My view on patents

What a F*%ked up system…

How the Patent System Really Works
posted by David Hitz @ NetApp

When David refers to "BigCo" in his post, I’m sure he really means Big Blue.  According to IBM’s own website, they earn $1 billion each year directly from licensing their intellectual property.  They are the biggest contributor/benefactor in the mess that is our patent system.

Call me naive, but I’m one of those guys who David mentions wants nothing to do with the U.S. patent system.  When I visit a small company’s website and I see the words "patent pending", my first thought is that this company is investing the limited resources that they have into the wrong things.  Usually my second thought is "Wow, you can patent that?"

If it were up to me, I’d add a complexity requirement to new patents.  Don’t just grant a patent to somebody who happened to be the first person to document a very simple process.  Require that the process or invention be complicated; not something so simple and non-revolutionary that nobody has bothered to write it down yet.

My view all comes down to this…

People should be rewarded with a patent when they invest a lot of
resources into their invention, not when they invest a lot of resources
solely into their patent application. 
Basic ideas that are invented via the natural evolution of other ideas, need to be owned by the community, not by one company or one individual.  Adding a complexity requirement to the invention would solve this.

Ironically, IBM claims to be working on initiatives to modernize the patent system.  They are pushing for positive changes such as a community review system with social networking components and patent quality and complexity indexes.  But these indexes are intended to be a means of rating a patent or patent app, not a requirement as I think we need.  And just because IBM’s PR spin shows them attempting to correct the problem, don’t expect them to stop exploiting the current system until there is nothing left to exploit.

Some folks are also trying to get the USPTO to recognize open source software as "prior art", so that companies like IBM can’t steal somebody else’s work when people release their work to the open source community rather than investing in a patent.  Open source work is the most obvious form of the natural evolution of ideas, and those ideas should be community owned.  Or at least owned by the copyright holder of the specific piece of code that was committed to the project’s version control system.

I apologize for not properly swearing in my opening sentence 🙂.  I was told by a friend that when I use curse words in my posts, it takes away from the message that I am trying to convey.  He is probably right, so I will take his advice and censor future posts, with a few exceptions when I feel there is no other way to appropriately express what I am trying to say.

2 thoughts on “My view on patents

  1. beth

    Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been breaking a patent law all these years. I thought we were just messing with our cat, I had no idea we were inducing exercise…. freakin’ ridiculous.


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