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Old 12-14-2008
 
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Default On Copyright, Patent Law, and Other Government Intervention

If we remove copyright law, would we adversely effect products deemed dependent upon it? Let us consider the pharmaceutical industry, whose R and D/production cost ratio is very high - creating a drug is far more expensive than producing the drug. If we remove patents, would this stifle future innovation? Would it not discourage future investments? If Chaos spends half a million dollars creating a cure for the common cold and I buy some of his vaccine, analyzing it, I could sell it and make more money than he did for I did not pay research and development costs.

I think the same argument applies for books and music: if a publisher does not have monopoly status for its product, wouldn't that discourage quality writing, especially in limited scope interests such as scholarship? In music, wouldn't such a practice discourage recordings, especially of classical music? What about printing sheet music?

I am dubious that a complete removal of patent and copyright law would effect greater prosperity. If I were a potential supplier, I would be far more hesitant to develop something new if I was certain it would be copied.

 
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Old 12-14-2008
 
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I think this innovation would not be sorely missed. University researchers often come up with greater advancements than the private companies do, and they don't necessarily have profit in mind. Same thing with Cuba, they developed vaccines that we use here in the states.

Great works of literature have been created since the invention of of writing without the profit motive being the sole motivating force. Indeed it is the need to create and express ones self. Nowadays it's the publishing companies and the RIAA who recieve most of the profits, not the artists themselves who only get a fraction. They could survive and even live well solely off of donations (and if people stopped donating they would stop recieving great books and movies).

The logic is also silly, because they reason that if person x did not invent y then y would not exist, which is not necessarily true. Person z could have still invented y at some other date.

I think the best solution would be to seriously reduce the timeframe of the patent, like 1 year or so. Just look at wikipedia, you can't use certain images because they have copyrights on them, but it's not like those assholes are gonna make any money from those images which nobody is going to pay for. The copyright lasts for 75 years, which is stupid.

edit: Imagine if the bible had a copyright?
 
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Old 12-14-2008
 
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You are essentially agreeing with me. You are not arguing for the removal of such laws.

I am not sure that a person would invest heavily in something like medicine when the formula is public domain. Do you see the problem here?

The Bible does indeed have a copyright. All, or nearly all translations are under copyright law, for producing and publishing quality translations is expensive.

 
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Old 12-14-2008
 
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Originally Posted by Philosoraptor
I am not sure that a person would invest heavily in something like medicine when the formula is public domain. Do you see the problem here?
Thats not true. What about the American Heart Association, Cure For Cancer, March of Dimes, etc.?
 
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Old 12-14-2008
 
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Originally Posted by Philosoraptor View Post
If we remove copyright law, would we adversely effect products deemed dependent upon it? Let us consider the pharmaceutical industry, whose R and D/production cost ratio is very high - creating a drug is far more expensive than producing the drug. If we remove patents, would this stifle future innovation? Would it not discourage future investments? If Chaos spends half a million dollars creating a cure for the common cold and I buy some of his vaccine, analyzing it, I could sell it and make more money than he did for I did not pay research and development costs.

I think the same argument applies for books and music: if a publisher does not have monopoly status for its product, wouldn't that discourage quality writing, especially in limited scope interests such as scholarship? In music, wouldn't such a practice discourage recordings, especially of classical music? What about printing sheet music?

I am dubious that a complete removal of patent and copyright law would effect greater prosperity. If I were a potential supplier, I would be far more hesitant to develop something new if I was certain it would be copied.
There is, as with most things, an equilibrium that balances the benefits of innovation with the benefits of low-cost goods to consumers. In the case of pharmaceutical drugs, I actually crunched the numbers with a professor one time as a project, and while pharmas usually get 20 years to sell their brand name before their drug goes to the low-cost generics, the equilibrium patent length was more like 5 years. So in a lot of cases, the government is giving way too much credit to the innovators.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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Patents cause problems when they suppresses innovation.

For instance, when you need to get off of oil and Chevron purchases the patent for the use of NiMH batteries in vehicles and then sits on it doing nothing but going after inventors for making devices that use a patent they own and refuses to sell the batteries or the patent, then it stifles progress.
 

Last edited by Golgo 13; 12-15-2008 at 02:32 AM.
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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I think Golgo mentioned the one thing I see as a major negative for the Patent Office. Other arguments aside, I think that the system is messed up when companies can buy patents, or file patents on tech or innovative things that they'll never actually use (or have no plans of using).

I like the idea of a sort of "use it or lose it" rule, that if you don't actually utilize the patent you filed for within, say, 6-12 months; then you lose it. I'd also like to see patents be stricter, insofar as seeing companies trying to patent dna and other bullshit like that. Or other inane things. Also very general patents (ala "System for purchasing things through the internet") should be disallowed, to prevent the moronic lawsuits of smaller companies trying to leech off Amazon or Microsoft.

The complete breakdown or removal of the Patent Office would be pointless, companies are inherently greedy. Without a patent office, the little guy couldn't file and protect is IP because a bigger company with the funds could just come along, steal it/reverse engineer/etc... market it as their own, and the little guy is SOL. Or whatever example works in this case.

I'm going to file a patent for vertical websites, BRB.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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A russian guy recently copyrighted the smiley emoticon. This was a headline on Fark yesterday. It was : - ) without spaces.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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I think Golgo mentioned the one thing I see as a major negative for the Patent Office. Other arguments aside, I think that the system is messed up when companies can buy patents, or file patents on tech or innovative things that they'll never actually use (or have no plans of using).

I like the idea of a sort of "use it or lose it" rule, that if you don't actually utilize the patent you filed for within, say, 6-12 months; then you lose it.
There are problems with that too. How are you going to define "use"? One could very easily imagine a situation where the law requires the patent holder to produce more of a good than is actually demanded by the market in equilibrium. This would cause a surplus and artificially low prices - which in turn will actually stifle innovation by causing the patent holder not to invent it in the first place because he knows that when he is forced to make it in too large quantities, he won't be able to make any money off it.

Another issue is that there are lots of things for which it's actually desirable for someone to sit on a patent and not use it. Take nuclear weapons or any other devastating weapon of mass destruction for example.

To resolve either of these issues while still keeping the regulations you want, you are going to have to have some kind of central planning body, which by its nature is not going to be able to judge these things as well as the market would. We're much better off providing patent protections, but on a smaller scale.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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There are problems with that too. How are you going to define "use"? One could very easily imagine a situation where the law requires the patent holder to produce more of a good than is actually demanded by the market in equilibrium. This would cause a surplus and artificially low prices - which in turn will actually stifle innovation by causing the patent holder not to invent it in the first place because he knows that when he is forced to make it in too large quantities, he won't be able to make any money off it.
This makes little sense. How could sitting on an innovative technique not be stifling progress? Who said anything about forcing the holder to make it in large quantities? I'm talking about actually utilizing the patent you filed for and show that you're actually using it to some degree. Not just sitting on it to keep innovation out of the mainstream so that you can continue to sell your shitty (By comparison) product. Not that it would actually stop people from sitting on patents anyway, but if your forced to show that you're still working on that booze-powered vehicle then it would be public record as to whether or not you were actually innovating or just sitting on your asses squeezing people dry.

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Another issue is that there are lots of things for which it's actually desirable for someone to sit on a patent and not use it. Take nuclear weapons or any other devastating weapon of mass destruction for example.
I'm pretty sure that patents would not stop groups from acquiring or building nuclear weapons. This seems like an incredibly weak argument honestly.

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To resolve either of these issues while still keeping the regulations you want, you are going to have to have some kind of central planning body, which by its nature is not going to be able to judge these things as well as the market would. We're much better off providing patent protections, but on a smaller scale.
You seem to think I'm advocating some kind of crazy patent regulation that requires a company that files for a patent to suddenly start building and producing it on a mass scale. On the contrary, I don't care whether they produce or even build it, I just want them to show they are actually utilizing the patent. Even if it's in R&D, say for car companies, utilizing patents on battery-powered cars, or that crazy water powered one or whatever.

Companies that sit on patents without utilizing them are not "helping innovation" at all.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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This makes little sense. How could sitting on an innovative technique not be stifling progress? Who said anything about forcing the holder to make it in large quantities? I'm talking about actually utilizing the patent you filed for and show that you're actually using it to some degree. Not just sitting on it to keep innovation out of the mainstream so that you can continue to sell your shitty (By comparison) product. Not that it would actually stop people from sitting on patents anyway, but if your forced to show that you're still working on that booze-powered vehicle then it would be public record as to whether or not you were actually innovating or just sitting on your asses squeezing people dry.
You didn't fully get at what I am saying. Let's play out your scenario. You want to make sure that they are utilizing the patent. I will ask the question again, what does that mean exactly? Say a pharma comes up with a life-saving drug. If you require that they produce at least 1 pill (thus "using" the patent), and they produce only 1 pill, that isn't much different from sitting on it, is it. Or do you want them to produce more than 1 pill? How many pills? The number is getting larger isn't it. But as I explained, there is a point where the number gets TOO large, increasing supply to a point where the resulting market price is so low that the pharma can't make much profit off it, and so they decide it wasn't worth it to develop the drug in the first place - thus having a chilling effect on innovation.

The point is that our lawmaking body is not competent to judge in every case the number of pills they should force the pharma to produce that balances the chilling effect on the large side with the "sitting on it" effect of the small side. There is an optimum point in the middle there, and the best way to find that point is through market mechanisms.

Quote:
I'm pretty sure that patents would not stop groups from acquiring or building nuclear weapons. This seems like an incredibly weak argument honestly.
So you admit that there are some industries which do not require patent law in order to keep steady innovation?
 

Last edited by Pizza; 12-15-2008 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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You didn't fully get at what I am saying. Let's play out your scenario. You want to make sure that they are utilizing the patent. I will ask the question again, what does that mean exactly? Say a pharma comes up with a life-saving drug. If you require that they produce at least 1 pill (thus "using" the patent), and they produce only 1 pill, that isn't much different from sitting on it, is it. Or do you want them to produce more than 1 pill? How many pills? The number is getting larger isn't it. But as I explained, there is a point where the number gets TOO large, increasing supply to a point where the resulting market price is so low that the pharma can't make much profit off it, and so they decide it wasn't worth it to develop the drug in the first place - thus having a chilling effect on innovation.
You're asking for a concrete definition on a hypothetical I proposed. That is unfair and rather nitpicky of you. How am I supposed to "come up with a number" that would satisfy you? The general idea is to restrict companies from filing patents and sitting on them so no one else can use what they patented. If a pharma has a life saving pill and filed a patent on it, but then sat on it because it would negatively effect their bottom line (replacing a drug that simply treated the symptoms instead of outright curing this illness), and thus also preventing another company from selling or producing a similar medication -- that would something to avoid.

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The point is that our lawmaking body is not competent to judge in every case the number of pills they should force the pharma to produce that balances the chilling effect on the large side with the "sitting on it" effect of the small side. There is an optimum point in the middle there, and the best way to find that point is through market mechanisms.
You seem to be arguing something completely different then what I'm getting at. You are stating, as far as I understand, that the market should determine how said patent should be produced and sold. I'm arguing that if a company does not utilize the patent at all then it would lose the patent and another company could step in and use it themselves. Tell me, how exactly is the market going to find an optimum point for a product who's patent is being held by a company that filed on it a decade ago and has since left it in it's archive to prevent competition?

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So you admit that there are some industries which do not require patent law in order to keep steady innovation?
I really don't know how to address this statement. Arguing that WMDs make the case for allowing companies to sit on patents just seems... well patently absurd.
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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I think what's going on here is that I've already accepted your idea, and taken it one step further, but you're not there yet. So let's slow it down. Neo, play out a scenario for me so I may better understand. Eventually, someone is going to have to "come up with a number." If not you, who?
 
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Old 12-15-2008
 
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Sorry to just jump in between you too but I think I see where the misunderstanding lies. Your definitions of "utilizing the patent" differ from each other. Pizza is saying that to use the patent is to actually produce a product, while Neo is saying that you can use a patent if you merely put the idea towards some kind of R&D project. At least I think that's what you guys are saying...

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Old 12-15-2008
 
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You couldn't enact a static law that would apply to such a dynamic system with so much versatility.

The only way to regulate a particular patent would be to have an oversight comittee evaluate each patent that was thought to be holding back progress through it's unutilized existence on a case-by-case basis and make a determination.

Yeah, I know it's bureaucracy, but it sure beats having fossil fuel energy corporations snapping up all critical patents in emerging energy technologies and keeping us on the path to destruction.
 
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