Bonum Certa Men Certa

Ideas Are Not a Property, Devices May Be

"IP is often compared to physical property rights but knowledge is fundamentally different."

--Professor Joseph Stiglitz



ONE of the best writers on the issue of intellectual monopolies, among others like Mike Masnick, is Glyn Moody. He has no mercy when he sees an unjust system and yesterday he published this post in IDG about patents and the notion of "property".

As long-suffering readers of this blog will have noticed, one of my favourite hobby-horses is that the whole idea of "intellectual property” is a trick, designed to plug into the warm and fuzzy feeling most people have about the idea of property, and aiming to cover up the fact that what we are really dealing with here are intellectual monopolies – of which few people are fans.


Also from Glyn, a prelude to another financial collapse caused by paper-thin monopolies? It seems possible. As pointed out in the comments, however, not patents are involved, but something a little more reasonable in this case.

The fact remains that the system was corrupted to the point where simple abstract ideas can be considered ownership, but this era appears to be ending, eliminating along with it billions of dollars in imaginary assets.

Your Business Method Patent Has Just Been Invalidated



[...]

This ruling raises a ton of questions like that across literally thousands of patents. And it is a good thing too because business-method patents tend to be overly broad and abused.


Dana Blankenhorn puts forth the assessment of Bruce Wieder, who comments on the impact of the Bilski ruling [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

“Because there’s no categorical exclusion of these things they probably ought to look at those individual patents to see if they have any value. But you have to look at it patent by patent.”

That’s the word from Bruce Wieder, who heads the patent practice over at Dow Lohnes PLLC in Washington. As always this new legal decision is really great for lawyers.

So what will they be looking for? According to Wieder the court set a simple test. “Business method patents must be tied to a machine,” one that does real transformations of something. You can’t just patent the idea.

For software it’s the same thing. “You have to look at what the software does.” The court gives the example of a machine that cures rubber. You can patent the machine, but not the software timing the process.


The world is at least moving in the right direction. It has been a long time since that last happened.

WIPO
WIPO (World Intellectual Monopolies
Organisation), Geneva, Switzerland

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