Patent System Encouraging People To Try To Reinvent The Wheel

from the do-we-want-that? dept

Here’s a fun post from BetaBoston, looking at a few attempts by people to literally “reinvent the wheel” by looking through various patents and patent applications on different attempts at wheel-based inventions. The first one may be the most incredible. Granted in 2001 by the Australian patent office, John Keogh’s invention for the “circular transportation facilitation device” has the dubious distinction of also being revoked by the Australian patent office after it got some publicity back in 2001 (winning an Ig Nobel Prize that year). Here’s the drawing of the “invention.”




Nice work, right? At least in that case, Keough admitted that he was just trying to pull a fast one on the patent office, proving just how lax its approval standards had become. Others, apparently, were serious.

German patent application DE20122871, filed July 3, 2001 by Manfred Wanner and Harald Bartol of Eberdingen, Germany for a ?wheel for vehicles, especially two-wheeled vehicles of the high performance type, comprising a provided with a rotational axis of hub, spokes and a rim, which is designed to receive a tire, the wheel having an apparatus for aerodynamic optimization??. This is what it looks like:



World patent application WO 2014012648, filed June 12, 2013 by Roberto Pisacane of Salerno, Italy. Mr. Pisacante invented ?a vehicle wheel that has at least one airfoil mounted thereon, the airfoil being arranged on the wheel body between the wheel rim and the central portion of the wheel?. When airfoil is oriented at a suitable angle, the downforce exerts a torque about the central rotation axis of the wheel can be converted directly into driving force.?

US patent 7980335, granted July 19, 2011 to Stephen D. Potter of Bedford, Massachusetts and assigned to Foster-Miller, Inc., a company that subsequently re-invented its name and now calls itself QinetiQ North America. Mr. Potter invented an ?omni-directional wheel includes a hub rotatable about a wheel axis and a first row of angled rollers about the hub each rotatably supported by the hub.? Voila:



I mean, I guess that last one does seem to be at least somewhat different. But, still. This is the wheel we’re talking about. The whole underlying concept of the common phrase “don’t reinvent the wheel” is that there are some things that are core and not in need of improvement, and that we can better focus on other aspects of innovation in the actual market, rather than starting from scratch again. But when you have a patent system that gives anyone with a patent something of a lottery ticket, it’s quite tempting for lots of people just to “reinvent the wheel” in the hopes that they might be able to go after actual innovators to put a tollbooth on efforts by folks actually trying to build better tools for the market.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Patent System Encouraging People To Try To Reinvent The Wheel”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
66 Comments
JBsays:

Put down your chisel and pick up

“…it’s quite tempting for lots of people just to “reinvent the wheel” in the hopes that they might be able to go after actual innovators to put a tollbooth on efforts by folks actually trying to build better tools for the market.”
Except for the Aussie patent, what was a joke, these (dare I say) inventions are absolutely novel & nonobvious. In your wildest dreams you couldn’t “reinvent the wheel” to be omnidirectional or actually use aerodynamics to increase the torque on the wheel.
These are not slightly modified roundly-chiseled rocks that perform substantially equivalent to the original form.
Pretty disappointed in this article, TechCru… I mean, TechDirt.

Richardsays:

Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

these (dare I say) inventions are absolutely novel & nonobvious.

Well done for missing the point. Whether or not the is some new and nonobvious content in these patents they are still written as if some aspects of the basic wheel concept were part of the invention.

You have to ask the question: wht write ?wheel for vehicles, especially two-wheeled vehicles of the high performance type, comprising a provided with a rotational axis of hub, spokes and a rim, which is designed to receive a tire, “

rather than just “a wheel”.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

Because not all wheels are used for vehicles, and not all wheels have spokes and a rim?

There are lots of arcane rules around patents, many there for good reasons, that prompt patent attorneys to use convoluted language or risk running into avoidable problems later.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

The problem they run into later if they do not use convoluted language are:-
1) They cannot get a court to extend what is covered in latter patent cases.
2) No employment for patent attorneys to interpret patents for companies investigating which patents may read on their design.

art guerrillasays:

Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

sure, okay…
on the one with the airfoils, just HOW is that going to ‘work’ ? ? ? i can conceive that the airfoils provide some sort of force to the wheel, but why whatever force isn’t negated on the ‘other side’ of the mechanism when it is going in the opposite direction, i don’t get it…
(not to mention, the ‘cost’ of the gizmo being rotated is not negligible; exactly why -especially bicyclists- try to lower the weight of their wheels, which gives you more bang for your buck versus lowering the weight of the (static) frame…)
have i mentioned my invention? helium-filled tires for your flying car ! ! ! (or maybe i could just turn the airfoils on the other wheel, backwards)

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

“but why whatever force isn’t negated on the ‘other side’ of the mechanism when it is going in the opposite direction, i don’t get it…”

I’m not sure how that would work but maybe it’s the way some outward protruding component is shaped. Think how fan blades are shaped to push wind in a certain direction (Ok, poor analogy), if you can shape something on the wheel to be more aerodynamic on the way down from the top of the wheel to the center front and to be less aerodynamic from the center front to the bottom it could provide a downward force if shaped correctly? I would have to see exactly how it works to determine if it really works (how do you direct the air downward without first directing it against the tire and creating more drag as a result of having a less aerodynamic tire).

Personally it seems like it’s more marketing than anything. Think of the tornado infomercials that are supposed to improve air flow and save fuel or something, it’s more marketing than anything. but there is never a shortage of car scams that some sucker who never took physics will buy into if you confuse them enough with techno mumbo jumbo they have no clue about.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

and you know what’s more? The tornado fuel saver is also patented!!! That makes it even more effective!!! From the website

“How It WorksThe TornadoFuelSaver is an air-TWISTER, patented worldwide, with 10 years of research & development behind it.”

http://www.tornadofuel-saver.com/product/TORNADO-HOWITWORKS/Tornado-How-It-Works.html

See!!!!

/sarc

There is a sucker born every minute and these patents probably shouldn’t be taken all that seriously.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Put down your chisel and pick up

i can conceive that the airfoils provide *some* sort of force to the wheel, but why whatever force isn’t negated on the ‘other side’ of the mechanism when it is going in the opposite direction, i don’t get it…

When rolling along the ground, the point of the wheel in contact with the ground is stationary, and the point at the top is moving forward faster than the vehicle. (the axle is moving forward at the same speed as the vehicle). This will give a resultant down force from the airfoils;one at the top producing a down force, the ones at the bottom producing no force. As noted rotating mass is a bad idea, also the drag from the airfoils will increase the power needed to turn the wheel. Airfoils on the frame would be more efficient, but because of leaning into a curve they would likely have negative impact on vehicle handling.

pmiddysays:

Disingenuous article is disingenuous

This “article” is terrible. Here is claim 1 of the German patent application.

Wheel for vehicles, especially two-wheeled vehicles of the high performance type, comprising a provided with a rotation axis of the hub, spokes and a rim, which is designed for receiving a tire, said wheel having a device for aerodynamic optimization, characterized in that the device (18) by an adjacent by at least one rim flange (16, 17) of the rim (10) is provided and the axis of rotation (4) towards the hub (3) directed radially guiding element (19, 20) is formed, which at a distance from a radial longitudinal central plane (AA) of the wheel (2) and its outer side (21, 22) – in a radial cross-section of the wheel (9) seen – with an outer contour (11) of the tire (11) is an at least approximate aerodynamic profile (23).

Notice all those numbers in parentheses? Those are references to the numbers in the drawings. Do you also notice that the things they are trying to claim – e.g., 16, 17 – AREN’T in the drawing that is in the story? That’s because what they are trying to patent – the particular aerodynamic aspects seen in the cross section – aren’t in the picture that’s posted.

If you’re going to do some “journalism” to uncover people’s attempts to improve the wheel – which despite your dismissal is HUGE business in the cycling community – maybe pick some worse candidates and provide those instead of picking decent candidates and trying to hide the ball on the claimed improvements.

Whateversays:

I would say it’s a good article, but it exposes perhaps the roots of the dislike for the patent system.

Yes, these are all “wheels”. However, in many of the cases, they are innovative as well, and include new many new and unique ideas. If you keep looking at it as “only a wheel” you tend to miss what they are trying to develop.

If anything, it shows that long after an initial patent would have expired (back in the caveman days) there is still plenty of place for innovation, improvement, and moving forward. Clearly patents didn’t stop them – and the world didn’t end!

So while it’s good to point out patents that are not really advancing anything, it’s equally important to see that not all advancements have to re-invent all of the wheel, just improve parts of it.

Anonymoussays:

The point everyone’s missing is it didn’t take patents to invent the original wheel. In fact, if the absurdity we call patents had been around when the original wheel was created. Those patents would have slowed the technological progress of mankind.

Thankfully, inventors and manufactures didn’t have deal with our present day backwards way of thinking on intellectual privilege laws back then. If they had, we’d probably still be stuck in the middle ages due to all the retardation of innovation and monetary sapping of research and development funds going to lawyers and patent trolls.

ThatFatMansays:

35 U.S.C. 101

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

If you don’t like the way the law is written, you’re welcome to contact your representative in congress and explain to them your disdain for the patent system and see if they’ll agree to remove the new and useful improvements clause 🙂

Anonymoussays:

My recollection is that the patent in Australia was an “innovation patent”, a process that at the outset is essentially the registration of what one claims to have done. Its substantive legal effect is, at best, quite modest. It would have been useful to at least mention this in your article.

Each of the others are more involved than a mere wheel with a rim, spokes and hub. Two involve aerodynamic structures incorporated into the wheel design, and the third is ostensibly an improvement to existing products (an improvement apparently conceived or first actually reduced to practice during the course of a federal government contract issued for the performance of R&D.

Would it really have been that difficult to add context? Cutting corners on “facts” seems to me to reflect a deliberate attempt to create a hatchet piece instead of an honest piece of news reporting.

techrebelsays:

Re: Re:

Would it really have been that difficult to add context? Cutting corners on “facts” seems to me to reflect a deliberate attempt to create a hatchet piece instead of an honest piece of news reporting.

No, it wouldn’t have been difficult at all. But Mike doesn’t do his homework, and his point is indeed to create hatchet pieces. He’s writing for the crowd who’ll read this and think, “OMG! Da patent system is so stupid! They’re patenting wheels! Wheels! Derp! Derp! Derp!” You’re obviously not on the wavelength of Mike’s target audience.

techrebelsays:

Re: Re: Keep it coming

It’s fun to watch the patent system defenders come out of the woodwork to try to (1) insult me and (2) figure out some way to defend the patent system around this. Keep it up guys!

Nice fluff, but where’s the substance? Which wheel lacks innovation? Are you really arguing that wheels can’t be improved? Why do you think these inventors are not “actually trying to build better tools for the market”?

ThatFatMansays:

Re: Re: Keep it coming

We get it, you’re anti-patent. No one is going to change your mind.

As an examiner, I am personally curious to know what the patent system would look like if you, Mikey, got to write the laws. So go ahead, draft some laws to make the patent system be what you think it ought to be and post them up for all of us to read. Cover everything. I’m dying to read it.

And while you’re at it, explain in detail all the ways it’ll help.

Please.

Michaelsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

US Patent System 2015:

None.

Feel free to build upon the inventions of others and create great things that will help make our lives better without having to register your inventions or be concerned that someone is going to come by and sue you for copying.

While the patent system was originally created to try to create incentive for invention, we have come to conclusion that the mother of invention is, in fact, necessity and therefore we don’t need to create a monopoly system to encourage it. Our evidence of this system includes, but is not limited to, some things invented before the patent system was created like the wheel, the arch, indoor plumbing, gunpowder, bow and arrow, the knife, the spear, shoes, clothing, the process of starting a fire…

ThatFatMansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

Doesn’t Work. What incentive is there for anyone to disclose their invention without some level of protection from someone copying it, using it, selling it? There are few, if any, people out there who would be willing to invent something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation.

You speak of necessity like we need those things for our sirvival. Arches are not necessary, nor is indoor plumbing and gunpowder, etc. All you really need is food, water and shelter. Other people are optional. We got by for many many years without those things and survived as a species. You want plumbing and a smart phone and the internet, but it isn’t necessary.

Michaelsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

What incentive is there for anyone to disclose their invention without some level of protection from someone copying it, using it, selling it?

It is really difficult to make the argument that today’s patents are a real disclosure of how to reproduce the “device” as they are supposed to be. If you are arguing that we need patent protection to ensure people do not copy inventions AND that it is necessary to have patents to disclose how to reproduce inventions, you have a great circular argument. Eliminate the patent and people can’t copy it anyway.

I am not sure why you have equated necessity and survival from what I posted. Necessity to live and simple necessity are totally different. The arch was necessary because people wanted multi-story structures that could support weight. Sure, they could have simply built one-story buildings, but they didn’t really want to and thus NEEDED a solution.

Most real invention and innovation works in one of two ways. Either someone needs something and spends their time solving the problem (I need to glue things together fast so I work on super-glue) or someone comes across something and identifies that it solves a problem they knew about (while I was working on that super-strong glue, I made this crap that comes right off of everything – if I put that on the back of a 2×2 piece of paper and sell them in blocks, people can use them for notes).

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

What incentive is there for anyone to disclose their invention without some level of protection from someone copying it, using it, selling it?

You should take a look at the open source and open innovation worlds. It appears that plenty of people recognize there are LOTS of non-IP incentives to open up, often because it benefits them in the market. Take, for example, Elon Musk’s decision to release Tesla’s patents.

There are few, if any, people out there who would be willing to invent something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation.

Bullshit. This is just pure ignorance. If you look at the history of innovation you’d know that’s simply not true. Studies have shown that the number one reason for invention is because the person/company inventing it needs it. Furthermore, you unfortunately seem to be under the (very misguided) belief that if someone else can copy what you do, it means that you can’t sell it any more. That’s just not true. The first mover advantage is tremendous.

Furthermore, companies that truly understand the market will always do better than copycats. The fear of copycats is simply… ignorance of how innovation and competition works.

Whateversays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

You should take a look at the open source and open innovation worlds. It appears that plenty of people recognize there are LOTS of non-IP incentives to open up, often because it benefits them in the market. Take, for example, Elon Musk’s decision to release Tesla’s patents.

Two things here. First and foremost, nobody is saying that patents are the only incentive to develop or more forward. That is a strawman argument that is easy to knock down because it’s obviously false. Nice setup and take down!

Second, Musk’s “release” of the patents isn’t really a release, as much as an attempt to beg the big car companies to do it his way so that his car company can flourish using the infrastructure created by others. He understands that he just doesn’t have the money or the reach to be able to put enough charging stations in the US to make his car truly mainstream, and that without it, Tesla will continue as a niche player. That niche may be in serious jeopardy if the big car companies decide to go full electric and create their own charging systems and operations.

Essentially, Tesla could be the betamax of electric cars, the better standard that nobody uses. Anyone can tell you that Beta should have won but did not, and that was in part because they held onto it too strongly. Musk’s understands that a superior patent with no users is worth a lot less than one shared freely to support his car company, and also in some ways to fulfill his own ego issues by being “king of the world” in some ways.

I understand you don’t like the patent system, but perhaps you should look for better examples.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

“perhaps you should look for better examples.”

While there are other good examples the example given is a good example for reasons you just gave. Of course Tesla is releasing these patents for self serving reasons, that’s kinda the point, the whole point is that the patents don’t really do Tesla all that much good. So why even have them? Why should the USPTO grant worthless patents that cause harm? All they did is cast Tesla money, money that can be better directed towards innovation.

If anything Tesla acquired these patents to prevent others from acquiring them first and using them to hinder Tesla from advancing these technologies. IOW, Tesla got them for defensive reasons (so no one else can get them) and now that Tesla has them they are ‘releasing’ them for anyone to use.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

Two things here. First and foremost, nobody is saying that patents are the only incentive to develop or more forward. That is a strawman argument that is easy to knock down because it’s obviously false.

Actually, that is exactly what ThatFatMan said:

“What incentive is there for anyone to disclose their invention without some level of protection from someone copying it, using it, selling it?”

So we explained why that’s not true, and then you accuse us of setting up a strawman?

Anyway, while I have your attention, can I ask that you respond to a separate thread from last week in which you claimed the DMCA had a notice-and-notice provision. I’m still curious where it is?

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140711/11114227854/us-film-distributor-copyright-enforcement-company-join-forces-to-kick-creative-commons-licensed-film-off-youtube.shtml#c184

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

“There are few, if any, people out there who would be willing to invent something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation.”

I disagree. There are lots of people so willing. I myself have invented a fair number of things over the years despite an unwillingness to patent them. I care about one things with my own works: that I can make use of them, including selling them for a profit. You know what I don’t care about? Whether or not someone else makes money off of them. If I could only eke out a few hundreds of thousands from an invention, but someone else comes along and figures out how to make millions, then I’ll probably be a little jealous and kicking myself for not thinking of doing whatever they did, but in the end it’s a case of “more power to them”. Their success isn’t taking money out of my pocket, after all.

I’m far from the only person who thinks like this. I’m surrounded by them!

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

There are also lots of people smoking crack and meth and drinking themselves into a stupor before 3 in the afternoon every day.

Well, here’s the difference.

If someone smokes crack and meth and drinks themselves into a stupor before 3 in the afternoon every day, then it’s not good for that person. More importantly from a social perspective, it’s also not good for the general public.

But if someone “invents something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation,” then that is good for the general public. If that someone also makes money off of their invention, then it is also good for that person, regardless of who else makes money off of it.

The former case is bad for everyone, so it is wrong. The latter case is good for everyone, so it is right.

So, yeah, it does make it right. And if the patent system interferes with it, then the patent system is wrong.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

There are few, if any, people out there who would be willing to invent something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation.

The big threat to innovation isn’t “someone else making millions” off of one’s new idea. The big threat is that “someone else” will take the idea, patent it themselves, and make millions while legally preventing everyone else from doing the same (including improving on it).

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

There are few, if any, people out there who would be willing to invent something for someone else to make millions off of without any compensation.

There is little to no evidence that this is actually true in the real world.

If you look at industries with strong IP protections, and compare them with industries with weak or no IP protections (like the fashion industry), then the industries with weak IP protections are always far more productive and innovative… and end up generating far more profit.

I would encourage you to watch Johanna Blakely’s TED talk about copyright and the fashion industry:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL2FOrx41N0

Pay special attention to the latter part of the speech, starting at about 12 minutes in, where she actually gives the gross sales for the different industries.

You speak of necessity like we need those things for our sirvival [sic].

You speak of “necessity” like it is synonymous with “survival.”

I’ll give an object-oriented programming example. Say that you want to iterate over a collection of objects (an array, hash map, or whatever). Sooner or later, that’s going to result in the Iterator Pattern. That pattern arose out of necessity to accomplish that task… even though we don’t need to do that task to survive.

Software design patterns such as these cannot be patented, but they were still created, and are now used by every computer programmer. Including companies that “make millions off of” those patterns by using them in their own software.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

His post is so illogical it goes beyond insane. He says

“All you really need is food, water and shelter. […] You want plumbing and a smart phone and the internet, but it isn’t necessary.”

Plumbing is a means to getting water. The Internet can be used as a means to getting a job which can be used as a means to getting food. Etc… IOW, these things can, and often do, contribute to our survival.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

You’re still missing the point. The point isn’t that we should make the assumption that some patent system is good and if someone can’t create a better one then we should keep the existing one. The point is that if the existing patent system harms innovation then it should be abolished. That is we are better off without a patent system than with the one we have. Yes, it sucks for patent trolls and the jobs of patent examiners but that’s not the concern. The concern is the public interest.

A patent is a privilege and if we are to have a patent system the burden is not on opponents of the current system (or opponents of having a patent system) to prove that there is a beneficial system or to prove that having a patent system is beneficial. The burden is on patent proponents to prove that having a patent system in the first place is beneficial and then to propose a beneficial, evidence based, patent system. You hold the burden here, not Mike, and your post is just a disingenuous attempt to shift the burden. Why should an opponent of the current system (or of having a patent system) be the one to do your homework and to be the one to defend your position that he disagrees with. You make no sense. Do your own homework and defend your own position.

The biggest problem I see with the patent system is it’s not evidenced based. There should be some objective and reasonable standard to distinguish an obvious incremental advancement of existing technology from a revolutionary new technology that wouldn’t otherwise exist without patents. Advancement will continue to happen without patents and so we need some reasonable way to ensure (and reasonably prove) that the patent system doesn’t hinder advancements that will happen regardless and that only advancements that require a patent receive one. If you can’t meet these two standards then we are better off without a patent system than with a system that either hinders advancements or simply gets patents on advancements that will happen regardless.

ThatFatMansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

I’m not missing the point. I was making my own. Mikey seems to think that everything should be rejected because the core of it is already known. Every wheel should be rejected because someone already invented a wheel. By his way of thinking, every smart phone and every flip phone before it should be rejected by one of the old brick phones ca. 1980 because a cell phone is a cell phone. All I wanted him to do was to suggest a better way and tell me why his way is best. I happen to think his way is unnecessarily restrictive and would all but eliminate the patent system.

I don’t agree that a patent is really a privilege either. The constitution requires congress to do something to protect inventors and try to promote the sciences and useful arts. While he might not like the system congress gave us, it’s what we have. And it’s not going away, all it can do is change, unless you think we can go ahead and amend that out. Good luck. I’ll touch on evidence based in a moment. But I have defended my position, and I am an Examiner. I’ve never insisted on here that the system is perfect. Nor will I. But to reiterate what I posted earlier, the law allows patents on new and useful improvements. And that is the right choice, because people should be afforded some protection for expending resources to invent those things and increase the body of knowledge.

As to your comments about an evidence based system, we already have it. Examiners reject applications for patents every day and they rely heavily on evidence: patent and non-patent literature, technical documents, etc. While I agree that an objective and reasonable standard would be nice, no one is offering up such a standard that can apply to all cases. There is case law (i.e., court rulings) that cover some basic ideas like rearrangement of parts, obviousness of ranges, optimization of known parameters and simple substitution of known elements for the same purpose. I think we can all agree that that list is neither exhaustive and is rather fundamentally basic. By it’s very nature, most things beyond that are subjective. You take two examiners, give them the same invention to review and the same prior art and you’re just as likely to get two different results on whether the invention is obvious in view of the art as you are to get agreement. Why? Because those examiners are drawing from different experiences and interpretations. If there was a more perfect objective system out there, I’m sure you could write a program to do my job and no more bad patents would issue. I’d also like to think that if such an objective standard could exist, it would have been written into law by now and lobbied against heavily by lawyers and businesses alike.

Gwizsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

The constitution requires congress to do something to protect inventors and try to promote the sciences and useful arts.

Incorrect reading of the Constitution, in my opinion.

The actual wording is:

The Congress shall have Power […] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Nothing in there is a requirement, per se. It’s just an enumerated power the Constitution gives Congress. Congress does actually have ability to reverse, revise and/or revoke patent and copyright laws, if they wish. Of course, that may run afoul of various international treaties and whatnot, but not the Constitution itself.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

Shills keep making the same incorrect claim over and over even after we’ve been correcting this mistake for a long time. It’s hilarious.

I have a theory. Shilling organizations teach them to use this false claim as part of their training because whoever is training them doesn’t know any better. So whenever there is a new shill they come over here all exited to use what they’ve been trained only to discover it’s all wrong. Someone needs to tell the shilling company that this is wrong so that they can stop incorrectly training new hires.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

The constitution requires congress to do something to protect inventors and try to promote the sciences and useful arts.

This is simply not true. It’s a little scary that you think that and are a patent examiner. The Constitution gives Congress the right to create a patent system IF it believes it promotes the progress. That’s it. It does not require anything.

As to your comments about an evidence based system, we already have it.

No it’s not. You’re mistaking what was said. The question is if the system is evidence-based. It was not. It was based on the loose (incorrect) belief that blatant protectionism and a rejection of competition encourages faster innovation. But in the past 250 years we’ve learned that’s not true. Competition drives innovation, not monopolies.

When the first true economic analysis of the patent system was undertaken, by Fritz Machlup, he concluded that no economist would honestly support creating the patent system if there were none today, because it just doesn’t make any economic sense.

techrebelsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

When the first true economic analysis of the patent system was undertaken, by Fritz Machlup, he concluded that no economist would honestly support creating the patent system if there were none today, because it just doesn’t make any economic sense.

And yet you still want us all to believe that you are not in fact anti-patent. You think the patent system makes no “economic sense,” and yet you are not against it? Why not just admit that you are anti-patent? You clearly cannot articulate any way that you are pro-patent, so why all the squirming about taking a firm position against it? Seriously, Mike.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

I believe that quote is from Fritz Machlup, not Mike. In any case, I think you have a bit of the fallacy of the excluded middle going on.

You seem to be saying that of you aren’t pro-patent, then you are necessarily anti-patent. That’s an illogical stance. Personally, for example, I think there is great value to be had in a reasonable patent system. So I’m pro-patent? I also think that our current patent system is very unreasonable, and it might be better to have no patent system at all than the one we actually have. So I’m anti-patent?

It’s a matter of what works for the greatest good. A patent system can be a tool that makes things better for everyone. The one we have may not be that tool.

Gwizsays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

You think the patent system makes no “economic sense,” and yet you are not against it?

Wow dude. You are creating absolutes where none are required.

Just because someone says the current system doesn’t make economic sense doesn’t automatically mean they are saying any and all systems don’t make sense.

You seem to be implying that it is a all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it situation when it’s not. We can improve our current system and fix some of the issues that curtail innovation without scrapping the whole thing.

I, for one, feel that the protection that patents give the garage inventor against large corporations just swooping and taking their invention is important. I also feel that patent trolls looking for easy money by suing everything that remotely resembles some obscure patent they purchased is hurting us too. The system does need some fixing, in my opinion.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

In a 1958 report to Congress Machlup made a similar statement, but the reason why was not at all like you state. His observation was that no definitive pro/con conclusions could be made. If you are making your point based upon a specific paper you have in mind, a cite to the paper would be appreciated.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

His observation was that no definitive pro/con conclusions could be made.

I don’t think so. Here’s the key quote:

“If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one.”

He does note that, given that we already have a system, it would probably mess things up too much to get rid of it entirely, but he clearly concluded that there is no economic basis to support the patent system. He goes through the various rationale put forth for the system, and then discusses why each is not supported by evidence or economic research.

The lack of evidence to support a patent system and the various rationale for the patent system is damning.

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

The constitution requires congress to do something to protect inventors and try to promote the sciences and useful arts.

Uh, no. The Constitution grants the right to Congress to “secur[e] for limited Times to.. Inventors the exclusive Right to their… Discoveries,” if securing those rights “promote[s] the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

It does not require Congress to do anything. They could get rid of all patents and copyrights tomorrow, if they so chose, and it wouldn’t be unconstitutional in any way.

techrebelsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

As an examiner, I am personally curious to know what the patent system would look like if you, Mikey, got to write the laws. So go ahead, draft some laws to make the patent system be what you think it ought to be and post them up for all of us to read. Cover everything. I’m dying to read it.

And while you’re at it, explain in detail all the ways it’ll help.

Don’t hold your breath, because Mike won’t explain anything. We just get vague assertions about things in the “core” that are “not in need of improvement” and that are apparently not a part of “innovation in the actual market.” Trying to nail him down on any of it is a fool’s errand since Mike doesn’t do substance. He does posts like this. Lots of posts like this. But precious little reasoning and substance.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

We get it, you’re anti-patent. No one is going to change your mind.

No, I’m anti-bad patent system. And what will change my mind is evidence that the world is better off with this system as opposed to other systems.

As an examiner, I am personally curious to know what the patent system would look like if you, Mikey, got to write the laws. So go ahead, draft some laws to make the patent system be what you think it ought to be and post them up for all of us to read. Cover everything. I’m dying to read it.

I have many times in the past suggested a few key changes that would massively improve the patent system. Here is one example:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110819/14021115603/so-how-do-we-fix-patent-system.shtml

Just because you didn’t read it (or do a basic Google search) doesn’t mean I haven’t done it.

techrebelsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

No, I’m anti-bad patent system. And what will change my mind is evidence that the world is better off with this system as opposed to other systems.

Really? You’re not anti-patent? Tell us this, then: Name one single patent right in one single inventor that you support. I don’t think you can, and the reason is because you are in fact anti-patent. Saying you’re just “anti-bad patent” is silly semantics. If you think all patents are bad, then that means you’re anti-patent. Why won’t you just admit it? Seriously, why?

ThatFatMansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Keep it coming

There is a lot up here that I simply don’t have the time to address. So I’ll take a quick stab at this and a couple other points and leave it at that.

You strike me as anti-patent. That’s my opinion. I’m not trying to defend our system as the right one. I have plenty enough of my own opinions of the shortcomings of our patent system and changes I’d like made. But given my position, I try to keep many of them out of the public eye for obvious reasons. No system can or ever will be perfect, but problems can and should be fixed. As an examiner, I work within the system we have to the best of my ability, and try not to issue things that I think would be problematic. So far, I haven’t seen anything I’ve worked on show up here, and I’m not complaining.

And yes, I have read at least some of your stories about how do we fix the patent system. I’m not saying, and I never meant to imply, that you haven’t done so. I guess I was looking for something more, not just a few ideas, but your overall idea for the system as a whole. I actually am curious to read it, whether I agree with it or not. It would be interesting to see a system without the hands of a lawyer all over it.

As to my statement about the constitution requiring something along the lines of a patent system. I’m not above admitting when I should have been more careful with my words. It does not say it is a requirement, but rather a power. I said requirement because I couldn’t see a need for it to be enumerated otherwise. A little looking around (thanks Google and Wikipedia) and I accept that I screwed up. In reality it is a power probably better left in the hands of the federal government, because I am sure we can at least all agree having patents and copyrights on a state by state basis would be far worse than what we have now.

The burden is on patent proponents to prove that having a patent system in the first place is beneficial and then to propose a beneficial, evidence based, patent system and The biggest problem I see with the patent system is it’s not evidenced based I think it’s pretty clear that AC’s comment is that we need a system based on evidence. I’m only pointing out that we have it, and I tried to briefly support that.

In any case, thank you for replying, I’ll admit I was surprised. I’m glad to see that there was quite a bit of back and forth here, and that it was mostly civil.

Michaelsays:

Which wheel lacks innovation?

All of these lack innovation.

The first was an attempt to show how had the patent system was by getting a patent on a wheel.

The second is a wheel with an attempt at adding an aerodynamic device to the outer rim – which anyone that knows anything about the effects of rotating weight is going to tell you will harm the performance more than help it.

The third is actually the most innovative of all four of these, but ultimately a bad idea. Adding an airfoil to an automobile wheel to try to take advantage of passing wind as a propellant – well, add a sail to your car and let me know if it improves your mileage.

Finally, the last one – umm…they either copied an existing wheel / tire that has been used on forklifts for a couple of decades (drove one in a shop I worked at in the 90’s), or they simply came up with the same idea on their own (neither helps the case that patents are all that useful).

Anonymoussays:

how the patent office works

Understanding the patent system:
Patent office is not to judge… it must and can approve everything. This saves tons of money as you do not any special skills. All you need to buy is a monkey and big rubber ‘approved’ stamp.
Any mistakes will be caught by the industry experts and then court system can serve as a filter. You see the industry can spend the resources to have the various experts in any field much better than any patent office.

That is how the patent office works.

Anonymoussays:

“…economic analysis does not yet provide a basis for choosing between ?all or nothing,?…”

This does not in my view suggest that he found no economic basis to support the patent system. To me he was making an honest observation. i.e., questions he deemed relevant were not amenable to definitive answers.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re:

“…economic analysis does not yet provide a basis for choosing between ?all or nothing,?…”

This does not in my view suggest that he found no economic basis to support the patent system. To me he was making an honest observation. i.e., questions he deemed relevant were not amenable to definitive answers.

Why do you ignore what he actually said. “If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowl?edge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one.” He is clearly saying that there is not enough economic basis to argue for a patent system.

That said, the context of the snippet you quoted is clearer from the entire section, in which he notes that since we already have a system, getting rid of it would require additional questions, and there isn’t enough evidence to cover the consequences of getting rid of an existing system.

None of that means that the overall results of his study meant he couldn’t find enough evidence either way. He’s comparing the “all or nothing” situation by noting that there is no real evidence to support a patent system, but since we have one, there isn’t enough evidence of the impact of taking away this system that people already rely on, so he can’t recommend ditching it all together.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s equal weight in evidence for no system or the system we have. Quite the contrary. He’s just saying there’s not enough evidence about how changing systems midstream might have an impact, so he doesn’t recommend ditching the system. However, he’s pretty damn clear that there’s no real evidence that a patent system makes any sense. He’s just worried about wrecking an existing bit of infrastructure that so many are reliant on.

If anything, this is EVEN MORE DAMNING. Because he’s basically admitting that an entire infrastructure was built up around a system that had no economic basis — making it nearly impossible to correct the initial error of creation.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow