Paul's Here

Patent Laws to be Revised

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But it is absolutely non-objective to have the arbitrary standard that lets one man say "well I came up with the idea first" as a basis of stripping away the fruits of another man's efforts when this other man thought of the same thing independently. You can't be both for the inventor and for this kind of thing. Particularly if you recognize that prolific, integrative inventors are going to be completely stalled if they can't freely invent without having to worry about what the rest of mankind might have thought of in the last 20 years: with the non-objective system we have now, the greater the inventor, the more likely he'll accidentally "trespass" on another inventor's "property".

If your assertions were true, there would be no innovation occuring today, which is patently false. One can argue about bad patents being granted (particularly the whole class of software patents), which is a serious problem, but you continue to mix up completely different issues in a package deal attacking patents as such. You "argument" also ignores the fact that many patents actually could not be constructed without *other* patented inventions, because they represent enhancements over an earlier idea. (I discovered this surprising but logical fact just recently.) There is a whole legal corpus and economic structure for intellectual property licensing and cross-licensing, because it represents the core of industrial civilization.

No inventor seeking to invent for commercial gain can stamp his foot at reality and ignore the fact that somebody else beat him to the market. It is a metaphysical fact that if two men have the same invention, only one actually did it first. That isn't arbitrary, it's an absolute fact of reality, and it's a meaningful distinction. According to your idea, the fact that there might be a hermit somewhere who really does independently invent James Dyson's new vacuum cleaner mechanism, to discover that 10 million of those patented machines are now in use after he bothers to see what the rest of the world is doing now that he's finished "his" invention, should be able to start up a factory competing with Dyson. That is breathtakingly illogical and non-objective. On such a view it's obvious that the Chinese would claim to be the alternate inventors of everything on earth. Granting a patent establishes objective legal precedence for commercialization over a limited period of time, with the same logical necessity that the first steady inhabitant of a piece of land or radio spectrum logically makes it their property.

I'm sure that Hoover and other older vacuum cleaner makers would dearly love to crank out cleaners with the Dyson mechanism for a few dollars in China. Such a massive violation of Dyson's rights would spell the end of motivation for new actual innovations, which means the end of industrial civilization.

"But it's limited." Well, point to anything in the universe that's not finite. But even that objection is silly, on par with a reputed statement by a 19th century patent office commissioner who opined that there wouldn't be need for the office much longer because everything was going to be invented soon. Human innovation *is* limited but its limits are far beyond conventional ones such as land and radio spectrum.

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(Matt @ Aug 3 2007, 09:49 PM)

I am curious, how many here have a patent

I haven't been sufficiently brilliant to date.

When there is no objective process for securing intellectual property rights, it creates a forseeable risk to other people's intellectual property. Without property rights, no other right are possible. Without rights human life is at risk too.

...Especially on the modern patent system: it is non-objective...Patents are not, but could be made so by implementing them the way I'm saying... it is absolutely non-objective to have the arbitrary standard that lets one man say "well I came up with the idea first" as a basis of stripping away the fruits of another man's efforts when this other man thought of the same thing independently. You can't be both for the inventor and for this kind of thing. Particularly if you recognize that prolific, integrative inventors are going to be completely stalled if they can't freely invent without having to worry about what the rest of mankind might have thought of in the last 20 years: with the non-objective system we have now, the greater the inventor, the more likely he'll accidentally "trespass" on another inventor's "property".

Firstly, the greater the inventor, the less likely he is to think of a concept in the same way another individual has in the past, or even at the same time. An individual, or a group of individuals, cannot by definition "freely invent" if another individual or group of individuals has invented the same idea(s) previously. To invent means to produce something for the first time, by imagination or ingenious thinking, and through experiment. Patents do not document what "the rest of mankind might have thought". A patent document the specific aspects of an invention which makes one creation different from another. If person x did not create an invention before person y did, what person x thought of cannot be trespassed upon or stolen, the person cannot be "punished". It means person x needs to be more creative before he can invent something. His efforts can then go towards being more creative and gathering more financial or better tools for his use. The existence of patents, and the public's access to them (under the current laws), challenges a potential inventor to do better.

Secondly, patents are not a form of attack or sacrifice of any individual's work, time, property, or means of stifling innovation. To the contrary, prolific inventors invent so that they can hold patents - objective ownership of property is fulfilling; professional inventors hold patents specifically so that they can continue inventing. Companies hungrily secure patent portfolios so that they can continue innovating and growing because the patent portfolios attract investors, and if approached with a buyout offer, they have leverage and assets. In your system, one guy or company would not even be able to get started (with limited funds but a great invention) by forming a joint venture with any other guy or company by capitalizing on complementary strengths because neither guy/company owns any intellectual property that distinguishes one from the other. Everyone, including these two people or companies would have disclosed every detail of their product prior to getting on a list of people who thought of the same thing. As I have previously mentioned, a system (that is coming soon to the United States) that gives the kind of access you want, access to the unique qualities of an invention without "a government-enforced monopoly" in place (please see the detailed description I gave in a previous lengthy post) rewards those who cannot or do not invent but who want to claim that they do and thereafter claim the consequences of invention. There will be no invention taking place in the system you mistakenly claim will be objective.

Thirdly, you've stated in an earlier post that the "man on the sacrificial altar is the inventor.", yet you also state the "other inventors who are innocent of any wrongdoing are punished." Can you look at these statements because you have stated you are not contradicting yourself. If you are redefining the meaning of the word "invention" as you have redefined the meaning of the word "patent", please state what your definition is, and show how your system can be called objective. I am not advocating pragmatism, but indicating that reality is adverse to your position. Can you also explain how the consequence of the exact implementation of the principles you stand by in the EU and Japan is "nonsense"? Have you visited a university research lab in China after its researchers attend at an international research conference and see how what you want exists as you speak, and what happens as a result? I do not see that your system could function in the United States, even as debilitated as it is today, and still preserve the rights this country is built on. We have little enough of those rights left. I don't think I am reading your statements (or those on slashdot) in a completely wrong manner - can you show and tell me how I am?

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But it is absolutely non-objective to have the arbitrary standard that lets one man say "well I came up with the idea first" as a basis of stripping away the fruits of another man's efforts when this other man thought of the same thing independently.

That is not what a rational patent system does. Patents do not control what a man may do with his own thinking and his own property. If someone independently comes up with the design of a widgit, he can still use it for his own uses. The need for patents arise when people seek to exploit an invention by producing it for trade with other people.

Then a system similar to homesteading or staking a claim to a gold mine kicks in. There are objective laws specifying what someone must do to establish a property right to previously unowned land. He has to be the first person to make such a claim. He must take specific actions (farming or mining) and go through a specific procedure ("proving" his claim). There are limits to what he may claim (only so many acres and not the entire state) just as there is a time limit on a patents.

The first person seeking to commercially exploit a product ought to be acknowledged by a system built to encourage and reward those who bring inventions to market as soon as possible.

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But it is absolutely non-objective to have the arbitrary standard that lets one man say "well I came up with the idea first" as a basis of stripping away the fruits of another man's efforts when this other man thought of the same thing independently. You can't be both for the inventor and for this kind of thing. Particularly if you recognize that prolific, integrative inventors are going to be completely stalled if they can't freely invent without having to worry about what the rest of mankind might have thought of in the last 20 years: with the non-objective system we have now, the greater the inventor, the more likely he'll accidentally "trespass" on another inventor's "property".

If your assertions were true, there would be no innovation occuring today, which is patently false.

On the contrary, it's patently false that there would be no innovation. Obviously people can still create things and try to market them, especially big business, who can afford to pay the inevitable barrage of patent lawsuits. It becomes the part of the cost of doing business. Since they are rich they can afford it. The only grain of truth in your false deduction from what I said is that there are indeed less individual inventors than there could and should be.

One can argue about bad patents being granted (particularly the whole class of software patents), which is a serious problem, but you continue to mix up completely different issues in a package deal attacking patents as such.

On the contrary, you are the one mixing issues: the fundamental right to create, with the pseudo-right to own a legal monopoly on a given "market".

You [sic] "argument" also ignores the fact that many patents actually could not be constructed without *other* patented inventions, because they represent enhancements over an earlier idea. (I discovered this surprising but logical fact just recently.) There is a whole legal corpus and economic structure for intellectual property licensing and cross-licensing, because it represents the core of industrial civilization.

My argument doesn't include that issue because it is completely irrelevant: my right to think does not depend on other men. And again your argument rests on pragmatism: the only reason industrial civilization works the way you outline is because that is how the legal system happened to have evolved. Just as public roads and public schools are what we have ended up with.

No inventor seeking to invent for commercial gain can stamp his foot at reality and ignore the fact that somebody else beat him to the market.

I have already addressed one of the false premises contained in this: the "market" is only individuals, and a right to think and act means a right to trade. No one can rightfully own all the individuals in a given "market" and dictate to them who they will and will not buy from, especially on the arbitrary grounds that someone thought of something first. The other false premise is that an inventor who expects to be able to sell his creations is "stamping his foot at reality". This inventor is no more "stamping his foot at reality" than is the man who declaims the public education system that steals his money in order to brainwash his children.

It is a metaphysical fact that if two men have the same invention, only one actually did it first. That isn't arbitrary, it's an absolute fact of reality, and it's a meaningful distinction.

The false premise behind this is an intrinsicist notion of ideas, as if they exist like a plat of land that only one person can have. That is the deepest reason why the notion is arbitrary. But even if we don't go to that level, notice that you have not in fact given any reason why it is not arbitrary to limit the rights of the man who thought of the same thing later. You merely point out that it is later, and expect your restatement of the indisputable fact to stand for an actual argument. Sorry, but your restatment of basic facts and subsequent sarcasm are not an argument. The fact that you resort to such illogical devices should highlight something to you.

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Firstly, the greater the inventor, the less likely he is to think of a concept in the same way another individual has in the past, or even at the same time.

Who said anything about "same way"? That's the thing: patents cover many different variations of a given idea. Read one sometime. They usually contain gratuitous clauses to cover variations that even the inventor didn't think of at the time. And you are simply wrong about great inventors. The only thing preventing great inventors from thinking of similar things is that they are either not working on the same time or not in the same area. Great inventors working in the same area will come up with similar solutions to problems, precisely because they are great inventors and get to the heart of the universal truth. See my questions regarding the wheel invention that no one has bothered addressing yet.

An individual, or a group of individuals, cannot by definition "freely invent" if another individual or group of individuals has invented the same idea(s) previously. To invent means to produce something for the first time, by imagination or ingenious thinking, and through experiment. Patents do not document what "the rest of mankind might have thought". A patent document the specific aspects of an invention which makes one creation different from another. If person x did not create an invention before person y did, what person x thought of cannot be trespassed upon or stolen, the person cannot be "punished". It means person x needs to be more creative before he can invent something. His efforts can then go towards being more creative and gathering more financial or better tools for his use. The existence of patents, and the public's access to them (under the current laws), challenges a potential inventor to do better.

No one has a right to tell a man that he "needs to be more creative" in order to earn the right to use his brain.

Secondly, patents are not a form of attack or sacrifice of any individual's work, time, property, or means of stifling innovation. To the contrary, prolific inventors invent so that they can hold patents ...

On the contrary, legitimate inventors invent in order to create real things. I consider those who patent in order to extract licensing fees to be thieves (those who patent legitimate creations may merely be trying to defend themselves against these potential theives).

Thirdly, you've stated in an earlier post that the "man on the sacrificial altar is the inventor.", yet you also state the "other inventors who are innocent of any wrongdoing are punished." Can you look at these statements because you have stated you are not contradicting yourself. If you are redefining the meaning of the word "invention" as you have redefined the meaning of the word "patent", please state what your definition is, and show how your system can be called objective.

I cannot discern why you see a contradiction. If you can highlight it more I will try to reconcile it. But I am not redefining the word "invention".

Can you also explain how the consequence of the exact implementation of the principles you stand by in the EU and Japan is "nonsense"? Have you visited a university research lab in China after its researchers attend at an international research conference and see how what you want exists as you speak, and what happens as a result? I do not see that your system could function in the United States, even as debilitated as it is today, and still preserve the rights this country is built on. We have little enough of those rights left. I don't think I am reading your statements (or those on slashdot) in a completely wrong manner - can you show and tell me how I am?

You are missing something I referred to earlier. In China and the US it is impossible to protect yourself against reverse engineering. In fact, in the US you can't enforce a reverse engineering clause even if the customer agrees not to do it. Yet that is one of the key means to protect your IP in my system. So I do not sanction China's or the US's lack of respect for IP; in my system there would be far stronger protections of IP. What the US did in effect is say "make your invention public, as a reward we'll give you a monopoly" (meaning: we'll punish later inventors). What I would do is say "we'll create a legal system that allows you to prohibit customers from copying you".

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That is not what a rational patent system does. Patents do not control what a man may do with his own thinking and his own property. If someone independently comes up with the design of a widgit, he can still use it for his own uses. The need for patents arise when people seek to exploit an invention by producing it for trade with other people.

I already addressed this completely arbitrary distinction of "right to use something myself" vs. "right to sell to others" earlier, but no one countered my argument.

Then a system similar to homesteading or staking a claim to a gold mine kicks in.

The analogy of comparing ideas to physical property is bogus.

The first person seeking to commercially exploit a product ought to be acknowledged by a system built to encourage and reward those who bring inventions to market as soon as possible.

Such a system is immoral. It clearly contradicts one's fundamental right to think and act. You don't see the basic contradiction because you think of a market as something someone can "own"--but this ignores the fact that the market is individuals who have a right to think and choose independent of that arbitrary conceptual or geographic divisions. I have a right to think and act--to create. I have a right to offer my creations to others. They have a right to buy it. That right does not magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than me. This "metaphysical fact" that somebody happened to do something earlier has no logical bearing on the issue of whether I can morally create and sell my creations. The connection is completely arbitrary, unjustied and unjustifiable. Only pragmatic arguments can give it a veneer of plausibility.

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First of all, good questions sjw.

You say that Og should be able to patent the stone wheel, but not a wooden wheel.

Not exactly, he could patent both if he though of them. He couldn't patent "the wheel" (the concept) only the physical realizations of the concept he can actually imagine.

Suppose that someone else from a different tribe who didn't know Og invented the stone wheel too, but let's say it was a year after Og. Does Og have a claim (i.e., license fees in the form of, say, food) on him if they happen to meet? Or does right to such a claim require a government? How does your answer change if the other tribe is on the same continent or on a different one?

Good question, a question of context and how to deal with changing contexts.

First, if there is no contact between the tribes, there is no issue. Patents are only an issue where there actually is a context where information and products are traded, and where a common law exists. You can't force other countries to recognize and enforce american patents, for instance. When you sign an agreement where the two countries mutually respect each other's patents, ou have created that common law - much like when your two tribes meet and integrate.

As to your actual question, I'd have to say we must maintain context. Both inventors created something that did not exist in their context (their isolated tribes). When the contexts merge it would be wrong to remove one's rights in favor of the other. Any invention posterior to the merge, however, is created in the new context and no possible conflict can exist.

As for policy on merging contexts, I'd say each creator should retain full rights in the context the inventon was made. In your case, Og has full rights in his tribe's land and the other inventor has full rights in his. Free trade among the tribes will make them competitors - but that is fine.

Isn't it also a fact of reality that the material in this case, wood, is a non-essential aspect, that any hard material would behave similarly?

The idea is all that is needed to form a concept. The material is essential to actually making the device. You don't patent ideas, you patent things, physical realizations of ideas.

the actual building of the wheel, is more an issue of carpentry and/or masonry than of true creative insight?

No it is not. You have to ignore the creative insight involved in the various ways of fixing stone, wood and metal wheels to axles, the insight in the various means to construct a wooden wheel, the idea of having a contact surface other than the material of the wheel itself, the idea of the tire, the idea of the pneumatic tire, the idea of grooving the pneumatic tire, the idea of using an inner pressure vessel to allow more liberty in designing the actual contact surface, the idea of countouring the wheel to create a seal that allows you to eliminate that inner tube...

You have to ignore the intellectual work of thousands of people in order to state that "once roundness was figured out, the rest is just carpentry".

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Such a system is immoral. It clearly contradicts one's fundamental right to think and act. You don't see the basic contradiction because you think of a market as something someone can "own"--but this ignores the fact that the market is individuals who have a right to think and choose independent of that arbitrary conceptual or geographic divisions. I have a right to think and act--to create. I have a right to offer my creations to others. They have a right to buy it. That right does not magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than me. This "metaphysical fact" that somebody happened to do something earlier has no logical bearing on the issue of whether I can morally create and sell my creations. The connection is completely arbitrary, unjustied [sic] and unjustifiable. Only pragmatic arguments can give it a veneer of plausibility.

In your proposed alternative system (which has not been presented in any reasonable detail that I can see), exactly how would a Hank Rearden stop an Orren Boyle from manufacturing Rearden Metal? Or do you think Orren Boyle *should* be able to manufacture Rearden Metal because his chemists analyzed the formula to the Metal and now he just can't stop thinking about how great it would be if he, Orren, could make it too, and it would be a violation of his rights to stop such thinking? As nearly as I can tell, you're saying that Boyle's reverse engineering should be the protected part, that it should be illegal. But if so, that approach (over and above already having a name: trade secrets) has the same supposed problem that you see with patents today: once knowledge of how a previously secret process becomes public, then people can read it and think about it, even if such knowledge was acquired illegally (and in the internet age, the genie will never be put back in the bottle.) The reverse engineering could easily occur in one of the many countries who would not be a signer to the patent laws and the resulting knowledge easily imported. In some (probably many) cases how a device works may become obvious after simple inspection even though it was not obvious to anyone prior to its invention (e.g. my Dyson example.) Do you then think that the operation of an invention can be visually inspected and thereby understood, that it is too "obvious" to have protection?

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There's an ironic issue that just occured to me, in sjw's position, which asserts that patents somehow "stop thinking". The truth is exactly the opposite. The very rationale for patents is that they provide a mechanism for an inventor to profit from his invention with a limited monopoly on its manufacture *in exchange for making public all of the details of the invention.* That means that others can immediately benefit from a detailed description of the product and indeed think about it - think about how it can be used in their own products (for a price), think about better products, and eventually use it for free. Generic drugs are a perfect example of this process - no drug company would spend a fortune to discover useful new drugs only to have a generic maker in Mexico knock it off for practically nothing right away (though after patent expiration that is exactly what will happen.)

Note what would happen if the drug maker or a Hank Rearden had to depend on trade secrets (a very shaky and unreliable method itself) because patent protection no longer existed: knowledge about the detailed workings (and processes required to create them) of the drug or metal would no longer be publicly available to integrate with other knowledge (unless determined reverse engineering efforts succeeded.) Other metallurgists could not grasp how the alloy worked and thereby think about improvements, other scientists could not study the molecular structure of the drug in order to understand mechanisms of operation in the body, possibly/probably discover adverse effects in certain contexts as other knowledge grows, and so forth. Far from promoting thinking and adding to knowledge, a totally private approach would firewall useful human knowledge into millions of small disintegrated pools.

So interestingly, there is actually a connection between patents and "open source": patents open up the details of an invention while preserving a limited time of ownership for its inventor. Even reverse engineering a product is analogous to disassembling/decompiling a program - it does not give the source code and the associated notes, which is extremely valuable to understanding and using the code.

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I have a right to think and act--to create.
There are valid limits to these rights. There are some acts you have no right to perform. There are some things you have no right to create.
I have a right to offer my creations to others. They have a right to buy it.
Again, there are valid limits to these rights. There are some products you have no right to sell. There are some products others have no right to buy.
That right does not magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than me.
On what basis do you claim you have a right to sell this unnamed something to others? Simply on the basis of your desire to sell it? Simply because you thought and acted and produced? As already indicated, man's right to act is not unlimited. As such, the mere fact that YOU thought and YOU acted does not make such production in accord with rights.

That is subjectivism of the individual variety.

This "metaphysical fact" that somebody happened to do something earlier has no logical bearing on the issue of whether I can morally create and sell my creations.
According to this principle, the "metaphysical fact" that one man "happened" to discover and claim land as his own before you were able to make that claim "has no logical bearing" on whether another man can morally claim that property as his own. The principle you have presented is that your right to claim property does not "magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than [you]."

Such a principle is not adherence to the right of property, but is the obliteration of property rights.

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I have a right to think and act--to create.

There are valid limits to these rights. There are some acts you have no right to perform. There are some things you have no right to create.

Stating the truism that there are some acts you have no right to perform or some things you have no right to create is not an argument. Like PhilO you're stating generalities that no one would argue with and then leaving out any connection to the specific issue at hand.

I have a right to offer my creations to others. They have a right to buy it.

Again, there are valid limits to these rights. There are some products you have no right to sell. There are some products others have no right to buy.

Again, this is an uncontroversial generality that you have failed to connect to the specific issue.

That right does not magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than me.
On what basis do you claim you have a right to sell this unnamed something to others? Simply on the basis of your desire to sell it? Simply because you thought and acted and produced? As already indicated, man's right to act is not unlimited. As such, the mere fact that YOU thought and YOU acted does not make such production in accord with rights.

That is subjectivism of the individual variety.

An assertion you offer without evidence or logic is not an argument.

Such a principle is not adherence to the right of property, but is the obliteration of property rights.

At this point I'm confused about why you bothered to post--you have not provided a single argument, just a bunch of incontroversial generalities and empty assertions strung together.

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Stating the truism that there are some acts you have no right to perform or some things you have no right to create is not an argument.
Then it is a good thing I didn't use them as arguments. Much like your own 'truisms' (as you call them), these statements were used as premises from which subsequent conclusions were drawn and supported.

I am sorry you failed to grasp their logical function.

Now, if you desire to dispute my statements - ie challenge one of the premises upon which my subsequent conclusion is based - please do so. But until such a time, my statements - and the argument of which they are a part - remain logically intact.

That right does not magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than me.
On what basis do you claim you have a right to sell this unnamed something to others? Simply on the basis of your desire to sell it? Simply because you thought and acted and produced? As already indicated, man's right to act is not unlimited. As such, the mere fact that YOU thought and YOU acted does not make such production in accord with rights.

That is subjectivism of the individual variety.

An assertion you offer without evidence or logic is not an argument.
Then I am glad I provided premises and came to a logical conclusion based upon them. Again, it is quite unfortunate that you failed to grasp the logical structure of my argument. But, of course, such a failure does not alter the fact that a logically formed argument was presented.

Now, if you happen to disagree with the conclusion of my argument - if you believe the mere fact that "YOU thought and YOU acted" does make one's actions in accord with rights - well, I would be very interested in hearing that argument. It should go without saying, though, that such an argument would not change the fact that acceptance of such a belief IS (by definition) subjectivism of the individual variety.

After you have identified all these things you previously sought to dismiss without consideration - ie once you have either agreed or disagreed with the above premises and conclusion - perhaps you would then be good enough to address the meat of the matter. Perhaps you would be good enough to address the one thing you conspicuously failed to even acknowledge:

This "metaphysical fact" that somebody happened to do something earlier has no logical bearing on the issue of whether I can morally create and sell my creations.

According to this principle, the "metaphysical fact" that one man "happened" to discover and claim land as his own before you were able to make that claim "has no logical bearing" on whether another man can morally claim that property as his own. The principle you have presented is that your right to claim property does not "magically go away just because someone else exercised the same right earlier than [you]."

For, if you do stand behind this principle, then your disagreement here is much wider than just patents. It is disagreement with the Objectivist conception of property rights itself.

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Broad ideas that more than one man might be able to conceive should unequivocally not be patentable. In fact that is the standard I propose to determine whether something should be patentable: if another man might have thought of the same idea, then it's off-limits for patenting; if no one else could have, if it's distinctive of an individual, then it's patentable.
"Land that more than one man might be able to discover should unequivocally not be property. In fact that is the standard I propose to determine whether something should be property: if another man might have found the same land, then it's off-limits for ownership; if no one else could have, if it's distinctive of an individual, then it's ownable."

Your principle is in direct opposition to the Objectivist conception of property, specifically, and rights generally.

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If one person could prove he thought of the same thing, then it's off-limits, regardless of whether it's words or designs. That's the most basic point: you have a right to think and act on that thinking, unless you could foresee that you would violate someone's rights. If you couldn't foresee it then you didn't do anything wrong and should not be punished. But if you spent 10 years and found that you built something that someone else had claimed a patent on, then your 10 years would be in effect stolen by the government. That is viciously unjust.
"If one person could prove he found the same land, then it's off-limits. That's the most basic point: you have a right to think and act on that thinking, unless you could foresee that you would violate someone's rights. If you couldn't foresee it then you didn't do anything wrong and should not be punished. But if you spent 10 years and found that you found some land that someone else had claimed ownership of, then your 10 years would be in effect stolen by the government. That is viciously unjust."

Again, your principle stands in direct opposition to the Objectivist concept of rights.

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On the contrary, it's patently false that there would be no innovation. Obviously people can still create things and try to market them, especially big business, who can afford to pay the inevitable barrage of patent lawsuits. It becomes the part of the cost of doing business. Since they are rich they can afford it. The only grain of truth in your false deduction from what I said is that there are indeed less individual inventors than there could and should be.

Money is earned. Patents are some of the assets that an individual or a company uses to grow a business. Business does not stay rich (and therefore can afford patent litigation) because they can afford it, neither a person nor a business will stay rich because he is rich. Many individual inventors, despite heavy expenses, go to great lengths to protect their patents through litigation, so that they can continue creating, and in doing so are using current laws that do somewhat uphold patents (the downward direction the caselaw is generally taking is a related matter, and not directly on point – the fact that patents represent intellectual property of individuals and cannot be downgraded, legislated or reclassified to accommodate "collective rights" and "collective property" and "collective profit" without property rights and therefore innovation being abandoned altogether). The solution to the issue of patent litigation favoring the party with the larger pocket is not to force inventors to come down to the creative level of those who cannot or have not, nor to the financial level of those who do not have large pockets for patent litigation. To apply Objectivism, the greater the economic value and foreseeable potential economic value of the patent (there is regularly a larger than expected value), the greater the likelihood the 'small time' inventor can secure funds from investors who see the invention's worth, and therefore the greater the likelihood that the inventor can afford continuing litigation. It is up to the inventor to take the steps to secure these investors. I previously posted reasons individuals will not be able to innovate and market patented products in your system.

You have stated that "No one has a right to tell a man that he 'needs to be more creative' in order to earn the right to use his brain.", "...your argument rests on pragmatism: the only reason industrial civilization works the way you outline is because that is how the legal system happened to have evolved. Just as public roads and public schools are what we have ended up with." and "...a right to think and act means a right to trade."

It is common to misuse of the word "right" as you have done here, and in your various posts. Public roads and public schools, for a variety of reasons, are not appropriate comparisons. An appropriate comparison for your misuse of the word "right" is that a criminally accused individual in today's society has the "right" to state-funded legal counsel for representation in court proceedings. This is not what "right" to legal counsel was intended to mean, nor what it meant for a long time, nor what it should mean. A right to think and act does not entitle an individual to the "right" to trade or fulfillment of the expectation to trade.

No one can rightfully own all the individuals in a given "market" and dictate to them who they will and will not buy from, especially on the arbitrary grounds that someone thought of something first.

As has been pointed out more than once, being the first, and therefore being the patentee (for now, till the laws change), are not arbitrary grounds. A valid patent is a patent which had been granted, and for which the inventor or company pays the renewal fees to ensure legal protection for the inventor or the company. If an inventor or company behaves rationally, renewal fee payments are only continued as long as it is expected that the benefits from the patent exceed the amount(s) paid. Valid patents are consequently of higher value to an inventor than expired ones. By cross-licensing of valid patents, different inventors who hold and continue to hold patents gain from their inventions. If an inventor chooses to let the patent validity expire, either through default or lack of insight on the invention's usefulness a market is more easily penetrated by competitors. There is no dictating by the PTO.

Patents do not allow or encourage "ownership" of a market; collectivist states do that. To the contrary, nobody in a free market economy can make consumers of all the individuals in a market even if they wanted to thanks to cross-licensing of patents, and because individuals in the market are able to examine the protected and exclusive technology in full and find ways to make the product better no matter how minor the improvement. Patents lay the groundwork for individuals and companies to build brand recognition, service improvements, staff expertise, and more, all of which lead to even more innovation on top of the truly novel innovations created by great inventors.

Who said anything about "same way"? That's the thing: patents cover many different variations of a given idea. Read one sometime. They usually contain gratuitous clauses to cover variations that even the inventor didn't think of at the time.

I have examined many patents over several years and keep abreast of current case law and research on the cognitive processes and organizational management of innovation. Patent examiners must be more carefully selected, trained, and remain diligent in the task of constantly learning in the correct way. I'm glad you brought this up because failure to reject based on inadequate patent citations (used to document the state of technology by citing what has been invented so far), inadequate understanding of similarities framed in legalese on the patent examiners' part, and the issuance of business-method patents are commonly used to advocate the dismantling of the patent system (and therefore of property rights) in exactly to manner that you have under the claim that your system makes the patent system better with the exception that you claim your position is or should rightly be part of Objectivism. These problems (part of the "who am I to know?" syndrome) is part of the downward direction the PTO has taken, but should not outweigh or lessen the importance of patents when properly issued, and their relevance to property rights, rights of man, and human progress as summed up from several angles by different posting members. Properly-issued patents are the only meaning of the word "patents" contemplated in this thread for most posting members. What you advocate can only fall under the term "improperly-issued patents" if you continue to insist on using the word patents to describe what you wish to see in the United States. The PTO requires patent examiners who are students of Objectivism with clear understanding of concepts, technologies, laws, definitions and ability to understand and classify novel creations and remain aware of metaphysical and epistemological relevance of their choices at all times. The steadfastness and intelligence required to do a patent examiner's or a judge's (hearing a patent lawsuit) job properly today are enormous due to the decline in objective standards.

And you are simply wrong about great inventors. The only thing preventing great inventors from thinking of similar things is that they are either not working on the same time or not in the same area. Great inventors working in the same area will come up with similar solutions to problems, precisely because they are great inventors and get to the heart of the universal truth.

I do not know, have not interviewed, nor have I heard or read of, any great (not in the quantity of patents, those quantity is not to be dismissed as there is a correlation) inventors whose only foci are 1) applying an established use of a thing or things to an existing thing or things, and 2) interoperability of different technologies that results in similar solutions to problems. "The only thing preventing great inventors from thinking of similar things" are by definition, what makes them great - the unique combinations of concepts not previously conceived of. These inventors are less than 5% of all inventors, but account for a large percentage of all past and present issued patents.

On the contrary, legitimate inventors invent in order to create real things. I consider those who patent in order to extract licensing fees to be thieves...

Please refer to Brian Smith's posts of August 7, 2007 regarding where your views stand philosophically and in reality.

...I am not redefining the word "invention".

I, and several others, have given the specific and broad definition of the word "patent". I gave a specific definition of the word "invention", and a brief description in different posts about the nature of invention and incompatibility with alterations to the patent system that would result in lack of exclusive protection for inventors.

You are missing something I referred to earlier. In China and the US it is impossible to protect yourself against reverse engineering. In fact, in the US you can't enforce a reverse engineering clause even if the customer agrees not to do it. Yet that is one of the key means to protect your IP in my system. So I do not sanction China's or the US's lack of respect for IP; in my system there would be far stronger protections of IP. What the US did in effect is say "make your invention public, as a reward we'll give you a monopoly" (meaning: we'll punish later inventors). What I would do is say "we'll create a legal system that allows you to prohibit customers from copying you".

Firstly, as I previously stated, inventors are not punished by the issuance of patents. See above regarding your redefintions, because what you mean by the words "IP" and "inventor" is the opposite of these words. Secondly, no reference to reverse engineering was made in my post to which you replied the above. Some other posting members have referred to reverse engineering, but that is not what I meant. I broke down some of the corrosive elements of the latest bill before Congress, and in referring to the EU and Japan which the latest bill mirrors precisely, I was referring to patent laws that, while granting something called "patents" deny the inventor exclusivity by literally taking into account, in law, "ordre public", "collective rights of potential inventors and consumers", "community rights" (for greater specificity, please refer to existing laws abroad and compare them to those of the United States that still exist at the moment, and the effects of laws abroad on innovation and commerce) in exactly the ways you have mentioned that people other than the first person to invent should be accommodated. The United States has already agreed to TRIPS, mentioned by PhilO, and has been declining steeply towards these international laws over the past 20 years but you are advocating an outright abandonment of the very reasons foreign inventors and companies hungrily secure U.S. patents.

Thirdly, it works against inventors, and everyone, to legislate against reverse engineering. It means legislating when and how a person's cognitive processes work, and legislates against creative intent. A person doing failure analysis or biomedical research using a high resolution Micro-Computed Tomography (Micro-CT) imaging system (in-vivo, ex-vivo, non-invasive, and as a huge bonus, metals don't matter unlike MRI) to view 2D and 3D slices and composites of a scanned object and gets an inventive idea, in patent litigation they will be no way (whether you acknowledge reality or not) for you to exclude this person, legally, from the definition of reverse engineering. What this person did is one way in which creative intent comes about. Once case law in your support is established, there is no limit to the types of technology and human thought and activity you are advocating the legislation against.

You have pointed to what you claim are clues to contradictions and errors in posting members' way of thinking. I'd like to point out that perhaps in your first post, you stated you knew what you were giving up to stand by your principles. I would like to believe your subsequent posts indicate you do not know what you are giving up. But if you do know it, and still choose to give it up, what you advocate does not have any part of Objectivism or a reality I want to experience. The very clue is this statement of yours that you are required to "give up" something of yours, that which belongs to you, in order to stand by your principles.

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I'd like to point out that perhaps in your first post, you stated you knew what you were giving up to stand by your principles. I would like to believe your subsequent posts indicate you do not know what you are giving up. But if you do know it, and still choose to give it up, what you advocate does not have any part of Objectivism or a reality I want to experience. The very clue is this statement of yours that you are required to "give up" something of yours, that which belongs to you, in order to stand by your principles.
I am unclear as to the referent of this paragraph. Would you mind identifying the statement belonging to sjw which it is intended to reference?

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Notice: I will no longer be posting replies to this thread. I find it impossible to debate in a manner I deem authentic and conform to the FORUM posting guidelines at the same time. I have had several posts deleted by the moderator which I am unwilling to rewrite since I think my meaning would become distorted. That is unacceptable to me given the importance of the topic; it is preferable to me not to debate at all.

You are welcome to PM me and I will probably answer you via email.

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I'd like to point out that perhaps in your first post, you stated you knew what you were giving up to stand by your principles. I would like to believe your subsequent posts indicate you do not know what you are giving up. But if you do know it, and still choose to give it up, what you advocate does not have any part of Objectivism or a reality I want to experience. The very clue is this statement of yours that you are required to "give up" something of yours, that which belongs to you, in order to stand by your principles.
I am unclear as to the referent of this paragraph. Would you mind identifying the statement belonging to sjw which it is intended to reference?

It was in fact not sjw's first post, but a post dated July 31, 2007, part of which read:

...I say this as someone who has thought very hard about some of my software ideas, so I vividly realize what I am giving up in order to hold to my principles.

As a side note, having read some of my previous posts, I apologize to readers for my poor grammar.

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It was in fact not sjw's first post, but a post dated July 31, 2007, part of which read:
...I say this as someone who has thought very hard about some of my software ideas, so I vividly realize what I am giving up in order to hold to my principles.
Thanks for providing that context. :(

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It was in fact not sjw's first post, but a post dated July 31, 2007, part of which read:
...I say this as someone who has thought very hard about some of my software ideas, so I vividly realize what I am giving up in order to hold to my principles.

To be fair, I think what sjw is saying in that instance has the opposite meaning of what you may think (it's easy enough to misinterpret, as he's stated it). I think he means that he's thought a great deal about writing certain programs but is stymied because he realizes that software patents could undermine any effort he might undertake. There are good reasons why software should not be patentable, but should rather be protected by copyright, so in that case I sympathise with that dilemma, as do many other programmers whose work could be affected by a class of patents that really shouldn't exist. Conventional patentable inventions do not have that problem, because they're sufficiently concrete to represent a real particular innovation rather than a broad abstraction that unreasonably covers too much territory. Software is amenable to copyright protection because of its nature, also unlike conventional inventions. A patent in software is analogous to having a literature patent on the idea "The men of the mind on strike." Atlas Shrugged is, and should be, copyrighted, but it would destroy creative writing if writers could patent abstractions such as that. There could well be other significantly different books with such a theme.

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Does anyone know if ARI has produced any press releases with regard to these possible changes in patent-law? This seems to me like a very big deal -- an emergency in fact.

If these proposed changes become law, I think that the effects would be as destructive as, or more destructive than Iran working to get nuclear bombs (while our politicians hold "talks" with them). The destruction would not be as spectacularly, suddenly, perceptually self-evident as the destruction caused by a nuclear bomb exploding in a major American city. But for that very reason, it is critical to sound the alarm with regard to this threat.

Which businesses support this, and what are their grounds? I gather that it has a lot to do with damage caused by patents that should be copyrights instead, i.e. software patents, or other method-type patents. What a mess.

The freedom to invent and profit by one's inventions is key to what has made America (and Americans) better off in so many ways than people in many other nations. Can America survive if these proposals become law?

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A rational person should be concerned with the practical consequences of the actions he takes. What is practical is not deduced from what is moral, but quite the other way around. It is only by observing the practical effects of various human choices that we obtain the data we can integrate into moral principles.

I don't need to observe the practical effects of stealing to figure out that it's wrong. It would be empiricism to think that I did.

But actually you do, and it is crucially important: in certain emergency contexts stealing--even stealing from honest men--would be completely proper. If you were lost and dying in the desert, and you came upon a house whose owner was away at the moment, are you seriously telling me that you wouldn't break into their house and instead choose to die of dehydration because "I don't need to observe the practical effects of stealing to figure out that it's wrong. It would be empiricism to think that I did."?

How else are we supposed to know what is actually moral if we don't ever try to observe the practical effects of our actions and choices?

One of the hallmarks of pragmatism is evident in debates on patents: a one-sided view of the "practical consequences". E.g., looking only at the "practical consequence" that an inventor would lose a government-enforced monopoly, without looking at the consequence that other inventors who are innocent of any wrongdoing are punished.
You are throwing around the terms pragmatism and empiricism as a means to refute arguments, but so far you have shown to have a very unclear understanding of what Pragmatism is. So to aide in this discussion I would recommend that you either abandon the use of these terms or at least clearly demonstrate to other FORUM members that you correctly understand what these terms mean when using them. It would make this discussion much more clear and coherent!

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Which businesses support this, and what are their grounds?

Can America survive if these proposals become law?

Many of the business owners, board members, and the public who support this bill believe common bromides such as 'we have to balance the interests of the average taxpayer and big business', and are even outside the scope of those who are specifically against patents and inventors because they are those who can't or won't invent but wish to win by default and inertia by assaulting reason. Many businesses just want certain provisions that give them temporary benefits of winning over competitors by default rather than facing challenges (not just financially, but strategically) without actually having laws in place for the long term that will sustain innovation, but claim this is the reason behind their support.* Many supporters in computing industries hope only to avoid excessive expenses of patent litigation, and believe these types of changes to the patent system are best for that purpose, and that the proposed system will encourage innovation.

It is difficult for the majority of people to provide an explanation in layman's terms via letters to newspaper editors and written/verbal statements to politicians when they cannot counter the erroneous presentation of statistics by alleged experts intent on promoting the view that patents are bad for innovation. The only thing that stopped this bill from being passed as the Patent Reform Act of 2005 or 2006 rather than 2007 was that there was a stronger feeling back then that there was something wrong with the bill reviewers' general guilty feeling for supporting certain 'big' businesses who were not in favor of most of the reforms. Also among the businesses supporting the reforms are those business owners and board members who do not have sufficient skill to manage and oversee product and process innovation capabilities*, and business owners who shudder at the thought of being perceived as lacking "community mindedness". Different companies, institutions and groups support various aspects of the bill for different reasons, which add up to all supporters getting a provision or part of a provision they wanted, or amended, as compromises which all threaten innovation.

Collectivists are specifically and consistently applied forces in this country which make it difficult for the most of the public and politicians to perceive or analyze the threats to individual rights promoted by the likes of Palm, Inc. (this link is a transcript of Palm's testimony before the Senate Committee). Palm is perceived to stand for innovation and capitalism, and so the bill is made to appear "reasonable" support to the Committee of the vocal and left-leaning majority of the American population (including many software developers, etc.) to dispense of that strange guilty feeling. A representative of 'big pharma', I think it was Amgen, was selected to speak for the 'less left, but still left-leaning' before the Committee but supported the first-to-file provision, among other things.

If property rights matter to you and you have some doubts about where patents fit in, I encourage you to please take your limited time to 1) review the bill language, testimony of individual inventors before the 109th Congress in 2005 (see towards the end of the PDF file in the link) who pleaded on behalf of all Americans 2) understand the place patents have in our society (this link provides the basic Q&As) for greater understanding.

If, upon review of this thread and these materials, you see the importance of preventing S. 1145 and H.R. 1908 (including their revisions to create compromises and renaming controversial elements to appear, but are actually, no less damaging to innovation) from coming into force, I encourage readers to take the time to 3) seek a delay of S. 1145 and H.R. 1908 in writing, and 4) speak to an inventor and encourage his/her written opposition to the same. You can contact:

Senate Judiciary Members and

House Judiciary Members

If you are at a university, you can contact your Federal Relations officer.

Understanding of intellectual property matters even if you are employed as a housewife or have businesses in mature industries which are more likely to see process innovations rather than product ones, because patents are relevant to the daily lives and routines of Americans, the minutiae we take for granted, outside of so-called 'big business'. The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform has pointed to the specific problems of the bill that undermine American innovation, and so has the Innovation Alliance. The Coalition has members who vary in their positions for and against first-inventor-to-file and post-grant review proceedings among other things, so please do not simply take their word, or anyone's word for it, but exercise your judgment in respect to each provision. My view is that, generally speaking, the Coalition's objective is favorable to sustaining America.

I would encourage the continued advocacy of intellectual property rights of individuals, because there's hope yet - Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) stated, Congress "cannot predict the consequences of the sweeping reform legislation", and the PTO is to "conduct periodic studies of the impact of the most controversial provisions". The dissenters of the bill should keep pointing out the "I told you so" problems because the consequences are truly predictable, and rationality, I think, will still prevail.

* It is no small challenge to sustain competitive advantage outside of traditional strategic management in computing and biotech current technologies because of the rate of innovation, level of competitiveness and interdependencies. Product and process innovation, and radical and incremental innovations in each of the product and process types have to be integrated into strategies of vertical acquisition and diversification both complementary and horizontal (supplementary). I will not go into more detail here, but few individuals can actually combine all the skills and knowledge to manage firms, technical alliances and continually implement successful competitive strategies. It is sometimes far easier to promote legislation that those can and do excel should not.

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I do think that there needs to be changes to the way patents are issued (most particularly software patents), but I don't see any obvious way to implement them because they're more epistemological than legal. While there are certainly patents expressing brilliantly original ideas, take a look at this well known patent, "Method of swinging on a swing":

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6368227.html

A method of swing on a swing is disclosed, in which a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other.

In other words, a kid swings his swing sideways rather than the usual way, forwards and backwards. From what I read, a patent attorney filed this patent to demonstrate how ludicrously low the bar has become on issuing patents. He used the issued patent to embarrass the patent office, which subsequently invalidated the patent. The point of course being the mystery as to why it ever issued such an obviously insane patent in the first place.

The NTP vs. RIM case mentioned by Palm is also significant. RIM was nearly put out of business by patents that were in the process of being re-evaluated and subsequently invalidated by the patent office, which did not stop a judge from ordering RIM to pay over $600 million to settle the suit. Blackberry users came close to losing their service forever.

In short, there are clearly very bad decisions being made by the patent office which nonetheless can have massively adverse affects on decent businesses, and the goal should be trying to fix that problem before the backlash ends up destroying the good with the bad.

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I do think that there needs to be changes to the way patents are issued (most particularly software patents), but I don't see any obvious way to implement them because they're more epistemological than legal. While there are certainly patents expressing brilliantly original ideas, take a look at this well known patent, "Method of swinging on a swing":

destroying the good with the bad.

A positive change to deal with this is to have and maintain the highest possible quality patent examiners in the PTO (as I mentioned previously, their epistemological integration under Objectivist law would be applicable) and enhance their gatekeeper roles without detracting from the (current) role of the courts. Dummy patent applications must be routinely added to audit patent examiners' practices, with patent examiners accountable to providing detailed reasons of their decisions from epistemological scratch and on demand (that is, not relying solely on vague references to one's own historiographic evidence of past suitable patent application approvals, and prior art citations to accept or reject).

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