My alternative busines model

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Thu Dec 5 22:55:24 UTC 2002

On 5 Dec 2002 at 13:13, Jan Wildeboer wrote:

> Well - I can agree partially with that. Capitalism and entrepeneurship
> aims at making money. The best and most reliable way (and thus the
> thing market members try  to gain) is an unfair advantage in your
> specific market. This unfair advantage makes your offer outstanding
> from the rest of your market members thus creating more opportunities
> for you - if you can retain the unfair advantage.
> If your specific unfair advantage is strong enough you will eventually
> monopolize your market which is always the best to have. This is
> happening all the time and it is not worth noting. It is the way
> capitalism works. No news here.

Yep, this is more or less what I meant. Capitalism tends towards 
monopolies and we have artificial constraints to try and prevent them 
eg; anti-trust law.

> > The "artificial legal restraints" are what grants the current set of
> > business monopolies: copyrights and patents.  There is nothing
> > natural or innate about one business being able to prevent its
> > competitor from mimicking its public methods.
> And exactly that is why these restraints have been incorporated. But
> not by the public - it all happened based on lobbying from market
> members that either want to protect their market or break a monopoly
> of someone else. It is about both retaining and controlling the unfair
> advantage.

I agree to an extent. I still feel patents /can/ do more good than 
harm ie; the original idea is sound. Patents should in theory be anti-
monopoly because they permit fresh blood to break the big competitor 
with an innovative new product. The short lifespan of patents 
prevents a monopoly preventing competition by generic clones.

However the modern patent system left those founding principles a 
long time ago and no more so than with software patents which 
encourage monopolies and prevent all smaller players completely.

> > We have found a way that copyrights can be used for the opposite
> > goal: to prevent monopolies; and I hope that someone has found or
> > will soon find a similar tool for patents.  The difficulty is that
> > we are probably further behind on the patent "arms race" than the
> > copyright one.
> Copyright has one big difference. It is gained by creating and
> protected automatically (EU-speaking here) and is free whereas patents
> are expensive and not a common good.

Copyright is fine for something where the average human can see the 
similarities. If you asked the average judge to say if one pump 
infringed on the copyright of another pump, I'd say they'd be hard 

The original thought on patents was that they were supposed to be 
cheap. Since their price has escalated and escalated where it can now 
be 20,000 euro for a single patent in the US. Again, that's fine for 
big corporations but useless for small startups.

> > Maybe abolishing these legal restraints would be a good thing, but
> > that would be a very large structural change and I doubt we could
> > forsee the outcome reliably.  Anyone up for a gamble?
> The implementation of the patent and copyright protection was exactly
> that: a large structural change. No need to fear yet another change
> ;-)

Returning patents to what they were originally I think would be a 
good idea. One problem all human endeavour has is that the rich and 
powerful can overly influence concepts originally for the public good 
and twist them for their own personal gain at a cost to the public. 
Eventually I'm sure the public will say no as they always do, and 
reform will be put in motion. If not, we'll go the same way the Roman 
empire did. Either way, it'll be large structural change :)


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