Bonum Certa Men Certa

“Micro-Patents” a Euphemism for Destructors of Innovation

Polarised microscope



Summary: Dr. Glyn Moody looks at the term "micropatents", which is being used in the context of fabbers

Euphemisms like RAND or FRAND (neither reasonable nor fair) strive to belittle the negative impact of patents and there is another new (on the face of it) term on the block and that is "micropatents". No, it does not mean Microsoft patents, in fact it hardly means anything at all. It's just another name for patents. In light of this White House report on 3-D printers, Glyn Moody asks, "what the hell are "micropatents"?"



Well, he later wrote about it, answering his own question in "Mega-Damage by Micro-Patents"

The key idea here is to offer "simple, agile and cost-effective intellectual property protection"; that is, making it easier to obtain patents, albeit lightweight ones. But in doing so, it will remove one of the few remaining barriers to patent applications, which inevitably will mean that every patent troll in the world will file thousands of trivial claims, since it will take so little effort or money to do so. It will give rise to the equivalent of patent spam.

Worse, these patent spammers will then proceed to sue huge numbers of inventors - and users - of objects made using fabbers. In fact it will become exactly like the world of copyright today, where tens of thousands of letters are sent out to alleged infringers, threatening to sue them but offering them a special "low-cost" way of settling.

Even more damaging, such a lightweight system will create a patent thicket around objects made with personal manufacturing systems that even nanotechnology will be unable to pierce. Again, we already have an all-too concrete example of what happens when it is easy to obtain patents for key ideas that are often indispensable for all users, in the world of software.

[...]

The only solution is to have not "micro"-patents, but the limiting case where the size of the patent tends to zero - that is, none at all. Then, companies and inventors would compete not on the underlying ideas (which patents try to capture and monopolise), but on their *implementation* of them.

As well as avoiding patent gridlock, this also addresses issues of copying and counterfeiting, since people will pay more for otherwise identical products when they come provably from a trusted supplier, and also of safety, since it rewards better-quality products (not just patented ones).


We shall see if the term micropatents gets used again in the future. It is worth catching such nonsense early on, before it mushrooms into something like "intellectual property" (fairly new propaganda term) and the British institute that deals with monopolies calls itself after it.

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