Posted by: 2stepsback | October 31, 2007

Patents prevent economic growth, remove them

What is wrong with patents?
Many things, in my opinion, with my limited knowledge.

In software, everything.
Everything with software patents is wrong by definition.
How do you separate a new operational idea, a new hack and an optimization algorithm?

Everybody shouts about Moore’s law which really looks so perfectly in line with reality that Moore has o be more than an intelligent human being. But that is another story. But having a patent in today’s technology industry for more than 2 years is a plain joke.
In software, patents are total nonsense.
In hardware, two years is more than the well-known 18-month cycle of Moore’s law.
What patent law must recognize is that the duration for patents depends on the industry in which it is applied. And if multiple industries are involved, then multiple durations, one for each innovative step must probably be granted. (er… Hey lawyers, do you see what i see?)

But everyone should take a lesson from the mistaken and probably deliberately misguided US software patents system.
Technical guys can be very smart at fooling legal people with relatively lower knowledge about technology. Still easier to fool law makers, legislators and politicians.

When the entire life-span of the technology is not more than say, 5 years, what is the point of a patent for 10 or 20 years? It almost amounts to discrimination and state-supported-extortion. So, patents must be restricted to a maximum of 2 years in IT and Telecom.
If you want your country to produce products in really huge amounts, your patents system must be changed to incorporate this fact.

Do you now realise why China succeeds at flooding the world market with goods at very cheap prices? Because they apparently do not even have copyright laws! I may be very misinformed, but the idea is that if you allow unrestricted copying and selling of technology (NOT content, that is another thing – copyright), almost immediately, your country becomes capable of flooding entire markets with a variety of extremely innovative and varied goods.

Everyone gets a chance to use their hacking skills. Small or big.
Is that not how commercial processes spread quickly?
Is that not how financial services spread quickly?
What would happen if Microsoft, for instance, were to patent a stock-exchange transaction as such, and they were to demand a license fee or royalty for every single stock transaction that occurs in the market?
Would you not effectively kill the stock market with such a law?
Is that not what happened to the GIF format?

What about the inventor? Well, just google for “Dangers of software patents, RMS” and you’ll get a speech and some links. Go through those things. That should make everything clear.

So, in summary,

  • No patents at all – maximum, diversified growth and a very fast-growing economy. China.
  • Patents with a limit of 2 years – ok, but still leaves the door wide open for encouraging stagnation of your economy and legal mis-manouvering.
  • Patents with 20 years – I wish you luck

Do you realize why Wikipedia is as good as it is today (accepting a percentage of error)?
Do you realize why Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, digg, etc. are so successful?
Why del.icio.us is so successful?
It is because they are using the wisdom of crowds.

That makes me conclude this:
Removing Patents means using the wisdom of crowds in innovation – Large-scale nation-wide distributed innovation.
Distributed computing as applied to innovation.
Do you now realize why China is everyone’s problem?
Because they have chosen the best solution to architect their economy – the wisdom and participation of crowds – as against those who still mire in stupid elitism – in the guise of Patents.
Throw patents away and you will see your nation innovate.
That is a challenge. If you think you are smart or intelligent or a genius, try solving this problem. Remove patents.

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