[ExI] Problem with Pattents

Tom Tobin korpios at korpios.com
Mon Feb 25 16:11:42 UTC 2008

On 2/22/08, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
>  shorter?

First off, the inventor should consider themselves lucky that they are
receiving a patent *at all*.  Second, yes, the useful *chronological*
lifetime of an invention is shortened — thus making it all the more
important to shorten the patent time.  This is not punishment; if the
inventor wants to keep making money off of patents, well, guess what —
they need to *keep inventing*.

>  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....

This is one of the most awful ideas I've ever encountered.  (I've
encountered it before, but, still.)  I'd rather have zero IP than
forever-IP; progress would be *faster* without the chilling effect of
having to constantly come up with ridiculous workarounds to avoid
running afoul of a patent.

>  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.

So the patent database becomes a black box — *no one* is going to look
at it if there's a chance of "contaminating" their own work.  Hell,
this is somewhat the case even today, as patent damage awards are
increased if the infringement is "knowing", so engineers are
instructed to never examine patents, patent claims, etc.

> 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.

What's the *point* of this?  Rather than build on each others' works
and quickly make progress in a given field, we become fearful
paranoids with our ears plugged and eyes covered with blinders?
Science is an open discipline, and it's all the better for it;
engineering could stand to learn from science's example.

There are a few things that would lead me to immediately emigrate from
a given nation/state; ultra-strong IP of the sort you describe is one.
 (Albeit I already consider the IP scheme of the US to be overly
strong, as argued above.)

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