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Another Call For Abolishing Patents, This One From the St. Louis Fed

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the system-and-method-for-creating-systems-and-methods dept.

Patents 315

New submitter WOOFYGOOFY writes "The most recent call for curtailing patents comes not just from an unexpected source, the St. Louis Fed, but also in its most basic form: total abolition of all patents. Via the Atlantic Monthly: a new working paper (PDF) from two members of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Michele Boldrin and David Levine, in which they argue that while a weak patent system may mildly increase innovation with limited side-effects, such a system can never be contained and will inevitably lead to a stifling patent system such as that presently found in the U.S. They argue: '...strong patent systems retard innovation with many negative side-effects. ... the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones. Hence the best solution is to abolish patents entirely through strong constitutional measures and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent-seeking.' They acknowledge that some industries could suffer under a such a system. They single out pharma, and suggest other legislative measures be found to foster innovation whenever there is clear evidence that laissez-faire under-supplies it."

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War to end all wars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503575)

Bankers versus big media. Who will win?

Re:War to end all wars (5, Insightful)

Maho Shoujo (2729697) | about 2 years ago | (#41503601)

What a shame, in your rush to get the first post, you mistook patents for copyright. Sadly, this is not the case. The industries that (ab)use patents are much, much bigger than a few pathetic media companies that don't even total up to a trillion dollars a year in profit. Removing patents would really anger manufacturing, engineering firms, software companies, and especially pharmaceutical companies. Do they influence the government more than the banks? I can't say, but they have the advantage, as they only have to convince congress to continue not changing a thing.

Re:War to end all wars (1, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#41503895)

If this were really a war, the Fed would win. They own the government and the economy. Literally - they can show you the paper.

But I imagine this is just an academic exercise by a couple guys, and the Fed as a whole doesn't really give a damn.

Re:War to end all wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503943)

There goes my 2 finger slide to unlock patent. Damn you to hell America!

Re:War to end all wars (0)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41503977)

If patents were abolished, the only thing left to protect inventions is copyright.
Patents are not intended to promote invention, they are intended to promote publication of documentation on those inventions.
Without patents, such publication would likely cease for the most part and the implementations of these inventions would be protected by copyright, which may arguably be worse.
Without patents and the documentation they produce, building upon the work of others (which is what invention is) would become more difficult and may actually stiffle invention more than a reduced patent system, however difficult that may be to uphold.

Re:War to end all wars (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41503987)

I'm not sure it would anger software companies, or certainly very few. Most seem to be *very* much against them, as it costs a large amount to retain the legal staff required in the system as it stands. It would anger patent troll companies.

Re:War to end all wars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503989)

There is no war. Jews don't fight each other. They are just making it look like they are fighting, so the goyim stays confused about the true kike goals.

If abolishing patents won't happen... (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#41503585)

...why not change the duration, or require active production to defend a patent?

For some industries, 17 years is a very long time. If the duration were lowered for software to something like five years that'd make more sense to me.

For physical device patents, patent holders who fail to produce goods (and I don't mean to license the patent to another manufacturer without self-producing) a lack of production should spell the end. If they won't produce it then someone else could have the right to do so.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (0)

stevejf (2724307) | about 2 years ago | (#41503679)

20 years. 20 years. 20 fucking years from the date of filing, not 17.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#41503899)

Or seventeen years from the issue date, whichever is longer.

If you're going to correct someone, at least make sure their information is wrong before you do it.

We Need a New Patent System Based On Freedom (1)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41503933)

Even the Bible says that a worker is worthy of his wages. If someone works hard to invent a new technology, he or she must be fairly compensated but the compensation must not restrict the liberty of others. Above all, the system must not be a carte blanche for a few to bully all others out of the market. We need something like this:

1. A special independent fund must be set aside to compensate inventors for their inventions.
2. A retroactive formula must be adopted to calculate the amount of the compensation.
3. The formula must be adjustable so as to reach the best return to society at large in terms of innovations.
4. Last but not least, whatever the formula chosen, it must never infringe on the right of the individual to copy and use any invention for whatever purpose.

Inventors should publish their findings as soon as they can because their compensation will depend on how much society like their ideas. Of course, we still need a Patent bureau and a system to manage claims and the proper registrations of inventions. The system should be as automated as possible.

PS. The system could work for copyrights as well. Create a work of art, register it, publish it for everybody to download and copy and wait for the money to start flowing in.

Re:We Need a New Patent System Based On Freedom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504175)

Even the Bible says that a worker is worthy of his wages. If someone works hard to invent a new technology, he or she must be fairly compensated but the compensation must not restrict the liberty of others. Above all, the system must not be a carte blanche for a few to bully all others out of the market.

No. Above all, the compensation must not restrict the liberty of others.

Also, I reject the word of your Bible as you have applied it here. Is highwayman "worthy of his wages"? If a worker has no way of obtaining wages for his work without infringing on the basic liberties of his fellow man I say he most certainly isn't entitled to wages.

The world does not owe one a living.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#41503939)

How about a duration of 0?

What evidence is there that patents have brought products to market that otherwise would never have been made? What evidence is there that patents shortened time to market?

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#41504067)

In many cases patents are the alternative to trade secrets. Many companies still choose to rely on trade secrets when the technology was discovered somewhat accidentally, when so much time and money are poured into R&D and there is no expectation that any other company will commit to the same level of effort, and/or when the company has some other reason to believe that competitors cannot or will not pursue the development of the protected technology. Trade secrets lead to a closed, uncooperative system where "the wheel" so to speak is constantly reinvented and the pace of techological innovation is significantly slowed. Patents lure inventors into trading away the potential gain (and risk) of developing and protecting trade secrets for the virtually guaranteed monopoly over their technolgy for 20 years or so.

As for evidence of a hypothetical "what if", I don't know how one could argue for or against such a position given the inherent limitations. There are definitely products that never made it to market because executives believed that the product could not be protected, competitors could duplicate the product and business objectves might not be obtainable.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (3, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#41504135)

'Trade secrets lead to a closed, uncooperative system"

I think we can trace the roots of non-cooperation back to a competitive marketplace. Competition leads to trade secrets..

The question is whether innovation would flourish more with patent protections, or without.

With them, competition is forbidden until they expire, then they're public domain.

Without them, competition is allowed immediately, everything is public domain for the reverse-engineering of it, and competitors are free to invent their own, possibly similar, designs.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41504029)

For physical device patents, patent holders who fail to produce goods (and I don't mean to license the patent to another manufacturer without self-producing) a lack of production should spell the end.

Why? It's like saying architects should dig foundations & pour concrete.

If I invent a new spanner, can I employ someone to make them? And define "make" - how far up the supply chain do I have to go? Do I have to smelt the iron? Mine the ore? Dig the mine?

If they won't produce it then someone else could have the right to do so.

Why? And why can't that somebody be a licensee?

Seems you've got a heck of a sense of entitlement or you've fallen for the fallacy that if you "don't get yer hands dirty, it ain't proper work". Possibly both.

Re:If abolishing patents won't happen... (3, Interesting)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#41504147)

So, if Joe Engineer develops the next new thing in his garage, he has to physically make each item by hand or directly hire staff and tool a factory from scratch to organically grow a manufacturing business that may not have anything new to manufacture after the patent expires but may take the life of the patent before finally supplying the initial demand? Why can't Joe Engineer develop his widget and license manufacturing to a company that is already established and capable. For Joe there is less upfront risk, faster time to market, and he won't be left "holding the bag" once the patent expires.

Now, if Joe scribbles a block diagram on a napkin I could see the value of requiring Joe to initiate production (directly or through licensed manufacturers) before his patent can be enforced. Joe shouldn't have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for 6 or 7 years to pounce on a successful company that just so happened to utilize the method depicted in his block diagram, most likely not even considering the "invention" worthy of a patent due to obviousness.

pharma? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503595)

you're going to call out pharma as an example where the patent process provides a positive influence?

may as well defend the patenting of gene sequences. or business models.

the whole thing is corrupt

Re:pharma? (1, Interesting)

diamondmagic (877411) | about 2 years ago | (#41503645)

Yes, and I'd agree with them.

Economics is a value-free science: just because it identifies winners and losers, it doesn't mean there is any sort of value judgement on if the respective parties deserve the winnings and losings.

e.g. you can argue that maybe drug prohibition or minimum wage is a good thing, but don't try and deny that prohibition creates black markets, and that minimum creates unemployment among unskilled workers.

Re:pharma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503697)

nothing you said argued for the utility of patents in the pharmaceutical field.

maybe the free market isn't really good host for that kind of research. for example the exchange of lives
for margins isn't one everyone is comfortable making.

Re:pharma? (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 2 years ago | (#41503903)

There is pretty clear evidence that without patents, big parma does not produce tested drugs. Testing a drug costs billions of dollars and there is no way that anyone would undertake that if they didn't think they could make billions on the other side.

Now, you could argue that we would be better off awarding value to cures than drugs, but that would require someone placing a value on cures (something I'd be happy to have the government doing, but others might not like that so much).

Re:pharma? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41503993)

I think that if you remove all patents from pharma, you also need to remove the extremely long, strict processes required to put a product on the market. Since the arduous process is dictated by government, and equivalent protection should be provided to offset the cost.

Re:pharma? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504041)

It's possible that pharma could be dealt with without patents if there were limited-time exclusive rights granted in exchange for completing clinical trials.

This would allow for the same giant revenues that, frankly, are necessary to make drug development worthwhile, considering the huge costs and risks involved. On the other hand, it would mean that drugs couldn't simply be patented and held back from trials. It would also vastly reduce the administrative burden. In total, the effect would be very similar to patents, but wouldn't require a patent system.

Re:pharma? (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#41504055)

Perhaps then they should stop gaming the system, like patenting a drug for one use, then just before the patent expires, they patent it for another use. Voila, twice patent protection now, as others can't make the drug for the first use, because it might also be used for the second one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also, continue to ignore repeated gaming of the so-called 'testing' phase, where because the costs are so large, there is incredible pressure to ensure the results result in the drug going to market.

Re:pharma? (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 2 years ago | (#41504121)

Also, studies coming out of the woodwork documenting side effects when the patent is about to expire and generics would enter the market. Of course, the company has a New and Improved freshly patented replacement standing by.

Re:pharma? (2)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 2 years ago | (#41504073)

The drugs that pharma produce have to be tested to be allowed to market, so having patents is redundant anyway. Passing the required testing takes many years, which itself provides a duration of market monopoly to any copycat company. And if a second company isn't a copycat, but happened to begin research on the drug during the testing phase, then any patent would render that research a loss.

big obstacle (1, Insightful)

stevejf (2724307) | about 2 years ago | (#41503611)

the constitution may be a pretty substantial roadblock, just sayin'.

Re:big obstacle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503637)

Not so sure about that, hasn't really seemed to matter recently.

Re:big obstacle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503743)

The constitution matters when its wording seems to protect the interests of the aristocracy. In other cases, not so much.

Plenty of very rich people have quite a lot invested in patents, therefore any call to reduce their power will be rejected.

It will take a lot more than a few academics pontificating about economics and justice to make any really useful change to the patent system. A damn lot more.

Re:big obstacle (1)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41503973)

A damn lot more.

Like a revolution?

Re:big obstacle (3, Informative)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41503801)

No. Congress has the power to have a patent system, but it's not a mandate. They could choose to end the patent system. The real stumbling block to abolition or even reform is a number of international treaties that tie our hands on the matter.

Re:big obstacle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503805)

The contstitution does not require patents ... it permits them. It makes it clear that patents are an economic development policy of the government, not a right.

Re:big obstacle (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41503847)

The Constitution permits Congress to implement a patent system but does not mandate it. Likewise it doesn't say how long patents must last nor how hard they can be made to get.

Re:big obstacle (2)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 2 years ago | (#41504115)

While the constitution grants the power to congress to create patents, the real reason that it patents were put into the constitution was to take the power of IP away from states. State governments can't implement IP law. Knowledge doesn't disappear when it crosses state lines, so one state patenting an invention is a good as nothing as far as market protection in another state. The creators of the Constitution then took power away from the State Governments and allowed it only for the Federal Government.

For the same reason, the Federal Government can't actually implement a patent system. If you patent something in the US, another country can just start producing that product and ignore US law. Patents require a worldwide agreement and law enforcement, which is itself one of the reasons that patents should never have been created.

It would take a Constitutional amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503615)

That's where the power is granted, and Congress isn't likely to give it up any other way.

Re:It would take a Constitutional amendment (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about 2 years ago | (#41503817)

It seems that it's not against the constitution to put a time limit. Let's change 20 years to 20 days.

Re:It would take a Constitutional amendment (3, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503865)

It isn't against the Constitution to get rid of patents altogether. The constitutional amendment isn't because the constitution forces us to have patents, its because the only way to abolish patents is to take away congresses authority to create them. Congress will never willingly dismantle the patent system. Too many private parties are paying them not to.

Drug Patents (3, Insightful)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | about 2 years ago | (#41503639)

I would agree that the patent system in the US is severely handicapped. But abolishing it entirely would severely handicap drug development.

It takes years of testing to get a drug approved by the FDA, and that costs big big money to do. You get the drug approved by the FDA and then a chemist comes and makes the exact same thing, and your years of investment into research and development and clinical trials of that drug are going to not be paid off. Somebody would essentially walk the path that you made and they would reap the same benefits just simply by copying what you have done.

Re:Drug Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503663)

And your chemists could do the same to them, leading to a big win for consumers. Assuming that pharmacutical companies ever try to invent new drugs again.

Re:Drug Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503815)

And then, since nobody will bother inventing new drugs, all the chemists can pack up their desks and leave. This is all very well thought out stuff.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503879)

Yes. Everyone is just going to pack up and leave and NOBODY is going to bother trying to sell to this massive market ever again.

Massive pharma's need billions for a drug to be worth it to them. But the actual cost of the gear is thousands spread across hundreds of drugs if you make communal labs and making the time investment worthwhile is a need easily met by a million or two. The same companies that profit making generics now would find 0-day drugs just as profitable. All that is needed is to get rid of the direct costs associated with FDA approval.

Re:Drug Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504037)

Maybe not directly, but yes. How many new drugs for diabetes or stroke have been approved by FDA in the past 5 years or so? Big fat zero. For diseases with huge market. The burden of proof at the moment is so high, even with the extensive patent protection a new drug gets, the profitability the investors are seeking is not there, when compared to the risks involved.

Re:Drug Patents (3, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41504027)

And then, since nobody will bother inventing new drugs

May be wrong, but I keep hearing that most new drugs are invented by academics, not Big Pharma.

Re:Drug Patents (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503669)

I would agree that the patent system in the US is severely handicapped. But abolishing it entirely would severely handicap drug development.

Are new drugs actually better for you...or better for making money for big pharma. Discuss.

Re:Drug Patents (5, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#41503717)

This. If drug development were offloaded to socialized nonprofit organizations, they would have less incentive to falsify results or push drugs with minimal improvements as "the next big thing". Plus, maybe we would have less of this ridiculous "Talk to your doctor about Xyanoflexanol. May cause blindness, nuclear holocaust and explosive diarrhea" advertising.

Re:Drug Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503789)

If drug development was socialized, what incentive would exist to develop any?

Re:Drug Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503831)

Perhaps one's interest in one's own survival and that of one's children? You know, that enlightened self-interest thing? Maybe even the financial beneficiaries of the pharma industry can see even that tiny distance, especially when their kid is dying of an antibiotic resistant organism...

Re:Drug Patents (2)

gumbi west (610122) | about 2 years ago | (#41503911)

Testing a drug costs billions of dollars. A company isn't going to invest that because some executive's child is sick, it has to maximize share holder value for an MBA to give it a green light.

Re:Drug Patents (2)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503881)

A pay check? People who work in government offices do get paid you know.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503983)

> If drug development was socialized, what incentive would exist to develop any?

*1* The same reasons that drive government and charity funding of medical research today.

*2* Academic research builds careers for us professors

*3* All the same reasons that cause people to contribute to open source projects. For example, someone would still make the pills, like Intel and AMD make the computer chips. These people would still fund research into new pills, in the same way that Intel and AMD fund Linux developers.

Now, for a personal insult: You can not imagine doing anything that does not personally benefit you. There; I said it.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41504031)

This. If drug development were offloaded to socialized nonprofit organizations, they would have less incentive to falsify results or push drugs with minimal improvements as "the next big thing"

IMO trials ought to be run by the FDA itself rather than the people who are going to profit if they can make a drug look better and less harmful than it really is.

Throw out patents, evaluate at public expense, sell at slightly over the cost to manufacture. Everyone wins, except Big Pharma and Wall Street.

Re:Drug Patents (4, Insightful)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about 2 years ago | (#41503729)

yes. It is extremely expensive to create new forms of anti-depressants, and treatments for erectile dysfunction... meanwhile tropical diseases don't have a business case. If that's all patents cand fund, it would be more straightforward to fund merit-based research into worthwhile causes directly with taxes (NIH), rather than have the market invent more profitable problems to address and completely avoid the ones that would do the world the most good. ... http://canadasworld.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/orphan-drugs-for-orphan-diseases-the-non-profit-pharmaceutical-model/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Drug Patents (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 2 years ago | (#41503917)

It might be more efficient, but there is the question as to if it would ever actually happen.

Re:Drug Patents (5, Interesting)

penix1 (722987) | about 2 years ago | (#41503765)

It takes years of testing to get a drug approved by the FDA, and that costs big big money to do. You get the drug approved by the FDA and then a chemist comes and makes the exact same thing, and your years of investment into research and development and clinical trials of that drug are going to not be paid off. Somebody would essentially walk the path that you made and they would reap the same benefits just simply by copying what you have done.

That would be true if they were spending their own money on the research. They aren't though. They are spending public funds from the NIH then patenting the results and making obscene profits on it. Want to fix it? Simple. Make NIH funding contingent on royalty free results. After all, it is our money making these companies rich.

Re:Drug Patents (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503891)

Aside from just abolishing patents, IP should be abolished in all forms for anything produced with public funds. Get rid of the contractor bug.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503869)

"It takes years of testing to get a drug approved by the FDA, and that costs big big money to do."

Something that would have to be fixed if we get rid of drug patents. We shouldn't leave the patent system in place just to work around the broken FDA system. That needs fixed anyway. The FDA currently shields drug companies from liability.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 2 years ago | (#41503929)

If all companies had to do the same amount of drug testing with the FDA there'd still be an incentive to get your drug past the FDA, because the FDA would prevent other companies from selling the same drug, because the copy cats would need to get past the FDA too.

Re:Drug Patents (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41504009)

Actually, getting rid of patents would basically handicap innovation, because we'd be stuck in a sea of sameness.

If you want to see, take a look at China - they don't respect patents, so what do we have? Tons of iPod lookalikes, iPhone lookalikes (including some that run Android), fake network gear, fake chips, etc.

That's because the Chinese have figured out it's cheaper to copy innovation and sell for less than to try to do any real R&D. Let the sucker company spend the money doing all the hard work, then just copy them and sell it for less.

Closer to home, lots of Android innovations (or why "Android is better than iOS") come from Google avoiding Apple's patents. Ignore TouchWiz - what do you see when you unlock an Android phone? The Android home screen, with its widgets and icons, and the "dock" that holds icons common across the entire scrolling home screen. It doesn't unlock to the launcher (which lacks a dock). Thus neatly avoiding Apple's patent because there's no grid of icons with a dock. And Android users will scream about how superior that is (I personally don't like it, but that's an opinion, I know lots who do).

And while I don't like the home screen, I'm thankful Android didn't become a copy of iOS. Because that's what we'd have in the end.

Heck, the ultrabooks sponsored by Intel - they're close to, but not quite like, a MacBook Air. Leading to lots of design innovations and differentiation in products. Otherwise we'd have a sea of MacBook Air clones, instead everyone's now competing on features, design, and literally feel (ranges from plastic, thin sheet steel to full metal).

Re:Drug Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504033)

We could fix drug patents, and by extension, much of healthcare delivery that is priced based on the opportunity cost of drugs that have been trending for years with hyperinflation. Just strap on your engineering hat. Is it on? Good.

Here's the formula: Patented drugs are measured for their aggregate price index, and we know what that is. For every year the Pharm price index outstrips the non-medical consumer price index, reduce the length of patent terms on drugs by that percent.

Voila, a negative feedback loop, where the forcing function is the free market competitions that occur when patents expire earlier. You will no longer see decades roll by with of 30% drug price increases year over year. Pharm companies will be forced to allocate R&D resources accordingly, as they would if prices were directly controlled by a single-payer formulary, but would have a market-based freedom to choose how to do that rather than a politicized government panel.

And, it's totally constitutional for the federal government to do this, unlike the misapplications of the interstate commerce clause & general welfare taxation clause that "authorizes" most federal interventions. In fact, it's even moral, if you posit that government-granted patent monopolies should not be allowed to distort the aggregate market.

I kept reading that as (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503647)

"abolish all parents", and thought, "No!!!, I'm a parent!"

I guess he read my sig (5, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41503653)

Why just patents? Copyright must go too.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503681)

The one day that I don't have mod points...

We need to get rid of all copyrights and patents ASAP.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503741)

No copyright means no copyleft. I could take code (e.g. the Linux kernel) from an open source project and modify it for use it in my closed source software without ever having to follow the license.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503761)

It means the concept of having a license would be irrelevant.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41503799)

Nonsense. There's no such thing as 'closed' software without copyright protections. All software becomes open and free to use and modify and copy and whatever else you want to do with it.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 2 years ago | (#41503919)

News flash: I don't have the source code for my OS.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41504011)

So?

Re:I guess he read my sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504063)

So it's closed source then. Sure you could reverse engineer it, but come on saying that an end to copyright would mean an end to closed source software is hopeful at best.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about 2 years ago | (#41503811)

And I could take you closed source software and distribute it to my friend. And I could remove any protection you put to avoid this. And I could study you compiled binary and do whatever I want with it. And if it is a derived work of the linux kernel, I could probably spot the difference with a reasonable amount of work.

Re:I guess he read my sig (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41503849)

Copyleft is primarily a hack to counter copyright. There would be some potential issues with copyleft licenses being unenforceable, but it would remove countless roadblocks. People can still voluntarily cooperate, and that makes up the lion's share of FOSS development.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503897)

And I could run it through a disassembler. I can even convert it to C code if that is my preference. Copyleft is a path for a world with copyright. Without copyright, you need no copyleft.

Re:I guess he read my sig (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41504185)

Why just patents? Copyright must go too. (Score:5, Interesting)

It's hard to take this statement too seriously on a site that thinks NASA shouldn't be able to patent a working Warp Drive because they saw it on Star Trek.

Hear that apple?? google???!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503659)

Apple! Google! Did you hear that? You old and stuffy!! Clearly the movers and shakers have ceased with the moving and shaking.
However i do agree with the overall theme. Down with the patents!

Re:Hear that apple?? google???!? (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 2 years ago | (#41503937)

Not actually sure Google and Apple wouldn't be happier in a patent free world. Apple learned in the 1990s, after MS copied their OS, that you have to focus on innovation and make copy cats out of date and this works better than litigation. At the same time, they still do litigate because, why not?

there's a reason for patents (2, Insightful)

John_3000 (166166) | about 2 years ago | (#41503687)

Patents are supposed to be a (time-limited) barrier to competition. They're supposed to be the way the inventor gets payed for his invention. Without patents there's little incentive to develop inventions into technologies --- technologies that would be quickly copied. People who don't understand this probably would really suck as businessmen.

The present patent system is a travesty, a farce, an outrage --- not much more than a license for lawyers to steal. But the answer to a broken patent system is a fixed patent system, not no patent system.

Re:there's a reason for patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503703)

"license for lawyers to steal"???? please elaborate.

Re:there's a reason for patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504021)

> "license for lawyers to steal"???? please elaborate.

If you had ever filed for a patent, only to see your own lawyer take a bribe and betray you to a corporation, you would understand. You would also be an angry, nihilistic anarchist.

Re:there's a reason for patents (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503705)

Sorry, but I don't believe we should stifle competition so someone can make money. Find a way to make money yourself or die.

Re:there's a reason for patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503845)

And yet another mind falls to the 'money==merit' juggernaut....

Re:there's a reason for patents (4, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#41503773)

The ideal system of government is a benevolent dictator. One person acting with consistent policy and absolute power putting the interests of the majority above special interests and himself. While it is possible to find such a person once every few centuries, it is impossible to maintain this system of government because a bad dictator will inevitably rise and send everything to hell. Every society in the world has gone through the motions of trying to "fix" their monarchy, and suffered revolution after revolution "fixing" their system trying to find a better single ruler. But now, we have realized it was always a losing battle and abandoned the monarchy altogether. Representative governments may be inefficient and suboptimal, but they are stable for the long term and do not require violent "fixes" periodically.

The argument presented by this article is that patent systems behave in the same way. While a "fixed" patent system would be ideal, its corruption inevitably recurs no matter how many times we actually manage to "fix" it because of how it inherently distributes money and influence among the concerned parties. The only solution, therefore, is to abolish the system entirely and use a completely different paradigm to produce suboptimal but stable results. In many industries that may in fact be laissez-faire, while in others we may need different, more targeted approaches.

Re:there's a reason for patents (2)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503927)

" Representative governments may be inefficient and suboptimal, but they are stable for the long term and do not require violent "fixes" periodically. "

I'll agree with the stable part. As for the rest, it is more likely that provide enough of an illusion of fairness and they divide people into enough factions that it is difficult for those willing to implement the violent "fix" to gain enough support to pull it off. That is a far cry from not needing the fix.

Re:there's a reason for patents (3, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41503825)

Except the idea of a patent system is fundamentally flawed. Legal monopolies are rarely an effective legal tool, and information is not one of the exceptions.

Re:there's a reason for patents (3, Funny)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41503907)

If only these economists at the Federal Reserve knew as much about economics as you John_3000.

Now if we could just figure out how they got people to invent things before patents.

Patents (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503695)

All the linux fanboys are butt hurt because Samsung got sued for a billion dollars and now they want to abolish the patent system rather than fix the problem. bite me

Re:Patents (3, Insightful)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41503803)

False, the IP problem predates the Apple v Samsung case. The case just brought far more attention to the now exploding problem with the patent system...it won't be abolished though, there is too much money tied up on both ends. The government makes revenue, employs people...and Congressmen and DoJ are lobbied by big corporations that want the protections and the patent lawyers should make their millions filing. If you think the system doesn't need MASSIVE reform then you're delusional. I do think there are instances where patents make sense (such as drugs, as someone mentioned) You have high R&D costs, and without an incentive that you'll eventually make that money in the future...you don't use R&D as much (stifling innovation.) Still the patents are probably too long, because now Pharma companies are becoming complacent in their cash cows and innovating less. However, for design patents...that requires minimal R&D cost, relative to a 5-10 year drug process that also has to meet FDA standards etc. It's just a giant clusterfuck as is.

a real footnote from this paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503711)

p. 3: "The history of the various smart-phones is documented, for example, in Wikipedia."

That's one way... (1)

hawks5999 (588198) | about 2 years ago | (#41503731)

...to get people on board for Audit the Fed. This could cause billions of lobbying dollars to head to congress to promote auditing and ending the Fed.

Levine and Boldrin (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503751)

This is not actually new, by the way -- Levine and Boldrin have been making this argument for years. I had Levine for a seminar on this matter four years ago when I was at Washington University, and it seemed like this was already a well-grooved line of rhetoric for him. Heck, they've even got a book that's been out since 2005. Here are some of the places where they're making this argument:

http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm
http://www.againstmonopoly.org/

Total abolition of all patents... (5, Funny)

Kojow777 (929199) | about 2 years ago | (#41503775)

Wow, someone should patent that idea!

Ya Don't Say! (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41503777)

From the QE3 Cunar.....Canard dept? It sure sounds good, and they've manged to print something other than currency - a PDF file! Not quite sure whether to remain skeptical, be pleasantly surprised, pinch or patent myself. Wonder what The Chairman's got to say about this? Ben, will you lend us some advice? ...Ben?

Compulsory licensing (1)

quixote9 (999874) | about 2 years ago | (#41503887)

and payment is a small percentage of price based on usage metering by something like the Patent Office. Except it wouldn't be the Patent Office. It'd be the Usage Office or something. The money for the payments would come from a surcharge on things invented within the last however-many years. And payments would be made for, say, half that many years. After that, the thing would enter the public domain.

People would still get paid for being brilliant inventors, but they couldn't rest on a useless monopoly.

And the other essential rule is that only the actual inventor(s) could get payment. None of this BS of selling intellectual "property."

Siezing private property for public use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503915)

I'm probably one of the biggest supporters of abolition of the IP regime, but...

Are you violating the Bill of Rights by seizing private (intellectual) property? Would we be required to either let existing patents expire, or to pay off the owners?

Could we use the example of ex-post-facto copyright extensions to ex-post-facto cut terms?

Could we declare all copyrights invalid due to the ex-post-facto extensions, and then reinstate them for a limited time?

I believe that copyrights on software should expire faster than patents on devices that do not follow Moore's Law. I believe copyrights on software should last 10 years.

Re:Siezing private property for public use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503951)

A few more things that should be changes are:

* The definition of "published" in copyright law. See TechDirt's excellent "What Public Domain? Why A Letter Written In 1755 Is Still Covered By US Copyright Law" at http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120917/02245520401/what-public-domain-why-letter-written-1755-is-still-covered-us-copyright-law.shtml

* Criminalization of DMCA abuse. Mandatory minimum sentences should be designed to (barely) survive challenges that they are "cruel an unusual." I'm thinking economic death penalties on for a first offense by the world's largest corporation, and sharks with friggin' lasers on their heads for the employees, consultants, and stockholders responsible.

* Criminalization of Police seizing any private cameras without warrants. with a VERY BROAD definition of "seizing." Again, mandatory minimum sentences should be designed to (barely) survive challenges that they are "cruel an unusual." I'm thinking gladiatorial games. (The NDAA might be good for something.)

* Patents must include sufficient instructions so anyone fluent in that art can recreate the example device.

* Copyrights on software must include publicly available design notes, source code and compilers.

* Criminalization of deliberately over-broad patent claims. (Can this already be prosecuted under fraud statutes or under statutes that prohibit falsifying government documents?) I'm thinking of punishments that do not push the limits of "cruel and unusual"...then again, these are lawyers...

Gimme, gimme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41503955)

No patents, no inventors.
Probably inadvisable.

Re:Gimme, gimme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504007)

> No patents, no inventors.

You got that wrong. It should be:

No patents, no patent lawyers.

No patents, no greedy corporations stealing ideas from little inventors.

No patents, no hiding of discoveries inside corporate vaults and unintelligible patent applications.

No patents, no little companies going out of business because they can not afford a million-dollar legal defense against a poor-faith patent lawsuit brought by a larger competitor.

Re:Gimme, gimme (1)

syockit (1480393) | about 2 years ago | (#41504039)

I wonder if anyone ever got the patent for the ancient water screw

Wrong conclusion but good analysis (1)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about 2 years ago | (#41503963)

The problem is not patents per se. The problem--as the submission correctly points out--is the frivolous and unscrupulous nature of the patent system these days. The same is true of the copyright system.

Patents and copyrights exist only for the purpose of furthering the common good. Abolishing them so everything is 'free' for everyone does not necessarily further the common good if it discourages innovation or allows large corporations to steal blindly from smaller inventors. Using the patent system like a Banker uses Other People's Money for greedy profiteering doesn't do much for the common good either.

IMO the right solution is for the government to do what it is supposed to do: level the playing field, but not pick the winners. For example, modify the patent system so that the loser pays in any patent case. If you file in court with a weak patent and lose, you pay the defendant's legal fees. Require patent winners to license patents on fair and equitable terms--no more blanket injunctions against a competitor's products. Prohibit the operation of patent-troll firms whose only business is acquiring and filing patent suits. Limit software patents to 5 years max, or abolish them altogether. Limit copyright to life of author and/or 50 years for a business entity.

There's probably a number of other changes that could be made as well that would discourage the dead wood from damming up innovation while still allowing true innovators--and society--to profit from good ideas. It just requires politicians to govern, not pander. That, unfortunately, I don't see happening anytime soon.

Banksters own the Fed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41504089)

Everyone take a deep breath and remember that the Federal Reserve is not a government entity nor is it owned by the US Government. It is a privately held entity. Ownership is not publicly documented but believed to include a laundry list of the usual suspects such as Warburg, Rothschild, Rockefeller, ad naseum. It's no surprise that this entity would endorse abolishing patents. After all, maybe Ford really did develop intermittent windshield wipers all by themselves after looking at Robert Kerns device.

Posting as AC because it's hard to get black helicopters off my lawn.

Not going to happen...my plan is better (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#41504113)

Friday I visited my U.S. Senator's office and requested that action be taken to fix our broken patent system. While many reforms are needed, I believe one quick fix could be implemented with minimal affect to the current system in practice but likely dramatic affect in actuality.

Free Patent Filings when entered into Public Domain

Essentially, most ideas are often conceived of by individuals before major corporations file. Seriously, does ANYONE believe Apple invented the idea of changing settings such as volume and tones played. Apple probably received several hundred feedback requests begging for those features. Long before Apple ever implemented the idea.

This would allow a filing, probably on par with a preliminary patent filing, which would establish a pre-existing prior art. And protect the inventor and all others from future lawsuits. Yes, the patent filer is giving up his or her rights to profit from the idea. But many times, an inventor begins work, and it goes slowly when you don't have billions of $$$ behind you. Only to see a mega corp get wind of the idea and beat the inventor to the punch and sue them for their own idea.

I believe many Americans would submit numerous ideas, essentially eliminating most of these frivolous patent suits.

Re:Not going to happen...my plan is better (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41504145)

yea, cept he has already forgotten you and your visit

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