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Comment Re:in re Bilski (Score 1) 263

The only real way to resolve the issue is not to limit it to a specific number

No, you don't want to allow too many patents, because they fundamentally restrict the free flow of information which is necessary to encourage the constant low-level innovation which allows entrepeneurs to problem-solve without worrying about getting their ass sued off every time they turn around. You want to add just enough patent "sauce" to encourage people to publicly submit truly innovative ideas w/shutting down the normal problem-solving spigot of ideas that every normal business runs on to solve their day-to-day issues.

The best method to do this today is through business evaluation by the state - essentially, require a business plan with the patent and then hold them to it.

Why bother, when a market mechanism can both price the idea & put it into the hands of organizations who have the resources to exploit the idea? If you rely on a state mechanism to gate-keep patents (either the patents themselves or your idea about "business plans", you'll just end up with something like the bloated patent examination system we already have.

Comment Re:in re Bilski (Score 1) 263

The corporations would get to decide what is patented, and if they win, they get the patent, not the person who submitted it. So a corporation could put up money to patent something, only to make sure it is never used.

Person who submitted the idea can always use it as a trade secret if they don't want to give up control of the idea. The whole point behind patents is to encourage publication.

Also, bear in mind that there are probably many patentable ideas which are competing for each available patent slot, so it's not just big companies bidding against each other to grab one particular patent application, but many big companies competing with each other over many potentially patentable ideas per slot, so it's not like a particular company is going to easily gain control over a specific patentable idea unless they're willing to outspend what every other big company things that every other potential patentable idea is worth - and after you've spent that kind of money, don't you think you'd be eager to try and get some ROI?

At least in the system we have now, a small company has a shot at getting a patent without having to sell their invention to a large company.

Why is that a net benefit to society?

Comment Re:in re Bilski (Score 2, Interesting) 263

My proposal (assuming you want patents at all for your society):

Put a fairly small hard-limit # on the total # of patents that can be valid at any time (maybe 10000 total? Or 10000 total per industry category? Not sure how many patents are being granted per year right now.)

When patents expire, or are invalidated (through existing prior art or obviousness procedures), sell their "slots" at an auction.

To enter the auction, you have to submit a patent application. The bidders will bid on the various patent applications, highest bidder(s) will get the patent application they were bidding on assigned to one of the open slots. The money that was paid to win the auction can go to the person who filed the patent application.

The advantages:

1) having a relatively small # of patents that can be valid at any time will make it a lot easier to find out if you are violating a patent, plus you don't have to worry so much about stumbling over patents about small stupid things that you would have to go to court to get them declared obvious,

2) by valuing each potential patent through an auction, you force the bidders to do the due diligence on each patent application (since they don't want to purchase a patent which will be easier overturned). (i.e., no patent examiners required for this step).

Still need patent examiners (and courts) to rule on obviousness/prior art challenges though.

3) the people who are submitting the patent applications don't have to be the people who have to try and exploit the patented idea, and the people bidding on the patent applications will be pre-selected to have the resources to properly exploit a patented idea.

Win for the patent applicant, since they might receive an awesome jackpot if they submit a particularly valuable idea, even if they're not a businessperson in a position to exploit it, and win for society because the successful bidder is much more likely to be able to turn that patent into a product or service that can be then sold to the society.

Main disadvantage(s) I can think of:

1) Because proceeds of auction go to the patent applicant, need to make sure that the applicants can't bid on their own patent (since there's no point in an auction where the bidder is just paying themselves).

2) What to do with the patent applications which don't make the grade.

The obvious thing to do is to make them public domain, since their contents are public (which you need to do to have a fair auction) and therefore they are prior art if someone else submits something similar for a later auction, but it sure doesn't seem fair if you've got a really good idea that just happened to up against some really tough competition.

I guess you might have to just leave it up to being strategic about when to submit your patent application, and to try and keep things as a trade secret if you don't think your idea is good enough to win one of the patent auctions.

Comment Re:Abiogenic Petroleum (Score 2, Informative) 604

Look up thermal depolymerisation - changing organic waste into long-chain hydrocarbons can be done using fairly straightforward refinery processes (cycles of controlled changes in pressure & temperature). It's a fairly artificially-accelerated process (since we don't have millions of years to wait for the oil to come out), but it does show how patterns of changes in pressure & temperature can create long-chain hydrocarbons from basic organic waste.

Comment Re:Science and Politics (Score 1) 152

That's why I was proposing "paying" them to work (at least work going to school/training programs if nothing else). Tie that together with not getting child-welfare payments unless their kids are "working" at school.

Over time, the idea that you have to "put in effort" to get compensation of some sort should sink in, and by providing a path for them to get extra schooling/training when they can't find a job (rather than just sitting around collecting welfare checks), you will end up getting a highly-skilled & flexible work force who can transition to whatever job the economy demands at any given moment without worrying about their family getting thrown out on the street.

If you do it right, you can also chuck out any requirement for stuff like minimum wages, since the ability to go back to get training without destroying your financial life will act as a form of job competition for any employer who thinks they can abuse and/or exploit their employees at will.

Comment Re:Science and Politics (Score 4, Insightful) 152

Let's not forget that pork often produces jobs.

You'd get more employment (and "stimulate" the economy more) if that same amount of pork was used simply to pay people at the bottom of the economic ladder to work on various things (perhaps even to go to school). But then you wouldn't be able to direct the money to your favorite political donors.

Comment Re:Yes and No. (Score 1) 172

If open source is the future, and hardware can be made dirt cheap anywhere on the planet, how is anyone going to make any money? Service?

Yes. Lots of work available for people to build & provide customized solutions to problems, especially if they can build those solutions without getting worried about being sued every time they slap some code together.

Not when there are 7 billion people on the planet. There'll be plenty more work than people available.

That means you can build potentially 7 billion customizations for any given tool - there would be plenty of work available, as long as people trying to prevent competition through legislation don't get in the way.

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