The Big Patent Thread

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#1 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@blaznwiipspman1, this thread's for you!

We've been having a lot of patent discussion sneaking into some of all of our threads. Let's have a proper place for that discussion for a while.

At the absolute root level, the purpose of a patent system is to increase consumer access to goods and services. We know this because that is the purpose of economic systems, and the maximization of that consumer access is the goal of economic theory.

"But," some say, "by definition patents limit consumer access by limiting competition, limiting supply, and artificially raising prices!" This is true, and economists universally recognize that. However, proponents of patents theorize that they increase consumer access on net by encouraging innovation with their promise of artificially large rent seeking opportunities for the length of the patent (as opposed to merely the length of time it would take competitors to mimic their products). Yes, rent seeking is typically seen as bad in economics, but patent proponents believe it to be a necessary evil in this case.

That is the primary line of questioning for patent system opponents: Do patents encourage innovation beyond that which would occur with the natural rent seeking window? If so, does that marginal increase in innovation have a net positive effect on consumer access after factoring in the negative effects on consumer access caused by the increased rent seeking?

If after considering that line of questioning we decide that a patent system provides a net positive benefit, the question shifts to the details of the patent system and how best to maximize it's benefits. In order to keep this part as brief as possible, I'll just offer an example: Several years ago there was some economic research published that concluded that patents should be reduced to 3 years in length. This, they concluded, was adequate time to realize a handsome return on investment (thereby providing innovation incentive) while increasing consumer access by decreasing what they found to be an excessive monopoly window. And the copyright laws that keep getting extended to allow some content nearly 100 years of protection now? Forget about it, they said. All that does is decrease consumer access, not increase it.

So where do you stand, OT? Is a patent system necessary and, if so, what should it look like?

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#2 Posted by sonicare (56202 posts) -

I dont know. Good and bad with patents.

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#3 Posted by ComeOnMan (132 posts) -

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

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#4 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@comeonman said:

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

Thanks. It's something that a few users are intently focused on, so I'm hoping they chime in here at some point. It would be nice if they could share their thoughts in a focused manner, complete with whatever level of detail they deem worthwhile.

"You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?"

I've set it up exclusively in this manner to avoid a wall of text that no one would read. I fear I was close to approaching that as is. That being said, veering too far off of the topic into philosophical discussions like "owning oneself" does not hold much weight with me because it doesn't hold much weight with economists. Economic theory is pretty sharply focused on build societal wealth. While one can make the argument that recent school of thought is beginning to shift focus from building aggregate wealth to building shared wealth, maintaining patents and IP rights in perpetuity doesn't help that cause either and, in fact, works against it to an even greater degree.

In that vein, taking that stance effectively shifts it into a philosophical discussion rather than an economic one. There is no economic basis for maintaining patents and IP rights in perpetuity.

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#5 Posted by KittenNose (2456 posts) -

@comeonman said:

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

There is a huge difference between ensuring people are entitled to the fruits of their labor, and enforcing intellectual property.

An example of the first would look like: We are in an isolated group of people, and you become the first among us to make and use a lever. As you made the lever and use it you are entitled to both the lever and what you do with it. If anyone tries to take your lever away from you, you are entitled to beat the heck out of them with your lever.

An example of the second looks like: After someone observes your performance with your lever you catch them making one of their own. Violated, you are entitled to beat them with your lever in order to stop them from finishing. After all as the first one observed making a lever, you get to decide who is allowed to make their own.

You can argue that the second is good for society, but it isn't really possible to argue that it has anything to do with owning the fruits of your labor.

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#6 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@comeonman said:

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce.

I hope you know that you pretty much just stated Marx's central argument against capitalism.

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#7 Posted by ComeOnMan (132 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:
@comeonman said:

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

Thanks. It's something that a few users are intently focused on, so I'm hoping they chime in here at some point. It would be nice if they could share their thoughts in a focused manner, complete with whatever level of detail they deem worthwhile.

"You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?"

I've set it up exclusively in this manner to avoid a wall of text that no one would read. I fear I was close to approaching that as is. That being said, veering too far off of the topic into philosophical discussions like "owning oneself" does not hold much weight with me because it doesn't hold much weight with economists. Economic theory is pretty sharply focused on build societal wealth. While one can make the argument that recent school of thought is beginning to shift focus from building aggregate wealth to building shared wealth, maintaining patents and IP rights in perpetuity doesn't help that cause either and, in fact, works against it to an even greater degree.

In that vein, taking that stance effectively shifts it into a philosophical discussion rather than an economic one. There is no economic basis for maintaining patents and IP rights in perpetuity.

Fair enough. I do agree that no patent or IP right should be enforced for longer than, say, a decade, at the longest. Certainly not in perpetuity.

I also would think any full debate on patents, etc., at least in the USA where we recognize private property rights, must involve a discussion of that system's effect vis a vie individual rights, both positive and negative.

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#8 Posted by ComeOnMan (132 posts) -

@kittennose said:
@comeonman said:

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

There is a huge difference between ensuring people are entitled to the fruits of their labor, and enforcing intellectual property.

An example of the first would look like: We are in an isolated group of people, and you become the first among us to make and use a lever. As you made the lever and use it you are entitled to both the lever and what you do with it. If anyone tries to take your lever away from you, you are entitled to beat the heck out of them with your lever.

An example of the second looks like: After someone observes your performance with your lever you catch them making one of their own. Violated, you are entitled to beat them with your lever in order to stop them from finishing. After all as the first one observed making a lever, you get to decide who is allowed to make their own.

You can argue that the second is good for society, but it isn't really possible to argue that it has anything to do with owning the fruits of your labor.

Choosing a lever as your example is not a very good choice. I'm not a patent law expert, but I believe there is language in current patent law that says you cannot patent what is obvious and simple.

Lets take the example of an umbrella. I don't believe you should be able to patent a flat board mounted on the end of a stick. The need to shelter yourself from the rain is obvious, and such a simple device does not "possess" any uniqueness, or ingenuity. However, the person that first came up with the collapsible umbrella, with all of its complex mechanism, actually created something unique, extremely useful, and beyond simply nailing 2 pieces of wood together. If the person who first hatched the idea in their mind, does not believe they will be able to prosper from its creation, why would they spend the time, effort and expense to gather the materials, test and refine the design, until they had a reliable, viable device?

Now, I believe that for some period of time, no one should be allowed to buy one of these new umbrellas, reverse engineer it, and start producing and selling them for their own profit and gain. However, once the idea of a collapsible umbrella is out there, if another person sees it, and says "hey that's a great concept, but I can do it completely different and better", they are free, in my opinion, to invent and sell a collapsible umbrella, as long as it does not rely substantially on the other guys invention.

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#9 Posted by ComeOnMan (132 posts) -

@theone86 said:
@comeonman said:

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce.

I hope you know that you pretty much just stated Marx's central argument against capitalism.

I'm not going to help derail Mattbbpl's thread by getting in to a debate over Marx.

But thanks for stopping by.

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#10 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

"At the absolute root level, the purpose of a patent system is to increase consumer access to goods and services. We know this because that is the purpose of economic systems, and the maximization of that consumer access is the goal of economic theory."

No. The purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation by granting inventors exclusive use of the inventions they can get a patent for.

A patent is a contract between a private entity and a State where the State is interested in promoting innovation (in principle...) and the private is interested in filling his pockets with cash.

A patent holder absolutely can decide to not use his invention, not give nor license it to anyone, AND persecute anyone who uses his invention.

"But," some say, "by definition patents limit consumer access by limiting competition, limiting supply, and artificially raising prices!" This is true, and economists universally recognize that. However, proponents of patents theorize that they increase consumer access on net by encouraging innovation with their promise of artificially large rent seeking opportunities for the length of the patent (as opposed to merely the length of time it would take competitors to mimic their products). Yes, rent seeking is typically seen as bad in economics, but patent proponents believe it to be a necessary evil in this case.

That is the primary line of questioning for patent system opponents: Do patents encourage innovation beyond that which would occur with the natural rent seeking window? If so, does that marginal increase in innovation have a net positive effect on consumer access after factoring in the negative effects on consumer access caused by the increased rent seeking?

If after considering that line of questioning we decide that a patent system provides a net positive benefit, the question shifts to the details of the patent system and how best to maximize it's benefits. In order to keep this part as brief as possible, I'll just offer an example: Several years ago there was some economic research published that concluded that patents should be reduced to 3 years in length. This, they concluded, was adequate time to realize a handsome return on investment (thereby providing innovation incentive) while increasing consumer access by decreasing what they found to be an excessive monopoly window. And the copyright laws that keep getting extended to allow some content nearly 100 years of protection now? Forget about it, they said. All that does is decrease consumer access, not increase it.

This is...patent...nonsense.

First argument, time: patents are usually granted between 24 and 36 months after the first deposit and what the inventor and others can or can't do before the patent is granted is a rather muddy area where most patent applicants try to keep it an industrial secret until the patent is granted or rejected.

Patents last for up to 20 years, up to 30 for trees and vines. While I agree that 20 years for all patents is stupid, making all patents last 3 years would be equally as stupid. Semiconductor technologies are usually already past the end of their life cycle after 3 years, while medical equipment, chemical ingredients or telecommunications technology would have barely started being implemented commercially.

Second argument, context: that argument assumes all patent holders are also large-scale makers. That is an outrageously stupid assessment as both private inventors and research centers that live by selling or licensing patents are a driving force of technological development in all areas (the two men with the highest number of US patents both work in the semiconductors field surprisingly enough) and because of the time it takes to haggle for intellectual property, 3 year long patents would effectively push these players outside the market as companies would just wait for the patent to expire instead of valuing its worth in the current context of the market and for future developments.

Third argument, economics: the guys who say that patents limit competition, supply and artificially raise prices either don't understand what patents are, don't understand what competition, supply and prices mean, or understand neither of them. Patents by definition cannot raise prices.

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#11 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@comeonman said:

Now, I believe that for some period of time, no one should be allowed to buy one of these new umbrellas, reverse engineer it, and start producing and selling them for their own profit and gain. However, once the idea of a collapsible umbrella is out there, if another person sees it, and says "hey that's a great concept, but I can do it completely different and better", they are free, in my opinion, to invent and sell a collapsible umbrella, as long as it does not rely substantially on the other guys invention.

That sounds like one hell of a fucking mess of a grey area though.

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#12 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@comeonman said:
@theone86 said:
@comeonman said:

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce.

I hope you know that you pretty much just stated Marx's central argument against capitalism.

I'm not going to help derail Mattbbpl's thread by getting in to a debate over Marx.

But thanks for stopping by.

It's not a derailment. Marx was centrally concerned about who owns the fruits of one's own labor, which is exactly what is at issue here. I think the question of whether or not capitalism actually rewards creators or not is, if not central to this discussion, at least tangential. I've often viewed the debate over intellectual property rights through the lens of an extension of enclosure which, again, is a central idea in Marx's work.

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#13 Posted by KittenNose (2456 posts) -

@comeonman said:

Choosing a lever as your example is not a very good choice. I'm not a patent law expert, but I believe there is language in current patent law that says you cannot patent what is obvious and simple.

Lets take the example of an umbrella. I don't believe you should be able to patent a flat board mounted on the end of a stick. The need to shelter yourself from the rain is obvious, and such a simple device does not "possess" any uniqueness, or ingenuity. However, the person that first came up with the collapsible umbrella, with all of its complex mechanism, actually created something unique, extremely useful, and beyond simply nailing 2 pieces of wood together. If the person who first hatched the idea in their mind, does not believe they will be able to prosper from its creation, why would they spend the time, effort and expense to gather the materials, test and refine the design, until they had a reliable, viable device?

Now, I believe that for some period of time, no one should be allowed to buy one of these new umbrellas, reverse engineer it, and start producing and selling them for their own profit and gain. However, once the idea of a collapsible umbrella is out there, if another person sees it, and says "hey that's a great concept, but I can do it completely different and better", they are free, in my opinion, to invent and sell a collapsible umbrella, as long as it does not rely substantially on the other guys invention.

I picked the lever because it is the most basic way to illustrate the concept. Intellectual property rights don't protect the fruits of your labor, they give you control over other's. You can claim it is for the greater good if you want, but that is about as far as you can take it.

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#14 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@kittennose said:

I picked the lever because it is the most basic way to illustrate the concept. Intellectual property rights don't protect the fruits of your labor, they give you control over other's. You can claim it is for the greater good if you want, but that is about as far as you can take it.

Technically IP gives you a legal "stick" you can use to beat alleged counterfeiters with. LucasArts having a copyright on Star Wars doesn't give them control over what I do.

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#15 Edited by Serraph105 (32706 posts) -

@mattbbpl For clarity, by rent seeking I assume you mean compensation for the time and effort it takes to invent something new, and producing it for the public to consume. Is that correct?

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#16 Posted by KittenNose (2456 posts) -
@N30F3N1X said:

Technically IP gives you a legal "stick" you can use to beat alleged counterfeiters with. LucasArts having a copyright on Star Wars doesn't give them control over what I do.

True, intellectual property law is not a mind control power.

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#17 Posted by comp_atkins (35232 posts) -

@comeonman said:
@kittennose said:
@comeonman said:

Interesting topic.

You've set up the discussion exclusively on determining overall societal economic benefit. What about the notion of intellectual property? Does the notion of me owning myself, therefore owning the fruit of my intelligence, imagination, effort, etc, figure in to this for you?

Rather than expecting a consensus of "experts" to determine the best result, I prefer we recognize that individual liberty loses a lot of its meaning if you can't own what you produce. If what you produce is something that did not exist before your genious and industry invented it, then you should get to control access to it, for at least some time. Therefore we should have a patent system to protect the "ownership" of truly unique things that have commercial viability.

As with all things that involve individual liberty vs common societal good, it requires a balance. It should also be consistent over time, and fairly structured. You state that some patents are now good for 100 years. I don't doubt it, and I agree that is excessive. Sounds like there may be a need for some reform. But doubt that will happen. Patent reform is not very politically "sexy".

I welcome any thought you may have on what I have said.

There is a huge difference between ensuring people are entitled to the fruits of their labor, and enforcing intellectual property.

An example of the first would look like: We are in an isolated group of people, and you become the first among us to make and use a lever. As you made the lever and use it you are entitled to both the lever and what you do with it. If anyone tries to take your lever away from you, you are entitled to beat the heck out of them with your lever.

An example of the second looks like: After someone observes your performance with your lever you catch them making one of their own. Violated, you are entitled to beat them with your lever in order to stop them from finishing. After all as the first one observed making a lever, you get to decide who is allowed to make their own.

You can argue that the second is good for society, but it isn't really possible to argue that it has anything to do with owning the fruits of your labor.

Choosing a lever as your example is not a very good choice. I'm not a patent law expert, but I believe there is language in current patent law that says you cannot patent what is obvious and simple.

Lets take the example of an umbrella. I don't believe you should be able to patent a flat board mounted on the end of a stick. The need to shelter yourself from the rain is obvious, and such a simple device does not "possess" any uniqueness, or ingenuity. However, the person that first came up with the collapsible umbrella, with all of its complex mechanism, actually created something unique, extremely useful, and beyond simply nailing 2 pieces of wood together. If the person who first hatched the idea in their mind, does not believe they will be able to prosper from its creation, why would they spend the time, effort and expense to gather the materials, test and refine the design, until they had a reliable, viable device?

Now, I believe that for some period of time, no one should be allowed to buy one of these new umbrellas, reverse engineer it, and start producing and selling them for their own profit and gain. However, once the idea of a collapsible umbrella is out there, if another person sees it, and says "hey that's a great concept, but I can do it completely different and better", they are free, in my opinion, to invent and sell a collapsible umbrella, as long as it does not rely substantially on the other guys invention.

correct, the law states roughly that the invention should be non-obvious to those skilled in the art of whatever it is that is being patented.

as the owner of multiple patents ( technically my employer, but my name is on it ) i'm in favor of offering a window of time of economic protection. innovation isn't always a safe ( or cheap ) undertaking and those willing to take that risk ( spend the $ ) should be entitled to a measured time of protection. if an invention that cost $10M to develop can be copied a month later for $10K with no protections or avenues for recourse by the inventor, where is the financial incentive to invent it in the first place?

i will agree however that the system needs reform. it takes years for a patent to go from application to granted or even reviewed. perhaps the bar needs to be set higher in terms of what can be granted formal patent protection. there is a LOT of junk that gets thrown at the USPTO and the examiners are responsible for separating the crap from the truely novel, unique, non-obvious.

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#18 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@Serraph105: Rent seeking is an economic term used to describe the practice of increasing one's share of economic wealth without actually doing anything to create additional wealth. It can take many forms.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

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#19 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@Serraph105: Rent seeking is an economic term used to describe the practice of increasing one's share of economic wealth without actually doing anything to create additional wealth. It can take many forms.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

I think he meant to ask something more specific. In the case of patents what is it that you're describing as rent-seeking behavior? Judging by your post it'd seem you mean to call the exclusivity of the patent holder, but in the context of patents the only rent seeking behavior one could accuse someone of is patent infringement.

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#20 Posted by Jacanuk (16417 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@blaznwiipspman1, this thread's for you!

We've been having a lot of patent discussion sneaking into some of all of our threads. Let's have a proper place for that discussion for a while.

At the absolute root level, the purpose of a patent system is to increase consumer access to goods and services. We know this because that is the purpose of economic systems, and the maximization of that consumer access is the goal of economic theory.

"But," some say, "by definition patents limit consumer access by limiting competition, limiting supply, and artificially raising prices!" This is true, and economists universally recognize that. However, proponents of patents theorize that they increase consumer access on net by encouraging innovation with their promise of artificially large rent seeking opportunities for the length of the patent (as opposed to merely the length of time it would take competitors to mimic their products). Yes, rent seeking is typically seen as bad in economics, but patent proponents believe it to be a necessary evil in this case.

That is the primary line of questioning for patent system opponents: Do patents encourage innovation beyond that which would occur with the natural rent seeking window? If so, does that marginal increase in innovation have a net positive effect on consumer access after factoring in the negative effects on consumer access caused by the increased rent seeking?

If after considering that line of questioning we decide that a patent system provides a net positive benefit, the question shifts to the details of the patent system and how best to maximize it's benefits. In order to keep this part as brief as possible, I'll just offer an example: Several years ago there was some economic research published that concluded that patents should be reduced to 3 years in length. This, they concluded, was adequate time to realize a handsome return on investment (thereby providing innovation incentive) while increasing consumer access by decreasing what they found to be an excessive monopoly window. And the copyright laws that keep getting extended to allow some content nearly 100 years of protection now? Forget about it, they said. All that does is decrease consumer access, not increase it.

So where do you stand, OT? Is a patent system necessary and, if so, what should it look like?

Yes, an IP system is needed.

I think the opponents of an IP system are people who have no clue how it works and just mimics something they have heard. Also, the excuse that it´s not really in tune with a free market, forgets that no market is truely free. Once a company reaches a certain size, they can literally kill any competition and monopoly is by definition not anywhere near a free market.

So yes a Patent system provides a positive. also without a system to protect inventions, people would simply stop since there would be no gain for them.

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#21 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -
@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

First of all, well done. As a dad I can aways appreciate a good pun.

@N30F3N1X said:

No. The purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation by granting inventors exclusive use of the inventions they can get a patent for.

That's just the intermediate carrot design to increase consumer access. The theory goes that such a system creates an incentive for that innovation which increases consumer access because it causes more products to come to market. We're saying the same thing despite your "no", you're just not taking it a step further to how it fulfills the root goal of economics.

@N30F3N1X said:

Third argument, economics: the guys who say that patents limit competition, supply and artificially raise prices either don't understand what patents are, don't understand what competition, supply and prices mean, or understand neither of them. Patents by definition cannot raise prices.

They are specifically designed to limit competition for the period of the patent which limits supply and artificially raises prices as an intentional side effect (thereby causing the carrot that's designed to spur innovation and increase consumer access).

@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

The part that followed this didn't actually address why anything I said was nonsense. That's 100% fine though because instead you followed it up with details about what you think a patent system should look like. Good contribution.

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#22 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:

@Serraph105: Rent seeking is an economic term used to describe the practice of increasing one's share of economic wealth without actually doing anything to create additional wealth. It can take many forms.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

I think he meant to ask something more specific. In the case of patents what is it that you're describing as rent-seeking behavior? Judging by your post it'd seem you mean to call the exclusivity of the patent holder, but in the context of patents the only rent seeking behavior one could accuse someone of is patent infringement.

Patent seeking is about as close to the definition of rent seeking as you can get. Patents are specifically designed to allow patent holders a period of protection against competition which allows them to charge higher costs. Any costs beyond those required to bring the goods to production are rent.

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#23 Edited by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:
@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

First of all, well done. As a dad I can aways appreciate a good pun.

@N30F3N1X said:

No. The purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation by granting inventors exclusive use of the inventions they can get a patent for.

That's just the intermediate carrot design to increase consumer access. The theory goes that such a system creates an incentive for that innovation which increases consumer access because it causes more products to come to market. We're saying the same thing despite your "no", you're just not taking it a step further to how it fulfills the root goal of economics.

@N30F3N1X said:

Third argument, economics: the guys who say that patents limit competition, supply and artificially raise prices either don't understand what patents are, don't understand what competition, supply and prices mean, or understand neither of them. Patents by definition cannot raise prices.

They are specifically designed to limit competition for the period of the patent which limits supply and artificially raises prices as an intentional side effect (thereby causing the carrot that's designed to spur innovation and increase consumer access).

@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

The part that followed this didn't actually address why anything I said was nonsense. That's 100% fine though because instead you followed it up with details about what you think a patent system should look like. Good contribution.

I'm not sure how anyone can argue a patent can artificially raise prices.

Patents are granted for commercially usable inventions. Say that you are a manufacturer of "product X". Someone else invents a way that changes one of the sub-processes that work together to give you X at the end and either makes a higher value X or a cheaper X (otherwise, you wouldn't care about said invention) and gets a patent for said invention.

If the patent holder is willing to concede licensing, you do your math, see if using the invention saves you enough money to make the royalties you have to pay to produce X with that new process worth it, and if it does you pay your royalties and get a cheaper process and a cheaper product.

If the holder ISN'T willing to concede licensing, you keep your process exactly as it is and absolutely nothing changes until the patent holder forces you to sell X cheaper because he is chipping away at your market share by selling the same thing for less than you were.

Also, patents aren't a tool that stems from economical theory, they're a tool of law. The first historical document recognized as a patent was granted to Filippo Brunelleschi in 1421 (if you ever visit Florence you're bound to run into some of the things he did) as the De Medici's way to recognize his genius for inventing a boat that could go upstream on a river, and the first patent systems were born in late 700-early 800 in the US and Europe, long before any economic theory was developed.

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#24 Edited by blaznwiipspman1 (6946 posts) -

@mattbbpl: excellent thread, it's about time we had a serious discussion on this topic. Let's be honest here, the real reason we have corporate taxes, or taxes on the rich is because of patents, IP, infinite trademarks and all the anti free market regulations the government throws around to prevent competition in the free market. People keep saying there is no such thing as a free market, I disagree. Get rid of the government and the courts, then we have a free market. I don't want such a situation, the government serves a purpose, and so do the courts. But both these institutions should not interfere in the free market except for environmental issues(resulting in tragedy of the commons) or very deep moral issues. Other than that, they should stay the eff out of the free market. The only thing the government has done with their interference is create monopolies after monopolies. Most of which would not exist today if it weren't for government interference. Look at Microsoft, apple, amazon, etc etc. None of them would exist today without the government. Sad state of affairs we live in.

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#25 Posted by comp_atkins (35232 posts) -

those against patents aren't clever enough to invent something themselves :P

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#26 Posted by Jacanuk (16417 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:
@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

First of all, well done. As a dad I can aways appreciate a good pun.

@N30F3N1X said:

No. The purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation by granting inventors exclusive use of the inventions they can get a patent for.

That's just the intermediate carrot design to increase consumer access. The theory goes that such a system creates an incentive for that innovation which increases consumer access because it causes more products to come to market. We're saying the same thing despite your "no", you're just not taking it a step further to how it fulfills the root goal of economics.

@N30F3N1X said:

Third argument, economics: the guys who say that patents limit competition, supply and artificially raise prices either don't understand what patents are, don't understand what competition, supply and prices mean, or understand neither of them. Patents by definition cannot raise prices.

They are specifically designed to limit competition for the period of the patent which limits supply and artificially raises prices as an intentional side effect (thereby causing the carrot that's designed to spur innovation and increase consumer access).

@N30F3N1X said:

This is...patent...nonsense.

The part that followed this didn't actually address why anything I said was nonsense. That's 100% fine though because instead you followed it up with details about what you think a patent system should look like. Good contribution.

I'm not sure how anyone can argue a patent can artificially raise prices.

Patents are granted for commercially usable inventions. Say that you are a manufacturer of "product X". Someone else invents a way that changes one of the sub-processes that work together to give you X at the end and either makes a higher value X or a cheaper X (otherwise, you wouldn't care about said invention) and gets a patent for said invention.

If the patent holder is willing to concede licensing, you do your math, see if using the invention saves you enough money to make the royalties you have to pay to produce X with that new process worth it, and if it does you pay your royalties and get a cheaper process and a cheaper product.

If the holder ISN'T willing to concede licensing, you keep your process exactly as it is and absolutely nothing changes until the patent holder forces you to sell X cheaper because he is chipping away at your market share by selling the same thing for less than you were.

Also, patents aren't a tool that stems from economical theory, they're a tool of law. The first historical document recognized as a patent was granted to Filippo Brunelleschi in 1421 (if you ever visit Florence you're bound to run into some of the things he did) as the De Medici's way to recognize his genius for inventing a boat that could go upstream on a river, and the first patent systems were born in late 700-early 800 in the US and Europe, long before any economic theory was developed.

You may want to mention that Patents are granted for actual inventions, not slight alterations on existing patents. Meaning that you can´t just alter X slightly and then obtain a patent.

Not to mention that the use of existing patents in your "invention" can also be a violation and can prohibit you from obtaining a new patent.

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#27 Edited by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:

I'm not sure how anyone can argue a patent can artificially raise prices.

Patents are granted for commercially usable inventions. Say that you are a manufacturer of "product X". Someone else invents a way that changes one of the sub-processes that work together to give you X at the end and either makes a higher value X or a cheaper X (otherwise, you wouldn't care about said invention) and gets a patent for said invention.

If the patent holder is willing to concede licensing, you do your math, see if using the invention saves you enough money to make the royalties you have to pay to produce X with that new process worth it, and if it does you pay your royalties and get a cheaper process and a cheaper product.

If the holder ISN'T willing to concede licensing, you keep your process exactly as it is and absolutely nothing changes until the patent holder forces you to sell X cheaper because he is chipping away at your market share by selling the same thing for less than you were.

Also, patents aren't a tool that stems from economical theory, they're a tool of law. The first historical document recognized as a patent was granted to Filippo Brunelleschi in 1421 (if you ever visit Florence you're bound to run into some of the things he did) as the De Medici's way to recognize his genius for inventing a boat that could go upstream on a river, and the first patent systems were born in late 700-early 800 in the US and Europe, long before any economic theory was developed.

I'm not sure why you think that tools of law can not be tools of economic theory. Taxes, tariffs, and subsidies are all both elements of law and economic tools to name a few. In fact, the moment that you argue that patents have the effect of spurring innovation, you concede that they're economic tools.

Patents raise prices because they limit competition and supply of the patented product. These having the effect of raising prices are basic tenets of modern economic theory - the supply/demand curve being the bedrock of.... well... just about everything, and that curve itself is based on the presumption of perfect competition. You're looking only at patents on input products that themselves cause efficiency gains, whereas the concepts at play involve rising prices on the products that are patented themselves. To put it more succinctly, you're talking about a specific type of product/process lowering the price of other goods of which it is an input, while the concepts at play concern higher prices of the patented product/process itself.

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#28 Edited by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:
You may want to mention that Patents are granted for actual inventions, not slight alterations on existing patents. Meaning that you can´t just alter X slightly and then obtain a patent.

Not to mention that the use of existing patents in your "invention" can also be a violation and can prohibit you from obtaining a new patent.

The first part is true, slight alterations of existing inventions go under the name of utility models and not fully-fledged inventions.

The second however is not. If you invent something that is good enough to get patented and that is based on an invention with a still active patent protecting it, you absolutely can get a patent.

As I said before a patent gives you a legal "stick" you can use to beat others with, it gives you the right to prevent others from exploiting your work, it does not give you freedom to operate. Meaning if you're in the aforementioned situation you can persecute others for using YOUR invention but you can't make use of your own invention.

One example is the Apple mouse. The first "mouse" patent if I recall correctly was held by an electronics company that worked for some other aviation company, it was a terrible eyesore of a pointing device that was a box with two wheels below it that could only move horizontally or vertically one at a time and its components made it require expert maintenance to be kept operative.

Apple invented the major improvement that was the home-use mouse with the ball and that only required cleaning from dust.

Apple's improvement was significant enough to earn them a patent, but they could not commercialize their mouse without the first mouse patent holder's consent, so they bought that patent for dirt cheap as it had a ridiculously small spread and wasn't considered valuable and banked on it. Had that company refused to sell the patent and refused to let Apple use it, history of PCs would've been much different.

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#29 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:
I'm not sure why you think that tools of law can not be tools of economic theory. Taxes, tariffs, and subsidies are all both elements of law and economic tools to name a few. In fact, the moment that you argue that patents have the effect of spurring innovation, you concede that they're economic tools.

Patents raise prices because they limit competition and supply of the patented product. These having the effect of raising prices are basic tenets of modern economic theory - the supply/demand curve being the bedrock of.... well... just about everything, and that curve itself is based on the presumption of perfect competition. You're looking only at patents on input products that themselves cause efficiency gains, whereas the concepts at play involve rising prices on the products that are patented themselves. To put it more succinctly, you're talking about a specific type of product/process lowering the price of other goods of which it is an input, while the concepts at play concern higher prices of the patented product/process itself.

I'm not arguing that patents aren't part of the economic system, I'm arguing that they do not originate from it, do not exist because of it, and should not follow its tenets, unlike what I seem to be understanding you to be arguing for in your first post.

As for the rest, I think you're missing out what the word "invention" means. "Invention" implies creating something that didn't exist before. If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product.

If I were the CEO of Helsinn why would I bother spending tons of cash investing in the research that brought us nimesulide if I were to be the only one that had to shoulder the entire economical burden of that research and everyone else could simply copy my work and profit off of it without giving me anything in return? Why not simply wait for someone else to invent some new drug and copy their work instead?

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#30 Edited by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:
I'm not sure why you think that tools of law can not be tools of economic theory. Taxes, tariffs, and subsidies are all both elements of law and economic tools to name a few. In fact, the moment that you argue that patents have the effect of spurring innovation, you concede that they're economic tools.

Patents raise prices because they limit competition and supply of the patented product. These having the effect of raising prices are basic tenets of modern economic theory - the supply/demand curve being the bedrock of.... well... just about everything, and that curve itself is based on the presumption of perfect competition. You're looking only at patents on input products that themselves cause efficiency gains, whereas the concepts at play involve rising prices on the products that are patented themselves. To put it more succinctly, you're talking about a specific type of product/process lowering the price of other goods of which it is an input, while the concepts at play concern higher prices of the patented product/process itself.

I'm not arguing that patents aren't part of the economic system, I'm arguing that they do not originate from it, do not exist because of it, and should not follow its tenets, unlike what I seem to be understanding you to be arguing for in your first post.

As for the rest, I think you're missing out what the word "invention" means. "Invention" implies creating something that didn't exist before. If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product.

If I were the CEO of Helsinn why would I bother spending tons of cash investing in the research that brought us nimesulide if I were to be the only one that had to shoulder the entire economical burden of that research and everyone else could simply copy my work and profit off of it without giving me anything in return? Why not simply wait for someone else to invent some new drug and copy their work instead?

Good. Then we should have no issue moving on. But they do by being by virtue of effecting the system. You effect patents, you effect the economy. If you're arguing that patents should be given no economic considerations whatsoever regardless of the consequences, then please say why, what considerations should be given to the patent system, and what the resulting system should look like. You started offering such details on the economic front earlier before arguing that they shouldn't be given economic considerations, so I'm curious how this new twist effects your ideal.

"If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product."

I don't, and I'm not arguing for it here. I'm just establishing definitions, considerations, and known effects. I made this thread specifically because other users continue to bring this topic up in completely unrelated threads.

I'm far more interested in exploring the preferred details of such a system such as those you mentioned earlier and those I requested earlier in this post.

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#31 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:
I'm not sure why you think that tools of law can not be tools of economic theory. Taxes, tariffs, and subsidies are all both elements of law and economic tools to name a few. In fact, the moment that you argue that patents have the effect of spurring innovation, you concede that they're economic tools.

Patents raise prices because they limit competition and supply of the patented product. These having the effect of raising prices are basic tenets of modern economic theory - the supply/demand curve being the bedrock of.... well... just about everything, and that curve itself is based on the presumption of perfect competition. You're looking only at patents on input products that themselves cause efficiency gains, whereas the concepts at play involve rising prices on the products that are patented themselves. To put it more succinctly, you're talking about a specific type of product/process lowering the price of other goods of which it is an input, while the concepts at play concern higher prices of the patented product/process itself.

I'm not arguing that patents aren't part of the economic system, I'm arguing that they do not originate from it, do not exist because of it, and should not follow its tenets, unlike what I seem to be understanding you to be arguing for in your first post.

As for the rest, I think you're missing out what the word "invention" means. "Invention" implies creating something that didn't exist before. If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product.

If I were the CEO of Helsinn why would I bother spending tons of cash investing in the research that brought us nimesulide if I were to be the only one that had to shoulder the entire economical burden of that research and everyone else could simply copy my work and profit off of it without giving me anything in return? Why not simply wait for someone else to invent some new drug and copy their work instead?

Well, for one, if everyone in the industry is thinking that they can just copy someone else then one of them would probably realize that idea doesn't work without someone to copy in the first place and take the initiative to innovate, if not for the desire to do something groundbreaking then out of simple self-interest. I think that's your first mistake, is assuming that the only reason anyone does anything is for simple financial gain.

Two, I work at a store that sells milk that's located across from another store that sells milk. Does the fact that they also sell milk give my store any less incentive to sell milk? No, here's your second error, thinking that it's not enough for people to simply sell their product, they have to make more money than anyone else who might be able to sell it as well. In fact, large portions of the economy operate with people selling similar products for similar prices, and those operations don't just throw up their arms and close up because they don't have a monopoly.

Three, almost every innovator has a natural monopoly, a period where only they know how to market their product during which competitors will play catch-up. They can spend that period further refining their product so that by the time competitors bring it to market they'll have a further leg up on the competition. Eventually this leads to diminishing returns, as the more time goes on the easier it will for competitors to enter the market, but the point of patents is not to kill competition indefinitely anyway. Further, it's not like most companies can just press ctrl+C and copy their competitors products anyway. It takes time and money to research, develop, test, and refine a competitor's product. Yes, it takes less time than initially developing it, but it's not free.

I think what's telling is that you didn't use the example of an inventor creating something in his basement, you used the example of a CEO. You're not describing how innovators themselves think, you're describing how investors who make money off those innovations think, and so what if getting rid of patents scares them away? If this is supposed to be about giving more money to the people who actually innovate then patents should be the exclusive property of the actual innovators, like the researchers who actually came up with the drug in your example. This isn't an argument over people getting what they deserve, this is an argument over who gets to exploit who and whether or not they should be able to use the government to do so. The fact of the matter is that the patent system is an enclosure of people's labor, and that enclosure allows their labor to be bought and sold by people who had little to nothing to do with it in the first place (see, @comeonman, not a derailment). If not being able to make more money than everyone else off an innovation would cause people to stop innovating then we wouldn't have had any innovations in at least the past 200 years, because it's extremely rare that the person who comes up with an innovation is the sole patent holder.

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#32 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

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#33 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

People who invent something are compensated for it without patents, it's called selling your product for money. Person X still has to research the product, develop a copycat product, and bring it to market. They can't just "sit on their ass" and get money for something someone else did.

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#34 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

People who invent something are compensated for it without patents, it's called selling your product for money. Person X still has to research the product, develop a copycat product, and bring it to market. They can't just "sit on their ass" and get money for something someone else did.

There is a vast difference between someone generating an idea, researching it, developing it, bringing it to marker and someone who buys it and reverse engineers it.

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#35 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:
@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

People who invent something are compensated for it without patents, it's called selling your product for money. Person X still has to research the product, develop a copycat product, and bring it to market. They can't just "sit on their ass" and get money for something someone else did.

There is a vast difference between someone generating an idea, researching it, developing it, bringing it to marker and someone who buys it and reverse engineers it.

Well, there's a difference, I don't know about vast. Reverse engineering still takes time, money, and effort, and while it's being reverse engineered the person who engineered it in the first place is selling it with next to no competition and can improve the product so that when it's reverse-engineered his product will be better than his competitor's.

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#36 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:
@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

People who invent something are compensated for it without patents, it's called selling your product for money. Person X still has to research the product, develop a copycat product, and bring it to market. They can't just "sit on their ass" and get money for something someone else did.

There is a vast difference between someone generating an idea, researching it, developing it, bringing it to marker and someone who buys it and reverse engineers it.

Well, there's a difference, I don't know about vast. Reverse engineering still takes time, money, and effort, and while it's being reverse engineered the person who engineered it in the first place is selling it with next to no competition and can improve the product so that when it's reverse-engineered his product will be better than his competitor's.

So what is your argument? Do you think there should or should not be protection for those investing money in innovation? Bear in mind that not all ideas pan out and that cost is absorbed as well.

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#37 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:
Good. Then we should have no issue moving on. But they do by being by virtue of effecting the system. You effect patents, you effect the economy. If you're arguing that patents should be given no economic considerations whatsoever regardless of the consequences, then please say why, what considerations should be given to the patent system, and what the resulting system should look like. You started offering such details on the economic front earlier before arguing that they shouldn't be given economic considerations, so I'm curious how this new twist effects your ideal.

"If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product."

I don't, and I'm not arguing for it here. I'm just establishing definitions, considerations, and known effects. I made this thread specifically because other users continue to bring this topic up in completely unrelated threads.

I'm far more interested in exploring the preferred details of such a system such as those you mentioned earlier and those I requested earlier in this post.

I didn't say they shouldn't be given economic consideration. I said they shouldn't ONLY be given economic consideration. Keeping coma patients alive makes no sense economically, so why do we do it? Because there are more aspects to be considered than purely economical ones. Get it?

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#38 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:
Good. Then we should have no issue moving on. But they do by being by virtue of effecting the system. You effect patents, you effect the economy. If you're arguing that patents should be given no economic considerations whatsoever regardless of the consequences, then please say why, what considerations should be given to the patent system, and what the resulting system should look like. You started offering such details on the economic front earlier before arguing that they shouldn't be given economic considerations, so I'm curious how this new twist effects your ideal.

"If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product."

I don't, and I'm not arguing for it here. I'm just establishing definitions, considerations, and known effects. I made this thread specifically because other users continue to bring this topic up in completely unrelated threads.

I'm far more interested in exploring the preferred details of such a system such as those you mentioned earlier and those I requested earlier in this post.

I didn't say they shouldn't be given economic consideration. I said they shouldn't ONLY be given economic consideration. Keeping coma patients alive makes no sense economically, so why do we do it? Because there are more aspects to be considered than purely economical ones. Get it?

That's a flawed analogy.

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#39 Edited by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@theone86 said:
Well, for one, if everyone in the industry is thinking that they can just copy someone else then one of them would probably realize that idea doesn't work without someone to copy in the first place and take the initiative to innovate, if not for the desire to do something groundbreaking then out of simple self-interest. I think that's your first mistake, is assuming that the only reason anyone does anything is for simple financial gain.

Two, I work at a store that sells milk that's located across from another store that sells milk. Does the fact that they also sell milk give my store any less incentive to sell milk? No, here's your second error, thinking that it's not enough for people to simply sell their product, they have to make more money than anyone else who might be able to sell it as well. In fact, large portions of the economy operate with people selling similar products for similar prices, and those operations don't just throw up their arms and close up because they don't have a monopoly.

Three, almost every innovator has a natural monopoly, a period where only they know how to market their product during which competitors will play catch-up. They can spend that period further refining their product so that by the time competitors bring it to market they'll have a further leg up on the competition. Eventually this leads to diminishing returns, as the more time goes on the easier it will for competitors to enter the market, but the point of patents is not to kill competition indefinitely anyway. Further, it's not like most companies can just press ctrl+C and copy their competitors products anyway. It takes time and money to research, develop, test, and refine a competitor's product. Yes, it takes less time than initially developing it, but it's not free.

I think what's telling is that you didn't use the example of an inventor creating something in his basement, you used the example of a CEO. You're not describing how innovators themselves think, you're describing how investors who make money off those innovations think, and so what if getting rid of patents scares them away? If this is supposed to be about giving more money to the people who actually innovate then patents should be the exclusive property of the actual innovators, like the researchers who actually came up with the drug in your example. This isn't an argument over people getting what they deserve, this is an argument over who gets to exploit who and whether or not they should be able to use the government to do so. The fact of the matter is that the patent system is an enclosure of people's labor, and that enclosure allows their labor to be bought and sold by people who had little to nothing to do with it in the first place (see, @comeonman, not a derailment). If not being able to make more money than everyone else off an innovation would cause people to stop innovating then we wouldn't have had any innovations in at least the past 200 years, because it's extremely rare that the person who comes up with an innovation is the sole patent holder.

1) At no point did I say the only reason anyone does anything is for financial gain. I've known enough researchers to know that if their sole desire was to make money they'd rather work at a bar or in a supermarket. However if you'd ever seen something called Maslow's pyramid of needs you'd know making sure that you can eat your next meals and have a bed to sleep in comes before making the unlikely once in a lifetime big discovery. And less basic than that, the optical table I work on is sold for 4000€ by the manufacturer, the microscope I use is 2000€, the micromotors I use to move my samples under the microscope are 500 for each of the three I use, the laser generator, powermeter, lens aligner and optical spectrum analyzer are almost 2 millions in total. How would the research center I work in get the money for that equipment if they couldn't monetize the research they make because anyone could just walk in, copy some file from a computer and obtain the knowledge all the researchers have accumulated without doing any of the work they have done?

Your argument is self-defeating: the system that makes sure everyone has to stay in line and not copy impudently is the patent system itself.

2)Uhhh yes it does. They're literally your competitor, by definition they give you less incentive to sell milk. Don't understand what the rest of what you wrote in point 2 has to do with what I wrote. You know patents can be sold, given away, and licensed, right? The reason they're called intellectual property is because they are by all means and purposes treatable as property.

3) You're the one making a huge mistake here. As I already addressed before patent holders are not always also manufacturers. Research centers and universities do not make money by selling end-user product, they make money by selling intellectual property to the manufacturers.

Your last paragraph is 1/4th things I already addressed in point 1 and 3/4th pure gibberish. First of all, all patents report who the inventors of the applied invention are, and that is an inalienable right. Second, I assume you've never seen work in a research center before, otherwise you'd know it takes a fuckton of time invested from a fuckton of people to get any relevant result, let alone an invention worth being patented, and none of those people would be able to invent anything if they didn't have those evil CEO overlords providing them with toys to work with and financing their playtime in the labs. That's the reason why it's companies and not CEOs who are patent holders. Your average drug takes about 7 years and several tens of millions to billions of dollars in research to go from in vitro studies to the pharmacy shelves due to all the health regulations that are present in the civilized world. The "actual inventors" would be dying of hunger long before they could exploit their inventions if no one else had any incentive to make them work.

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#40 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:
@N30F3N1X said:
@mattbbpl said:
Good. Then we should have no issue moving on. But they do by being by virtue of effecting the system. You effect patents, you effect the economy. If you're arguing that patents should be given no economic considerations whatsoever regardless of the consequences, then please say why, what considerations should be given to the patent system, and what the resulting system should look like. You started offering such details on the economic front earlier before arguing that they shouldn't be given economic considerations, so I'm curious how this new twist effects your ideal.

"If you think it's a bad thing for the inventor of something to have an exclusivity in its use please explain to me how would the creator of a new product be rewarded for his work in realizing that product."

I don't, and I'm not arguing for it here. I'm just establishing definitions, considerations, and known effects. I made this thread specifically because other users continue to bring this topic up in completely unrelated threads.

I'm far more interested in exploring the preferred details of such a system such as those you mentioned earlier and those I requested earlier in this post.

I didn't say they shouldn't be given economic consideration. I said they shouldn't ONLY be given economic consideration. Keeping coma patients alive makes no sense economically, so why do we do it? Because there are more aspects to be considered than purely economical ones. Get it?

That's a flawed analogy.

Thank you for your deeply insightful and completely non-trivial contribution to the conversation.

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#41 Posted by mattbbpl (15886 posts) -

@N30F3N1X: That's cool and all all. I'm trying to get you to expound on them (and how you'd shape the system in response).

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#42 Posted by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@mattbbpl said:

@N30F3N1X: That's cool and all all. I'm trying to get you to expound on them (and how you'd shape the system in response).

Not much to shape. As far as I'm concerned the system is fine as it is in principle, the only change I'd make is to shorten the coverage period for semiconductor topographies and mechanical parts, although I wouldn't dare consider myself knowledgeable enough to say how much precisely.

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#43 Posted by theone86 (22134 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:
@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:
@theone86 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:

I'm not sure why you guys are arguing about patents. If someone has an invention then they deserve to be compensated for it and the R and D they did. Person X who did nothing but sit on his ass should not be allowed to steal that idea and profit himself.

People who invent something are compensated for it without patents, it's called selling your product for money. Person X still has to research the product, develop a copycat product, and bring it to market. They can't just "sit on their ass" and get money for something someone else did.

There is a vast difference between someone generating an idea, researching it, developing it, bringing it to marker and someone who buys it and reverse engineers it.

Well, there's a difference, I don't know about vast. Reverse engineering still takes time, money, and effort, and while it's being reverse engineered the person who engineered it in the first place is selling it with next to no competition and can improve the product so that when it's reverse-engineered his product will be better than his competitor's.

So what is your argument? Do you think there should or should not be protection for those investing money in innovation? Bear in mind that not all ideas pan out and that cost is absorbed as well.

Protection? No. Does anyone else get protection for when they don't do enough business? Hell, I get crap my way when our sales are down and sales aren't even my department. You make something that sells or you go out of business, just like everybody else.

@N30F3N1X said:
@theone86 said:
Well, for one, if everyone in the industry is thinking that they can just copy someone else then one of them would probably realize that idea doesn't work without someone to copy in the first place and take the initiative to innovate, if not for the desire to do something groundbreaking then out of simple self-interest. I think that's your first mistake, is assuming that the only reason anyone does anything is for simple financial gain.

Two, I work at a store that sells milk that's located across from another store that sells milk. Does the fact that they also sell milk give my store any less incentive to sell milk? No, here's your second error, thinking that it's not enough for people to simply sell their product, they have to make more money than anyone else who might be able to sell it as well. In fact, large portions of the economy operate with people selling similar products for similar prices, and those operations don't just throw up their arms and close up because they don't have a monopoly.

Three, almost every innovator has a natural monopoly, a period where only they know how to market their product during which competitors will play catch-up. They can spend that period further refining their product so that by the time competitors bring it to market they'll have a further leg up on the competition. Eventually this leads to diminishing returns, as the more time goes on the easier it will for competitors to enter the market, but the point of patents is not to kill competition indefinitely anyway. Further, it's not like most companies can just press ctrl+C and copy their competitors products anyway. It takes time and money to research, develop, test, and refine a competitor's product. Yes, it takes less time than initially developing it, but it's not free.

I think what's telling is that you didn't use the example of an inventor creating something in his basement, you used the example of a CEO. You're not describing how innovators themselves think, you're describing how investors who make money off those innovations think, and so what if getting rid of patents scares them away? If this is supposed to be about giving more money to the people who actually innovate then patents should be the exclusive property of the actual innovators, like the researchers who actually came up with the drug in your example. This isn't an argument over people getting what they deserve, this is an argument over who gets to exploit who and whether or not they should be able to use the government to do so. The fact of the matter is that the patent system is an enclosure of people's labor, and that enclosure allows their labor to be bought and sold by people who had little to nothing to do with it in the first place (see, @comeonman, not a derailment). If not being able to make more money than everyone else off an innovation would cause people to stop innovating then we wouldn't have had any innovations in at least the past 200 years, because it's extremely rare that the person who comes up with an innovation is the sole patent holder.

1) At no point did I say the only reason anyone does anything is for financial gain. I've known enough researchers to know that if their sole desire was to make money they'd rather work at a bar or in a supermarket. However if you'd ever seen something called Maslow's pyramid of needs you'd know making sure that you can eat your next meals and have a bed to sleep in comes before making the unlikely once in a lifetime big discovery. And less basic than that, the optical table I work on is sold for 4000€ by the manufacturer, the microscope I use is 2000€, the micromotors I use to move my samples under the microscope are 500 for each of the three I use, the laser generator, powermeter, lens aligner and optical spectrum analyzer are almost 2 millions in total. How would the research center I work in get the money for that equipment if they couldn't monetize the research they make because anyone could just walk in, copy some file from a computer and obtain the knowledge all the researchers have accumulated without doing any of the work they have done?

Your argument is self-defeating: the system that makes sure everyone has to stay in line and not copy impudently is the patent system itself.

2)Uhhh yes it does. They're literally your competitor, by definition they give you less incentive to sell milk. Don't understand what the rest of what you wrote in point 2 has to do with what I wrote. You know patents can be sold, given away, and licensed, right? The reason they're called intellectual property is because they are by all means and purposes treatable as property.

3) You're the one making a huge mistake here. As I already addressed before patent holders are not always also manufacturers. Research centers and universities do not make money by selling end-user product, they make money by selling intellectual property to the manufacturers.

Your last paragraph is 1/4th things I already addressed in point 1 and 3/4th pure gibberish. First of all, all patents report who the inventors of the applied invention are, and that is an inalienable right. Second, I assume you've never seen work in a research center before, otherwise you'd know it takes a fuckton of time invested from a fuckton of people to get any relevant result, let alone an invention worth being patented, and none of those people would be able to invent anything if they didn't have those evil CEO overlords providing them with toys to work with and financing their playtime in the labs. That's the reason why it's companies and not CEOs who are patent holders. Your average drug takes about 7 years and several tens of millions to billions of dollars in research to go from in vitro studies to the pharmacy shelves due to all the health regulations that are present in the civilized world. The "actual inventors" would be dying of hunger long before they could exploit their inventions if no one else had any incentive to make them work.

I think this is the first time I've ever heard Maslow invoked in relation to CEOs. They'd be sleeping on the streets without patents? Hmmmm...what should my response be? Oh, I know:

Loading Video...

I think you're making a perfect argument for the common ownership of the means of production. And I never said that anyone would be able to walk in and copy their research (strawman). They can still keep their data and research on private computers and hard drives. They just can't prevent people from replicating their research once it gets to market.

I'll reiterate this point because I think it bears repeating: if investors need exclusive control over their product to motivate them to invest in research then why don't innovators themselves need exclusive control to motivate them to innovate? What is the point of the patent system? Is it pragmatic, or is it to protect rights? If it's the former then there's an argument to be had, but if it's the latter then I don't know how it's right that investors control the patents of innovators. You seem to want to straddle the line between the two, and I don't know that you can.

And yet both stores still sell milk. Am I the one who doesn't understand things?

Yes, my exact point is that IP's are property and if the point of IPs is strictly about rights then they shouldn't be treated as property. Alienation of man from the product of his labor. This isn't an inherent situation, this is the result of the system we've set up. We could just as easily create a system where the innovators themselves receive the lion's share of the profit from their innovations. Instead we've commodified their intellect and allowed it to be traded by people who have nothing to do with their innovations. Who profits more from that? The innovators who might see a slight boost in profitability, or the traders who wouldn't have anything to trade if they hadn't first created it?

And what is intellectual property? Research papers? Data? These are tangible things that can be monetized without creating an entirely new class of thing. You can sell actual data to a manufacturer without the concept of IPs. IPs only concern someone taking the end product, reverse-engineering it to acquire the data, and then using that data to manufacture it themselves. As I've said, if people can do that work themselves then why shouldn't they profit from it? At that point you have two parties making the same product, which one profits more is about which one is able to deliver the better product, otherwise known as competition, which I thought was a cornerstone of capitalism. Perhaps I'm wrong? Also, who's to say what would happen in a world without IPs? Maybe we would get more researchers who are also manufacturers, or working in tandem with manufacturers, would that be such a bad thing?

If it's inalienable then why can it be sold? You can report on who the original innovator all you like, the point is that corporations make more off of the innovation than the actual innovator. If your supposition about needing monetary compensation in order to innovate was correct, then why do innovators bother to innovate at all? Shouldn't they all quit or commit hari kari because someone out there is making more money off their innovation than they are?

I think you're again proving my point for me. You're already describing the collectivization of the means of production, just not its common ownership. The only difference between the two seems to be that under one everyone who creates something receives profit from its sale, and under the other one person maintains total control over profit and divvies out a small portion of it to their subordinates. We're not arguing about the structure of the workplace itself, we're arguing about how democratic or undemocratic it should be.

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#44 Edited by N30F3N1X (8822 posts) -

@theone86 said:
I think this is the first time I've ever heard Maslow invoked in relation to CEOs. They'd be sleeping on the streets without patents? Hmmmm...what should my response be? Oh, I know:

I think you're making a perfect argument for the common ownership of the means of production. And I never said that anyone would be able to walk in and copy their research (strawman). They can still keep their data and research on private computers and hard drives. They just can't prevent people from replicating their research once it gets to market.

I'll reiterate this point because I think it bears repeating: if investors need exclusive control over their product to motivate them to invest in research then why don't innovators themselves need exclusive control to motivate them to innovate? What is the point of the patent system? Is it pragmatic, or is it to protect rights? If it's the former then there's an argument to be had, but if it's the latter then I don't know how it's right that investors control the patents of innovators. You seem to want to straddle the line between the two, and I don't know that you can.

And yet both stores still sell milk. Am I the one who doesn't understand things?

Yes, my exact point is that IP's are property and if the point of IPs is strictly about rights then they shouldn't be treated as property. Alienation of man from the product of his labor. This isn't an inherent situation, this is the result of the system we've set up. We could just as easily create a system where the innovators themselves receive the lion's share of the profit from their innovations. Instead we've commodified their intellect and allowed it to be traded by people who have nothing to do with their innovations. Who profits more from that? The innovators who might see a slight boost in profitability, or the traders who wouldn't have anything to trade if they hadn't first created it?

And what is intellectual property? Research papers? Data? These are tangible things that can be monetized without creating an entirely new class of thing. You can sell actual data to a manufacturer without the concept of IPs. IPs only concern someone taking the end product, reverse-engineering it to acquire the data, and then using that data to manufacture it themselves. As I've said, if people can do that work themselves then why shouldn't they profit from it? At that point you have two parties making the same product, which one profits more is about which one is able to deliver the better product, otherwise known as competition, which I thought was a cornerstone of capitalism. Perhaps I'm wrong? Also, who's to say what would happen in a world without IPs? Maybe we would get more researchers who are also manufacturers, or working in tandem with manufacturers, would that be such a bad thing?

If it's inalienable then why can it be sold? You can report on who the original innovator all you like, the point is that corporations make more off of the innovation than the actual innovator. If your supposition about needing monetary compensation in order to innovate was correct, then why do innovators bother to innovate at all? Shouldn't they all quit or commit hari kari because someone out there is making more money off their innovation than they are?

I think you're again proving my point for me. You're already describing the collectivization of the means of production, just not its common ownership. The only difference between the two seems to be that under one everyone who creates something receives profit from its sale, and under the other one person maintains total control over profit and divvies out a small portion of it to their subordinates. We're not arguing about the structure of the workplace itself, we're arguing about how democratic or undemocratic it should be.

Can you even read? I didn't invoke Maslow's pyramid for CEOs, I invoked it for researchers, I didn't even mention CEOs until point 4. Are you reading things backwards?

You're the one making an argument AGAINST common ownership. If the only way to protect data was industrial secret, it'd be enough for one guy who has access to said files to reach out to someone in the industry behind everyone else's back and get a deal to fill his pockets with for that data to become public domain and the other guys who contributed in creating that data would get absolutely nothing in return. Way to go, hotshot.

Yes, you're the one who doesn't understand things. Try and picture if you walked outside your store, looked left and right, and substituted all buildings you have around you with milk stores. How many people do you know would still come to YOUR store? Now do you understand what COMPETITION means?

Companies own IP because they're the ones who ALLOW THAT IP TO EXIST. I already said this before. How would the research center I work at pay for the 2 mill plus equipment I work with if they couldn't monetize the knowledge they produce?

What kind of stupid question is that? They shouldn't profit from it because reverse-engineering something takes a lot less time than engineering it. A world without IPs is what we had more than two centuries ago. We had such a higher QoL and so many more researchers back then didn't we? Your "maybe"s are based on what exactly, the numbers you pulled out of your ass without the least amount of understanding of the world that surrounds you?

It can be sold because being the holder and being the inventor aren't the same thing. Do you even understand what those words mean? The innovator wouldn't be doing the innovator if there was no corporation to back him up. How many times do I have to write this for you to get it? And if the researchers felt they could and wanted to make more money or innovations without the corporation they're working for backing them up they're absolutely free to fire themselves and go set up their own research center.

You don't even understand half the things you're talking about. You're the one making points for me just because you answer not only not knowing what you're talking about but assuming that your extremely limited understanding is enough for you to be able to come up with a better system than centuries of lawmakers and inventors have done.

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#45 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

@theone86: That's a simplistic way to look at patents. If we don't protect work that others do then they will never make money on their work. It costs a lot of money to bring something to production and those costs are absorbed in the cost of the item. If I can take your work and copy it then I can always undercut you. And if that is case then no one is going to spend money developing new and better products etc. There has to be some safety net for their expense.

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#46 Posted by Jacanuk (16417 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:

@theone86: That's a simplistic way to look at patents. If we don't protect work that others do then they will never make money on their work. It costs a lot of money to bring something to production and those costs are absorbed in the cost of the item. If I can take your work and copy it then I can always undercut you. And if that is case then no one is going to spend money developing new and better products etc. There has to be some safety net for their expense.

Spot on LJS, but I doubt you will make One see that.

In his scenario, you can simply make a good product and the world is so perfect that no one will come and produce something that is equal in appearance and undercut the price Too bad we live in the real world where if there was no protection the mega-corporations would stay at the top because they have the money and power to undercut anyone and simply force them out of business.

There is a reason why both the US and the EU have monopoly laws.

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#47 Posted by blaznwiipspman1 (6946 posts) -

@Jacanuk: without patents, I doubt mega corps would exist. It's not really that hard to understand. Who has the most to lose if we gut patent laws and open up the market to real free market economics? The big corporations or the little guy who has nothing?

It's not a hard question, come on, think about it

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#48 Posted by blaznwiipspman1 (6946 posts) -

I have an analogy. Restaurant businesses are fluorishing everywhere. In a way the food industry is similar to the pharmaceuticals. They both involve recipes of some kind that need to be cooked. However for the food industry that is completely open, competition is thriving, jobs (although mostly minimum wage) are abundant. It's a thriving beautiful and open industry with millions of restaurants out there. Innovation and new food ideas come at staggering pace. On the other hand, pharma is a big time joke. There are a handful of manufacturers that controls the industry and it only enriches a few people. Innovation is slow and competition is non existent. You have a few idiots dictating the price with their profit baked in. They need to buy their yacht after all. Pharma isn't free market, it's a socialist commie paradise.

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#49 Posted by LJS9502_basic (164991 posts) -

@blaznwiipspman1 said:

I have an analogy. Restaurant businesses are fluorishing everywhere. In a way the food industry is similar to the pharmaceuticals. They both involve recipes of some kind that need to be cooked. However for the food industry that is completely open, competition is thriving, jobs (although mostly minimum wage) are abundant. It's a thriving beautiful and open industry with millions of restaurants out there. Innovation and new food ideas come at staggering pace. On the other hand, pharma is a big time joke. There are a handful of manufacturers that controls the industry and it only enriches a few people. Innovation is slow and competition is non existent. You have a few idiots dictating the price with their profit baked in. They need to buy their yacht after all. Pharma isn't free market, it's a socialist commie paradise.

That's a terrible analogy. Anyone can cook. You don't need the restaurant to do so. In fact your analogy works in the opposite way. If I can do it myself then I'm not going to pay you even though you spent all the money developing it. You're going to take a bloodbath and be out of business.

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#50 Posted by Jacanuk (16417 posts) -

@blaznwiipspman1 said:

@Jacanuk: without patents, I doubt mega corps would exist. It's not really that hard to understand. Who has the most to lose if we gut patent laws and open up the market to real free market economics? The big corporations or the little guy who has nothing?

It's not a hard question, come on, think about it

I am puzzled by your logic, what do you think mega-corporations are?

How do you think those corporations begin? you know how McD began? or Amazon? or Microsoft? Apple?

Patents are there to protect inventors, especially the small