That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet galactus at
Mon Dec 16 18:12:06 UTC 2002

Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
> On Mon, 2002-12-16 at 17:22, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
> > Methods and products, I hope you mean. The basic idea is to
> > give the patent holder a temporary monopoly so he can sell
> > his invention for a nice profit. That's the encouragement:
> > tell us your invention and make lots of money!
> Not counting that gaining money with patents is a lot like winning the
> lottery, I'd like to know what makes you thing you have the right to
> *make*lots*of*money* (ATTN: not try to make but make) with something you
> did, and that it should be "protected" with a monopoly?

Patent law gives me that right, so I guess I have it. The
idea being patents is to encourage (technological) innovation
by providing a temporary monopoloy. Like the US constitution
puts it, "to promote the science and useful arts".

With my monopoly I am able to stop others from practicing the
invention. This allows me to control the market, either by
forcing competitors off the market or by making them pay me
money (a license). So if I patent my invention, I can either
be the only supplier on the market (and thus make big profits)
or I can get lots of money from my competitors (and thus make 
big profits). Like Abraham Lincoln said, "patents add the
fuel of interest to the fire of invention".

So how can giving a monopoly encourage innovation? Well, in
return for the monopoly I must reveal my invention. After the
monopoly runs out, society is free to use my invention, and
because of my disclosure society *can* use my invention. Also,
because of my disclosure others can build upon it and do more

Well, of course you can ask the question why patent law
works this way. I suppose the reason is that it seems to
match the principles of capitalism: people are greedy and
want to make money. So you offer them a way to make money,
and you ensure that that way also has benefits for society.

Kind regards,

Arnoud Engelfriet

Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:

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