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. Links 31/8/2015: Linux 4.2, LXLE 14.04.3

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: August 9th, 2015 – August 29th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  3. “Conservative” Site Responds (Yet Again) to Misguided “Conservative” Efforts to Derail Patent Reform in the US

    Patent trolls throw stones in glass houses, contributing to their own unpopularity, but some influential “Conservatives” continue to defend (conserve) them



  4. Increase in Lobbying for Software Patents in Europe and Its Trojan Horse, the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The relentless campaigns to bring software patents into Europe have not stopped and so-called 'unification' -- much like so-called 'trade' deals -- serves to support them



  5. Microsoft Technology Crashes Financial Markets, Again

    SunGard, which is a Microsoft shop, is clearly failing to provide what it calls mission-ciriticaal [sic] solutions



  6. Alice v. CLS Bank (Alice/§101) Comes to Squash Software Patents Even in Eastern District of Texas

    The crackdown on software patents is coming along nicely and the Alice case is now being utilised even in the capital of patent trolls



  7. Apple's Patent Cases Against Android Are Falling Apart, as Acknowledged Even by the Anti-Android Lobby





  8. Links 29/8/2015: NetworkManager 1.0.6, Systemd Merges “su” Command Replacement

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft Loves Linux to Death and Still Tries to Kill GNU/Linux

    Microsoft's relentless attacks on GNU/Linux and Free software in general (even if it runs on Windows) are so evident that claims of 'love' remain laughable at best (if not infuriating)



  10. Censorship, Self-Censorship and Intimidation Now the Modus Operandi at EPO

    The European Patent Office has ceased even trying to pretend that it respects human rights, including the right to free speech



  11. Patent Practitioners: "The Unitary Patent Might be Able to Open the Floodgates for Software Patents in Europe"

    The EPO-backed Unitary Patent scheme threatens to bring software patents to Europe and along with them a lot of patent trolls from all around the world (especially the United States)



  12. Microsoft Lies About Vista 10 and Increases Microsoft Surveillance (Even Beyond Vista 10 and Into Android, Vista 7/8)

    Windows surveillance expands retroactively, making its way into platforms other than Windows and also expanding to predecessors of Vista 10



  13. Another Suicide at the EPO, Fifth by Our Count

    Yet another EPO member of staff has just committed suicide, leading to the inevitable question: how many people need to die before Battistelli and his minions are out of the Office for good?



  14. Links 27/8/2015: ownCloud Desktop Client 2.0, Red Hat Downgraded

    Links for the day



  15. Microsoft-connected Mesosphere Threatens to Eliminate Free Software in the Datacentre

    Hiding behind a misleading 'open' label while actually backed by Microsoft (and based on new rumours may join Microsoft), Mesosphere wishes to eradicate Free and back doors-free software in large datacentres hosting a lot of physical and virtual servers



  16. Microsoft Aggression Against GNU/Linux Amid Vista 10's Failure

    A look at the recent assault on GNU/Linux in Munich and the likely cause for this assault (in such a timely fashion, too)



  17. Message to LinuxCon Regarding Microsoft: “It is Necessary to Get Behind Someone in Order to Stab Them in the Back.” -Sir Humphrey Appleby

    Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, helps Microsoft gain influence in the Foundation after payments are received



  18. Market Share Estimates Confirm That Vista 10 Failed in a Major Way

    Confirmatory evidence that Vista 10 is failing in the market about a month after its much-hyped (paid coverage) release



  19. When Microsoft, the Master of Patent Trolls, Complains About Trolls

    Possibly the world's biggest patent abuser and monopolist, which also creates many patent trolls (including by far the biggest one), takes on a far smaller abuser in Court



  20. Letter Signed by Two German Officials Becomes a Microsoft Weapon of Propaganda

    Microsoft and its minions refuse to leave Munich alone, even though the vast majority in Munich are perfectly happy with Free/libre software



  21. Links 25/8/2015: Linux Kernel 4.2 Final RC, KDE Ships Plasma 5.4.0

    Links for the day



  22. Sabine Pfeiler and Otto Seidl Should Take Note as Russia -- Like China -- is in the Process of Banning Microsoft Windows for Security Reasons

    A look at a strange suggestion, signed by Sabine Pfeiler and Otto Seidl, who suggest going back to Microsoft which is basically a spyware company now



  23. Microsoft Windows Leads to Espionage and Blackmail: Latest Examples

    Another news overview, detailing high-profile examples of high-cost Windows deployments (including the cost of litigation and settlement)



  24. Links 23/8/2015: BcacheFS Benchmarks, Blackphone 2

    Links for the day



  25. Links 22/8/2015: Chromebook Gains, GNOME 3.18 Clues

    Links for the day



  26. Alice v. CLS Bank (the Alice Case/§101) Continues to Crush Software Patents in the United States

    Patent scope in the United States continues to be narrowed down as more software patents get their wings clipped



  27. Company of Hype and 'Fanbois' Continues Its Patent Attacks on Android/Linux

    Apple's attacks on Android (using bogus patents) may be soon be escalated to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)



  28. EPO Corruption of Patent Boundaries: Business Methods and Algorithms Patented

    How the European Patent Office (EPO) not only turns a blind eye to European law while patenting or granting patents on software but also openly advocates this now



  29. Who's Obsessing Over Patent Trolls in Latest 'Reform' Efforts? Larger Patent Trolls Such as Xerox

    Response to claims that the patent problem is being tackled by focusing on patent trolls and their favourite courts in the Eastern District of Texas



  30. Links 20/8/2015: Fedora 24 Plans, Ubuntu Phones in India

    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