The main thing wrong with software patents is the nonobviousness bar.
It's bloody obvious you can write just about anything you're competent to write and that is possible to implement. That's the whole point of a generally programmable architecture. To then say, "look, ma, I wrote an algorithm!" and THEN expect that no one else is allowed to write the same thing... the only thing obvious about that is that it is stupid.
Digital hardware is not very different software
That's one case of doing digital hardware, and it doesn't address the 99% of the realm of other hardware. See, the problem here -- unlike software -- is that you don't get to make a very effective choice about the amount of resources thrown at the problem. I can attack the same software problem as a large corporation and even come out ahead, and faster. With hardware, that's not true. There are all kinds of limits from certifications (FCC, UL, etc.) to lab equipment to mechanical design, assembly, testing, prototyping, packaging, distribution and so on; patents exist in order to encourage the investments required to address those costs. For software, such encouragement is unnecessary. It doesn't face the same problems unless you choose that it does (mainly by hiring less effective programmers and/or constraining programmer options (like choice of language) and/or putting layers of management in the way of progress.)
doesn't the current patent system already do that?
No. The current patent system enforces a monopoly, and then you get to earn whatever. I'm suggesting that if the invention is found worthy, the government immediately pay the inventor based on an initial estimation, and then revise that upwards if called for when presented with sales and social data ten years later, and anyone can use the invention. So the inventor gets rewarded; the risks of commercializing land equally on everyone's shoulders. If the invention is worthy, that is, it can be sold at a profit, that'll probably happen. If not, well, phbbbt.
That's stupid, because customers will always low-ball what they want to pay
That's why the revisit. Show the data, get the pay.
The price of any goods/service should be set by the seller, not the buyer.
This isn't about the buyer or the seller or the manufacturer. This is about the inventor. We want things invented. We don't want monopolies. So if I invent a widget, I get paid for inventing it. Anything from $10 to whatever they think it's worth. After ten years, it turns out this thing was used *everywhere* (say it's in cellphones) then I get more. But that more came from legit sales of the device (taxed), a tax that is built into its cost and doesn't make it any harder for one little guy to make it , or a big corporation. Given that the sales are known, so is the recompense.
nobody knows how much a patent is worth beforehand.
Estimates can be made -- we do that kind of thing all the time -- and the revisit can ensure that the actual worth is eventually related to the reward.
It could be worthless, or a few bucks, or billions.
No invention is worth billions. Monopolies on inventions are worth billions. And we should get rid of those. Then if you can make billions off of sales of devices, fine. But everyone gets a chance at it, and the inventor is already compensated.
You just want to create a system where the patent holders are royally screwed and you can get their ideas for cheap.
No. That's nonsense. Use your head. I want the inventor(s) paid well, and I want it to be related to the actual value of the invention. What I want to eliminate is the monopoly, because that's an albatross around everyone else's neck, a huge, hemorrhoidal, bleeding, infected open sore on the ass of progress.
especially the open source folks, who think everything should be free
The software types are entitled to value their work product at zero. Open source hardware is tougher to address within the bounds of my idea, but frankly, so few people actually build open source hardware for their own use I just don't think it's a serious issue. If they're building it to sell, then the sales get taxed based on inventions used, no problem.