[ExI] Problem with Pattents

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sat Feb 23 00:44:45 UTC 2008

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 11:19 AM, Tom Tobin <korpios at korpios.com> wrote:

>  Today, the duration of these monopoly periods has been extended to
>  ludicrous terms: copyright by simply tacking on decades, and patents
>  by not scaling down the term to account for accelerating rates of
>  technological change.

### So you think that if progress accelerates, you need to make sure
to pay less for it? We all know that technological change accelerated
in many fields, shortening the mean useful lifetime of an invention,
frequently below the duration of the patent itself, thus reducing the
time in which the inventor may recoup his investment. And you say that
the inventor should be further punished by making patent duration

I see it quite differently - IP, including copyright and patents,
should be forever. No limits whatsoever. If you invented the wheel,
your 55th generation descendant should still get the royalties....
unless somebody else invented the wheel independently in the meantime.
Every time somebody invents something independently, he should be
entitled to the same protection, again, and again. Today this sort of
a system would be still impossible, since we cannot yet analyze the
contents of a new inventor's mind to determine if he indeed invented
on his own, or just cribbed from the PTO site. But in the
not-too-distant future it will be possible to prove the satisfaction
of any court that a given mind was never exposed to information about
a device made public previously. It will be possible to excise any
idea of a the wheel from your mind, and try to find out if you can
re-invent it on your own.

Please note that this system would introduce an automatic,
self-correcting pricing mechanism in the sale of inventions - if an
invention is easy to replicate by re-doing it from scratch
("obvious"), you won't be able to charge much - in fact, you will be
able to charge only the equilibrium market price, or the marginal
price (see "marginal analysis" in an economics textbook). If an
invention is extremely difficult to reproduce , i.e you need to build
thousands of such independent inventor minds working for years to have
a chance of reinventing it, again the marginal price would prevail but
at a higher level, no less than the marginal cost of all these
inventor-years. In other words, inventions would be competitively made
and sold just like bread and all other commodities. There would be no
need for an artificial time-limit, one-size-fits-all rules, etc. and
everything would run as smoothly as a Toyota.


BTW, those of you with long memories may recall that many years ago I
used to argue in almost the opposite direction on the same subject on
this list. I changed my mind :)

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