Monday, August 01, 2011

Patently obvious

Patents are there to keep inventors safe, yet the people they keep safe are hardly ever inventors.

Surely that fact alone must mean it's time for change?

Could there be a workable alternative, or is this just indicative that any invention needs to be backed up with actually doing something about it in order for you to deserve some reward?

I used to believe that patents would protect my ideas (if I were to have any of note) but now I ponder:
should I be allowed to rest on my laurels after having a good idea?

Why should one moment of inspiration award me a lifetime of cash?
Why shouldn't the second person to have the same idea also be allowed the same award?
Why should anyone be rewarded continually for only one act?

So, an idea is born, of not one mind, but of the collection of minds that helped bring that mind to th singular point at which the possibility of it's non existence reaches zero. Who's mind it falls from, is but a lottery that rewards unfairly in these new times of infinite communication. The reward for such a feat of inevitable invention is to curse all those else who thought of it and instead of acting, pursued a course of engineering, made it material with effort rather than made it legal with uttered words or written letters.
Being rewarded continually for one act reminds me of the very undemocratic method of ruling known as despotism. The cruel world where you could be happily self sufficient, except you have to pay a self proclaimed king because you didn't claim the idea in your name first. But then you would be king, and they the peasant rightfully objecting.
Are you an invention despot? If you have an idea, is it moral to keep it to yourself? Is it moral not to free ideas, to keep ideas to yourself, to try to earn a living by keeping back the human race?
Are we not, as a race, made grand by our ability to copy, share, remix and create from the ashes and fallen bodies of half-baked ideas and inventions? Made more than mere animals by our unique ability to be transformed by the memes that we hold so dear?

But what about the inventors that did try? The web site owners that had their idea taken wholesale (such as Apple vs Instapaper). Well, I say, Apple spent their money to make a product. So did the inventor. Hopefully they will have another good idea and make more money, but if they are living on the cash from one idea, then all your eggs in one basket comes to mind. If you're big enough that a company like Apple takes notice and steals from you, then you're probably not doing too bad anyway.

Ideas are cheap, doing the work costs time and effort. If you can't be bothered to invest your time or money in an idea, do you really deserve it?


Funcan said...

Erm, the entire /point/ of the patent system is that it is a time limited monopoly in return for making the ideas publicly available. It is intended exactly to /avoid/ people 'keeping ideas to themselves'...

I'm not saying it works in this day and age, but I do feel you've missed the fundamental point of patents.

fabs(); said...

The fundamental point of patents was to provide incentive for creativity. But it's misguided in that it does not understand where the creativity comes from.

I never declared that patents hide the ideas away, but that they stifle usage and thus reduce further invention by reducing the output rate of any product based off the invention. Without product, there can be no creativity based on the problems or opportunity provided by the current state of invention.