12.11.09

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The Christian Science Monitor for Ending the Patent System

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One last ride

Summary: Does the USPTO deserve a funeral? The SC Monitor thinks so and new evidence is provided to illustrate just how bad things have become

IN A new opinion piece from The Christian Science Monitor, the harms of patents in our digital (connected) era are explained very clearly. This article represents growing unrest when it comes to intellectual monopolies. People are gradually catching up, in part thanks to the Internet which overcomes copyright and patent propaganda:

The patent system: End it, don’t mend it

[...]

As a matter of theory, intellectual property is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, giving a reward increases the incentive to innovate. On the other, allowing the monopolization of existing ideas taxes the creation of new ones, thereby decreasing the incentive to innovate. The bottom line: Contrary to widespread belief, economic theory does not provide support for the continuous extension of IP. The only answer to the question of whether IP serves the desired purpose must be empirical. Does it work in practice?

A great deal of applied economic research has tried to answer this question. The short answer is that intellectual property does not increase innovation and creation. Extending IP rights may modestly boost the incentive for innovation, but this positive effect is wiped away by the negative effect of creating monopolies. There is simply no evidence that strengthening patent regimes increases innovation or economic productivity. In fact, some evidence shows that increased protection even decreases innovation. The main finding is that making it easier to get patents increases … patenting!

At TechDirt, Michael addresses an issue that we wrote about a few days ago. It’s about how patents are now being used to limit preservation of the only planet we have.

Patent Office Decides To Rush On Green Tech Patents, Rather Than Give Them Scrutiny They Deserve

[...]

This statement makes a bunch of assumptions that simply are not supported by any evidence at all. First, innovation isn’t just about new technology, but about successfully bringing the technology to market. Second, over and over again, studies have shown no causal effect between more patents and greater innovation. It’s amazing that Locke can claim this as if it’s fact when there’s no evidence to support it. Third, there is no hindrance in job creation from a slower patent approval process. Companies can still bring their products to market and can still hire and grow whether or not they have the patent.

Glyn Moody, who is another outspoken critic of intellectual monopolies (he even published a book about the subject), is slamming Amazon for its obsession with intellectual monopolies. To quote the latest post about this:

Amazon seems hell-bent on proving that it is not a cuddly new-style company, but just as rapacious and obsessed with “owning” commonplace ideas as all the bad old ones.

Specifically, it is *still* trying to get a European patent on things that are both obvious and manifestly just business methods, neither of which can be patented in Europe

Amazon has been doing this for quite some time, even in Canada and especially in the United States. And then there’s this outrageous patent, which was granted for the ‘brilliant’ idea of sending customers notifications.

Blockbuster and Netflix have been declared not guilty to violating a third-party’s technology that notifies customers electronically about the status of their DVD-by-mail rental accounts.

What was the USPTO thinking when granting such a patent? As Richard Stallman put it in his talk, the bar of intuitiveness at the USPTO is something along the lines of, “can a 5-year-old ‘adult’ think about it?” The USPTO makes more money if it grants more patents.

“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”

David Kappos (currently head of the USPTO) speaking about patents

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