ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Main Area and Open Discussion > Living Room

More ammunition why patents are EVIL

<< < (4/10) > >>

Anyway, there are a couple of patent system reforms I think are fairly critical.

#1: "Open source" the patent review process. Anyone can submit a patent and once submitted they have first chance at being granted one, but like any patent their application must be reviewed for prior art, uniqueness of the invention, etc. This should be judged by the population at large, not by a relatively few patent evaluators who couldn't possibly individually have the education necessary to properly evaluate every patent. Imagine the Wikipedia model being applied to patent evaluation. 90% of patents would probably be thrown out within a week, either because there is significant prior art out there (nothing is better at finding prior art than "the crowd"), or because the invention is obvious and can be demonstrated to be so.
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- Agreed

#2: Incentivize the *application* of patented ideas. Or, to look at it another way, discourage or penalize those who patent something and don't actually implement it in a product or service. This would address a multitude of patent-driven ills, from "patent trolls" who survive solely off litigation (contributing nothing whatsoever positive to society), to large companies who buy up patents that threaten their business model or products and just sit on them. The question of course is how to incentivize patent use. Various fee structures or "patent taxes" have been discussed which could potentially do this, and this ties in to the next point.
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- Agreed x 10.  

#3: Restructure the fees to reward single/first-time filers and increase costs for those who spam the system or are large patent holders. In other words if you have 1 patent, filing is free or cheap. If you are filing for your 5th patent, it's $1,000. Filing for you 10th? $10,000. 20th? $50,000. It's not a linear scale, it should go up quickly, perhaps even exponentially, and by the time you're looking at your 100th patent, let alone 1000th, it should give even large corporations pause to think just how valuable a given patent really is. Some might argue that there are a few highly prolific inventors who would be hurt by this, but A: many of those inventions might be invalidated if some of these other rules were in effect and B: how many of those prolific patenters actually do anything with most of thier parents? (see #3)
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- No.  There are too many legitimate situations where multiple patents would be required, unless there was a way to use these multiple patents (even if held by other patent-holders) for specific and unique ideas.  Many specialized engineering firms come to mind.  They create a very complex machine, but to properly patent it, they must patent all subsystems as well or they become subject to patent infringement by using these subsystems that mimic other patents in form or function even if it isn't with the same intent or purpose.  Moreover (in a worst case scenario), without patenting these subsystems, someone else can come in, patent the subsystem, and after approval, they can extract royalties for the subsystem they didn't even invent - they just saw it and found it unpatented.  
Another example you point to is the perennial inventor who patents inventions with the hope and intent to sell them (A.K.A. R&D companies).  This may be a gray area, but it is a legitimate (if morally questionable) business model.  Putting them out of business may be one way to curb the issue, or it may just be a way to discourage inventions by these people and organizations.

#4: Patent term reform. 20 years, which is the generally agreed upon standard these days due to TRIPS, WTO, etc. is just too long. The world moves too fast. 10 years would be better, but even that is questionable. The period should basically be long enough to bring the most complex possible individually patentable invention to market, and to capitalize on it for a few years at most. Personally I think anything more than 2 or 3 years of market *exclusivity* is unnecessary. If you figure the development of very complex technology may take 3 or 4 years to bring to market, and then add on 2-3 years for sales exclusivity, then perhaps 6-8 years makes more sense. I'd be OK seeing 10.
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- I am split on this and think it should be part of the patent process.  There should be a review of recoverability (or whatever you want to call it) and it should be based on that.  In some cases, 20 years may seem particularly short, in other cases, 5 years may be ridiculously long.  Remember, the invention is designed and ready before the patent process begins, so you should be able to bring it to market long before the patent is awarded - that is what the Patent Pending means.  Also remember that Patent Pending provides most of the same protections as the actual patent until such time as it is denied.  I would like to see Patent Pending get it's own lifespan of less than a year (far too many companies take advantage of it by prolonging the pending as long as possible before starting the clock!).

#5: Patent maintenance fees, which already exist, should be extracted yearly rather than every few years, and should also depend on the number of patents held. If you have 100 patents, your maintenance fees are higher.
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- Agreed on the yearly but flat rate.  See above on the other part of the topic.

#6: Life forms should not be patentable. Period. Neither should business methods or software. Anything that is subject to copyright should not also be patentable (e.g. software).
-JavaJones (July 11, 2010, 04:04 PM)
--- End quote ---
- Agreed!  Also w/ regard to software, I believe the copyright should only be on the product and not the code structures.  While it is easy to rebrand a product and keep the same code, by patenting code structures you prevent use outside of your protected area which is just wrong.  It creates situations where far too many people have to create far too much (often bloated) code for no good reason. Moreover, it is difficult to prove outside of open source that the code blocks were used, and even harder to prove they were used knowingly since there are only so many ways you can structure a code segment to accomplish any given task.  

Looking back, I guess I just reiterated the difference between copyright and patent with regard to code, but it is something worth noting again anyway  :D

I thought this was relevent:

The 10 Most Ridiculous Inventions Ever Patented

Some are stupid, but seem to be patentable inventions, others are more of the "people have been doing that forever, how can you patent that?" type of thing.

The one I liked was the automatic top hat tipper. No need to reach up to the brim. If you were the first on your block to have the automatic top hat tipper in your top hat, you merely inclined your head slightly and the mechanism would do the rest!!

A disclaimer: I am not a patent lawyer, nor do I play one on TV :)  The ideas shared here are my own, not IBMs (Though my two decades of employment there may have colored my thinking)

My main point/Question: Is it Patents that are evil or just Unreasonable Patents???

O.K., while I agree that patents are sometimes too broad, there is something to be said for protect one's intellectual property.  As a former IBM engineer with my name on two patents,  I've had some experience with this topic.  IBM, for example wanted to have a large, valuable, patent portfolio for business reasons. Specifically, it was to protect their ability to innovate and engineer products without being overly concerned with infringing others' patents.  This occurred fairly often and there was always some little inventor waiting to soak IBM for a patent he/she/it held. Often these patents were valid and the inventor deserved to be compensated.  Sometimes, like the examples given above, they were overly general and ridiculous in scope (or obvious to any skilled practitioner of the art).  Sometimes IBM could point to holding a patent  which covered the idea in question or point to "prior art" which made the Patent in question less general or restrictive. I am aware of relatively few examples of IBM going after people/organizations using patents from their portfolio in general use.   There is much that can be said to justify these actions. Although, such protectionism did exist, it's worth noting that most of IBM's competitors had cross licensing aggreements with IBM, so the issue  was often moot.  Additionally, IBM ,like all technology based companies, used it's own extensive patent portfolio as a bargaining chip in inter-company negotiations.  To my knowledge IBM was always willing to allow patent use for a"resonable" fee.  The legal department seemed more hard nosed about trademark infringements than patents. 

Intellectual Property is a valuable asset and inventors (individual or corporate) deserve to have their ideas Protected.  Theft of IP (intellectual Property is a real concern for those who deal in ideas.  The Patent System was intended, in part, to ensure that good ideas get published, protected for a limited time, and then become public domain in order to foster better communication of ideas (as opposed to being hidden away forever as Trade Secrets.

The real problem is not patents per se, but the woefully understaffed, under-funded, patent office, which is sometimes so overloaded and so far behind the times that they can't recognize a good idea, or, they grant a patent to an obvioius, trivial, or overly broad idea, thus stifling the  very process it's intended to promote and protect.


Broad patents = bad - the patent granting bodies need to be a lot more restrictive (and have qualified employees). Patent trolling shouldn't be legal; patents should be revoked if you don't produce a product within a reasonable timespan. Prior art should always null a patent's validity.

I'm not entirely against patents though, not even software patents; it's fair enough that you get a chance to profit from being innovative. The way the system currently works is entirely despicable, though.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page

Go to full version