Bonum Certa Men Certa

Media Dominated by the Patent Microcosm Spreads Myths and Defends Patent Trolls, Collectors

Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison: Who Was the Better Inventor?

Reference: Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison: Who Was the Better Inventor?



Summary: Popular culture myths, such as Edison being a prolific inventor, and what we all ought to know about an actual patent epidemic (vast increase in the number of patents granted, bringing the total to over 10 million in the US)

THERE are some famous myths surrounding patents, e.g. that they are a property or about innovation. These myths are perpetuated by self-serving revisionists. Even the USPTO joins in and spreads the mythology.



Yesterday, Managing IP was repeating that famous old lie that Edison (a patent troll) invented rather than ripped off and then trolled over light-related inventions. Thankfully, a lot of people already know the truth about it (we wrote quite a few articles about Edison being a troll about half a decade ago). "Since it was invented by Thomas Edison in 1879," Managing IP wrote, "the incandescent filament lamp had played the leading part in the illumination field for more than a century."

The problem is, the assertion above is based on a popular myth.

There are many other myths out there, e.g. that the more patents one has, the more inventive a person/company is. Consider this this article titled "Japanese Man Sets World Record For Holding Over 11,000 Patents" (infeasible for one person to even handle this many applications).

When we saw this yesterday we called it "proof that many patents are rubbish and meritless," not just because that shows a culture of overpatenting but also an issue pertaining to assignment. As the article reveals (below the headline), it's actually his employees who wrote the patents and then comes that myth about Edison again:

Even with a whopping 1,093 patents to his name, American inventor Thomas Edison falls short of being the most prolific patent-holder ever; that title currently belongs to Shunpei Yamazaki, who entered the Guinness Book Of World Records with a mind-boggling 11,353 patents on June 30th, 2016.


Guinness Book Of World Records.

Yes, they treat this as some kind of a sport now. In Sun, as some employees revealed under a decade ago, people used to compete over how dumb a patent one could get granted by the USPTO. They actually mocked the ease/simplicity of the process and just helped their employer stockpile lots of low-quality patents (now bought by Oracle, which is a patent aggressor).

It's sometimes frustrating to see these myths repeated endlessly in the media. The religion of "patentism" sure is spreading through the press and the only thing that stops such glorification of patents are negative-sounding labels such as "patent trolls".

Apparently, as Watchtroll said a couple of days ago, someone was so insulted to be called a patent troll that there's a lawsuit over it. A patent troll does not like being grouped/lumped together with other patent trolls, so there's a legal action claiming defamation. Here comes the myth of Edison again (first paragraph):

For the better part of the nearly 250 years of the existence of the United States of America, the U.S. patent system has been one in which inventors could be reasonably sure that their private property rights covering technological innovation would be respected and enforced. Giants of American innovation such as Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and others not only successfully commercialized their patented inventions, they also protected their competitive advantage by taking patent infringing parties to court. What happened to that illustrious history?

Constitutionally-protected private property rights have been under assault for more than a decade. Over these past 10 years, an insidious narrative regarding “patent trolls” has been allowed to infiltrate the U.S. patent system, a system which currently ranks 10th, tied with Hungary. America is rapidly losing its edge in free enterprise – seemingly willing to surrender all innovation to China instead.


That's that same old myth about China -- one that we debunked here many times before.

The bottom line is, rather than protect sole inventors the patent system now serves a lot of opportunists who invented nothing at all and oftentimes simply ripped off someone else (who could not bother with the patent system). Let's not walk away from suitable labels such as "patent trolls" even if the accused loathes such labels.

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