Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Aug 2010 22:11 UTC, submitted by lfeagan
Legal Most of us here are not particularly big fans of the concept of patents. Most of us are aware of the significance of patents, we just believe the system has gone out of control and needs a serious kick in the butt. Well, it turns out not even the richest people on this earth are immune to the call of the patent troll. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed a massive patent lawsuit, using broad and vague patents to sue just about any big name in the business - from Apple to Google.
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RE[2]: Patents Wars
by Neolander on Sat 28th Aug 2010 08:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Patents Wars"
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Am I the only one who believe there will be no fixing of the patent problem? Even after the eventual Patent War what guarantee is there that things will get fixed?

I don't want to cynical but I mean Patents (and Copyright) have been around a long time and it seems that despite the lack of any evidence (proof, data) of them actually promoting the progress of science and useful arts, even after centuries of their existence, we still have them. You'd think in a free country that by now the laws would be abolished in favor of citizen rights. In fact their scope and terms have only increased.

If I had to defend the patent system, I'd say that while it's easy to show when it doesn't work, it's hard to show when it actually works. That because patents are supposed to act as a motivation, a hardly measurable data. First for researchers and engineers (because they may get financially rewarded for their work). Second, what's more important, for the executives above them (R&D is a risky investment, patents make it potentially more profitable).

If we got rid of patents altogether, chances are that companies would spend even less money in R&D that they currently do. So maybe just fixing the patent system would be a better idea.

There are many problems in the patent system, and I bet several can be easily fixed.
* People at patent offices have ridiculously short delays to make a decision. A relative who works at the European Patent Office told me that they've got... two days !!! Try to make some serious work in those conditions ;) Obvious fix : longer delays (I think one month is the bare minimum)
* Patents last too long. 20 years was okay for slowly-evolving technology, but several piece of techs today can have an interval of less than 2 years between two releases, and hence 10 generations of products before a patent expires sounds too long. Obvious fix : reduce this to 5 years.
* We award too vague patents. With things like Apple recently patenting a rounded parallelepiped and Allen patenting "browser use for navigating through information", there's clearly something wrong. Sadly, this one sounds difficult to fix, because the concept of "vague" can hardly be translated in legalese, so I don't think we can do anything about it.
* Patents are transferable. This is probably one of the biggest mistake ever made in industry laws. It does nothing to help innovation, and it's the direct source of existence of patent trolls. If a company wants a patent, it should have to hire all the alive inventors of the patented device first ;) Obvious fix : remove this clause from the law.

Edited 2010-08-28 08:40 UTC

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