Analysis on balance: Standardisation and Patents

simo simo.sorce at
Thu Dec 4 07:16:56 UTC 2008

On Wed, 2008-12-03 at 13:52 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> simo <simo.sorce at> wrote:
> > On Wed, 2008-12-03 at 00:55 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> > > Aren't patents claimed to reward "the true and first inventor"?
> > > (Statute of Monopolies, 1624, England)
> Aside to another thread: I know that's old, but it appears to be the
> last time someone justified a patent law here and the UK Patent Office
> still refers to it.
> [...]
> > > The risk-takers are the workers and they are the ones that should be
> > > rewarded in a fair way
> >
> > Workers, if by that term you mean employers, are seldom risk takers.
> No, I mean the workers.  Often that means the employees, but I don't
> think the patent system should be aimed at employee-employer
> combinations, which is how it seems at present.  Independent workers
> are important.

Ok if you had used the word Inventors that would have been clearer.
Yes Inventors are risk takers usually, whether they are commercial
ventures or individuals on their own.

> > >  - and that isn't done by granting them a
> > > monopoly which they are ill-placed to profit from.
> >
> > So you are against copyright too ? It's a monopoly you know ...
> Are workers ill-placed to profit from it?  Arguably still yes, but it
> seems a lot less clear-cut than for patents: copyright is granted for
> free, while patents cost hundreds of pounds in form-filing fees alone;
> copyright material can be exploited by almost anyone now, while patent
> exploitation seems to involve thousands of pounds of legal fees.

In this case I guess by workers you mean independent inventors/creators
(patents/copyrights). Yes the patent system is extremely adverse to the
poor inventor. It is one of the first myth you usually have to debunk
when you talk to a patent illiterate. The myth claims that the patent
will save the inventor from the evil companies that want to exploit his
inventions without giving him anything back. But truth is that the
*poor* independent inventor will never have the money to file a patent
at all. But even if this is just a moderately poor inventor and manages
to get a patent he will still be ill-equipped to defend himself both
from patent trolls and from huge patent portfolio holders that have
dozens of other patents and also the means to bankrupt him before he can
even sell one of his inventions.

So if you meant independent inventor I am totally with you, the patent
system certainly does not serve this figure, except for very marginal
cases, the proverbial exceptions that confirm the rule (and this rare
cases are of course always used as examples to validate the myth of the
poor inventor that becomes rich thanks to a patent).

> > >   There should be a
> > > unambiguous blanket ban on software patents so that software workers
> > > can get on with working, without fearing submarine patents.
> >
> > I am against software patents as well, but you should use better
> > arguments imo.
> So fair trade and worker benefit are not good arguments to you?  Then
> I leave you to make better arguments to people you understand, because
> I don't understand your values.

Pragmatically it really depend who you are making your case to.
It's not a matter of understanding what people know and understand of
the patent system (including most of our mighty ignorant politicians)
and which arguments are effective in making them get the point.
My personal values really have nothing to do with the discussion.


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