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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Software

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Patents Reduce Innovation

James E. Bessen and new Nobel winner Eric Maskin maintain that the software, semiconductor, and computer industries have seen considerable innovation with little patent protection. When patents were granted to these industries starting in the 1980s, they demonstated no R&D increases or productivity gains. Here is the paper .

Thanks to Alex Tabarrok at www.marginalrevolution.com.

The Real Pirates: SCO - good news at last

One of the grandest attempted thefts under the guise of IP has been the effort of SCO to hijack Linux. This seems to have come to an end: Groklaw, which has been following the case intently reports that the judge in the case has ruled that SCO doesn't even own the copyrights in question.

This is also a sad tale of a lawyer gone bad. David Boies who rose to fame by making a monkey out of Microsoft as a government lawyer, and who won our sympathy for defending Napster against the RIAA seemingly turned to the dark side - taking most of SCO's money on a worthless lawsuit that seems to have been designed mostly to bilk investors.

Software patents or copyright (Or neither)?

Timothy Lee writes "A Patent Lie" attacking software patents link here. The article makes several good points, ending up by arguing that copyright provides better and less expensive protection, inducing greater competition and lower costs to the consumer.

But why have any protection, other than the basic secrecy which allows the software writer to avoid publishing the code. If the idea behind the software, like Amazon's one-click ordering software, is so obvious, why protect it and prevent anyone else from producing software which serves the same purpose?

Why not reduce the wages of monopoly to an absolute minimum?

Microsoft's open-source patent claims

Todd Bishop assesses Microsoft's monopoly gambit here.

Microsoft vs. Linux [If you can't compete, sue for patent infringement.]

Microsoft claims that free open-source software like Linux violates over 200 of its patents. No - that's not a typo. 200.

In a rational world, this would be a joke. But our patent system is clearly at odds with a rational world. At least it exposes the lie of free market competition in the U.S. There can't be any when society allows litigation based on the insecurities of business executives over what the competition is doing.

Verizon and Vonage

Tim Lee has an article on the latest patent abuse, the Vonage case. Here Verizon has been able to destroy a competitor by having the deep pockets to go to court with specious patent claims.

Theoretically, the patent office is only supposed to award patents for "non-obvious" patents, and the concept of converting between an IP address and a phone number certainly seems obvious.

Unfortunately, our patent system has long since departed from this ideal. In recent decades, the courts have dramatically lowered the bar for obviousness. As a result, some of the patents being granted are so broad that inventing around them is practically impossible. The patents that allowed NTP to win a $612 million settlement from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, for example, essentially covered the concept of transmitting new email notifications wirelessly. There's no way RIM could have "invented around" that.

If we are going to have patent reform and a patent arms race: how about at least allowing Vonage to countersue for abusing the patent system through overly broad and obvious claims?

Some European Business Views on Software Patents

"Patents hamper innovation and interoperability on the World Wide Web" and much much more here (hattip: Christian Zimmermann)

Another brick off the wall

I like good news better than bad news (strange character, uh?) so let me point out a piece of very good news that appeared on the press today: Dell is going to sell PCs with Linux pre-installed. No need for a link to this or that site, as by now you can probably find the info anywhere on the net. Anyhow, here is one quotation from Information Week:

"Dell listened to the cry of its customers and has decided to offer Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook computers. The PC maker said on Wednesday it will expand support for Linux beyond its existing servers and its Precision workstation line of products. The details are murky, although Dell said it will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes information on which systems it will offer, its testing and certification strategy, and which Linux distributors it plans to work with."

Quite obviously I expect other major producers of PCs to follow soon, and then it will be real competition for MS in the one very large market it had managed to keep captive until now. Too bad for all those guys out there that rushed to waist their money on Vista just because Bill said it was soooo good ...

Vista's "Arrogance and Stupidity"

Here is a scathing summation of Microsoft's Vista OS.

One of the big culprits is Digital Rights Management. Microsoft is turning off its customers in droves and not listening to what they want.

Maybe it's slowly but surely making itself irrelevant.

Apple anyone? Linux?

Thanks for the pointer to the Kirk Report.

Is Microsoft Against Piracy?

An article on information week is going the blog rounds. Title of the article: "If You're Going To Steal Software, Steal From Us: Microsoft Exec." Most likely they'd rather have you steal their software than use legal open source/free software as well.

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Most Recent Comments

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... 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

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

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:

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,

What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic

Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the

Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples

Music without copyright Hundreds of businessmen are looking for premium quality article distribution services that can be

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

Patent Lawyers Who Don't Toe the Line Should Be Punished! Moreover "the single most destructive force to innovation is patents". We'd like to unite with you

Bonfire of the Missalettes!

Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? So, if our patent system was "broken," TFP of durable goods should have dropped. Conversely, since

Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? I wondered about TFP, because I had heard that TFP was increasing. Apparently, it depends on who

Music without copyright I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will