Purpose of Patents

Patents were originally intended to encourage people to invent things.

They have been abused by Monsanto to let them patent plants known for thousands of years.

Medical companies patent chemicals and structures in human bodies they had absolutely nothing to do with creating, in particular genes. They just carve out a section to claim of the human genome that others previously mapped. They invented genes no more than the European nobles invented or discovered plantations in Louisiana when they drew the boundaries for their claims on a map in a Versailles drawing room.

Patents have been abused by endless computer companies to block use of ideas as obvious as using a pencil to draw lines would be in the non-computer world. In my own case, Peter Norton/Symantec tried to patent an idea I sent them (and all other back up companies) to recover from damaged backup media. It was not even their idea.

I talked with a guy who worked at the Swiss patent office. He said he had 4 days to decide each patent (the torrent of patents means less time to examine each one). He first had to read the application, 5.08 cm (2 in) thick and look for prior art. The patent applier uses legalistic language to try to disguise trivial ideas as rocket science.

Patents have become a crooked monopolistic game. Big companies cross licence their patent libraries to squeeze the smaller players out of the game.

One measure that would help would be to put a prospective patent out on the web for review for a month. The public, competitors or those who would be stuck paying royalties, could then present their evidence why the patent should or should not be granted. The patent officer could use that as a heads up he was being bamboozled. The problem with the patent system is the only evidence on whether it should be granted comes from a highly partial party who has every motivation to lie. Further, there is no penalty for lying or dissembling. The patent process should be more adversarial, like a legal system.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)