Patent system needs overhaul

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by OddTrader, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Patent system needs overhaul

    Much anguish has been expressed over the Apple/Samsung patent court battle. It's not that this run of patent wars is new. They have been a feature of the technology business for over a century.

    One of the nastiest feuds was between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Apart from being a brilliant inventor, Edison was a consummate litigator. One of the reasons the movie business took root in California was to evade Edison's patent police. He owned the major patents on movie cameras and pursued anyone who reverse engineered his product.

    It is a suitable irony that copyright violation is one of the foundations of the American film industry. Edison's struggle with Westinghouse over alternating current versus direct current was typically bitter. By 1900 Edison's legal costs were $2 million, equivalent to $52 million in today's money.
  2. d08


    OT: Among other things, Edison was one twisted pervert. Taking the pets and electrocuting them to convince people how "bad" alternating current was. If he had gotten his way, none of us could afford electricity today.
  3. Thomas Edison's biography will be published soon. It's called 'Mein Lampf'
  4. Bob111


    :D :D :D :D
  5. oraclewizard77

    oraclewizard77 Moderator

    I think you miss the point. Companies can afford to spend $ billions to innovate new life saving drugs or inventions like the Iphone, if they can have a patent that covers this new technology for a certain number of years.

    For example Lipitor was covered by a patent that has expired, and now you can get a generic form of the drug.

    How do you expect companies to fund the cost of inventing a new life saving drug if they know the next week after it comes out someone will copy it and sell it at a lower cost? Especially with drugs, you need to spend tons of money trying to get FDA approval.

    Most new inventions also come from the USA, this allows us to compete against lower cost labor from China.

    Apple came out with the Iphone, and Samsung a south Korean company decided it was cheaper to copy it then innovate so they lost, and this was a good ruling.
  6. Agree, Edison was a jerk who didn't invent much of anything. What he did do was relentlesly push his team of real scientists and engineers to invent in his name. The "current wars" with Tesla are fascinating to us technogeeks. A great injustice was the super genius Nikola dying nearly forgotten and poor.

    But as it turns out, in some cases Edison was correct - DC is better for power transmission. Of course he had no concept of the voltage and equipment needed...

    A high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) electric power transmission system uses direct current for the bulk transmission of electrical power, in contrast with the more common alternating current systems. For long-distance transmission, HVDC systems may be less expensive and suffer lower electrical losses. For underwater power cables, HVDC avoids the heavy currents required by the cable capacitance. For shorter distances, the higher cost of DC conversion equipment compared to an AC system may still be warranted, due to other benefits of direct current links. HVDC allows power transmission between unsynchronized AC distribution systems, and can increase system stability by preventing cascading failures from propagating from one part of a wider power transmission grid to another...
  7. Eight


    OT: We have enough solar generating capability in the Mojave, Sierra, and Sonora deserts to light every home and operate every car in North America. We have the million volt lines for transmitting power over the longest of distances... time to leave Edison and all that garbage to fall off the back edge of the world and be relegated to the museums...
  8. "
    Exponential legal fees are still a cause of dismay. In the ongoing Apple/Samsung battle it is alleged that all those fees and penalties will be borne by consumers, but that is unproven.

    The bigger question is: Is this the end of innovation? Is the patent system and ensuing legal struggles a barrier for newcomers, meaning only the biggest and wealthiest corporations can compete? These are good questions, certainly as we know that the recording industry has used copyright as a means of preventing innovation.

    A 2012 study of copyright and innovation by Professor Michael Carrier of Rutgers School of Law interviewed industry executives who testified that copyright was a deliberate weapon to stop innovation, and thus maintain the status quo.

    It is feared that the patent system is being used similarly. The patent system is nearly broken or at the very least, severely unworkable.

    Apple's suit itemised, among other similar details, that Samsung's products were rectangular in shape, and white; and that the product is rectangular in shape and black. This looks exasperating and vexatious, an abuse of the aims of the patents system. Interpreting ideas is what spurs creativity. Steve Jobs apparently went ballistic when he saw Microsoft's Windows, conveniently erasing his own poaching of the interface etc from his visit to Xerox PARC.

    Whether this suit and many similar suits prevent people from inventing, and entrepreneurs takings risks, is unclear. Take Robert Kearns, for example, who fought the Ford motor company over his windscreen wiper patent. The feud lasted years and cost him a lot personally. He emerged victorious.

    People like Kearns and Edison, and dozens of other inventors and engineers, have been the driving force of prosperity.

    Whether the patent system prevents people like them from entering the market with their inventions is unknown. They are more than likely to continue working because they are optimists chasing a dream of seeing their invention realised; of being rich, or just creating something that serves a purpose.

    The barriers to them achieving their goals for themselves and how they are shared to all must be removed. That means renovating the current system to enhance the opportunities for innovation.

    Easier said than done. It will require legislators with the will to change the rules and protocols in the face of opposition from vested interests. It is possible, but the motive may not originate from a wish to assist the corporation - like patents which were conceived to underwrite investments in innovation - but to serve the wider interests of society.

    This will take time to evolve. It will be necessary to show consumers have been badly affected, that entrepreneurs cannot realise their works, that even some forms of predatory activity are inhibiting the potential for small companies to reach markets. All that to drive changes in the context of highly complex laws. Only legislators with endurance need apply.

    In the end, Edison's dispute with Westinghouse was resolved for him. By 1890 there were three major lighting and electric companies: Edison-General Electric, Westinghouse's Consolidated Electric and Thomson-Houston, which had, like Westinghouse, also infringed Edison's patents.

    A serious bank failure made finance harder and new solutions critical. The directors of the companies looked to settle the patent wars, and merge. Initially Edison refused on the principle of the patents but by 1892 a new company was formed with Thomson-Houston, called just General Electric. Ultimately bigger commercial reasons broke the circuit on the feud and the company was able to get back to business.


  9. My suggestion is All patents are subject to some compulsory licensing conditions including certain pre-defined/formulated licensing fees term, within a few years of commencing commercialisation of the patent. A Win-Win solution to All small inventors/ big inventors/ consumers.

    The initial licensing fee should be much higher in order for the inventor to recover his research costs. An effective way to stimulate cooperation between enterprises. Otherwise, an expensive product/drug could be used only by wealthy people/countries.
  10. I think what is being patented is important. I mean the software must be a new and useful process, or a new and useful improvement thereof, but software patents are integral to this generation of business and Richards Patent Law has significant experience in protecting software and computer programs.
    #10     Aug 12, 2013