Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Mar 2013 23:43 UTC
Legal Countries are starting to get into the patent business; countries like France and South Korea are setting up patent entities to protect domestic companies. "Intellectual Discovery presents itself as a defensive alliance: if a South Korean company finds itself targeted in a lawsuit, for instance, it can access the patents being compiled by Intellectual Discovery to hit back." I support this. If, say, a small Dutch company were to come under unfair patent aggression by bullies like Apple and Microsoft (quite likely these days), I damn well expect my government to protect them from it. If you can't fix the system, work with it. As simple as that.
Thread beginning with comment 556009
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Comment by kwan_e
by kwan_e on Thu 21st Mar 2013 02:47 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

I think what we should have instead of patents is the government, or publicly funded NGO, pay for invention disclosures.

A company either keeps their invention a trade secret, or they open it and get a one time payment for some percentage over their research expenditure to produce such an invention.

That we, we can look at inventions in the cold hard light of reality, because not even a government wants to overpay for a worthless "invention". If a company decides to keep it as a trade secret and another company manages to recreate something similar*, then it's sort of proof that an invention was obvious and not patent worthy.

* Obviously we have to allow for companies to protect themselves from their inventions being stolen**, provided they have the evidence first, rather than fishing expeditions.

** Not counting reverse engineering.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by Laurence on Thu 21st Mar 2013 09:01 in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

That would work for the original intention of patents where processes). But these days much of the stuff that is patented are ideas, designs or even just maths. It's a lot harder to have those things kept closed and thus you're practically encouraging companies to continue to patent as they are. In fact, you're practically giving them a free pass to sue other companies (ie "X designed a swipe to unlock, Y saw that idea and now we want our research time refunded").

I do like your idea a lot though. And in an ideal world, designs and ideas would be covered by copyright alone, and maths couldn't be intellectual property. So your method would work.

There's certainly not a lot right in the current set up and having governments set up patent pools like that only emphasis the issues rather than help address them.

PS the nerd in me loves your nested footnotes. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e
by kwan_e on Thu 21st Mar 2013 10:58 in reply to "RE: Comment by kwan_e"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

That would work for the original intention of patents where processes). But these days much of the stuff that is patented are ideas, designs or even just maths. It's a lot harder to have those things kept closed and thus you're practically encouraging companies to continue to patent as they are.


That system isn't intended to work alongside patents, but to supersede them. No more patents, but we still want people to disclose inventions; and I think it will be fairer because the small inventors can be on a more equal playing field.

In fact, you're practically giving them a free pass to sue other companies (ie "X designed a swipe to unlock, Y saw that idea and now we want our research time refunded").


That's not a strong enough claim to sue others even today, but I included an exemption for reverse engineering, which I think covers it. But even if it comes to that, repaying research time is much more fairer than some vague "damages" that can't be proven.

I bet swipe to unlock costs less to develop than whatever silly damages that are claimed from copying it. It would also serve as a way to expose how much an invention is really "novel".

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by Yamin on Thu 21st Mar 2013 15:45 in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
Yamin Member since:
2006-01-10

While interesting, and it certainly could be an improvement, I can't help but wonder what could go wrong.

Government body willing to pay for 'invention' disclosures.

If you thought patent trolls were bad today trying to extort companies which they have to at least take to court... imagine the abuse this kind of system would bring. This kind of system bring 0 cost to getting money out of patents. At least the current system imposes big legal fees to win at trial.

Everyone would just hack together something and take it to this 'board' to be paid. How much? Who knows! We'll have lobbyists to maximize payment.
What gets accepted as an invention?
Well, now you have the same problem as today with a 'patent' office evaluating patents to see if they are valid or not.

And given their record, they don't seem to be able to evaluate the validity of a patent... much less how much that patent is worth. Now you're doubling the complexity and workload of a system that has been proven to be incompetent?

I would actually theorize that it is highly probable your system would actually be worse than the current system. In the current system people file patents for a variety of reasons (protect ip, defense, licensing...), but immediate direct profit from the government is not one of them.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e
by Alfman on Thu 21st Mar 2013 17:31 in reply to "RE: Comment by kwan_e"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Yamin,

While it's nice to get rid of the lawsuits, I see alot of problems arising from it too.

Foremost is funding, where does the money come from?

Secondly, inventors would start working for these government handouts as an ends unto itself rather than a means to an end (such as bringing products to market).

Thirdly, it doesn't solve the fundamental scalability issues inherent in the patent system. It can require more work to process a case and determine whether the claims in one patent infringe those of another than to actually come up with the "invention" in the first place, which is usually incremental anyways and not very valuable. Today's patent system mostly leaves it to the courts to determine validity.


Fourthly, for many technical fields, including my own, patents were never very useful to real practitioners anyways. In these cases dropping patents all together can make more sense than introducing another patent system with more problems.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e
by kwan_e on Thu 21st Mar 2013 23:12 in reply to "RE: Comment by kwan_e"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Everyone would just hack together something and take it to this 'board' to be paid. How much? Who knows! We'll have lobbyists to maximize payment.
What gets accepted as an invention?
Well, now you have the same problem as today with a 'patent' office evaluating patents to see if they are valid or not.


Yes, but if the government is paying for invention disclosures, EVERYONE has a vested interested in making sure worthless inventions do not get accepted.

The problem is no evaluation is really happening. But if taxpayers are now invested in the process, they want value for money.

And it's not a free for all. The only compensation they get is some percentage over their research costs. If everyone hacks something together to get it evaluated and it passes, well, where are their research procedures?

And given their record, they don't seem to be able to evaluate the validity of a patent... much less how much that patent is worth. Now you're doubling the complexity and workload of a system that has been proven to be incompetent?


Again, it's because no evaluation is happening, because of the assumptions that patents are magically good for the economy. But now if the government pays for it, then we can actually ask the question: well how much is this invention worth to the economy?

Right now, that question isn't asked when a patent is evaluated because it's assumed that, once granted, the worth to the economy .

Lastly, you seem to forget that inventors in the proposed system do not get any control of the invention. So no licencing, thus no patent trolling, or even patent lawsuits. That would reduce the amount of inventions that gets submitted from those who are looking to extort a continued licence fee.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by unclefester on Fri 22nd Mar 2013 05:24 in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

I think what we should have instead of patents is the government, or publicly funded NGO, pay for invention disclosures.


Totally impractical. It is virtually impossible to value many patents. The creator of this incredibly simple idea earned about $30m.
http://www.google.com/patents/US3351836

In contrast about $500m and over 30 years effort was wasted on this fiasco.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_engine

Reply Parent Score: 2