« Patent Transmission | Main | Tying »

March 26, 2006

Crushing Small Innovators

Roy Mark provides a knowing take on the perspective of Silicon Valley corporations towards patent licensers in his March 24, 2006 commentary for internetnews.com.

For historical backdrop on Mark's commentary, consider this March 1993 Forbes article. [Thanks to Dan McGlinchey for the citation.]

Posted by Patent Hawk at March 26, 2006 9:37 AM | Patents In Business


Roy Mark provides a falacious analogy. Patents are not physical property, and thus are not at all like stolen property.

Ideas don't share any of the attributes of physical property: exclusivity, single-ownership enforceability, scarcity, etc. You and Mark do the pro-IP camp no favors by continually foisting lies and deceptions like this on the public. In fact, you only make yourselves untrustworthy.

Posted by: lies at March 26, 2006 10:06 PM

from USPTO website --
commonly compared to property deed, dude...

The legal definition of an invention is found in the "claims" of a patent -- the numbered paragraphs at the end of an issued patent. The claims define the scope of an invention just as a property deed defines the scope of land ownership of real estate. Thus, the term patent claim differs from the term "claim" as it is used in the context of advertising and FDA. Other sections typically found in a U.S. patent include: Abstract, Summary, Detailed Description, Examples, and Figures, all of which must together describe the invention in sufficient detail so that other people skilled in the field to which the invention pertains are able to understand what the invention is and practice the invention in a general sense. A patent need not provide mundane production details or information that would relate only to commercialization of the invention, but the patent must describe the inventor or inventors' preferred manner (if there is a preference) of practicing the invention.

Posted by: Dan McGlinchey at March 27, 2006 10:57 AM

Patents ARE PROPERTY and have always been treated like property.

They are equivalent to a 20-year lease on land.

This property of patents (no pun intended) allows free transfer of rights from one party to another, e.g. from inventor to his employer, or from one company to another etc.

Posted by: small guy at March 27, 2006 11:46 AM

Roy Mark's analogy was intended to help people relate to a more concrete example.

A patent grant is precisely a grant of exclusivity and single-ownership enforceability. Patent infringement is intellectual property theft.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at March 27, 2006 4:21 PM

The rhetoric around patents as property is pretty amazing. That an idea can be equated with a piece of land is, when you think of it, prepostorous.

Ideas are not scarce. Pyhsical property is scarce.

One party can utilize an idea without reducing the use of that idea for a second party in any way. The same *cannot* be said of physical property; use by more than one party necessarily reduces the utility of the other.

Jefferson said it far more eloquently: "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

Posted by: rhetoric at March 28, 2006 8:27 AM