- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Businesses want to make money.
- Businesses don't want to lose money.
- 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.
- 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
(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
- 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
July 05 2000 00:27:04 UTC
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