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Patent Laws to be Revised

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Congress Moves to Rewrite Patent Laws

Crustless peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, a way to move sideways on a swing, a technique for exercising cats using a laser pointer — these are among the inventions patented in the United States over the years. Now Congress is trying to cut down on poor-quality or downright ridiculous patents, and at the same time adapt the patent system to a high-tech era in which computers and other electronic devices may contain thousands of patentable parts.

Rather than the patent system being the incentive for "so much of our innovation, it has become a constraint on innovation," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., author of a sweeping patent reform bill that passed the House Judiciary Committee on July 18.

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Tech companies still complain that under current law, damages in patent infringement lawsuits can be wildly excessive because they can be based on the value of an entire product, not just whatever small component of that product is in dispute.

Often cited is a $1.53 billion jury verdict earlier this year in favor of Alcatel-Lucent SA in a dispute against Microsoft Corp. over two patents for MP3 encoding and decoding tools.

"The current patent litigation system is unbalanced in a way that it forces our companies to spend more time in the courtroom and less time innovating," said Josh Ackil, vice president of government relations for the Information Technology Industry Council.

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The most controversial provision in the bills before Congress would make it easier for courts to focus damage calculations more narrowly, probably resulting in smaller damage awards. The measure is applauded by high-tech companies but strenuously opposed by universities, small inventors and pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies, which typically produce products with fewer patents and rely in part on the prospect of heavy damages to protect their intellectual property.

"If this stuff passes as it is it will lower the value of patents by two to three orders of magnitude," said Ronald J. Riley, president of the Professional Inventors Alliance. He predicted small-time inventors would be forced out of the field because it would no longer be worth their while to sue to protect their inventions.

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However, negotiations are ongoing, and there's wider support for other provisions in the bills, which would represent the first major changes to patent law since 1999. These include:

—Awarding a patent to the first person to file for it, rather than the first to invent it. This would put the U.S. in line with international standards and eliminate some time-consuming disputes between inventors.

—Allowing third parties greater ability to challenge patents once they've been issued. This is meant to produce stronger patents and allow patent challenges to be dealt with by patent officials rather than in court, though some say the Senate language in particular could allow patents to be endlessly contested.

—In a change sought by the patent office, requiring inventors to provide more information in their applications about how their inventions differ from existing products or ideas.

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I haven't thought about this until now, but it makes sense to me that the damages for violating a patent should be limited to value of the product that was patented, not the value of the product that may include the patented product. So, for example, if one of the many parts that make up an iPhone happen to violate someone else's patent, that patent owner should be able to obtain damages for the value of his product, not the entire iPhone.

I also like the idea that the first person who files for a patent gets the patent. If the patent was based on whoever could show evidence that they thought of the idea first, is any patent secure? Even if you received a patent, someone could always appear later with evidence that predates yours.

The patent system does need reform, and this legislation sounds like a step in the right direction. I may have talked about this example before, but I remember a year or two ago Microsoft losing a patent lawsuit against a smaller company and having to modify IE to stop initiating the playback of Flash movies when a webpage loads. Microsoft's way to get around this patent was to force the user to click on the Flash movie before it starts. After this patch was released, I had to go through a bunch of websites at work and apply a javascript "fix" that would start the Flash movies without forcing a user click. As I was spending hours doing this I kept thinking to myself, "Whose individual rights am I protecting here?"

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I also like the idea that the first person who files for a patent gets the patent. If the patent was based on whoever could show evidence that they thought of the idea first, is any patent secure? Even if you received a patent, someone could always appear later with evidence that predates yours.

It's a horrible idea. It would add even more motivation to focus on filing patents rather than making useful products.

Objectivists need to revisit Ayn Rand's thoughts on patents.

With copyrights, what's being protected is objective: it's one persons work and only that person's work. With patents, it's non-objective: two people might have invented the same thing independently, and that happens all the time. Objectivists should ask: by what right does one person in a given geographic region have the right to stop another person from using the products of their own mind? The only logical answer is: there is no such right. Patents as implemented nowadays are immoral.

Patents could be made moral by making them objective: only permit patents on designs that are provably the work of one man. No one else could accidentally write "The Fountainhead". It's certain that Ayn Rand and only Ayn Rand came up with it. It's also easy to tell if someone keeps the same story and changes the wording--it's still Ayn Rand's even if mutilated. The same standard should be used for patents. If you can't prove that only you created a given item of intellectual property, then you have no right to it, because having that "right" is nothing but the right to steal another man's property.

Don't object that with my strict standards no one would be motivated to do R&D and progress would stop. That response is based on Pragmatism not Objectivism. And it's not true anyway. People improve things because they are in the pursuit of values, not mere money. Just because some of the dollar incentive goes away does not mean that the value incentive does.

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Objectivists need to revisit Ayn Rand's thoughts on patents.

With copyrights, what's being protected is objective: it's one persons work and only that person's work. With patents, it's non-objective: two people might have invented the same thing independently, and that happens all the time. Objectivists should ask: by what right does one person in a given geographic region have the right to stop another person from using the products of their own mind? The only logical answer is: there is no such right. Patents as implemented nowadays are immoral.

What you write improperly attributes your view as Ayn Rand's. Show where she wrote anything resembling the ideas in your paragraph. As a matter of fact, in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, in the chapter on Patents and Copyrights, she writes:

As an objection to the patent laws, some people cite the fact that two inventors may work independently for years on the same invention, but one will beat the other to the patent office by an hour or a day and will acquire an exclusive monopoly, while the loser's work will then be totally wasted. This type of objection is based on the error of equating the potential with the actual. The fact that a man might have been first, does not alter the fact that he wasn't. Since the issue is one of commercial rights, the loser in a case of that kind has to accept the fact that in seeking to trade with others he must face the possibility of a competitor winning the race, which is true of all types of competition.

Today, patents are the special target of the collectivists' attacks—directly and indirectly, through such issues as the proposed abolition of trademarks, brand names, etc. While the so-called "conservatives" look at those attacks indifferently or, at times, approvingly, the collectivists seem to realize that patents are the heart and core of property rights, and that once they are destroyed, the destruction of all other rights will follow automatically, as a brief postscript.

It would be hard to imagine Ayn Rand's position being more opposite of what you wrote. I suggest those interested look up the rest of the article offline.

Patents could be made moral by making them objective: only permit patents on designs that are provably the work of one man. No one else could accidentally write "The Fountainhead". It's certain that Ayn Rand and only Ayn Rand came up with it. It's also easy to tell if someone keeps the same story and changes the wording--it's still Ayn Rand's even if mutilated. The same standard should be used for patents. If you can't prove that only you created a given item of intellectual property, then you have no right to it, because having that "right" is nothing but the right to steal another man's property.

You are mixing up copyrights and patent law, two very different types of intellectual property. Furthermore, unless it was part of the most recent change, nobody can legally claim that a patent is theirs unless they *are* the inventor. (Whether this is one man or several is irrelevant.) That is why keeping a dated notebook of one's development of an invention is standard operating procedure for inventors.

It would be unfortunate if, with the most recent change, a person *can* file for patent and claim they are the inventor without actually being the inventor. That would be quite different than two independent inventors coming up with an invention independently but only one filing first - vs. somebody stealing an invention and filing a patent before the actual inventor.

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What you write improperly attributes your view as Ayn Rand's. Show where she wrote anything resembling the ideas in your paragraph. As a matter of fact, in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, in the chapter on Patents and Copyrights, she writes:

I was unclear. When I said Objectivists should "revisit" I meant that they should revise their own view to match Ayn Rand's deeper principles of individual rights and not her erroneous position on patents. The principles of individual rights fly in the face of her stated positions on patents. Hopefully that is more clear.

It would be hard to imagine Ayn Rand's position being more opposite of what you wrote.

I agree--my view on patents is virtually opposite hers. But mine are consistent with her views on individual rights. Hers are not.

You are mixing up copyrights and patent law, two very different types of intellectual property.

No, I understand the distinction quite well. What I was actually doing is saying that copyrights have a valid basis, and patents if they are to validly exist their basis should run parallel to copyright, they should be based on the same principles that copyright can be. E.g., I can't copyright small useful phrases that someone else might happen to come up with independent of me.

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I agree--my view on patents is virtually opposite hers. But mine are consistent with her views on individual rights. Hers are not.

I suggest that you check your false premises.

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I agree--my view on patents is virtually opposite hers. But mine are consistent with her views on individual rights. Hers are not.

I suggest that you check your false premises.

On the contrary, I suggest you check yours.

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I suggest that you check your false premises.

The fact is--I can validate my premises. I can answer why patents as they exist now are immoral. What no Objectivist has ever done is answer: By what right does one inventor dictate that another may not use the product of his own mind? I have seen some try, and they always collapse into pragmatism. Either that or what you have done: merely declare that I am wrong. For the same reason that you can't square a circle. A is A. Rights are rights.

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The fact is--I can validate my premises. I can answer why patents as they exist now are immoral. What no Objectivist has ever done is answer: By what right does one inventor dictate that another may not use the product of his own mind? I have seen some try, and they always collapse into pragmatism. Either that or what you have done: merely declare that I am wrong. For the same reason that you can't square a circle. A is A. Rights are rights.

Ayn Rand already answered you: because the context of patents is a modern industrial society. Rights have meaning only in a social context; if you live alone on a desert island, you are free to use whatever your mind can invent and the entire issue is irrelevant. Otherwise, filing for a patent establishes objective evidence of at least part of the patent claim (content and date of filing). Many times I've had ideas for inventions that I found have already been patented, usually a few years previously. By your notion, I ought to be able to use what I independently thought. There are at least two big problems with that - first, how to do you intend to objectively prove that you independently thought of it when the patent was publicly published before?? Second, the entire context of a patent is competitive and again as AR noted, one of the aspects of this competition is who filed for it first.

Fundamental to any part of this is the concept of objectivity. You may know that you thought of it independently but in a social context, that is irrelevant if somebody else thought of it 3 years before you did and has a patent to show it.

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Ayn Rand already answered you: because the context of patents is a modern industrial society. Rights have meaning only in a social context; if you live alone on a desert island, you are free to use whatever your mind can invent and the entire issue is irrelevant.

The problem with this is that it goes from an individual to society without considering the cases in between. If you can't inductively validate the right for 2, 3, or 10, then to invoke "modern industrial society" and call your position validated is tantamount to chanting magic incantations. So: what if there is one other man on the island? If we both think up a clever hut design independently, then can one of us rightfully bash the other over the head with a coconut for coming up with the same idea? Or demand documented proof that he thought it up first? In what way can you trace patent rights back to 2 individuals?

All *valid* rights and laws can in fact be rooted in simple terms. They can be traced to basic rights that clearly manifest when you have only two people involved. Only invalid "rights" require floating magical incantations. For example, one validate *copyrights* for 2 individuals in this manner. Here's the general idea: You can give someone a book in exchange for money and their promise not to copy it. If they do they've clearly violated a promise, they got the unearned from you.

Otherwise, filing for a patent establishes objective evidence of at least part of the patent claim (content and date of filing).

By what right does one inventor require another to go through a laborious and expensive process to secure the right to think and then use the results of that thinking?

Many times I've had ideas for inventions that I found have already been patented, usually a few years previously. By your notion, I ought to be able to use what I independently thought.

Yes, absolutely you should be able to use it. It came from your own brain, you have an inalienable right to it. The fact that you thought of the idea independently is proof that it should not be patentable.

There are at least two big problems with that - first, how to do you intend to objectively prove that you independently thought of it when the patent was publicly published before??

The presumption that I should have to is an error. I don't need permission from others to breath, I should not need their permission to think either.

Second, the entire context of a patent is competitive and again as AR noted, one of the aspects of this competition is who filed for it first.

That some inventors think they have a "right" to use what they thought up while banning others from doing the same just because they "filed first" is essentially no different from some religions who consider themselves "chosen" and therefore having more "rights" because they pray to a particular God.

Fundamental to any part of this is the concept of objectivity. You may know that you thought of it independently but in a social context, that is irrelevant if somebody else thought of it 3 years before you did and has a patent to show it.

This is based on the premise that the government dispenses rights rather than secures them. I don't care if some inventor has a government form declaring his "right" to legally bash another's teeth in for using his own work, it doesn't mean he has a legitimate right to do so.

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Ayn Rand already answered you: because the context of patents is a modern industrial society. Rights have meaning only in a social context; if you live alone on a desert island, you are free to use whatever your mind can invent and the entire issue is irrelevant.

The problem with this is that it goes from an individual to society without considering the cases in between. If you can't inductively validate the right for 2, 3, or 10, then to invoke "modern industrial society" and call your position validated is tantamount to chanting magic incantations. So: what if there is one other man on the island? If we both think up a clever hut design independently, then can one of us rightfully bash the other over the head with a coconut for coming up with the same idea? Or demand documented proof that he thought it up first? In what way can you trace patent rights back to 2 individuals?

Clipped to:

This is based on the premise that the government dispenses rights rather than secures them. I don't care if some inventor has a government form declaring his "right" to legally bash another's teeth in for using his own work, it doesn't mean he has a legitimate right to do so.

That society exists, is not a collective fact, it is an objective fact. We have to deal with it. Patent law says that the first person to prove (via registering) that he has invented something, has the right to be rewarded for it by commercial right to those ideas. Once those ideas are out there, others can never claim to have originated them. Society has to have rules in order function. Those rules give freedom of opportunity to all. What you suggest would destroy incentive, because there would be no rewards. How would you stop thousands of others from profiting from your efforts?

I'm not aware of anyone being prosecuted for using a patented idea that was for personal use only (not public)? Your island example doesn't reflect a society of laws. The men have made no agreements about inventions.

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By what right does one inventor require another to go through a laborious and expensive process to secure the right to think and then use the results of that thinking?

Patent laws are not about the "right to think". They are about defending the right for the inventor of an invention to have a limited-term legal monopoly for the manufacture of that invention. You seem to have some seriously mistaken ideas about the nature of what you criticize.

There *are* bad laws related to patents, and I think that software patents are dubious at best and should probably be eliminated, but only because copyright law appears to be a far more objective way to handle software.

This is based on the premise that the government dispenses rights rather than secures them. I don't care if some inventor has a government form declaring his "right" to legally bash another's teeth in for using his own work, it doesn't mean he has a legitimate right to do so.

Hardly. The government is supposed to be the defender of rights. Translate your example to this:

"I don't care if some inventor has a government form declaring his right to a piece of land he purchased and to exclude others from building or living on it - he's actually violating the rights of anybody wishing to build or live on his land."

Intellectual property is much more abstract than physical property but the principles are essentially the same. Again as Ayn Rand noted, attack it (in her argument, attacking patents) and you attack property rights as such. I don't see that your position is much different than the old "Property is theft".

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I can answer why patents as they exist now are immoral. What no Objectivist has ever done is answer: By what right does one inventor dictate that another may not use the product of his own mind?

A patent, as Ayn Rand viewed it, does not prevent an inventor for using the products of his own mind for his own use. Patents cover the commercial exploitation of the idea. Patents protect intellectual property rights by defining an objective process for defining what those rights are and what an inventor has to do to establish it for his inventions.

I have seen some try, and they always collapse into pragmatism. Either that or what you have done: merely declare that I am wrong. For the same reason that you can't square a circle. A is A. Rights are rights.

But rights and how to implement them are not intrinsic. There are options in drafting patent laws just as there are options in establishing the legal age of majority. Once they are established properly everyone can know where they stand and what they have to do with regard to the intellectual property status of inventions.

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That society exists, is not a collective fact, it is an objective fact. We have to deal with it.

I don't know what you intend to say here.

Patent law says that the first person to prove (via registering) that he has invented something, has the right to be rewarded for it by commercial right to those ideas. Once those ideas are out there, others can never claim to have originated them.

The term "originated" presumes a single source. Which does not match reality. Multiple people can in fact come up with the same idea.

Society has to have rules in order function. Those rules give freedom of opportunity to all. What you suggest would destroy incentive, because there would be no rewards. How would you stop thousands of others from profiting from your efforts?

What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine.

I'm not aware of anyone being prosecuted for using a patented idea that was for personal use only (not public)? Your island example doesn't reflect a society of laws.

The personal/public dichotomy is bogus. "Personal" use includes the right to sell to others. My island example reflects the basis of principle: a relationship of two men. A society is either based on principles that can be reduced to this simple case of two, or it is based on arbitrary whim. Anything that isn't in principle there with two, isn't there.

The men have made no agreements about inventions.

I don't know what you intend to convey by this.

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Patent laws are not about the "right to think". They are about defending the right for the inventor of an invention to have a limited-term legal monopoly for the manufacture of that invention. You seem to have some seriously mistaken ideas about the nature of what you criticize.

No--I think you have seriously mistaken ideas about the nature of thinking. If I don't have the right to act on my thinking, then in effect I don't have the right to think. This idea has already been circulated in Objectivism in connection to the relation of mind and force, I am surprised you don't recognize it.

I have the right to think, and act on those ideas, unless my actions interfere with someone else. The fact that someone else thought of the same thing I did does not interfere with him. He may wish that I did not think of the same thing so he can force others to purchase only from him, but in fact he has no right to his wish.

There *are* bad laws related to patents, and I think that software patents are dubious at best and should probably be eliminated, but only because copyright law appears to be a far more objective way to handle software.

There is no essential difference between software and hardware. Hardware can be defined in terms of software; software can be recast in hardware. You need to choose whether you support patents or not, and then support them consistently or not at all.

Hardly. The government is supposed to be the defender of rights. Translate your example to this:

"I don't care if some inventor has a government form declaring his right to a piece of land he purchased and to exclude others from building or living on it - he's actually violating the rights of anybody wishing to build or live on his land."

You have not established that intellectual property is identical in all important respects to physical property, you therefore have no logical right to use that analogy.

Intellectual property is much more abstract than physical property but the principles are essentially the same.

Your assertion that they are the same does not make it so.

I don't see that your position is much different than the old "Property is theft".

I'm sure you think that, but you have so far not logically established anything.

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A patent, as Ayn Rand viewed it, does not prevent an inventor for using the products of his own mind for his own use. Patents cover the commercial exploitation of the idea. Patents protect intellectual property rights by defining an objective process for defining what those rights are and what an inventor has to do to establish it for his inventions.

I don't recognize the distinction between "commercial exploitation" and "private use". If I have a right to use it privately, then that must include a right to trade my works with other men.

But rights and how to implement them are not intrinsic. There are options in drafting patent laws just as there are options in establishing the legal age of majority. Once they are established properly everyone can know where they stand and what they have to do with regard to the intellectual property status of inventions.

Those are not comparable. Choosing a legal age of majority is required given the continuum from child to adult; there is no such reality-based issue with regard to patents. Patents that include inventions that in principle multiple people could have produced are totally invalid, there is no continuum. The only valid form of protection would be designs that are by their nature unique to a given man.

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I don't know what you intend to say here..

I'm saying that rules have to be made, if we are to function in a group. Do road rules violate your freedom of movement in the name of the collective? Of course not, because you realize that without the rules you would have even less freedom of movement. Well that is the same with protecting the products of the mind. Without government protection of invention, your intellectual property would be stolen. You cannot transpose the situation from an island to society, because the context is different. You assume that the rights you base your arguments on are absolutes, but they are not. There are no contextless absolutes short of using reason itself.

Patent law says that the first person to prove (via registering) that he has invented something, has the right to be rewarded for it by commercial right to those ideas. Once those ideas are out there, others can never claim to have originated them.
The term "originated" presumes a single source. Which does not match reality. Multiple people can in fact come up with the same idea.

Read again what I said. The rules consider the first person to register, as the originator. We must have rules in society, and one cannot pretend we live alone.

Society has to have rules in order function. Those rules give freedom of opportunity to all. What you suggest would destroy incentive, because there would be no rewards. How would you stop thousands of others from profiting from your efforts?
What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine.

The moral is not without context. Sometimes it is moral to steal, to kill and to lie. Objectivism is not a set of orders, it's morality is dependent on context. If you want absolutes, look to religion.

I'm not aware of anyone being prosecuted for using a patented idea that was for personal use only (not public)? Your island example doesn't reflect a society of laws.
The personal/public dichotomy is bogus. "Personal" use includes the right to sell to others. My island example reflects the basis of principle: a relationship of two men. A society is either based on principles that can be reduced to this simple case of two, or it is based on arbitrary whim. Anything that isn't in principle there with two, isn't there.
The men have made no agreements about inventions.
I don't know what you intend to convey by this.

To convey the fact that agreement is required between rational people if the rule of law is to prevail. Your island people have no agreement about how they will relate to eachother, and there is no rational basis for objections to a hut design. One cannot ignore the fact that in society, the context is different from that of lone individuals. Neither should one ignore that rules that suit one set of circumstances may not apply to all situations. Context is everything to this discussion.

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What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine.

You can't just wield a syllogism like a magic-wand in place of an actual investigation into what would happen in reality if these ideas were put into practice.

Why on Earth should I spend 10 years of exhausting spirit-breaking effort to invent Rearden Metal if Orren Boyle has the legal right to buy some of my Rearden Metal, study its chemical properties, then immediately begin producing Rearden Metal himself? Such an idea in practice would destroy independent inventors/innovators and young growing businesses, because some already established corporation could just steal your idea and then mass-produce and sell it at volumes and prices that you can't possibly match. Technology would grind to a halt and many fields of business and industry would have real monopolies (not the kind Leftists whine about), the kind of which because of law it is virtually impossible to compete with.

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But rights and how to implement them are not intrinsic. There are options in drafting patent laws just as there are options in establishing the legal age of majority. Once they are established properly everyone can know where they stand and what they have to do with regard to the intellectual property status of inventions.

Those are not comparable. Choosing a legal age of majority is required given the continuum from child to adult; there is no such reality-based issue with regard to patents. Patents that include inventions that in principle multiple people could have produced are totally invalid, there is no continuum. The only valid form of protection would be designs that are by their nature unique to a given man.

OK, then let's choose an example that's a little closer.

How would you handle property rights to radio frequencies? Do you think that anyone who can broadcast on a given frequency has a right to do so or would you limit broadcasting by some legal standard such as who first broadcasted on it?

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What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine.

You can't just wield a syllogism like a magic-wand in place of an actual investigation into what would happen in reality if these ideas were put into practice.

Don't presume to know what I have or have not thought through on the basis of the conclusion I came to.

Why on Earth should I spend 10 years of exhausting spirit-breaking effort to invent Rearden Metal if Orren Boyle has the legal right to buy some of my Rearden Metal, study its chemical properties, then immediately begin producing Rearden Metal himself? Such an idea in practice would destroy independent inventors/innovators and young growing businesses, because some already established corporation could just steal your idea and then mass-produce and sell it at volumes and prices that you can't possibly match. Technology would grind to a halt and many fields of business and industry would have real monopolies (not the kind Leftists whine about), the kind of which because of law it is virtually impossible to compete with.

You posture as if standing for the inventor without knowing how patents harm him. Observe PhilO's experience. He's invented several ideas he later found were patented. If you actually look at the sea of software patents, and actually try to invent something in software, you will find that you cannot both protect yourself from accidental patent infringement and be creative.

I could explain to you the many ways Rearden would profit even if he could not secure a government enforced monopoly, but I do not want to sanction pragmatism. The moral is the practical. The question here is whether it is moral for one inventor to restrict another's thinking and acting as patents do. As an epistemological issue, the first concern here has to be with the innocent man who also spent 10 years creating something, but missed the patent office by a day, or didn't have enough money to defend himself in court. The first concern should not be with the copycat (who in my system would be a prosecutable thief--nothing in what I'm saying says it's legal to reverse-engineer Rearden Metal). By what right do you erase the innocent man's 10 years of work? This is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer.

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OK, then let's choose an example that's a little closer.

How would you handle property rights to radio frequencies? Do you think that anyone who can broadcast on a given frequency has a right to do so or would you limit broadcasting by some legal standard such as who first broadcasted on it?

I can explain how I'd deal with broadcasting if you want, but again, they are incommensurate to patents. I presume the argument you are thinking of is along the lines that no two people can broadcast on the same frequency, and no two people can have the same patent, so we have to choose one or the other? In fact with patents we do not have to choose. Observe the pragmatic patent standard: the idea must be "non-obvious". This means that for all the "obvious" ideas, *both* get to use the idea. But both cannot use the same radio frequency. There's an inherent conflict that must be resolved regarding radio frequencies, but not ideas.

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If you actually look at the sea of software patents, and actually try to invent something in software, you will find that you cannot both protect yourself from accidental patent infringement and be creative.

I wouldn't go that far, but as you know, and as I have stated multiple times here and elsewhere, there are in fact good arguments for using copyright law rather than patent law to protect software - but that in no way affects the validity of patents as originally envisioned by the founders.

I'm not inclined to discuss this further with you because I do not see you actually responding to legitimate objections from multiple responders. The entire real world is a counter-example to your position. The simple fact is that patents protect an inventor's right to his inventions (sometimes, with a lot of work) and the issue you're presenting as some dire flaw in the system is such an old bromide that Ayn Rand specifically addressed it in her article.

Without patent (and its corollary copyright) protection, the Chinese (to use a current example) could produce copycat goods and sell them without recompense of any sort to the inventor. And that is exactly what's been happening. Although they can't get away with it by exporting those goods to a large degree, they can and do use them in China. According to your position, that's ok. Is it, in your view? If it isn't, exactly what do you propose as an alternative, that performs the function of protecting an inventor's rights?

Incidentally, reverse engineering in most cases is a legal activity - probably because there is no practical way to stop an individual from buying a product and tearing it down to its component parts, because once you have a physical product, that's easy to do (and often necessary if it needs to be fixed.) The issue is whether you can make another one without the inventor(s) permission.

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What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine.

You can't just wield a syllogism like a magic-wand in place of an actual investigation into what would happen in reality if these ideas were put into practice.

Don't presume to know what I have or have not thought through on the basis of the conclusion I came to.

Actually that wasn't my intention, I was trying to point out something very important which is that this floating deduction of "What I suggest would uphold moral principle. And since the moral is the practical, would work just fine" is of zero value. You need to actually prove or show me in reality that this idea of yours is practical. I live in reality, so I judge the merit of an idea by how practical it is; so if you can't prove to me that something is practical for man's life, I'm not going to believe it's moral. This isn't Pragmatism, it's living in the real world.

I could explain to you the many ways Rearden would profit...

Then please do, it would greatly help the discussion!

...but I do not want to sanction pragmatism. The moral is the practical.

Yes it is, so please prove to me it's practical, then I'll believe it's moral. To try to logically force it the other way around without ever proving the practicality in reality would be like Rationalism.

The first concern should not be with the copycat (who in my system would be a prosecutable thief--nothing in what I'm saying says it's legal to reverse-engineer Rearden Metal). By what right do you erase the innocent man's 10 years of work? This is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer.
But in a patentless society what would possibly prevent this from happening? Couldn't Orren Boyle forge a bunch of Laboratory Log-Books and pay off some Scientists to falsly convince people that he independently invented Rearden Metal?

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With copyrights, what's being protected is objective: it's one persons work and only that person's work. With patents, it's non-objective: two people might have invented the same thing independently, and that happens all the time. Objectivists should ask: by what right does one person in a given geographic region have the right to stop another person from using the products of their own mind? The only logical answer is: there is no such right. Patents as implemented nowadays are immoral.

Patents could be made moral by making them objective: only permit patents on designs that are provably the work of one man. No one else could accidentally write "The Fountainhead". It's certain that Ayn Rand and only Ayn Rand came up with it. It's also easy to tell if someone keeps the same story and changes the wording--it's still Ayn Rand's even if mutilated. The same standard should be used for patents. If you can't prove that only you created a given item of intellectual property, then you have no right to it, because having that "right" is nothing but the right to steal another man's property.

If patents can only be made moral by proving that it is the work of one man, than can anything be patented? Given what I've read of your position, I can't think of any invention or product that would be considered patentable under your conditions.

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I'm not inclined to discuss this further with you because I do not see you actually responding to legitimate objections from multiple responders.

The burden is on you to name anything I didn't respond to. I'll either tell you why I didn't or where I did.

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