure that they are the best

Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Replying to Stephan: As I noted elsewhere, I'm fine with abolishing the system, just don't think

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry

Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... This is very useful post for the people. I want to write this types article but I do not know about

Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default

What's copywritable? Go fish in court. This post is providing very useful and informative information for the students. I like this post

Update and critique of the proposed GOOGLE settlement Hi!) Informative article about Google INC. I agree with you, that Google is a huge company, that

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy Do you suffer from loads of academic assignments? http://marvelous-essay.net will help you to

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Thanks for the information! It's good to know that there are some places showing the consequences

Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without

Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do

Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous

IIPA thinks open source equals piracy Good post. Thanks for this information. By the way, if students want to get rid of their

Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page: