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A Survey of the State of IP

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the owning-ideas dept.

Businesses 160

An anonymous reader writes "This week's Economist has a number of stories in its survey of the state of IP (link to lead article), written from a balanced, business-oriented perspective. If you do not have a web subscription it is worth picking up a newsstand edition, if only to read a defense of open source from being seen as a 'flaky, radical, pinko strategy not related to the competitive marketplace'." From the article: "In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s."

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160 comments

You lost me . . . (1, Troll)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859833)

written from a balanced, business-oriented perspective.

Balanced.
Business-oriented.

Is that sort of like a balanced discussion of Wicca or Islam from a 700-Club perspective?

Re:You lost me . . . (2, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859848)

Imagine how Linux zealots discuss Microsoft, and you're getting close.

Re:You lost me . . . (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859863)

Look, if the don't-care-about-business-use-of-Linux(et al) people don't care, well... then they don't care! But the people that wish more users would adopt Linux have to care what businesses and business people think. You can't have it both ways.

Re:You lost me . . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13859941)

You don't seem to have thought this through.

If the "don't-care-about-business-use-of-Linux(et al)" don't care, then they won't give a stuff about having it both ways, so there's no point in you wanking on about it like a slighted politician.

Re:You lost me . . . (1, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860110)

No, sorry. The "don't care what businesses think" crowd shares a lot of members with the "Windoze is teh Suxx0r" crowd that can't understand why more people don't use Linux. When people use something every day at work, they're a lot more inclined to feel comfortable with it at home, sending picture of the kids to grandma, playing games, using eBay, etc. Wide adoption of non-MS stuff by large corporate users is a huge step towards making millions of people more comfortable with it at home. That will also showcase the various distros' shortcomings and add more fuel to the fire. Of course I realize that idiots who don't see the big picture and can't bring themselves to think two minutes into the future for a glimpse of it won't get it. But if pointing out reality helps even the occasional person get it, then my work here is done. Well, not really. But I've at least ranted ever so slightly less pointlessly into the howling winds of nerdly piousness and anti-pragmatism.

Re:You lost me . . . (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860167)

Nobody said what business thinks doesn't matter (although in many respects, it doesn't). I was simply pointing out that since business isn't the only perspective in the universe, it's silly to call the "business perspective" the "balanced" one, as in the blurb for this Slashdot article. It's a little like getting Sprint's opinion on VOIP and calling that balanced.

333 Grog of GNAA 33 (1)

morfiend (641239) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859839)

--- Log opened Sat Oct 15 15:42:20 2005
15:42 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] Hi all. We're having issues with an attack. We're restoring a previous services backup. Please bear with us.
--- Log closed Sat Oct 15 15:48:09 2005
--- Log opened Sat Oct 15 15:54:18 2005
15:54 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] Hi all. As you are now aware, services are back up. This would be a good time to change your channel password if you can. Please check with first level support (/stats p) if you need help, and bear with us, as we might be a bit bogged down. Thank.
15:58 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] This would be a good time to mention that freenode needs help with out 'freenode-registry' project, which would certainly help us avoid some compromises and recover more effectively. If you're interested in helping out, stop by #freenode-registry. I may have spotty availability for the next few hours or day, but will want to talk to you personally. Thanks.
16:02 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] (and by the way, that channel name is #freenode-registry without the dots, thanks!)
--- Log closed Sat Oct 15 16:08:09 2005
--- Log opened Sat Oct 15 16:39:32 2005
16:39 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] Hi all. Just to make sure everyone knows, we are reasonably-certain your passwords have not been compromised, but password changes are a very prudent precaution at this point. Thanks!
16:44 -lilo(i=levin@freenode/staff/pdpc.levin)- [Global Notice] Specifically, for your information, services passwords are hashed, and no direct access to our database files was involved in the attack. So any possible compromise would be in the form of changed passwords. Thank you!
--- Log closed Sat Oct 15 16:50:10 2005

state (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13859843)

ip is still pretty gey.

No more "news for nerds" (4, Funny)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859869)

Slashdot, I'm afraid you've lost the right to call yourself "News for Nerds". When "Internet Protocol" becomes anyone's SECOND definition of IP, they're no longer a nerd.

Re:No more "news for nerds" (1)

daspriest (904701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859902)

No kidding, it took me a minute to figure out how the state of "Internet Protocol" has changed and how the summary was refering to "Internet Protocol" until I realized that wasn't the IP they were refering to.

Re:No more "news for nerds" (3, Funny)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860056)

Real nerds put pride into always being specific. IPv4 or IPv6, please. Everything else is intangible, just like the blurb indicates.

We should sue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860061)

for trademark infringement. They're diluting the value of our IP :-)

Re:No more "news for nerds" (2)

dshaw858 (828072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860094)

I concur. I mean, with all the problems with Level3's routing (well, Verio too, to be fair) and the fragmentation of DNS servers, I expected someone to propose a new way to use IP (Internet Protocol). I got really confused when I opened the article in a new tab and then later couldn't find the interesting article on networking...

- dshaw

Re:No more "news for nerds" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860212)

Hi:

Internet Porn. I mean, duh!

huristics, please. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860313)

When "Internet Protocol" becomes anyone's SECOND definition of IP, they're no longer a nerd.

Thanks for the insult, I'll return the favor.

If it comes from the mouth of a businessman, you can be sure "IP" has nothing to do with protocols. Not understanding that does not make you a nerd, it makes you ignorant.

Re:huristics, please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860440)

I think the point is, Slashdot is "News for Nerds", not businessmen. So I guess it doesn't make him ignorant, just assumptious... which in this case, he has every right to be.

So why don't you go and post on some Forbes forum or some crap, where you're wanted.

This says it all (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13859873)

"There is a broad recognition in the US that the patent system, if not reformed, will...begin to impede American competitiveness around the world," says Bruce Sewell, general counsel of Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker.

so while USA is busy in court the rest of the world will be busy innovating and actually moving forward
of course i think this has much to do with the "culture of greed" that permeates the US and will ultimately be its downfall, or to put in in biblical terms (as that seems to be a more popular line of reasoning in 14th i mean 21st century America)
the moneylenders will kick themselves out of the temple

Re:This says it all (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859947)

There is little doubt that the patent system needs reform desperately, particularly when it comes to software patents, but there is also another solution that should be pursued in parallel. That other solutions is a simple, centralized place, like a wiki (maybe even a wiki), where people post publicly, and contribute "inventions" to the public domain. While there is a serious issue with the Patent office's enforcement of the obviousness standard, they are quite good about enforcing the "novelty" standard. In other words, if the exact item has already been "invented," they will typically not allow that item to be patented. This suggests that it would really behoove the open source community to create a central repository of "inventions" that the examiners could search prior to issuing patents. This could be a very potent defence against some of the shotgun patent applications that big companies are engaging in.

Hard Part (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860071)

The hard part is actually realizing what a big company might try to patent. A lot of ideas that are being patented llately are things that are so ridiculously obvious that it would never occur to anyone other than a parasitic patent lawyer.

Re:Hard Part (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860813)


Simple - do what the guy in the "Accelerando" sci-fi story did - think up anything and everything yourself, patent it or copyright or trademark it, then release the IP into the public domain (or barter it to companies in exchange for free whatever for the rest of your life).

No matter how crazy, copyright or patent or trademark it, then give it away. Then nobody can do it later.

Use the system against itself - true martial arts.

Re:Hard Part (1)

daft_one (532587) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861008)

Of course, if you already have $10,000 * n to spend on patents, in order to get n classes of goods free for life, you probably don't need to go through this process do you? ;-)

Re:This says it all (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860274)

"That other solutions is a simple, centralized place, like a wiki (maybe even a wiki), where people post publicly, and contribute "inventions" to the public domain."

That's a terrible idea. Companies would spring up to do nothing but patent those ideas, and then sue others for using them, on the assumption that if the original poster could afford a decent patent attorney, he wouldn't have put the ideas into the public domain.

Re:This says it all (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860474)

I really find that highly implausible. It's analygous to saying that open source is bad because companies will surely steal the code and take it proprietary in defiance of the license. I'm sure it does happen in open source projects, but to suggest that on balance open source is strengthening the "proprietary" coders at the expense of the open source community is just not true. In patent applications, it will be even less frequent, becuase patent information inherently has to be released to the public. Besides if the site reached any kind of critical mass and was at all organized, checking it against patent applications would become a matter of course. Already examiners use the internet to do "prior art" checks, they would surely use a site essentially dedicated to helping them do so. The simple truth is the more inventions that are in the public domain, the more paired down issued patents will be.

Regarding anticipating what companies will try to patent, its just a matter of the number of ideas up there. If even a small percentage of open source projects posted their enhancement and wishlist, it would go a lot way towards stopping a lot of the ridiculous patents that have been issued. You may have heard of the "bounties" that are sometimes setup by sponsors looking for documentation that something was invented that predates the patent application. But very often such documentation doesn't exist even though you can imagine that surely lots of developers talked about it.

This says it all-Another "I hate the Swiss rant". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860063)

"so while USA is busy in court the rest of the world will be busy innovating and actually moving forward"

Roche agrees with you.

Re:This says it all (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861029)

Businesses need reasons to innovate, they need motivation. In this case it is money. Other countries have plenty of their own problems, the U.S. is just publicized more because its the popular thing to do. In countried without IP protection, they are too busy stealing each other's ideas. Not to mention that if you want to implement something without running into a patent, it usually makes you think of a whole new way of implementing it, thus forcing innovation. Competition is what drives innovation, this is a big race. This and some other employment laws benefit the U.S. greatly, most notably being able to fire someone for any reason you deem necessary... in many other countries, even IP enforcing ones, innovation is severely hampered by companies having to hold on to employees that are useless and drain their money because they can't legally be fired. Patents aren't allows positive, but I personally think that software patents aren't all bad, they need to be better evaluated but if something is non-trivial and required significant amounts of research to discover, you should be able to benefit from it. A few examples off the top of my head that forced innovation because of patents include IBM having a patent on Arithmetic Encoding so Range Encoding was created, GIF was patented so the superior PNG was created, and MP3 is burdened with patents so many other superior formats have been released including Ogg Vorbis.
Regards,
Steve

Ring-fencing, the blindingly obvious, etcetera (5, Insightful)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859896)

I'm for IP legal protections, but there's some big problems I see with the current regime:

Ring-fencing: This is the creation of a ring of patents around the primary thing you're trying to protect, so that even when the original patent expires, competitors won't be able to reproduce the invention without violating your other patents. Often used to protect chemical processes used to manufacture drugs.

The blindingly obvious: RIM's Blackberry troubles stem from patents on the wireless transmission of email. If you're an EE or a CS guy, you'd think "information is information, a channel is a channel, and every combination of information x channel isn't a novel idea waiting to be thought of, it's the obvious thing" but alas, the patent office doesn't see it that way.

And the worst thing is, large companies with large stables of IP become very resistant to change (or, if they want change, it's for more protections for the patent-holders and less quid-pro-quo for everyone else) and, with cash-fueled American politics, things only get worse. Witness the effectively perpetual copyrights that the Mouse buys.

Re:Ring-fencing, the blindingly obvious, etcetera (2, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860289)

RIM's Blackberry troubles stem from patents on the wireless transmission of email.

There are a hell of a lot of patents of the form:
1. Take something that people are doing today
2. Insert the word computer
3. File for a patent
4. Profit

I think that the length granted to a patent should be proportional to the amount of time developing the invention, maybe the patent lasts for twice the invention time with a 10 year cap, that way drugs and small time inventors would probably get the whole 10 years, but Microsoft would only get a couple of weeks for some of it's patents. I'm not quite sure how calculating development time would work in pactice though.

Re:Ring-fencing, the blindingly obvious, etcetera (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860351)

"I think that the length granted to a patent should be proportional to the amount of time developing the invention"

Then companies could just say, the invention started with the wheel....

I think that every year or so patent holders should have to prove that the invention is directly making them a profit, if its not then they no longer need exclusive control of their invention.

Re:Ring-fencing, the blindingly obvious, etcetera (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860480)

Then companies could just say, the invention started with the wheel....
So long as they could show that they started by inventing the wheel that's fine, but they'll only get a maximum of 10years or twice the length of time the company has been established.
(For some amateur inventors that may well have started by reinventing the wheel)

If they have already applied for some other patent based on the wheel you should only take there invention time from the time of that previous patent.

I think that every year or so patent holders should have to prove that the invention is directly making them a profit

That doesn't work for drugs where the initially compound is patented while they are developing ways to mass produce and running clinical trials(which loose the company money!)

IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859903)

Patents and copyrights are really the anti-christ of free markets. They have nothing to do with freedom, and especially nothing to do with respect of property rights. From the outside, it simply amazes me to see time and time again how people treat them as if they were real property rights. It is almost as if I was living in an 1850's throwback, trying to prove that slavery was anti free market - "what's amater don't you believe in property rights? Don't you believe in the wealth and prosperity of American commerce? They have no incentive without it!" Those are the kind of arguments I get.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (5, Insightful)

smose (877816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859998)

Patents and copyrights are really the anti-christ of free markets.

Not necessarily. Imagine that you and a competitor manufacture widgets. You create a process that radically improves the efficiency of manufacturing widgets. Free market: you can keep it for yourself and reap the rewards of your efficiency relative to your opponent. As long as they don't figure it out, you win. Alternatively, you can patent the improvement. It exposes the idea to your opponent, and if the cost savings for implementing your patented process is greater than the cost of paying you for it, your opponent implements it, and you still make more money. Perhaps your opponent improves it further, and reduces the cost of making widgets yet again. In the end, all the widgets get made more efficiently, and competition can bring the price down.

Perhaps you meant that modern patenting practices are anti-free-market. On that I could agree; the point isn't to profit from your idea into eternity; it's to set good ideas into permanent practice so that better ideas can come from it.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860077)

Not necessarily. Imagine that you and a competitor manufacture widgets. You create a process that radically improves the efficiency of manufacturing widgets. Free market: you can keep it for yourself and reap the rewards of your efficiency relative to your opponent. As long as they don't figure it out, you win. Alternatively, you can patent the improvement. It exposes the idea to your opponent, and if the cost savings for implementing your patented process is greater than the cost of paying you for it, your opponent implements it, and you still make more money. Perhaps your opponent improves it further, and reduces the cost of making widgets yet again. In the end, all the widgets get made more efficiently, and competition can bring the price down.

That is a nice theory, but in reality there is plenty of incentive for each company to improve efficiency without a patent. So really why impose them? Also, 90% of inventions are incramental, built off of prior abilities and public knowledge - so now patents toss up another road block to the competitor who can't use the same discovery that they would have found out anyhow because the first company won't license it. Cuasing the competition in the space to die, and monopoly interests to begin.

Property rights are about allocating control over limited resources, not about creating artifical limits for the sake of controll. There are always nice sounding theories about why it's ok to impose restrictions on other people for the sake of this good or that good, but that is not good for free markets. Free markets are about freedom, not markets. When people have freedoms, then they tend to use them to create wealth and opportunity where none existed before. No matter how you slice it, things like patnets restrict freedom by imposing or allowing limits on how people can use inventions and discoveries that they already know about.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Insightful)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860424)

Of course they restrict freedom, but that restriction of freedom is a trade off for complete freedom after a set period of time. The idea is if you cannot restrict freedom of use of your invention, too little effort will be spent developing new things since both the inventor and everyone else gets the full benefits (so everyone free rides and nothing gets invented). Sure the Tesla's of the world might well continue to research, but there are many others who would do something else.

I think debate about the rewards (their size and duration) are highly valid, as even when they were established the period of a patent was set with no real thought behind it. I do not think most people would prefer the society that gives no reward to inventors, but I do think that there should be considerably more debate about what the proper reward structure could be (especially in a much more rapid business setting). 200 years ago, it could well have taken 10 years to build a factory and get the products to national markets, now obtaining factory capacity and national distribtion can be done in less than a year (more importantly obsolesence occurs much more rapidly than when patent law was established). I do not know enough to more than speculate on the proper duration of a patent, but I have learned that the more a subject is exposed to debate, the better off the final decision will be.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860829)

"The idea is if you cannot restrict freedom of use of your invention, too little effort will be spent developing new things since both the inventor and everyone else gets the full benefits (so everyone free rides and nothing gets invented). Sure the Tesla's of the world might well continue to research, but there are many others who would do something else."

Never been proven. Not even a shed of evidence. Pure theory. Doesn't even follow from conventional or even Austrian economic theory.

Total bullshit intended to cover up the artificial extension of contract law over basic free market property principles.

Purely an excuse to cover up the control of others for one's own benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860082)

I agree that it's the modern implementation that's the problem. The patent system was originally created with two goals: one to give an incentive to innovate and two to give an incentive to share your inventions with the world. It's just not doing that today. Back then, 17 years was not a lot of time to bring an invention to the world, manufacturing, distribution, communication, etc was a whole lot more rudimentary back then.

I believe if Thomas Jefferson could see what's happened to the Patent system now, he'd be the first to be advocating radical changes.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860268)


With all due respect, we have had over 200 years to tweek, implement, and fine tune the patent system. This is not an implementation problem, it is a fundamentals problem. Patents are going to hell just at they are being brought to their logical conclusion. It is not morally or fundamentally ok to controll how people use invnetions and discoveries. Perhaps I have a good sounding reason to controll peoples free speech too, so what.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (4, Insightful)

xoboots (683791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860214)

The US/Western/Modern system has severely confused the related notions of "free markets" with "competetive markets". First, there are no free markets: they are all heavily regulated. On top of regulation, there is usury (interest), rents and taxes at multiple levels. For the most part, exchanges are not made between equal players (eg: householders vs. corporations).

Unfortunately, the entire debate of "intellectual property" is framed within the lexicon "free markets" and "property". In fact, instruments such as patent and copyright are tools that restrict use and beget monopolies rather than competitive markets. This is especially true of the modern incantations of these systems which fly-in-the-face of their original intention. Originally, these tools were meant as temporary and necessary "evils" as a means to stimulate an increase in artistic and technical know-how, artifacts and techniques for the general public's USE -- both private and public (not merely via consumption). Of course, it turns out that modern society has MANY OTHER means of establishing these goods (eg: public research, universities, community based good will, etc) but we are stuck with a system that AROSE IN AN OLDER AND LESS FREE ERA.

So, in a competitive market without patent/copyright restrictions we face the threat of the "secret guild" monopoly regime; however, we also face that under current patent/copyright law since the length of the restrictions fairly much gaurantee monopolies for the lifetime of a product/technique. Worse, in an era of scientific progress conducted in large by universities, grants and other forms of public research, this is tantamount to stealing public resources. Even worse, in technologically reliant societies, inter-relation of technology is paramount. It is in everyone's interest to share ideas. In other words, the threat of "secret guilds" is not worth protecting against at this point in our evolution.

In game-theory we can see this as a form of the prisoners dillema: everyone is better off if all co-operate, but if only one player "cheats" by not co-operating (secrecy or patent/copyright), they will do much better than everyone else. If no one co-operates, then no-one does as well as if they would all co-operate (due to interconnection of ideas and implausibility of any single entity developing all ideas on their own).

So it comes down to this: as a society, how much longer do we wish to reward (reward!!) those who do not want to naturally co-operate?

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860692)

On top of regulation, there is usury (interest), rents and taxes at multiple levels. For the most part, exchanges are not made between equal players (eg: householders vs. corporations).

That is irrelevant. Whether economic actors are "equal players" has no bearing on whether a "free market" exists or not; only that those actors are free to trade with one another as they see fit (which is why regulation DOES interfere with free markets).

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

xoboots (683791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860712)

Whether economic actors are "equal players" has no bearing on whether a "free market" exists or not; only that those actors are free to trade with one another as they see fit (which is why regulation DOES interfere with free markets).

That is never true when actors have inequal standing. Those with superior power can always dictate better terms for themselves. If not, then they do not have superior standing.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13861153)

Yes, it is relevant. What you call "free" market is what economists call competitive market which is good for its efficiency (for resource allocation and production of the desired goods). For such market to be efficient, you can't have any players with significant market power (to distort competitive pricing mechanism). Otherwise, market distortion happens, and the efficiency is reduced, thus the whole point of your "free" market.

If you feel all regulations are bad, don't be surprised when a thug breaks into your house, beats you senseless, and takes your wife and daughters with him - the guy's just exercising his "freedom."

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Informative)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860718)

F. A. von Hayek, "'Free' Enterprise and Competitive Order". In Individualism and Economic Order, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1948, p 113-114.

The problem of the prevention of monopoly and the prevention of competition is raised much more acutely in certain other fields to which the concept of property has been extended only in recent times. I am thinking here of the extension of the concept of property to such rights and privileges as patents for inventions, copyright, trade-marks, and the like. It seems to me beyond doubt that in these fields a slavish application of the concept of property as it has been developed for material things has done a great deal to foster the growth of monopoly and that here drastic reforms may be required if competition is to be made to work.[..] Patents, in particular, are specially interesting from our point of view because they provide so clear an illustration of how it is necessary in all such instances not to apply a ready-made formula but to go back to the rationale of the market system and to decide for each class what the precise rights are to be which the government ought to protect.
This is a task at least as much for economists as for lawyers. Perhaps it is not a waste of your time if I illustrate what I have in mind by quoting a rather well-known decision in which an American judge argued that 'as to the suggestion that competitors were excluded from the use of the patent we
answer that such exclusion may be said to have been the very essence of the right conferred by the patent' and adds 'as it is the privilege of any owner of property to use it or not to use it without any question of motive'. It is this last statement which seems to me to be significant for the way in which a mechanical extension of the property concept by lawyers has done so much to create undesirable and harmful privilege.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860875)


The free market (and I agree - IF IT EXISTED) would take care of the game theory cooperation problem. That is merely a restatement of the concept of monopoly profit. Every new business concept starts out as monopoly profit, then the concept is invested in by others, reducing the rate of return to the "general rate of return" (usually around 2-3% IIRC).

This is why coercion doesn't work. If it works, people invest in it until everyone is spending all their resources on either seizing other people's property or protecting their own, and nothing gets produced to be seized or protected.

In other words, if humans had the rationality they claim - and not the absurd fear of death that rules their every action - they would think in the long term and realize that following such principles as coercion or non-cooperation is ultimately unworkable because of the feedback effect of any form of monopoly profit.

The only way to make it work is to innovate AND cooperate. This accelerates the development of new products and concepts, reduces the cost to the general rate of return quickly, at the same time producing (short-lived but continuous) profit for the inventors and cheaper and better goods for the entire species. A rising tide raises all boats.

Naturally all principles of action are in conflict to some degree. The key is balance and recognition that markets are imperfect, as is any human action. A Taoist approach to human economic behavior would do much to alleviate stresses in the system.

Keep in mind - the prisoner's dilemma applies mostly to prisoners. And humans are prisoners of one all-pervasive emotion - fear.

So stop being a prisoner.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860451)

Have you considered that the value of first to market is inversely proportional to the value of IP?

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861091)

I see you disagree, but patent and copyrights are anti-free markets.

If the government gives someone a monopoly on a good, there is not a free market in that good any longer. Seems like a pretty simple concept.

Or do we hold that we can have a free market in, and a monopoly over, the same product at the same time?

all the best,

drew

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860093)

While this analogy to the arguements for slavery sound good, I don't want to use them without first setting the old arguements next to the new ones and seeing how they look. How can one find these 150 year old arguements? A true comparison might turn out to be a powerful tool.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (2, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860419)

How can one find these 150 year old arguements? A true comparison might turn out to be a powerful tool.

It's hard to find many of them, but I've done a lot of reading about that era for just this purpose.... the most paralels happen with copyright, because the patnet system hasn't really been competely commoditized yet. (watch out for the replication age)

Then: During the early 1800's it appears that many people believed that the entire meaning and purpose of the industrial revolution was use inventions like the cotton gyn to make their slaves 1000 more productive and thus free them up to expand their plantations for huge profits.
Now: Today there are many people who believe that the entire meaning and purpose of the information age is to leverage inventions like the internet to impose their copyright holdings to the far ends of the earth for unlimited growth and profit.

Then: arround 1850, there was a speculative stock market crash, as people invented in all sorts of models for how to make money with indiustrial technology.
Now: In 2001, there was lots of crazy speculation on new information technology and a following crash.

Then:People called slaves a property right, even though they were clearly nothing like regular property.
Now:People call copyrights a property right, even though they are clearly nothing like
regular property.

Then: In the early 1800's there was an agreement called the "missouri compromise" that basicly held off the factories in the north from the plantations in the south from having al all out fight about the slave issue.
Now: Today, there was the DMCA which was sorta of a detant between hollywood and the tech indsutries.

Then: The south eventually tried to fence themselves off from the rest of the world by breaking from the union.
Now: The media industries are trying to fence themselves off using DRM.

Then: It became illegal to teach a person of color how to read.
Now: Copyright violations can be punished worse than rape.

Then: Slavery used to be short term indnetured servitude that wasn't inherited, but was extended to last forever.
Now: Copyrights have effectively been extended to last forever.

There are some important differences though:

Then: there was a well defined north and south
Now: there is no defined territories, just a tech industry and a content industry.

Then: Physical controll of slaves requires physical violence
Now: Information can't be controlled physically, but it can be controlled with brow beating, threats, lies, suits, etc .... [warning: when the patent problem comes of age as "replication" technology gets more advanced, that IS a physical implementation and likewise imposing them WILL eventually require physical violence - and notice that some of the consequences of patents are far more physical, like millions of Africans dying because attempts to make generic AIDS drugs were attacked]

Then: The government of the north was on the correct side.
Now: Government seems to be more accountable to the media than to freedoms - it is a tough call.

Re:IP - the anti-christ of free markets (1)

enjahova (812395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860793)

While I find your comparisons interesting, the thing I am most interested is HOW the pro-slavery people argued that slaves were a property right. I think this would be the most effective weapon if it turned out their justifications were the same as those for copyright.

It isn't that simple (1)

abulafia (7826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860132)

Patents are supposed to be incentives. The idea is that if one discovers Really Neat Discovery X, they should profit from it for a while, and that by setting up this system, we're creating a feedback loop that makes lots of people want to discover Really Neat Things.

Now, of course, the setup has been turned in to a weapon in corporate battles, and almost none of this has anything to do with people doing Really Neat Things in their basements.

So, the question that people should be asking is, what do we want? Do we want to protect profits? Do we want to encourage innovation (whatever that means, but that's not on point)? Do we want a utilitarian maximalization of human happiness?

Honestly, to my mind, only the louder OS advocates can frame a reasonable discussion here, and it is framed on a utilitarian view. I'd love to hear an IP maximalist make a coherent argument other than, "that would cost shareholder's their money". That isn't to say that Lessig, etc. don't have logical flaws - I'm just asserting that they make more sense than anyone else.

Re:It isn't that simple (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860221)


Patents are supposed to be incentives.

That really isn't a fair point though. Patents were supposed to be incentives 200 years ago, we have had a nearly infinite amount of time to take them to their logical conclusion and teek them to make them work - and all we have gotten is bullshit, and people calling them "intellectual property" while society gets riped to pieces with litigation. Even if they were an incentive, did it ever occur to you that you have no moral right to restrict how other people use discoveries and inventions? Perhaps that moral foundation doesn't matter to you, but that is precicely why patents have caused all the problems they have today.

Re:It isn't that simple (1)

abulafia (7826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860372)

That really isn't a fair point though.

I think it is. Intent always matters. Even if it is completely misguided, it is worth looking at what was intended. The old homily about (and I don't remember who came up with this) a fence in a road goes, don't rip down the fence just because you can't see why it is there. The fact that the fence is there indicates that someone else thought it worth building. Understand something, before you destroy it.

and all we have gotten is bullshit, and people calling them "intellectual property" while society gets riped to pieces with litigation.

I might have been overly subtle. I don't disagree. My primary point is that you can't disagree convincingly until you understand the original intent.

Even if they were an incentive, did it ever occur to you that you have no moral right to restrict how other people use discoveries and inventions?

You may disagree with IP laws, and you'll find me agreeing much of the time.

Perhaps that moral foundation doesn't matter to you, but that is precicely why patents have caused all the problems they have today.

But you're casting what I say in a way to be precisely opposite to what I mean. I'm on your side, just not for the same reasons. I would suggest that you learn that intellectual purity is not always needed. Lots of us heathens are not so bad.

Me, I'm just going to ignore you as another ... commenter who completely missed the point. Come around, play again, and here's a sticker to show you were here.

It isn't that simple-Other side of coin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13861294)

"Even if they were an incentive, did it ever occur to you that you have no moral right to restrict how other people use discoveries and inventions?"

Hmmm. I thought we dispensed with moral arguments? Else everyone would be paying more attention to that "Thou shall not steal" maxium.

Anyway morally speaking creators shouldn't be made slaves to society (or in this case certain members who wish something for themselves without compensation). If we* create, it's for our reasons, and the OP has no room to expect a handout from us. If we ask for compensation for our efforts? The OP's only course of action are, to live with our terms, or to completely ignore us. That's it! As Linus once said, "he who writes the code, dictates the license". Funny how a movement centered aroud creators (aka developers) rights (GPL), completely ignores the rights of others outside their domain.

*Yes, we. There are people present on this forum who have spent the time and effort to be good at being creative. Yeah! those ungrateful bastards. To paraphrase a Cosby line 'society brought you into the world, we can take you out' Good luck with that. I have a $100 that says we can at the least do McJobs while being creative in the privacy of our homes. While all the whiners (Your discoveries and inventions want to be free) can do is throw mommies pots and pans down the basement stairs every time they want to listen to music.

And to abulafia. Yeah there is abuse and corruption in the world, but I don't find Slashdot one-sidedness and extreamism a better solution, and in fact it's worst. So far no one here has come up with a better system than the present "reciprocal agreement" we already have.

Copyrights are really the anti-christ?? (1)

Totally_Lost (177765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861026)

Then why GPL with copyright rather than be truely open and Public Domain as has been done for a few centuries??

GPL history (not an expert account) (2, Informative)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861200)


From what I understand, RMS, who created the GPL tried that, but what happened is that someone took the code he put in the public domain, modified it and enhanced it some, re-copyrighted it and locked RMS out from using it.

After that, RMS went to a lawyer and had the GPL written up to make sure noone could re-copyright something he wrote and use it like that ever again.

The GPL is like fighting fire with fire. If copyrights didn't exist, there would be
no need for the GPL to exist either. But since they do, the GPL is a tool in the anti-copyright arsenel.

nice (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13859926)

from the article:

"Already, businesses are having to negotiate with other firms in order to do basic things such as reading files from different proprietary formats; and the design of new technology products now involves lawyers as well as engineers. The proliferation of patents might prove a serious encumbrance to businesses, just as travellers along the Rhine in medieval Europe were slowed down by having to pay a toll at every castle.

James Boyle, a legal scholar at Duke Law School in North Carolina, claims that the current increase in intellectual-property rights represents nothing less than a second "enclosure movement". In the first enclosures, in 18th- and 19th-century Britain, the commons--open fields used by many, belonging to all, owned by none--were fenced in, and nearly all land became private property. By analogy, the granting of property rights on ideas, to the extent it is happening today, is plundering the intellectual commons of our public domain. "

amen

Surpised at the Economist.. (3, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859934)

They're usually more on par with energy problems and it's relation to the global economy. No cheap energy, no economic growth - that's not economic theory, that's PHYSICS.


"In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials"


I bet my entire life savings against that statement last year. Go look at a energy fund index and tell me I was wrong. Everything - land, raw materials, and IP is about energy. The cheap energy is running out, and the people who have it are doing very, very well at the moment.

If IP is the future.. well, I guess I have a couple years to go back and get a law degree. Here's another tip for the economist: Lawyers don't produce capital. They are a legislated tax on a free market.

Re:Surpised at the Economist.. (0, Redundant)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859978)


I think you hit the nail on the head here. They want to create artificial limits on supply and demand of information and discoveries while there is actually plenty of natural limits in supply and demand of things like oil, metals, and natural resources. I'm sorry, but property rights aren't about artificial scarcity for the sake of incentive, but about allocating scarce resources effectively and justly which in itself leads to incentives.

Re:Surpised at the Economist.. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860073)

I'll bet you the most effective methods of extracting oil are still patented. If these were rolled back, i'm sure the short run supply would be higher and cheaper. Unfortunately, i'm also of the opinion that in future centruies we may need those last few drops for something more important than combustion.

Wrong (3, Interesting)

bluGill (862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860124)

Everything is about Food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. More or less in that order. (though you can argue about the order of shelter and clothing)

Energy is a factor in several of them, but not in itself a basic need. You need energy for anything more than subsistence farming. You need energy for heating your shelter. You need energy to create clothing by modern process. (I'm not counting human input as a part of energy for this - though clearly that is a form of energy).

If there is too much rain, crops will die of overwatering, no matter how much energy you have. However if there were crops that could stand this over watering, and you bet your life savings them, you would have the same effect, even though energy was not a significant factor.

Despite your wish to think otherwise, energy is a much smaller part of the economy than previously. Now it was one of the (if not the) fastest growing parts last year, but will that continue? IP is growing too, and could replace energy. All it takes is a breakthrough in ethanol/biodiesel producting and energy will go down, while IP goes up farther (fueled by the breakthrough.

Personally I'm betting on such a breakthrough coming along fast. Though not with all my assets. Ethanol is already energy positive by .34, and shows promise of getting over 1 (that is for every energy input we get 2 out). Biodiesel can reach 3 in the lab. If I'm right, energy will have a short blossom, and then fade again like it has been for years. I've been wrong before though.

Re:Wrong (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860308)

Everything is about Food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. More or less in that order.

Well, partly correct.

I'm fat, so the food bits correct.
But:
I don't mind sleeping rough under a tree, unless it's really wet or cold.
I couldn't give a toss if people wear cloths or not.
And I find myself entertainment enough.

That's only one out of four correct. Guess that's probably why I'm a bit of a leftie.

Re:Wrong (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860916)

I don't mind sleeping rough under a tree, unless it's really wet or cold.

You just made my point... You need shelter. Somedays sleeping under the stars is fine, but in most areas it rains once in a while and you need more. In the areas where it doesn't rain/snow (Chilie is the only one I know of) you need something to protect yourself from the sun, part shelter, and part clothing.

I couldn't give a toss if people wear cloths or not.

Goes with shelter. When it is cold you will care if you wear clothes are not. In climates where it never gets cold or too hot (Hawaii) clothes are optional, but few areas are like that. Maybe during the day you can get by without clothing in cold areas, but what do you wear to bed? In hot areas you really need extra protection from the sun. Where I live you cannot go outside most of the year without more protection than your skin.

And I find myself entertainment enough.

Fine, but that is still entertainment. This was last for a reason - it is the only one that can be optional.

So really you are only debating 1 at a time. If you have a sufficiently advanced shelter, and can deal with being inside it for months on end, you don't need clothing. OTOH, if you have sufficient clothing you can get by with no shelter.

Re:Wrong (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861064)

So really you are only debating 1 at a time. If you have a sufficiently advanced shelter, and can deal with being inside it for months on end, you don't need clothing. OTOH, if you have sufficient clothing you can get by with no shelter.

I'm fat, I carry enough excess around with me to move to the north pole. My fat is my clothing and could possible be my shelter. It has to be abnormally cold for me to be pissed off sleeping outside say -5 or less, I've slept in -3, with my cloths on before I got so fat. Most people can adjust to those kind of temperatures without too many problems, the're just used to living in heated housing.

Energy versus brainwork (2, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860437)

But note that the richest man in the world got that way by selling 1's and 0's, not by selling hydrocarbons.

Notice further that it's only because of inventions and improvements that the energy is getting from rock formations into gas tanks.

After rain and wild berries there are very few natural resources. Everything else is the result of humans inventing agriculture, irrigation, mining, hunting weapons, and ranching.

Re:Energy versus brainwork (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860786)

But that's only because no one exactly knows how much the Sultan of Brunei really has. William III Gates has to declare his income every year to the U.S. authorities. The Sultan of Brunei has only himself to declare to. And he gets his money from energy resources.

Another problem with Ingvar Kamprad, which is not really owner of IKEA, just the person who controls the foundation which controls IKEA. There is no definite number for his fortune, just some guesstimates, which put him between US$ 18 bn and 50 bn. But no one really knows, how much he really earned by selling furniture.

Perspective of a Company Developing IP (4, Interesting)

SkiifGeek (702936) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859936)

When establishing my companies, I made sure to separate the IP R&D from the commercialisation processes. Although a lot of the research that is coming out of the R&D company is patentable, the decision whether to patent has been a long and well thought out process.

Ultimately, a lot of the research will be protected under trade secret and standard copyright law. The process of patenting requires disclosure of methods and techniques (even with legalese), and places a small company in a bind when larger companies can infringe at will (when the cost of compliance is less than the profit they will make from infringement). By definition, the patent allows one skilled in the art to recreate the invention, so it puts on public record the specifics to allow a competitor to recreate the result that has come from our significant effort and expenditure.

While we hold nothing against software patents (when issued properly), we do have major concerns about the patent process, and the ability to patent processes instead of inventions. When the next global superpower, and some of the largest companies in the industry, have a history of subverting IP restrictions to suit their own ends, the presence of a patent only stops the honest from ripping off the work we have carried out (and they are getting fewer and fewer in number).

Even in discussion with the patent office, and the Government body established to promote and assist the patent process, they readily admit that the model is broken, but it is the best we have at the moment - so we need to keep supporting it (which is a cop out if I have ever heard one).

Without a warchest of millions to fight legal battles, or huge patent holdings, the little guys are running on hope that no one picks their patent for willful infringement.

Probably the best advice for people involved in IP development - get yourself good legal counsel (even at the start of the research process), and remember that there is more than one way to achieve the same outcome (so if you get sued for an implementation - change it to something else).

In defence of the Economist (0)

EvilCrony (917413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13859977)

Sir,

I find the Economist does have interesting and relavent articles and is far less biased than other publications. Your descriptions, however, suggest anything but unbiased articles.

written from a balanced, business-oriented perspective
'flaky, radical, pinko strategy not related to the competitive marketplace'

Re:In defence of the Economist (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860900)

Sir,

If one reads TFA, one will immediately discover that the writer of the 'flaky, radical, pinko strategy' line was not expressing his opinion or that of the Economist, but was attributing the line to the enemies of open source -- Bill Gates is cited specifically as holding the view, for example. The writer of the survey, it is worth mentioning, clearly sees the opinion as wrong, and brings significant evidence to bear to justify himself.

What's with /. ragging on IP? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860004)

What is with /. constantly ragging on IP. A story every couple of weeks I can understand, but a story a day? This is ridiculous. I'll give up my IP when /. gives up its rights to its content. Or when GNU gives up their rights to their name and the details in their license. Copyrights are distinct from patents, but the underlying philosophy is the same. Our entire industry relies on IP and copyrights to survive. Amazon files a patent and everyone goes ape shit, but if some embedded device company violates the GPL then suddenly these rights are pretty attractive.

IPv4 (1, Redundant)

coolnicks (865625) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860022)

From the title i thought this was the state of IPv4 ... oh how i was disappointed

Re:IPv4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860084)

LOL... I got all the way to your comment thinking it was on IPv4... Now I guess I'll have to RTFA.

Demanding Ideas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860025)

" "In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s.""

Alvin Toffler covered this in his book "The Third Wave". The funny thing is people attitudes towards this "Intellectualizing" of the economy. An economy that no one can own (according to some). An economy were technolgy makes a mockery of controls. And were the only scarcity (people's ability) means little, both in the context of globalization, and a lazze-faire consumer.

intangible assets == inefficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860047)

Fuck intangible assets! I sold my patents to buy proper things: things I can see and feel, touch and taste. I now have a huge collection of apples, oranges, ladders, screwdrivers and plates, and I've never felt so ALIVE! I advise all you slashdotter computer prisoners to do the same!
1. Free yourselves of the endless tyranny of the Internet! Become one with hundreds of random material objects! Sell them on at profit! Even create your own! Build a farm! Grow a herd of cows! Sell them on at profit!
2. Go and live in the woods! Craft a knife from rocks! Build a shelter and develop a resistance to several diseases! Sell it on at profit!
3. Cut off your arms and legs! Sustain yourself using only the power of your mind! Draw energy from the air around you! Unlock the secret power of being completely motionless!
4. ?
5. PROFIT!

statistics don't lie in this case.. (2, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860057)

ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets maybe this has less to do with the fact that IP has become more numerous or "important", and more to do with the fact that recent extensions to both the breadth and lenght of copyright has produced an inordinate amount which actually surpresses the production of more tangible goods. Let me explain: if you're afraid of being litigated into the ground due to patent issues, you won't produce. If a system of mining is patented that makes extraction of current natural resources more expensive, and might result in the premature shutdown of a mine which may yet have productive capacity. I'm sure someone more educated than myself on the raw material marketplace could produce more examples, and there are plenty of examples of IP getting in the way of innovations which very well may be physical. I think rolling back IP or perhaps a universal worldwide backlash against more extreme forms of IP may restore some balance. Personally i don't like the idea of the economy being based on "intangible goods". Besides being tantamount to "faith based", it would also mean my nation of origin is surely on the decline, since her educational institutions are among the world's worst, and both R&D workers and spending are diminishing.

Re:statistics don't lie in this case.. (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860125)

qt1:ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets

qt2:maybe this has less to do with the fact that IP has become more numerous or "important", and more to do with the fact that recent extensions to both the breadth and lenght of copyright has produced an inordinate amount which actually surpresses the production of more tangible goods

Actually, this scares the hell out of me. It reminds me of quotes like "the great wealth of America is founded on her plantations, where the ownership of slave properties has propelled her to ever higher levels of wealth" When are people ever going to learn that just because someone cries bloody muder about incentive and property rights, doesn't mean that it's at all true. That speculative industrial stock market crash that happened in the 1850's just a few years prior to all hell breaking loose is sure starting to feel familiar.

Re:statistics don't lie in this case.. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860322)

I'm right there with you.

Personally i think the finnish experience with the EUCD published on slashdot not too long ago is clear illustration that the public's side of the IP social contract is no longer being taken into account. IP has morphed from a way to turn the sin of greed into socially beneficial creativity to a way for corporations to turn the public into feudalistic "neo-serfs".

It's been a standard strategy i've seen going on (not just with copyright) since the mid 90's in many sectors:
1 - sneak through legislation which prevents market entry to competitors which may offer a more valuable (read permanently owned and self governed) alternative.
2 - begin "renting" everything you make (with limitation clauses, and reserved rights to diminish value post purchase or prevent competition) rather than selling it.
3 - with no alternatives, your customers then become indentured for life.

Since the depression brought about government intervention for economic stability, even after a world war raged through europe, every generation has been better off than the next. Now that is changing, the "ipod" generation is predicted to be worse off than their parents. It's not because the economy is worse, but because they won't be able to purchase as many durable goods as their forebears. In other words, they'll be paying more rent in perpetuity than their parents.

Thats enough, no more IP! (4, Interesting)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860088)

"In recent years intellectual property has received a lot more attention because ideas and innovations have become the most important resource, replacing land, energy and raw materials. As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s."


Wrong, the reason intellectual property has been recieving a lot more attention is because its the easiest way to milk capital from a technology dependant society without having to actually produce anything. Don't get me wrong, there are some valid legal complaints in the courts but, as most people here have noted over and over again, many of the companies submitting these complaints don't actually produce anything, they simply lay claim to some idea, label it as Intellectual Property, and make plans to profit from the work of others.

This whole Intellectual Property scam has got to go. So keep these concepts in mind in your day to day workings:

Copyrights are not Intellectual Property. Somebody did some significant work to express a story, a concept, an solution, whatever, in a written document, a film, a painting, a song, etc., and once the expression was completed the duplication of that expression is easy and inexpensive due to the technology we have for duplication and distribution. The copyright provides protection to those who expressed the work, however, the expression is NOT INTELLECTUAL! Its a peice of paper, a plastic disk, magnetic media inside a harddrive, its no longer intellectual. Since it is so easy to duplicate the work that has been done a copyright is a nice protection to those who did the work so that they may have some say over the duplication and distribution. If however, somebody comes up with a similar idea or is even influenced by someone elses expression and they go through and do the work over again then they have not infringed on anyones copyright or intellectual property.

Trademarks are not intellectual property. If you concieve a name, an image, whatever, and you express that conception onto paper, in writing, in any way, and you register it as your trademark then you can use the registration to ensure that others do not use your trademark in ways that would confuse others as you or your product. However, again, this physical thing which is an expression is no longer intellectual. The final product, the trademark is not some intangible asset, if it was intangible it would be useless.

Patents are not intellectual property. You come up with an idea and build a prototype or write down a conceptual design and present this for registration at the patent office so you will have the opportunity to profit from the idea by producing an end product. And once again none of the end results are intellectual, they are hard cold physical results. Even software code is physical, the CPU doesn't read your mind to run the code and the RAM and harddrive on which it is stored is not some magical ethereal thing, its a tangible chunk of hardware you use when you do the work of turning the ideas into something.

I think this entire intellectual property circus is just a scam to confuse the masses and make them believe that any thought in their head belongs to some corporation somewhere for whom they should be working. And nobody should be attempting to do any work outside of what they do for the corporation as that would in some way be stealing some "intangible asset" from the company. Well forget it, its just one big smoke and mirrors freak show designed to rape the masses for every penny they have and any penny they may ever have.

I mean really, can you believe this crap, "As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets". Does anybody really believe that everyone is paying all this cash to companies in America because some marketing guy, the salesman, and the chair slinging CEO said "I have this great idea, and if you pay me I'll tell you what it is". No, there is a ton of WORK that was completed by millions of people to pull it all off. People pay for the end product, not some "intangible asset" that gets transfered through a mind meld from the Chief Software Architect to the CEO to the Marketing Manager to the Salesman and finally to the Customer, get real.

Anyhow, sorry for the rant. :) Its all just getting too ridiculous.

burnin

Re:Thats enough, no more IP! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860187)

Hear, hear! I'd much rather be competing to sell my homemade DVD rips of Spider Man on the street for a living than creating new movies. Or playing search engine games trying to eke out an existence with a site full of ads hosting a copy of an old John Grisham novel rather than writing an original one. Or finding the latest unknown artist and "helping" to "promote" his work by hosting it myself with a bunch of porn links on the sidebar instead of developing drawing or painting skills, creating new artwork I can sell or license.

IP laws must be abolished!!

Re:Thats enough, no more IP! (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860407)

There ya go, and the coward proves my point. Not once did I say abolish any laws and in reality THERE ARE NO IP LAWS. Don't you get it? There are no laws to protect the crap floating around in your head, the laws are there to protect what you produce from your ideas. Those pushing this conecept of IP are trying to confuse and befuddle everyone so they can claim ownership of thoughts and ideas in peoples heads.

And if you think this is about creating new movies, writing original novels, or utilizing skill to create art work you are completely brain washed. This is about making money off those who do exactly that. It is not about protecting or assisting them, its about claiming ownership of the skills of those who create by those who do not.

But you go right ahead and swallow all that crap and wave it over your head like some symbolic flag worthy of pride.

Re:Thats enough, no more IP! (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860938)


No, you'd much rather be babbling on /. and demonstrating that you have no intellectual property.

The slam at Google was particularly stupid, BTW:

"Supporters of the Google project say copyright is protected because many of the works being initially scanned in are old texts not by living authors.

Google said in a statement on Monday that it offers protection to copyright holders. For newer books still in copyright, users will only see a list of contents and a few sentences of text.

Only older, out-of-copyright books from Oxford University and from the New York Public Library will be scanned into the Google system."

There's a market for homemade rips of Spiderman, too, BTW. And anybody buying them is not in the market for the real DVD, anyway, so they're not relevant.

For that matter, there's a market for porn, if you haven't heard.

None of which is relevant to the coercive landgrab known as "intellectual property".

Your moral righteousness reeks like the last dump I took in the toilet.

Re:Thats enough, no more IP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13861403)

You replied to the wrong article dumbass.

Evidence of Importance or evidence of lunacy (3, Insightful)

denissmith (31123) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860100)

As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s. Of course the argument that IP is important because intangible assets are so important to business valuations could be seen as a misunderstanding. Maybe the company valuations are 50% too high, and IP is a rationalization of an untenable market?

My erstwhile opinion on this topic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860130)

DODONGO HATES BOMBS

Re:My erstwhile opinion on this topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860179)

no you stupid bastard, it's:

DODONGO DISLIKES SMOKE

balanced, business-oriented perspective? (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860297)

I liked them better in 1851, when they thought patents were a bad idea.

If you believe in "Intellectual property" and debate policies about IP, you are chasing something that does not exist. [gnu.org] Patents, copyright and trademarks are radically different concepts and should never be lumped together. The term IP is designed to confuse the real issues and muddy the publics' concept of what should and should not have state protection. Blather about software cross-licensing is equally foolish and anchored in disproved development models of the early 1980s. Only the largest of incumbent businesses benefit from this kind of confusion. They use it to drive everyone else out of the market and pass the cost of complexity back to you and me.

A balanced business perspective would be closer to the informed opinion found in the vast majority of technical employers. Most people do not work for big dumb companies and have much to lose when patents cover business methods, copyright laws are used to prevent reverse engineering for compatibility, and trade mark laws are used to prevent advertising of compatibility or exchangeability. The median informed opinion is vastly different from the propaganda put out by giants like Microsoft. To present the two views together as equals is more an averaging of noise than it is a balance.

It scares me that so much of the US net worth is wrapped up in excluding others from doing things. I have little faith in the value of such things and see a rude awakening on the horizon when the rest of the world decides to give us the finger.

Re:balanced, business-oriented perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860751)

Sure they can be lumped together: IP should not exist. That is one meaningful thing that can be said about them all.

The Patent Problem: A Question of Centralization (4, Interesting)

naasking (94116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860489)

The whole patent problem can be reduced to a single point: the patent system, as currently implemented, does not scale, both in registration (filing for patents), and in resolution (resolving disputes). This is the natural result of trying manage a decentralized process (R&D) with a centralized system (patents); we are feeling these effects the most now, because of the drastic increase in the importance of information.

There have been a number of solutions to this problem proposed, including eliminating patents altogether [homeip.net] , or significant patent reform of some kind. Both could resolve the situation.

However, one thing is clear: the problem is one of scaling a centralized system. Each patent that comes in requires decoding from legalese, and comparison with every other patent in the system that was ever recorded for prior art. For you programmers out there, that's an O(n) algorithm. 'n' is very large nowadays. 'n' will continue getting larger. Without managing this complexity in some sort of structured fashion, it will inevitably become unmangeable, just like any poorly chosen algorithm. If this is the best we can hope to do, then we have to scale our efforts at O(n) to keep up with the growth (funding, man power, etc.).

I think they could do better. Heck, hire Google properly index some the patents and come up with an appropriate process for the examiners. Personally, I prefer as little intervention as possible; in other words, a decentralized system, which can scale with decentralized development, or no patent system at all; the patent system imposes significant hidden costs to the economy via litigation and lost time. But a centralized solution can work, as long as it is designed to scale properly.

Now all you smart computer scientists, programmers, hackers, and mathematicians, let's hear some decentralized and/or scalable solutions; that's what we really need if we want to keep patents around. :-)

Re:The Patent Problem: A Question of Centralizatio (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860520)

the patent system imposes significant hidden costs to the economy via litigation

I should further note that the original reason behind patents, to ensure that knowledge of improvements to science and engineering is not lost but publicly documented, is a fairly moot point today. Employees move from company to company fairly frequently nowadays, and carry their knowledge with them. Without patents, there's really no reason they can't share that knowledge with future employers.

Anyone besides me think this is a bad thing? (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860569)

As much as three-quarters of the value of publicly traded companies in America comes from intangible assets, up from around 40% in the early 1980s.

We've farmed our manufacturing capacity out to countries that do not necessarily share our best interests. Our business economy is no longer based on things we make, but on brain share products.

I'm not an economist but from a common sense perspective that just seems like a really shaky foundation for an economy. Why would the countries that make everything we buy give a rat's fanny about respecting our brain share assets? What are going to do if China starts pirating Disney movies? Or if they get tired of monkey boy and decide to field a chinese version of Windows? Threaten them with economic retaliation? Good luck with that, they own us. We take our money and buy things they produce, many time with machines we shipped over there so they could do it cheaper. Then they take our money and buy tangible things like property, oil, and natural resources.

The feeling I get is their economy is based on things with some intrinsic value while ours is fundamentally based on things with very little intrinsic value.

Re:Anyone besides me think this is a bad thing? (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860646)

Yes! Someone else finally gets it. I believe that (by content) nearly 50% of our military hardware is produced abroad (*cough* CHINA *cough*). China has been coming to the US for years and buying manufacturing capacity and then literally moving the plants brick-by-brick over to China.

One day Chairman Mao could call the president of the US and demand a surrender saying, "I am the subcontractor of your subcontractor of your subcontractor for all your military hardware. I win, All your base are belong to us! HA HA HA HA"

America's manufacturing capability in terms of military hardware and strategic resources is pitiful. [freecongress.org] However, never fear, we can defend ourselves with intellectual assests of mass destruction.

Now for my rant. I went to an energy financial planning seminar last week and manufacturing is less than 11% of GNP and falling. Soon America will make nothing but IP and fast food. Go free-market! Go NAFTA! Go CAFTA! Go trade imbalances! Goodbye middle class! Goodbye jobs that pay living wages! Goodbye health care! Hello service industry! Hello Walmart! I hope someone with a financial brain has a long term plan, but I fear our greedy short-sighted CEOs and pullstring politicans have already weaked the country to the point where recovery is not possible. I predict change will come in one of two ways... 1) China will declare war on the US or 2) We will end up as a 2-class society which will precipitate the next revolution. Remember boys and girls, greed kills.

Re:Anyone besides me think this is a bad thing? (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860981)


Only thing wrong with your rant: where did you see a "free market" in any of this?

The entire economy of the world is regulated and controlled by the state - which in turn is bribed and financed by the rich. There's nothing "free" about any of that.

As for the US military situation, I personally hope the US gets bombed back into the Stone Age as soon as possible (excluding my personal location, of course!) - or at least Washington, D.C. and related locations where the assholes of the world hang out. While this would undoubtedly disrupt the world situation for a couple decades (or less), the human species would continue rolling on nicely without the US. This country is definitely overdue for a reality check - and I don't think we'll have to wait too much longer to get it.

So I don't give a damn if China is manufacturing all our military hardware. More power to them.

As for a two-class society, where have you been for the last two hundred years? There's no such thing as a "middle-class", and never has been. And there's even less of one these days. You're either a peon or you're not, it's that simple.

Re:Anyone besides me think this is a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860882)

Don't worry. Should the standard of living in the various up-and-coming nations exceed that of the United States, the lawyers will emigrate. :)

Clueless As Usual (2, Interesting)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13860788)

"firms increasingly rely on innovation to remain competitive. Yet the return on investment in R&D is short-lived because more people innovate at a far faster pace than before. That means margins have shrivelled, explains Ragu Gurumurthy of Adventis, an IT and telecoms consultancy. "How to recoup the cost of innovation? By licensing the technology," he says."

In other words, we don't know how to compete by innovating and marketing, so we're going to stop innovating and use the state to make our money for us.

Typical corporate thinking.

Copyright is Great .... couldn't exist without it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13860963)

Public domain for years was the true meaning of free software and other IP.
Now we have hordes of people trying to pretend to be open and free, hiding
behind a series of copyright and other tangled legal restrictions ....

all in the name of Open Source Software and Other IP ... GPL and it's kin

Re:Copyright is Great .... couldn't exist without (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861005)


You're right. As I've said many times about Lawrence Lessig, he's fighting his battles with both hands tied behind him because he believes in IP as a legitimate basic concept - and it's not.

Given that the situation is NOT going to change, however, I suppose he's doing the best he can. IP is a side issue - the real (political) problem is how the rich and the state conspire to keep everybody else poor and oppressed.

And the real problem underlying all of that is how stupid and fearful the average human monkey is.

And that's not a solvable proposition until you replace humans with Transhumans. Which fortunately IS going to happen within the next fifty years or so.

In other words, my usual bottom line: They're all going to die. We Transhumans won't. Have a nice day.

Poor research and self-contradictory statements (2, Informative)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13861485)

The vaunted Economist must be careful about its reputation. Last year, they had a long story on patents in which they expressly said: "The patent systems of the world aren't working." Now they come up with this pseudo-objective praise of software patents. That's schizophrenia, not pluralism.

The competence of the author(s) with respect to the software industry must be seriously called into question, as the article says that companies selling open-source company are pro-patent, and then a Novell person is quoted. Novell only derives about 4% of its revenues from open source (the SuSE acquisition is a near-total failure). In contrast, Red Hat, MySQL AB, Mandriva, JBoss and other (real) open-source companies have publicly spoken out against software patents. It wouldn't have taken much research effort, even if only performed by a person with an extremely limited understanding of the software industry, to track down those statements. They're all over the Web, and in case of Red Hat and MySQL AB, they're on the corporate websites (plus those two companies co-sponsored my NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is also easy to find out).

I'm also wondering why a publication that calls itself "The Economist" can't give serious consideration to economic studies (such as Bessen/Hunt) that take a much more critical perspective on the implications of today's patent regime. It seems that the Economist was under strong PR influence from Microsoft in this case because there are some typical MSFT points in it, such as this claim that software patents are needed in order to be adequately protected when publicizing information (which MSFT says in reference to governmental demands to disclose source code).

The Economist article is fundamentally flawed, but this has to be attributed to the fact that the pro-patent forces like Microsoft make an incessant effort, day in day out, to pitch journalists with their story of patents and how they serve innovation. From time to time, they find an impressionable or credulous author who serves their purposes (or a journalist whose goodwill is easy to get by just inviting him somewhere for a week or whatever). In contrast, those companies and organizations which are critical of software patents have been relatively inactive since the European Parliament's decision on 6 July. As long as we were making an aggressive and professional PR effort ourselves, we also got better results. Nothing comes from nothing, it's as simple as that.

At least there is one activity going on these days: We're very likely to win the Internet poll for the "EV50 Europeans of the Year" [nosoftwarepatents.com] , the EU's premier political award. By pushing our candidates through (I'm also running in two categories myself) and preventing pro-patent politicians from winning anything, we can get another publicity opportunity for our cause and demonstrate to politicians that our movement is still to be reckoned with. The "EV" in "EV50" means "European Voice", an EU-focused publication that belongs to the Economist publishing group, and one of the three main sponsors is Microsoft :-)

Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox (Linux kernel maintainer), Rasmus Lerdorf (PHP) and Monty Widenius (MySQL) have made a public statement in which they call on the FOSS community worldwide to participate in that Internet poll:
ag-IP-news: Luminaries Call on Worldwide Community to Vote Against Software Patents [ag-ip-news.com]

They have specifically endorsed our voting recommendations [nosoftwarepatents.com] . Please read those voting recommendations and give serious consideration to supporting our cause that way.

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