defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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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.
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.
The NEP-HIS blog has a nice discussion of a nice paper by Alessandro Nuvolari and James Sumner on innovations in the beer industry before 1850. There was rapid innovation without recourse to patents, even though patenting was an option to innovators.
John Bennett says this needs to be shouted from the rooftop.
This is what Apple "invented" the idea of sliding a latch to open something. But because they were doing it on a computer they got to patent it. Probably it cost some effort to work out the code to create the image and so forth - although if it cost them millions their programmers are incompetent - even tens of thousands seems high for that particular coding job. But here is the point: Nobody gets to copy their code with or without patents. The thing they actually paid for is protected.
The New York Times on patents. Original reporting and a strong bias in favor of patents - after all Apple says they spent millions of dollars developing slide to unlock and they'd never have bothered if they couldn't patent it!
Some very thoughtful - dare I say innovative? - remarks about patents from Cecil D. Quillen, Jr., former General Counsel, Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Eastman Kodak.
The trial, Apple v. Samsung, promises lots of fireworks. The likely entertainment value, however, is far exceeded by its educational value. The harbinger is the publication of US Judge Lucy Koh's instructions to the jury link here.
For non-lawyers like me, it is a revelation. She lays out in detail what determinations each juror will need to make and the connections among them, which she will have to decide, and the background for each where that is important.
She is breathtakingly clear, but that only raises questions about the suitability of patent law. Most of us, including many lawyers, aren't so careful to parse the meaning of legislation or the meaning of precedent in order to come to a wise decision.
It confirms in my mind the weakness of the whole justification for patents. They can be connected to innovation only weakly at best. The legal process is incredibly expensive and uncertain. The side with the most money and the best lawyers is most likely to win. And for the layman, the whole business is a puzzle once you go beneath the obvious and wonder what finally determined the outcome.
If even the best lawyers and judges can't do better than this, why continue to delude ourselves with this nonsense?
The downside of drug patents is once again evident in this example.
As Andrew Pollack reports in the New York Times, "A combination of two pills proved extremely effective in treating hepatitis C in a small trial, raising hopes among researchers that the disease will be curable without an injected drug that has debilitating side effects." link here
The two companies "owning" the drugs, however, are refusing to enter serious negotiations. Instead, they seem to be guarding their current patent monopolies and the profits generated thereby, while offering the public pablum justifications for not getting on with a deal that seems obvious and hugely in the public interest.
The clinical results are admittedly preliminary, but the implied criticism of current law and practice once again is strong evidence that major modifications of intellectual property law is urgent even as the current political climate offers little likelihood that it will be changed.
Most Recent Comments
3D Printing Groundnut: The first available 3D printers were produced in the early 1980s. Because those
at 06/03/2013 10:55 AM by Anonymous
3D Printing You were aware, I hope, that the popularization of 3D printing is happening now, rather than 20
at 06/01/2013 12:43 AM by groundnut gallery
Catching Up The Ruth Lewis post is interesting, but incomplete. The very economies that are supposedly
at 01/31/2013 07:21 AM by Anonymous
Canada - A Copyright Year in Review Hello. I don't like copyright law but I don't think it will go away in my life. I started a
at 01/02/2013 04:58 AM by Sabrina
Canada - A Copyright Year in Review Regarding the Copyright Act revision, let it be known that there was substantial opposition to the
at 12/28/2012 06:57 AM by Byte
From the Trenches Innovative remarks indeed. Cecil Quillen suggests the system needs to be modified, which I think
at 12/21/2012 06:18 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation ""Perhaps the first reason [for the rate of patenting] is that during this period the rate of
at 12/20/2012 05:46 PM by Anonymous
Obama Transition Team Member on Holy cow. None of Your Beeswax is a Canadian (Laurier Optical is Canadian only). You don't even
at 12/19/2012 06:08 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation Adam_Smith: Until the latter half of the 19th century, corporations routinely filed for patents,
at 12/19/2012 04:54 PM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation It would seem from the account given in the previous comment that it was innovation that stimulated
at 12/19/2012 04:04 AM by Adam_Smith
Would books be published without copyright? taxpayer: "The Wealth of Nations" went through five editions in the first 13 years of publication,
at 12/05/2012 08:31 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I was wondering whether free-market advocate Adam Smith made much money from his books. On-line
at 12/04/2012 09:59 AM by taxpayer
Open Book Publisher Great work! Here's my quick review of the book: It seems to me that behavioral economists
at 11/27/2012 08:38 PM by Aaron Wolf
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology Hi. Sorry for posting here as I cannot see a contact us section. How can I contact you? I have
at 11/27/2012 10:17 AM by Thomas Stringer
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to the beer innovation paper, I have to wonder whether the authors were overly focused
at 11/23/2012 08:31 AM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to Christian's comment that "there was rapid innovation without recourse to patents,"
at 11/21/2012 03:16 PM by Beer Innovation
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology I have seen several analysts who believe that the number of patents in this area indicate that our
at 10/24/2012 08:40 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? Gael: I would be curious as to how much copyright litigation is costing. I have never seen any
at 10/19/2012 01:12 PM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I think it's going to evolve towards a better system with or without copyright. Right now copyright
at 10/19/2012 11:46 AM by Gael N.
Patents and Secrecy Of course patents are not the "only" answer. That is just plain dumb. There are multiple business
at 10/13/2012 08:47 AM by Anonymous