Linked by Dmitrij D. Czarkoff on Fri 31st Aug 2007 08:54 UTC
Editorial This article is an answer to "Competition Is Not Good" by Kroc and reading it wouldn't be comfortable without switching to and from the original article. I wrote it just because I do strongly disagree with Kroc and I believe I can prove that he is not as close to truth as it may seem from the first glance.
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RE
by kaiwai on Fri 31st Aug 2007 10:12 UTC in reply to "RE"
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

You're competing with my article? ;)
Brilliant, I like it. Actually, I knew this was going to happen, and that's a good thing - because the article was there to promote discussion, and that's what's happening here, discussion; not competition.


I think in alot of cases the only real way to motivate people is through competition. There are those who are motivated just through shear desire to move forward. Put me in that camp, at work, any desire to work is a direct result of wanting to push something forward because of the pride of wanting see something improve rather than anything to do with 'competiting' or 'beating' a rival.

Unfortunately for most people, unless there is something constantly jumping on their back in the form of economic realities - they simply become lazy - or as the old Polish saying goes regarding communism, "people pretended to work, and the state pretended to pay".

Humans over all are lazy creatures, do the bare minimum required - very few have a work ethic that would compell them to work a 70 hour week unless they're forced or financially rewarded as a result. Same goes for innovation, unless there is that reward there for someone to innovate, the compelling aspect to work the long hours and take the risk won't exist - and thus, things stagnate.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE
by SReilly on Fri 31st Aug 2007 10:51 in reply to "RE"
SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

Same goes for innovation, unless there is that reward there for someone to innovate, the compelling aspect to work the long hours and take the risk won't exist - and thus, things stagnate.

I was having a very similar conversation with the drummer in my band last night. He is currently studying mechanical engineering and as it's the summer holidays, he is working with a metallurgical engineering firm.

The firm he is working for has a world wide patent on a process for nitrogen treating alloys. The fact that the owner of the company invented this process gives him every right to patent it, thereby getting a substantial return on his efforts.

Sure, the process belongs to everyone, that's always going to be the case, but, armed with the patent, the company gets sole licensing rights for the next 50 years (or however long these things last).

If the patenting system did not exist, the inventor would have much less of a reason to develop this process in the first place as anybody could just appropriate his technological invention without paying him a penny.

Now, if we take the example of software patents, it's a completely different matter. Software, IMO, is basically a creative means of expressing mathematics. It's akin to a musician writing a song. I have never heard of a musician patenting his way of playing the guitar, keyboard of percussion, that would be absurd! Yet this is what software patenting is attempting to do.

Many of use have seen the darker side of what software patents do to stifle competition and creativity in the IT industry. If you develop a great new application that happens to do/display/output in some manner that has been patented by MS, Apple or HP, you would leave yourself wide open to litigation, at least in the US. The whole situation is akin to a protection racket as it seems that the only way to protect yourself from this daft patent system is to buy in to it and aquire your own patents.

In our current political and economic climate, the competition engendered by our patent system is, IMO, a darn good thing, yet we see it being abused in the form of software patent. Sure, competition is good but as quite a few other have put it, only on a level playing field.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE
by ddc_ on Fri 31st Aug 2007 11:41 in reply to "RE"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Patent rights are valid for 30 years. Still, that's much more then the idea's lifecycle in IT world.

I do really believe that all the ideas in IT (including the base ideas of innovative computer programs should be patented, but (1) the patent should be valid for, say, 1 - 3 years and (2) no copyright should be applied to software at all.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE
by kaiwai on Fri 31st Aug 2007 11:54 in reply to "RE"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

In our current political and economic climate, the competition engendered by our patent system is, IMO, a darn good thing, yet we see it being abused in the form of software patent. Sure, competition is good but as quite a few other have put it, only on a level playing field.


The stupid part is the suing of opensource projects! I can understand the need to demand comercial companies selling/distributing patented technology as part of a larger package, say, WMA/WMV/ASF support as part of a Linux distribution, but where is the benefit in punishing those who might otherwise actually contribute in some way indirectly to the original patent holders profitability?

That is where the patent system is screwed up. Take mp3 encoding, what the hell does Faunhoffer benefit by screwing end users into the ground by demanding cash payment for binaries being distributed? Sure, if it is being used within a commercial product, I can understand, but a opensource project like Lame? please, its pathetic to see it in action.

Another problem is this, patent ever greening; this is a major issue within the phamacutical industry where dodgy patent applications are used to extend the life of an existing product to ensure that generic drugs don't come onto the market.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE
by butters on Fri 31st Aug 2007 19:04 in reply to "RE"
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

If the patenting system did not exist, the inventor would have much less of a reason to develop this process

This is where I start having problems with the patent system in its current form. The inventor didn't stay up nights honing his nitrogen-treating process because he figured that it would be a 30-year windwall for his company. He did it because he realized that nitrogen treating would make the alloy better (or whatever it does, not a metallurgist), and therefore more likely to succeed in the market.

I find it hard to believe that, in the absence of a patent system, the inventor would have thought briefly about nitrogen treatment before deciding it wasn't worth the effort. He probably would have been motivated to bring superior alloys to the market before his competitors discovered the new method.

In a competitive market, timing is everything. The value of a technology is much higher for the company that brings it to market first. There's brand association with the technology, and even in the absence of a patent system, it would take a significant period of time (years for non-trivial technologies) for competitors to bring it to market.

Meanwhile, back in patent land, the metallurgy firm has no motivation to refine its nitrogen process or invent new processes because they are already a generation ahead of the competition. The 30-year limited monopoly also implies a 30-year limited stagnancy. The patent holder will milk the patent for all it's worth while no one in the market is innovating in this technological space.

We live in a dog-eat-dog world of vicious competition and rapid innovation. You either innovate or get run over by your competition. Competitors should be driven to innovate out of necessity. The patent system in its current form only serves to slow down this process. It artificially inflates the value and lifetime of an innovation. It ignores the obvious reality that innovations build on one another.

I'm not in favor of eliminating the patent system. My primary recommendation for fixing it is to establish a new method for determining the duration of patent protection. Once a patent is granted, a panel of at least three examiners skilled in the field will each recommend a duration based on how long it would likely take for the invention to become an expected characteristic of competing products in the market. The average (possibly dropping the extremes) becomes the duration of the patent.

In the case of most software patents, the duration would fall in the 1-5 year range. For an industrial process, maybe 10-15 years. In today's competitive landscape, it is tough to imagine a patentable invention that is deserving of a monopoly in excess of 15 years. That's a long time to milk a single innovation.

No one would have had a problem with the one-click shopping patent if the patent office decided that customers would expect such a simple online shopping experience within two years. Sure, give Amazon a two-year head start for their effort. Maybe they can get a 5-year patent on the technology behind their distributed clustering storage system. Much more reasonable.

Reply Parent Score: 3