EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.30.09

Man Behind US Declaration of Independence Opposed Patenting

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thomas Jefferson

Summary: Sharp contrast between Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison; China falls into the trap of greed for monopoly

What do great thinkers like Don Knuth, Tim Berners-Lee and Thomas Jefferson have in common? Well, they all realised that intellectual monopolies hinder rather than advance science. TechDirt tells a story about Thomas Jefferson deciding that “The Hemp Brake Was Too Important To Patent”:

We’ve had plenty of discussions about Thomas Jefferson’s views on the patent system. He is, clearly, the father of the patent system in the US. While he was incredibly skeptical of the idea of granting any monopolies originally, he did come around to accept patents in very limited circumstances, and when he oversaw the patent system, he was careful to make sure that the downsides of such monopolies were limited. Separately, for many years, I’ve heard the story of how Ben Franklin purposely decided not to patent his stove invention, stating:

“As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

Regarding patents, a lot more has been said about Jefferson, who is known for his stubborn approach against this abuse of ownership. In The Letters of Thomas Jefferson we find:

THE EARTH BELONGS TO THE LIVING

“I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, “that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;” that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severalty, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent.”

Now, compare that to Thomas Edison, who in a time when the patent office was said to have already gotten everything concievable filed, decided to carry on and earn about one thousand patents. He was a real patent maximalist, to whom patenting other people’s work was also seen as acceptable, based on this new item from TechDirt:

How Thomas Edison, Patron Saint Of Patent Holders, Copied Others’ Works To ‘Invent’ The Light Bulb

We’ve written in the past how Thomas Edison — who is often held up by patent hoarders as the perfect example of why patents are necessary — didn’t actually invent any of the stuff he’s famous for “inventing.” Instead, he’s most famous for taking the work of others and innovating around it just slightly, to find a good market — but then also patenting the work of others and blocking anyone else from entering the market. I admire his innovative side and his marketing prowess, but find his abuse of patents to be unfortunate. Reader Michael points to a recent story in Wired which highlights how this worked with the incandescent lightbulb.

Microsoft and Apple have taken a similar approach whereby they patent other people’s already-implemented ideas (or slight variations around them). It offers vanity over a mere number, which is to be blindly perceived as might.

Glyn Moody points to this alarming reminder (among many more) that China wants to use patents — including software patents — to carve out a monopoly for itself. He says, “watch for the US to get the sharing bug soon,” particularly in relation to this article from a patent maximalist publication in China:

He [President Hu visited a privately owned software company, and was pleased to learn that business was better than last year. The President stressed the importance of technological innovation.

President Hu Jintao said, “Nowadays, the competition in information technology is extremely fierce. I hope you, as a software company, will treasure technological innovation as your life. You need to own intellectual property rights for your products. I hope you will be pioneers in the development of our country’s software industry.”

He gets it all wrong. China would be far more competitive by sharing its wealth of knowledge, thus cheapening the process of research and development. Maybe some lobbyists have had him misled. He ought to be a Jefferson, not an Edison.

“It was Edison who said “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”. That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it’s “0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration”, and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, “innovation” is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be applied to products like MS Word or Open office.”

Linus Torvald

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 31, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Hu’s first act in North America as President of China was to get callled on the mat to answer to Bill Gates. There’s no question of who’s on which end of the leash.

    http://cryptome.org/cn/gates-birdseye.htm
    http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/NussbaumOnDesign/archives/2006/04/chinas_presiden.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    We live in a world where money is wrongly assumed to be indicative of wisdom (see who’s approached for an opinion on the economic crisis, despite lack of qualifications) and money sure means power.

  2. uberVU - social comments said,

    January 4, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by schestowitz: Man Behind US Declaration of Independence Opposed #Patenting http://boycottnovell.com/2009/12/30/thomas-jefferson-edison-patents/ #swpat…

What Else is New


  1. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Gradually Champions Patent Quality, in a Spectacular Reversal on Its Past Ways

    Some of the latest actions and decisions from the Federal Circuit, which originally brought software patents to the United States and is now taking them away, gradually



  2. The Mohawk-PTAB Fiasco Threatens the Tribe's Reputation More Than It Threatens PTAB

    In an effort to dodge scrutiny from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Allergan Plc offloaded a lot of negative publicity onto the Mohawk people, owing primarily to the Mowhawk Tribe's general counsel, Dale White



  3. Latest EPO Rumours Allege That Benoît Battistelli Rigged the Process of EPO President's Selection

    António Campinos is quite likely the next EPO President, as insiders suspect that many applications for the job got rejected politically



  4. Links 23/9/2017: Mesa 17.1.10 RC, Samba 4.7.0, KStars 2.8.4

    Links for the day



  5. Courts Are Losing Patience for Gilstrap's Unbridled Support of Patent Trolls

    The man whose court has become a trolling ‘factory’ is being refuted (but not reprimanded) by the CAFC, which certainly can see that something is amiss and serves to discredit the system as a whole



  6. Intellectual Ventures, GNU/Linux/Android/FOSS Patents, and the Ascent of European Patent Trolls

    The existing status of GNU/Linux in a world full of patent trolls, which not only target OEMs from Asia -- typically in the US -- but are also dragging them into Europe, aided by the EPO's 'patent bubble'



  7. Shelston IP Blames “Well-Organised and Appropriately-Connected Open Source Lobby” for Ban on Software Patents

    The activism is working and foes of programmers are feeling the pressure, for software patents are being more explicitly banned in some countries



  8. The EPO's Latest Lies About the UPC and SMEs Unraveled, Long-Term Plan Described as Daunting

    The vision of Battistelli and the latest lies (about SMEs) are being criticised anonymously -- for fear of retaliation -- as Europe braces for impact with patent trolls from all around the world



  9. In an Effort to Push the Unitary Patent (UPC), EPO and the Liar in Chief Spread the Famous Lie About SMEs

    The EPO wants people to hear just a bunch of lies rather than the simple truth, courtesy of the people whom the EPO proclaims it represents



  10. Links 21/9/2017: Red Hat's Open Source Patent Promise; Qt 5.6.3, Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

    Links for the day



  11. East Asia's Patent Peril and the Curse of Patent Trolls

    The high cost of China's new obsession with patents and the never-ending saga of Samsung (Korea), which gets dragged into courts not only in the US but also in China



  12. USPTO Starts Discriminating Against Poor People, and Does So Even When They Rightly Point Out Errors

    Even though the burden of proof ought to be on one who grants a monopoly, the legal costs are being offloaded onto those who challenge an erroneously-granted monopoly (even if the court sides with the challenger)



  13. Ambrose Chan Enters Document Security Systems (DSS), a Partly Patent Troll Entity

    The Board of Directors of DSS enlists a man from Singapore, whose lack of technical background suggests that the company is still more of a bully than an innovator



  14. UPC Threatens to Weaponise Software Patents in Countries That Forbade These

    The reality of software patents in Europe and what a Unified Patent Court (UPC) would mean for these if it ever became a reality



  15. The Latest Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC) and CIPO's Participation in Those

    Team UPC continues to overplay its chances, conveniently ignoring simple facts as well as the Rule of Law



  16. The Patents Policy of Facebook is Causing an Exodus

    Yet another major player walks away from Facebook's code because of software patents



  17. Links 20/9/2017: Wine Staging 2.17, Randa 2017, Redox OS 0.3.3

    Links for the day



  18. When Google Used Alex Converse to Raid the Public Domain With Software Patents

    In its overzealous pursuit of software patents, Google is now turning public domain methods into private 'property' (in defiance of critics)



  19. Mark Kokes, the Man Behind BlackBerry's Patent Aggression, Leaves the Company

    The man behind the patent troll-like behaviour of BlackBerry is leaving



  20. WordPress Demonstrates That Facebook's Patent Strategy is Deterring/Alienating Developers

    React is being dumped following Facebook's attempt to restrict distribution/derivatives using software patents



  21. Links 19/9/2017: Pipewire, Mir Support for Wayland, DRM in W3C

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/9/2017: Linux 4.14 RC1, Mesa 17.2.1, and GNOME 3.26 on Ubuntu Artful

    Links for the day



  23. Patent Trolls Update: Eolas, Conversant (MOSAID), Leigh Rothschild, and Electronic Communication Technologies

    Patent trolls are still being watched -- as they ought to be -- even though some of them shy away, hide from the media, engage in dirty tricks, and file more lawsuits



  24. Microsoft is Promoting Software Patents in India in Another Effort to Undermine Free/Open Source Software, Microsoft-Connected Trolls Are Still Suing

    The ongoing patent threat to Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) and the role played by Microsoft in at least much of this threat



  25. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Under Attack by IBM and Other Patent Parasites Who Undermine Patent Quality

    The PTAB, which has thus far invalidated thousands of abstract/software patents, is under a coordinated attack not by those who produce things but those who produce a lot of lawsuit



  26. Why the Mohawk Tribe Should Fire Its Lawyers and Dump the Patents Which Now Tarnish Its Name

    In order to dodge the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with its Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs), the Mohawk tribe is being exploited -- very much in direct detriment to its reputation and status



  27. Amazon and Google Have Both Become Part of the Software Patents Problem

    The transition from so-called 'defensive' patents to offensive patents (ones that are used to suppress competition) as seen in Amazon and in Google, which is already suing rivals and is pursuing additional patents by acquisition



  28. Unless Physical, Inventions Are No Longer Patent-Eligible in US Courts, But USPTO Ignores Precedence

    Even though the ability to enforce software patents against a rival (or many targets, especially in the case of patent trolls) is vastly diminished, the US patent office continues to grant these



  29. Citing the European Patent Convention, Spanish Court Tosses Lawsuit With EPO-Granted European Patent

    The quality of European Patents (EPs) -- a subject of growing levels of scrutiny -- as demonstrated in Barcelona this summer



  30. Links 16/9/2017: More of “Public Money, Public Code”, Equifax Failed to Patch for Months

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts