That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Rui Miguel Seabra rms at
Mon Dec 16 18:26:59 UTC 2002

On Mon, 2002-12-16 at 18:12, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
> 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".

I did not ask what law gave you that right, but *what* makes you think
you have that right and that it should be protected by law.

Science and other useful arts have developed rather well from the stone
age up to now, I'd say...

> 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".

How exactly can you tell you're not violating someone's patent while
implementing your "invention"?
If that someone has a patent that you violate -- yes, even without
intention -- can't he exhort that power in order to force you into

What if that someone has thousands of patents and/or is already a big
business? Won't that mean that for some peanuts he got your idea, will
make money from it, and you're left sobbing in the corner?

What if you don't have enough money to register the patent and someone
learns about it and registers that idea first? Won't you be left sobbing
in the corner as well?

> 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
> inventions.

How long does a patent live? Isn't one year *a long time* in software?
That software... could it not be obsolete by then?

> 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.

Have you noticed that patent and copyright law protect monopolies? How
many other laws do that? I may be wrong but most laws are not favourable
toward monopolies...


+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part
URL: <>

More information about the Discussion mailing list