>matter of law
>matter of law
Okay, let's put it in more mathematical terms to try and clarify my meaning.
Let's say that technological progress naturally has an exponential growth pattern y=x^2. The lengths of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age would support that notion well enough for it to be a passable placeholder for the real, much more complex numbers. On the other end, the much theorized technological singularity assumes a similar pattern.
Patents are added in as a multiplier to the base rate of progress, so progress under patents(p) is y=(x*p)^2. For values where p > 1, patents accelerate progress. For values where p < 1, patents retard progress. But even with a formula where patents retard progress, progress still grows exponentially year over year.
In linear terms, the 'distance' of progress is nigh irreversible, and you still need a very large confounding factor to slow the 'velocity' of progress for even a little while. What I am saying is that patents are slowing down is the 'acceleration' of progress. That has a very large cumulative effect, but If you only look at the system in terms of 'distance' or 'velocity,' you aren't going to be able to notice the difference.
Plus, there's all those other factors to consider. If we take the US in 1790 for an example, the formula would be more correct by including a factor for having a constitutional democratic republic(d), so y=(x*p*d). Progress now accelerates for all values where p*d > 1, and if we assume that democracy is good for progress, that means that patents can have very bad performance and still appear to be helping. Rinse and repeat for every other major factor, and it starts to become obvious why comparisons outside of similar countries during the same time frame are not reliable data.
You know, I was actually with you this time, right up until compulsory licensing. That's a gray area, at best. It's certainly something to discuss, but... consider that forcing the sale or licensing of an idea or product is, itself, a fairly strict control.
It's not a strict control at all, unless you are only looking at this from the perspective of the patent holder. For everyone else, it's actually a shift towards a freer market, opening up competition and preventing abuse. The ultimate goal would likely be that medical research is government funded, and private pharmaceutical companies compete over production. So, the market of all drugs would look more like the market for aspirin.
Now, to be fair, there are also some ridiculous rules for generic drugs, which is why Pharmabro was able to do what he did with that Toxo drug. Reforming that should also be a high priority, and the process for a new generic should essentially boil down to "are you producing the FDA tested chemical?" and "are your drugs tainted?"
I also reference pre- and post-1450 Venice and pre- and post-500BC Rome. It is also worth pointing out that, if patents were a net negative as you claim, we'd see a decline where patents are introduced; and we do not.
Only if their net negative effect outweighed the effect of other factors, and both of the systems you mentioned didn't really cause major changes. It's actually really damn hard to stop progress, because its growth is typically exponential. There's a lot more progress during the "dark ages" than we admit, and we even had plenty of social progress during times when copyright only existed as a form of state/church censorship and propaganda. Pretty much the only time technological progress goes backwards is when there's a major confounding factor, such as the knowledge and skills lost in collapse of a major empire, or the exhaustion of resources vital to a technological process.
Again, progress still happens even when there is concerted effort by powerful entities to stop it, so your standard of "there was still progress" doesn't make sense.
And that's why post-500BC Greeks were the most technologically advanced and best educated society of their time, right? Because they didn't have patents? Wait. No. They actually did! They exchanged temporary protection of profit for public release of information, and the result was that everyone who was interested could learn from that information, leading to a more enlightened society.
Their system was closer overall to a chili cookoff than a patent system. Also, it wasn't the Greeks in general, it was the city of Sybarus, and primarily about culinary dishes. But the real advantage the Greeks had was that they had democracy. That's why you come off as so ridiculous. The Greeks had a much more advanced system of governance and created a number of new academic fields, allowing for great technological advances, and you're attributing it to a system that applied to food in one city.
Yes, the competition was the guy who spent his time and money, and had R&D costs to recoup and, therefore must sell at a higher price to do so, versus the many other guys who stole his invention and did not have those costs. Do you not see how that disincentives invention? Yes, let me sink all of my time and my life savings into making something to improve the world, just so some asshole can come along and undercut me so I lose everything.
The sole inventor is a myth. Innovation happens when ideas "have sex", and patents are roughly the equivalent of a condom. Patents may act somewhat as an incentive for putting resources into an individual improvement, but where technology actually grows is in a series of iterative improvements, and the patent gets in the way of those other improvements. Even within accepting the of patents as an inventive. There's also the well documented evidence that external incentives encourage tunnel-vision thought, while innovation comes from lateral thought. This is demonstrated by things such as faster solving of the candle problem by those without an incentive.
The real question, though, is what would you rather have? A world with limited intellectual protection, where you might spend billions to develop a life saving drug, knowing that you'll make that money back once the drug hits the market? Or a world where nobody wants to put up those billions because they'll be undercut for pennies on the dollar right out of the gate, when you really need that drug.
False dichotomy. You are also ignoring that most drugs these days are created in university labs with federal funding, and that the patent system encourages "me-too" drugs that would not be seriously sought if there wasn't a legal monopoly involved. If we took the federal funding we already have towards drugs, and cut out the dead weight of those me-too drugs, we'd end up producing about the same number of useful drugs (at free market instead of monopoly prices), and probably a little bit more.
However, as you point out, the process is quite expensive. There can definitely be improvements made in the way we do so, but we don't, because Big Pharma likes that high barrier to entry. It keeps profits a good bit higher.
Until those reforms happen, I would argue that medicine is one of the lowest priorities for patent abolition, and abolition may have to wait until we have such reforms. Not because patents are efficient, but because the system we currently have is so deeply rooted in patents that for the pharmaceutical industry, we're getting into TBTF territory. Also, drugs have the added benefit of being much more discrete than many other fields, since they have objective chemical formulas. This means that some of the most problematic elements of patents, such as thickets, are largely absent from pharmaceuticals.
That said, I think we could probably move quite soon to a system of compulsory licensing for medicine. Basically, when Pfizer make a new drug, anybody who follows the cookie-cutter generic process can produce pills right away, but they have to pay Pfizer royalties set to a basic formula. This eliminates the control drug companies have, while still keeping the money needed for R&D flowing. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it resulted in higher profits for drug companies, as trying to exert strict control tends to have a net harm.
And things that happened before telecommunications, effective transportation, strong economy, and even personal liberties (those are a relatively new phenomenon, remember) can't be said to track tightly to those things, either. Yet you made that claim.
Those have actually happened in a number of more steps. The reason patent data is harder to isolate is that it's been pretty much a one-way ratchet, and patent systems either existed or didn't exist. Meanwhile, on the telecommunications front, we have papyrus to paper to printed press to telegraph to television to the internet. Each one of this changed the way humans communicate and learned in profound ways.
And you're attributing progress that was made before 1790 to things that were not available until after.
No, I'm not. I don't subscribe to your ridiculous scale where 1790+ = super fast progress and basically no progress afterwards. As I said, I see a pattern of increasing complexity that goes back to the beginning of the universe. Eukaryotic cells, now THAT is a clear point of serious change.
I, at least, have centuries of historical evidence backing my position.
You have centuries of data. However, it does not appear to actually back your position. Any time there were two otherwise similar countries, the one without patents, or even the weaker patent system, was the more innovative. Also, and this is very important, the ones without patents had much more competition and much less consolidation. That should be obvious, as patents are legal monopolies, and thus are very much anti-competition, but the pro-patent crowd likes to frame their very anti-capitalist system in capitalist terms.
And... Just why were those serfs uneducated? Is it because their masters did not share information, perhaps?
It's because they lacked rights, and were effectively slaves, or at least, slaves-lite. How deluded do you have to be to compare "not being slaves" to "able to receive legal monopolies"? If you wanted technological progress, and you had to choose between ending serfdom and patents, ending serfdom would be the only choice by miles. Everywhere a proper patent system has been put in place, progress has flourished relative to the time before, and relative to other regions which lacked patent protections.
Except there isn't any evidence of that happening, other than England having a patent system while uncontacted hunter-gatherers did not. And that's where those obviously more important factors come into play. But with an otherwise level playing field, the data suggests the very opposite. Against Intellectual Monopoly has done plenty of data and analysis, which is more than I've every seen from ANY pro-patent argument.
I didn't say a good, correct, or accurate argument could be made. I said a "sane" argument. You can claim that patents were a minor help towards technological progress. But, if you think, for example, that it was anywhere near as big of a factor as democracy, literacy, or public education, it's crazy talk.
I'm not saying that I've changed my position. I am still an abolitionist, and I still believe that patents have never had a net positive effect. I'm just humbly requesting that you stick to the sane adult argument, not the Gene Quinn-ish patent lawyer circlejerk arguments that you've been making.
You don't have anecdotal data on the scale necessary to make an effective evaluation. There are around 250K patent applications a year, so even if you know of a thousand instances, that's less than 0.5% of all patented innovations in the US, and patented innovations are only a tiny percent of all innovations.
I could probably gather just as many anecdotes, if not more, of inventions inspired by Star Trek, let alone the entirety of science fiction. Can probably match you on accidental inventions as well. Yes, there may sometimes be information in patents that inspires another invention, and that information may only be in a particular patents, but patents as the exist are currently a horrible means of conveying such information (named inventors may not even understand their own patents),
The disclosure of patents isn't any quid pro quo or public service. It's a practical necessity to prevent the same thing from being 'invented' 30 times.
Correlation dose not equal causation. Things that happened after patents did not necessarily happen BECAUSE of patents. Even things that were patented cannot be assured to not exist in a hypothetical alternate reality without patents. You're just calling dibs on all the progress that happened after 1790 in the name of patents, as if that's the only and most important thing that has happened in the last few centuries (although I have no idea why you are using that date, instead of the 1624 date of the statute of monopolies. And even from the stance of an abolitionist such as myself, the SoM was a net gain, as it banned arbitrary monopolies, which are more harmful than patents. However, no patents at all would be the least harm). You take no consideration of things that don't exist because of patents. For all we know, in a world where patents didn't exist, we'd already be a Type I civilization or something close.
Your problem is that you don't isolate variables, so your data is useless garbage. You just use simple correlation without even considering basic context. Complexity has been arguably growing at something like a logarithmic rate since the Big Bang, so it's not even unique to humans. By the terms of Carl Sagan's cosmic calendar, modern humans have only been here for 8 minutes, and yet even before patents, we went from spears to printing presses. Just basic life itself took from January to September, while we went from apes to humans on Dec 31.
And you TOTALLY missed the point about personal liberties. Whether or not competition is too fierce for me to innovate without a legal monopoly is totally irrelevant if I'm a serf who can only be a serf, no matter how smart I am. You are trying to compare the technological progress of societies full of uneducated serfs to modern humans with modern technology, education, and resources. That isn't up to the standards of a 6th Grade science fair for control groups. You can make a sane argument that patents have had a positive net effect, but if you think patents are conceivably in the top 20 factors for progress, you are a moron. And if you don't even bother to try and control for those other, far more important elements, your words are nothing but pointless noise.
I didn't say that you can't build anything. I said that you can't build anything without infringing a bunch of patents. And by 'build anything,' I mean build anything that is novel in regards to the state of the art (maybe read the parent post for context next time). My statement was primarily targeted at software (hence the reference to software companies), where this is more clearly the case, but it applies to many other fields where copyright and patents are widespread.
The point wasn't about technical capabilities. It was stating clearly that the legal monopolies granted by patents put large companies at a competitive advantage against small companies and independent inventors/engineers/laborers.
For starters, the big dogs are so big because of patents and copyright, so their absence would favor a more competitive market. Furthermore, the big dogs have enough patents that you can't build anything without infringing at least 100 MS/Apple/IBM patents.
Patents are legal monopolies, and it's ridiculous to think that a system of monopolies is going to effectively protect the little guy.
Any programming language is at its best before it is implemented and used.