Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Patents gone bad: slowing science

Patents and copyrights are not a rule of physics, nor a matter of human rights or natural justice.

They exist to benefit society, creating a temporary wealth incentive for the holder to increase scientific and technological progress.

The system is defective. On the one hand we have Nathan Myhrvold's patent extortion scheme, on the other evidence that the patent system is 'stifling science'.

We don't need to throw out patents and copyright entirely. We do need serious reform. I hope China will lead the way if the US and Europe cannot.

Reform begins with the phased elimination of process patents. They were a terrible error. In other domains patent lifetimes must be shortened. Overlapping patents consolidated. The cost of obtaining a patent increased.

We have enough problems without creating more through wrong headed law.

Update: Today is world stop software patents day. Who knew?

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