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The Problem in a Nutshell
Why should I Participate?
Current Status:
General Notes

  1. The fundamental problem
    • Patents can impede progress.
    • Patents can cost businesses far more money than the patents generate.
    • Patents can stifle creativity and scientific research.
    • Stifling research prevents the sharing of ideas, the improvements of ideas, and the implementation of same. People are prevented from helping their friends and neighbors, which is incalculably detrimental to society.
    • The above problems are especially troublesome for the case of software patents.

  2. Features that are desirable in a long-term solution
    • For the cases in which patents impede progress, those impediments should be removed.
    • The rules of the game should be changed to have a bias so that society, creativity, research, and businesses all tend to benefit in the long term.
    • The rules of the game should be changed such that businesses that, overall, use patents in a way that is detrimental to society, or that impedes progress, or creativity, or scientific research, do not benefit financially from their patents as much as those that are more helpful.
    • Playing fair should be financially rewarding to all involved.

  3. Problems with the direct approach
    • The direct methods of solving the problem are things that will tend to change the laws, change judicial rulings, or change how the laws are interpreted. All three methods require that extensive time and effort be put forth by many people in many countries. At this point in time at least, that would necessitate either extensive lobbying, or legal help, or both.

  4. The suggested solution is an indirect approach
    • There is no need to start extensive lobbying efforts in many countries if a cross-licensing agreement would do the trick.

  5. Assumptions
    • Businesses want to make money.
    • Businesses don't want to lose money.

  6. Corollaries
    • If a business loses more money than it considers necessary to patent royalties, or is at risk of losing money to patent lawsuits, it will be interested in lowering its actual or potential future costs.
    • If a business can obtain an overall financial benefit by opening its patent monopoly, it will want to do that.
    • If a business can capitalize on the fact that it's promoting a social good by opening its patents to public use, it will want the opportunity to do so.

  7. Solution
    • Create a cross-license agreement in which participants can use each other's patents. Businesses and individuals can use patents from any specific patent pool, but only when they meet the non-monopolistic requirements inherent in that pool.
    • Design the license such that participants gain an economic advantage in sharing their patents with other participants.
    • Design the requirements of each pool such that any participant will be helping others who are sharing as much as, or more than the participant. (In point of fact, the license allows a participant to share a patent royalty-free with non-participants. This option will almost certainly be used only rarely, but that very thing has been done before. The feature was not added because the design goals require it, but because the lack of the feature would render the license in some sense incomplete.)

  8. Addendum
    • Intellectual properties that act in a way similar to patents have the same practical effects as patents. Those intellectual properties can be classified with the patents they act similarly to.

July 05 2000 00:27:04 UTC
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