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Are U.S. Patents Hindering Technology?

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posted on May, 14 2005 @ 03:13 AM
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It seems that patents could be a hinderance to allowing newly-found information & technology from entering the hands of other people (be they scientists, car manufactures, DVD & CD burner manufacturers, agriculturalists, ect...) out of greed. What do you think?

(Please put aside your beliefs for the following question.)
Also, while on the topic, how do you think mankind is affecting the evolution of itself? How could we do things differently? Or are we capable of hindering/helping it?




posted on May, 14 2005 @ 12:42 PM
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Sorry, but I do not understand fully what you are getting at? What patents in specific to IT are you describing? Spam blockers, filters, etc...
How are patents a hinderance in the first place. They are designed to allow the protection of one's (however)original idea from being copycatted, much like plagairism laws.



posted on May, 14 2005 @ 12:46 PM
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I think that patents do hinder the development of technology. They also protect the rights of inventors, so it's a kind of two-edged sword.

If an inventor patents his invention, they are most likely keeping the details of how to develop the device to themselves. This means that other inventors won't be able to know what they did so that they can learn from it and improve on the design.

As an example I read about several years ago, take Shuji Nakamura, who was the first person to develop the blue laser diode.
www.sciencewatch.com...

I'm not sure what the state of things on the blue laser diode are now, but when it first came out, the method of production was a closely guarded secret by Nichia. They only described the process in the most general terms for the patent application, and for obvious financial reasons, would not disclose the actual manufacturing processes. If they had, another company quite possibly could have improved on their design (and cost Nichia a ton of profit) We would probably have better blue laser diodes by now if Nichia had shared the knowledge it had obtained.

In a twisted sort of way, patents also encourage innovation. If an inventor doesn't think that he/she can obtain any kind of financial gain from their invention, they are less likely to bother inventing something. The patent protects their financial interests, so that they will feel safe knowing that their invention won't be ripped off by the first multinational corporation that takes an interest in it.

I think that in an ideal utopian world, there would be absolutely no reason to have patents. In real life, however, I think they are an unfortunate necessity. Despite hindering future innovations in some fields, patents do encourage the inventors to make the initial first steps, and without patents, not all of our inventors would have chosen to be inventors.

As for the second question, I think I'll give that one a bit of thought before posting; maybe I'll come back tomorrow on it. I already had this opinion on patents, so it was easy to type it out in a few minutes, but the second one is a thinker for me.



posted on May, 14 2005 @ 12:51 PM
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Patents have always been thought to help the advance of technology by allowing people to profit from their discoveries. From the U.S. Constitution itself:



Section 8 - Powers of Congress
...
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;


Of course the patent system can be misused, but many entrepreneurs come up with new ideas and if they couldn't be patented, large established corporations would just steal their ideas and they'd gain nothing, stifiling innovation.



posted on May, 14 2005 @ 09:30 PM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
Of course the patent system can be misused, but many entrepreneurs come up with new ideas and if they couldn't be patented, large established corporations would just steal their ideas and they'd gain nothing, stifiling innovation.




The patent system was designed so that technology wasn't hindered. Retaining the rights to something that you patented encourages a healthy market for the device. You won't keep it hermit-style because that's unhealthy, and most likely not why you invented it. A good market will inevitably form around patents, which is very desirable.



posted on May, 14 2005 @ 11:15 PM
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Thank you all for your insight on this stupid subject. I guess what I meant to ask (since I don't know anything about patents, hence my questions) was, for example :

If Ziplock created a new freezer bag that revolutionized the way we think of food storage, would patents stop this technology from being used by scientist for organ growth/encasement? Is it possible to hide the secrets of what you have done so everyone has to come to you FOR this product; thus halting the evolutional thought process of what else this technology can be applied to?

Good market? What about powerful companies that want a good bank account and could care less about what it destroys or pollutes to get it? Alot of those exist inside the good market. Is this greed stopping evolution or helping microevolution?



posted on May, 14 2005 @ 11:43 PM
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If Ziplock created a new freezer bag that revolutionized the way we think of food storage, would patents stop this technology from being used by scientist for organ growth/encasement?


I don't see why not. You'd have to buy the bags from ziplock or else pay a royalty fee or something, but once they've sold them, I don't see how they can dictate what you do with them. If I buy a computer from FutureShop and use it as a doorstop, or gut the innards and make a kitty litter box, I don't think they're going to care that it wasn't for the intended use that I bought it, as long as they get their money.


Is it possible to hide the secrets of what you have done so everyone has to come to you FOR this product...


I suppose they can try, but people can reverse engineer it and learn what makes their invention work. I think it's pretty hard to keep that kind of secret nowadays, unless it's something really high tech.


...thus halting the evolutional thought process of what else this technology can be applied to?


I think Amorymeltzer and djohnsto summed this point up pretty good, and I have nothing to add.


What about powerful companies that want a good bank account and could care less about what it destroys or pollutes to get it?


There are various laws regarding what companies can and cannot do to the environment, so unless they want to risk the consequences, they're not going to do anything too crazy. It isn't good business sense to dump 10x the legal limit of pollution into the air; it might save you a few bucks in the short term, but the government will probably come down on you like a ton of bricks, and force you to comply with their standards, and fine you a bunch in the process, as well as ruin your public image.


Is this greed stopping evolution or helping microevolution?


I have no idea what that means, sorry.



posted on May, 15 2005 @ 12:08 AM
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Originally posted by Enigmatic Debris
If Ziplock created a new freezer bag that revolutionized the way we think of food storage, would patents stop this technology from being used by scientist for organ growth/encasement?


Dragons put it well, but, basically, patents protect Ziplock's invention so they earn the money as they rightfully should. Patents just mean that the scientist can't create the same thing and try to sell it as his own invention. He can use the bags, he can create them on his own for organs, whatever he wants. The rights still belong to Ziplock.



posted on May, 15 2005 @ 12:16 AM
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Originally posted by Enigmatic Debris
It seems that patents could be a hinderance to allowing newly-found information & technology from entering the hands of other people (be they scientists, car manufactures, DVD & CD burner manufacturers, agriculturalists, ect...) out of greed. What do you think?


Yes sometimes they could be major hinderances. For example many leading drug producers are hesistant to tackle certain genetic diseases, because doing that would require them to research to the genes that could be patented. Therefore they research genes that aren't copyrighted, definitely a major hinderance to finding cures.

But, there is a good side. Without patents in place, major corporations would easily reproduce people's inventions and reap millions off it.

Surf



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 12:15 AM
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.
When large corporations buy patents just to sit on them, to protect their franchises and keep them out of people's hands who will utilize them, YES, they can hinder technological advances.

I think there should be stipulations on buying patents, that they are to be utilized and not just sat on. If a company can not show any kind of work or progress on a patent they own they should be required to release it.
.



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 12:21 AM
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Definitley.
Think about Tesla...
So much is lost since any of his patents would have been public record.



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 12:21 AM
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You mean like the team one of the Big Three(can't remember which one maybe Ford) pre-emptively patentend advanced battery technology to make sure Volvo wouldn't steal market shart. This was in the 60s I beleve.



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 05:03 AM
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Just an interesting side note, Ziplock has created a new seran wrap that is quite interesting! After seeing the commercial, it seems you lay one piece down on the counter, place a steak in the middle of it, put another piece of it on top, then press together to form a vacuum seal, like the kind you had to buy an expensive machine for. How do you think this technology could be applied to other fields (i.e. car hoses, coating for guitar strings, ect.....?)



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 05:55 AM
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Excuse me? U.S. patents??? I don't know if that was an attempt to bash America, but I've got news for you....patents are patents all the world round. Every country has a patent system. FURTHERMORE, just about anything you can conceive and apply for a patent on will have the following greatest hurdle:

The high probability that a German scientist or engineer during the period of World War II already thought of it and got a patent. I swear to pete those guys must have been filing a patent a day - each!

Sorry - the patenting system doesn't put the reigns on invention, it promotes it by protecting the person/company who thought of it or bought the idea. Furthermore, even if some one could prove we'd all be light years away if there was a patent process - you can't blame it on the U.S.!!!



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 05:58 AM
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No attempt to bash, I simply didn't know if there was a different name for them in the UK, ect..... I've seen people from all over here. I just wanted everyone to understand me.



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 06:18 AM
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Originally posted by Enigmatic Debris
No attempt to bash, I simply didn't know if there was a different name for them in the UK, ect..... I've seen people from all over here. I just wanted everyone to understand me.


No worries. I'm willing to bet the Norwegians are more adept at patenting these days than anybody else on earth. Not only are they extremely prolific in ideas, but they seem to have the "iron-clad" aspect down very well!



posted on May, 16 2005 @ 12:43 PM
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I noticed a couple of posts about 'U.S. patents'. There isn't really such a thing. There is some sort of signatory agreement (sorry, I don't know the name of it) whereby any patent registered in the United States (and most have signed it) is automatically recognized as valid in all of the other signatory countries. So the inventors send their patent applications to the States, and if they are approved, become binding for most of the world.




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