You are right we need a revolution but you don't go far enought. After following this issue for over 20 years I have realized that the only solution is to elliminate patents all together. The system is corrupt and serves the laywers
now not the single engineer that hopes their idea will make them rich. If you want protection from others copping your work that only resides in the market place. Be first to market and brand your product so the customer demands yours and won't buy the knock off.
Great feedback, everybody. I am hearing more voices of engineers right here than I have heard listening to all the debates around patent reform. That's the crux of my point: Engineers need to find their voice on this issue and get heard.
Bob Z.: Your side of the patent troll story is one that often is not heard. Sometimes the patent system does work.
That said, we have some real problems here especially around quality and people gaming the system. How do we address this mess?
Guess who the current patent system helps most. It's the individual engineer who has a great idea and wants to build a company before the big corporation figures out a solution. Why do you suppose those who are pushing for reform are all big, established companies like Microsoft, Google, and IBM?
Anyway, this patent strike is a really silly and poorly-thought-out idea. So Rick, exactly which parts of which patent reform bill do you support and which do you object to? Which patent lobby do your feel is wrong -- those representing big electronics and manufacturing companies? Those that represent universities? Those that represent pharmacological companies? Those that represent individual inventors? Each believes in very different kinds of reform -- and their recommendations in some areas are complete opposites. And how would a "patent strike" convey that specific information? Or is it that the patent system, written into the U.S. Constitution and that has formed the basis of our capitalist economy since 1776, is just wrong and should be abolished? Let's just emulate Europe and Japan, as you suggest in your article, whose economies are in worse shape than ours and whose history of innovation doesn't even compare to that in the U.S.
On a final note, I had a nice business selling software to a large company that eventually wanted to buy my software and my patents. After we came to an agreement they tried to sneak onerous clauses into the contract, hoping I wouldn't notice. When I did notice, they told me they would simply produce their own infringing software and dared me to stop them. My business went to zero, and I didn't have the millions of dollars needed to go to court. I was able to sell my patents to a large patent holding company ("patent troll") who has the resources to force the large company to pay license fees or go to court. They assumed a large risk in return for a large potential payout. I minimized my risk and was compensated for my years of hard work.
Your simplistic view is that of someone who has never innovated or had an invention worth protecting. It's sad that so many arm-chair engineers like yourself are pushing so hard to destroy the system that protects those who actually innovate and drive the economy.
Rick: it is not hard to relate to the outrage you feel re our patent system. But you have only one type of engineer in mind: those working in big corporate environments. In reality, as flawed as it is, our patent system is the only source of IP, protection and value to independent engineers who must often sell part ownership into innovation to raise the money they need to see their work bear (commercial) fruit.
For the rest, we have open publication forums where the IP is freely available.
As ironical as this is, our litigious is still a lot better than societies where there is no enforcement against IP right violations.
We pay a price for building a society on the rule of law, though admittedly this price has become steep in recent years. But it is not without reason: there is much at stake when IP rights are claimed and enforced.
"Companies now wield patents strategically to charge others for the freedom to innovate."
you've missed the whole point of the patent system. if you don't innovate before your competitor, they may cut you out of your markets so be the first.
please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform
The patent situation has a lot in common with the so-called distressed assets in the financial community -- a lot of paper out there of unknown value, but everyone knows some of it is completely worthless.
It's difficult to ask engineers to stop issuing junk paper, when in many cases rewards and job security are tied to the patents-by-the-pound mentality.
Yes, the system is broken and yes, engineers' time would better be spent innovating and developing exciting new products. But the lawyers need employment too, and their voices tend to be heard more clearly than ours.
Besides, even if we all stopped the patent madness, there is enough junk paper out there to enable every company to sue every other company for decades to come. We need an even more bold solution than a patent strike to solve this problem.
Gee Rick, you can't have us do that. If engineers didn't have to worry about patents we'd be able to get twice as much work done, and a bunch of us would lose our jobs. There would be so many new, innovative products that consumers wouldn't know what to buy, and would probably not buy anything, making the recession worse.
Seriously, thank you for raising these issues. Patents were supposed to encourage innovation, and these days they have absolutely the opposite effect, particularly software patents.
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