The news you're not supposed to know...

Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand the World
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted Feb 09 2014, 5:34 AM Category: Science/Technology Source: Thomas L. Knapp Print

The Problem Isn't "Patent Trolls." The Problem Is Patents.

Thomas L. Knapp

“As Apple prepares to defend itself against a multi-billion dollar patent infringement claim in Europe,” reports Apple Insider, “the company has aligned with rival Google in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow stiffer penalties for patent trolls who bring frivolous lawsuits.”

Well, it’s about time. But the problem with Apple’s position is that there’s no such thing as a patent lawsuit … or for that matter, a patent … that isn’t frivolous (“not serious in content or attitude or behavior”).

It’s true that patent litigation has become more and more visibly silly over the last few years, but as a major player in the silliness (having, among other idiocies, applied for — and received! — a patent on rectangular devices with rounded corners) Apple doesn’t have much standing to complain about that. There’s not enough room in this column to really go into Apple’s other “intellectual property” howlers, but let’s name two:

Their flagship Macintosh line began as a lock, stock and barrel copy, from user interface to peripherals (ever heard of a “mouse?”), of Xerox’s 1981 Star terminal system. And they briefly sued (before settling with) Amazon over “rights” to the words “app store.” So please, let us break out the world’s smallest violin  for Apple’s angst over “patent trolls.”

Even if patents actually accomplished their advertised purpose — “securing for limited Times to … Inventors the exclusive Right to their … Discoveries,” as the US Constitution puts it — they’d be a very bad idea. The claim that one can own an idea is silly on its face, and not a claim that anyone would pay the slightest mind to were it not enforced at gunpoint by the state.

But the advertised purpose of patents is not their actual purpose.

Their actual purpose is to restrain competition and limit innovation so as to provide economic advantage — monopoly pricing power, in fact — to established firms who, by virtue of their ability to pay off (pardon my indelicate language; I believe the word I’m looking for is “lobby”) politicians, bureaucrats and judges, can thereby indulge their desire avoid market competition on price or quality.

Decades ago, I worked for a well-known boat manufacturer. One summer, I spent several weeks as the “menial tasks” guy — hauling boats and trailers back and forth for modifications, that kind of thing — for the company’s newly hired boat designer as he worked to assemble a prototype “different enough” from the last boat he’d designed (for another firm) to avoid (or at least successfully fight) “infringement” claims. I don’t know how much this “patent compliance” runaround (and any ensuing litigation) added to the cost of each unit of the new boat, but there’s no doubt that it did affect the retail price.

In other words, patents are indirect taxes on consumers. Patent monopolists can charge higher prices because government suppresses their would-be competitors for them. And if those competitors do manage to bring products to market, those products are also more expensive because they’ve had to spend money on patent licensing, or on patent research to avoid “infringement,” or on insurance to protect themselves against patent litigation.

Apple’s complaint, in its essentials, is that patent “trolls” just buy up patent “rights,” then search for infringement to cash in on, rather than going to the trouble of making real products. But why shouldn’t they do that? If, as Apple would have us believe, patents are a legitimate market instrument, then the “trolls” are just exploiting that instrument more efficiently than Apple cares to, right?

The problem isn’t “patent trolls.” The problem is patents.

Latest Science/Technology
- Sorry, George Carlin, Plastic Is Biodegradable
- First of its Kind Study Finds Virtually no Driving Impairment Under the Influence of Marijuana
- Should We Fear the Era of Driverless Cars?
- Bad News: Supreme Court Refuses to Review Oracle v. Google API Copyright Decision
- Lexus Says They've Invented World's First Hoverboard
- The Migration of Guns from Physical to Digital
- The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can
- Florida Judge: IP-Address Doesn't Identify a Movie Pirate

Comments 1 - 5 of 5 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Feb 09 2014, 2:14 PM

9820 I wonder what the state of technology in regards to cheap, clean energy would be today if the government hadn't confiscated and granted themselves exclusive permission to utilize private sector advancements (in the name of national security).
I wonder if the government is using patents as another tool to restrict advancements in health areas such as marijuana cancer treatments. Those pioneered and given away by people like Rick Simpson should be common place by now yet for the most part remain categorized as criminal.

Posted: Mar 05 2014, 9:31 PM

166216 The problem is not patents, but assignment. If patents were not assignable , then the small inventor would have a chance. What we have today is large corps using them to stifle fair. Ok petition .

Posted: Mar 05 2014, 10:45 PM

10842 Patents are nonsense - the equivalent of *ideas for sale.*


Posted: Mar 05 2014, 11:08 PM

10842 h1976['s] post, reminded me of someone who used to post on this site; though, he wouldn't have "wondered" about much of anything, only posted what he was absolutely sure about. Also, he didn't care for me much, but, since Peter has been "redirected," (so to speak) I find myself somewhat enjoyed to see a familiar face.

Posted: Mar 08 2014, 11:29 PM

58106 link to what happened toGPS patent
Comments 1 - 5 of 5 Page 1 of 1

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Good News: 27% Of Americans Say Government Is Their 'Enemy,' Not Their 'Friend' - 11/24Prosecutors Pissed Colo. Juries Keep Acquitting Marijuana DUI Suspects - 11/23Family Gets $4.9m After Cops Beat Mentally Ill Son to Death On Video and Walked Free - 11/24Undercover Cop Dressed In All Black Shot While Placing GPS Tracker On Car - 11/20Video Of Chicago Cop Murdering Teen Shows Another Shooting of Convenience - 11/25NJ Cop Says He Was Suspended After Blowing Whistle On Dept. Misconduct - 11/24WeAreChange Blocked in France Because of New Censorship Law - 11/24VIDEO: Hillary Fans Voice Support For Her 'Plan to Repeal 4th Amendment' - 11/24

Man Follows Speeding Cop, Finds Out He Was Speeding To Buy PeanutsMission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'Cop Shoots Couple's Dog, Threatens Jail For Trying To Save Dog's LifeSWAT Team Shoots Teen Girl & Her Dog During Pot Raid On Wrong HomeDurham, NC Cop Testifies Faking 911 Calls To Enter Homes Is "Official Policy"Indiana Sheriff Says US A "War Zone" To Justify New MRAP Military VehicleTampa Cops Surveil Pot Dealer, Catch Him Selling Pot, Raid His Home & Kill Him"You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!": Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up