Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 19th Apr 2014 09:02 UTC
In the News

The Wright brothers' critical insight was the importance of "lateral stability" - that is, wingtip-to-wingtip stability - to flight. And their great innovation was something they called "wing warping," in which they used a series of pulleys that caused the wingtips on one side of the airplane to go up when the wingtips on the other side were pulled down. That allowed the Wrights' airplane to make banked turns and to correct itself when it flew into a gust of wind.

But when the Wrights applied for a patent, they didn't seek one that just covered wing warping; their patent covered any means to achieve lateral stability. There is no question what the Wrights sought: nothing less than a monopoly on the airplane business - every airplane ever manufactured, they believed, owed them a royalty. As Wilbur Wright, who was both the more domineering and the more inventive of the two brothers, put it in a letter: "It is our view that morally the world owes its almost universal system of lateral control entirely to us. It is also our opinion that legally it owes it to us."

Even though Wrights' competitor Curtiss developed an entirely different system to achieve lateral stability (the ailerons airplanes use to this day), the Wright brothers still believed Curtiss owed them money for it. The legal standoff that ensued in the US airplane industry at the time halted all innovation, so much so that when the WWI broke out, the US government had to step in to force airplane manufacturers to cross-license their patents.

Sadly, by this time, US airplanes weren't good enough for combat.

It seems nobody learns from history.

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powerful using state
by project_2501 on Sat 19th Apr 2014 15:19 UTC
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I agree that the patent system is absurd and actually counter productive.

It is just one of many areas of life where those who have advantage and power will naturally use whatever means that can (mostly legal) to maintain their position.

The only balancing mechanism to correct this behaviour of powerful corporations or individuals, and indeed families, is democracy. The redressing of power back to the people. In some countries it was a hard fought right. Bloody in some.

So.... Though it seems like these corporations have all the funds, lawyers, experts, patience, lobbyists, sponsored politicians.... Ultimately they can do no more than is allowed by an alert citizenry.

So the only real means to change this, or other scandals, is to raise awareness, get angry, and vote. That vote is damn powerful. The biggest fear of these corporations is people waking up and caring. Because they can't fight changes introduced by democratic mandate.

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