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ChrisGraley (30.25)

Intellectual Property



July 10, 2010 – Comments (38) | RELATED TICKERS: AM.DL , CRIS

I am a firm believer in property rights, but I struggle with intellectual property rights. Here are a few of my issues...

1) It creates less knowledge. The first to discover something, can enforce their protections to the point of preventing someone from other discovories in the same chain of knowledge. This is the biggest one for me because I believe that knowledge should be free to better society and the economy as a whole. Instruction should have a cost but knowledge should be free.

2) It creates monopolies. If you are the only one that can produce a widget, you can charge whatever you want for it. You can have poor customer service if you are the only provider and a consumer that needs your product has no recourse.

3) It can create insurmountable barriers for competition. For example Astra Zeneca has trademarked the color purple for use in pill capsules like Nexium. What's to stop them from trademarking all the other colors in the spectrum and preventing someone making pill capsules at all. You can argue that authorities may step in to prevent unfair competition and only allow 1 color per manufacturer, but there are more manufacturers than colors and any company can argue if they are allowed to have purple then I should be allowed to have green. 

4) It can be abused by making the application as vague as possible. If I'm Amazon and I can patent the 1-click purchase, whats preventing me from suing every company that sells anything on the internet. The last click in the purchasing process in just 1 click after all. You can argue that there were other clicks before the last click and I can argue that the same thing happens on Amazon. You normally have to click a few links to find the product to buy and you normally have to click at least a bookmark to get to Amazon.

5) It allows patenting laws of nature. If I can patent a sequence of DNA, I am able patent life itself. What does this mean? Well I can create pestilent bio-organism and another bio-organism to stop it. Since I'm the only one to sell the cure, I have an incentive to spread the disease. Good luck trying to catch me spreading the disease anywhere around the globe. Biological processes propagate on their own. 

6) Creators of content are abused by corporations because contract law allows the transfer of control of content from individual to corporation. You can argue here that corporations can promote content better than individuals and therefore deserve the transfer of ownership, but I'll argue that this dissolves the whole purpose of intellectual property.  


There are a lot more things than this, but this is a good primer to why I have a problem with intellectual property. I have a piecemeal solution that I would like to post later, but I'd like to hear the thoughts of others to help me develop something more concrete 

Thanks for the input ahead of time,


38 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 10, 2010 at 11:21 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

I think you have articulated common concerns about intellectual property.  On the flip side consider the following:  I spend millions to research and get approval for a drug.  I sell the drug.  You immediately (and inexpensively) reverse engineer it.  Since you have none of my research costs you sell the drug much more cheaply than I do and you reap huge profits.  I am out my investment with no reward.  End result?  No one invests money for the research and approval of new drugs. 

We are seeking a similar impact in the music industry.  Eventually the situation will be that you can only sell your song once.  After that it just gets copied and circulated for free.

The founding fathers of our nation realized the need to give monopolies to intellectual property creators to encourage intellectual endeavors.  See

The difficult question is how long to provide the monopoly.  Right now our legislation picks arbitrary amounts of time.  Perhaps the time should be scaled as a function of investment and risk.

A very interesting and difficult issue.  

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#2) On July 10, 2010 at 11:31 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

I actually totally agree with your arguments Tom.

I think that there is a better solution than providing a monopoly though and will post about that in a later blog.

I am trying to fact find a little bit more to look for thoughts that I might have missed though.

Do you think that I'm incorrect in any of the above points?

Do you feel that there are more relevant points that I didn't address? 

I don't think we should totally get rid of intellectual property law, but I do think that we need to improve our current system.



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#3) On July 11, 2010 at 1:26 AM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

I think you have raised exactly what the concerns are.  Patents, trademarks and copyrights each have their own issue.  I doubt Astras Zeneca's trademark can prevent all other "purple pills," just those that treat the same problem.

My concern is that we fail to protect intellectual property enough such that we end up discouraging investment by not rewarding it sufficiently.  In sum we have a big free rider problem.  Just look at the music industry.

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#4) On July 11, 2010 at 2:25 AM, valunvesthere (21.57) wrote:


Thanks to this post you may have started 3 more new defininitions in the many VARIANTS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE DICTIONARY.







frivolous + copyright = frivolous copyright

frivolous + patent = frivolous patent

frivolous + trademark = frivolous trademark

Now the next procedure is getting the countries with English only or listed as the official language to gather in a summit to hammer out definitions.



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#5) On July 11, 2010 at 8:32 AM, d1david (29.51) wrote:

Hi Chris,

Great post.  We are studying intellectual property in my business law class.  

I think the solution would be to lower the duration of the patent protection from 14 years to 5 years... that way you have a chance to make a large profit off of your invention, but others will be able to build upon it pretty quickly. 

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#6) On July 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM, alstry (35.03) wrote:

What if nobody owns any "property" and all rewards from development are instantaneous and from a central governing body.

People are rewarded for development and the knowledge become public domain for the benefit of all humanity.

Welcome to the Digital Age as more and more property becomes worthless or foreclosed as credit continues to be cut off from the private sector...

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#7) On July 11, 2010 at 9:56 AM, blesto (31.64) wrote:

+1 rec

The ability to patent DNA concerns me. Maybe the process to achieve a sequence,organism, or whole organ should be allowed. What if someone were to be able to patent a DNA sequence that created a human like sentient being? A new form of slavery invented. Moral and ethical issues would arise on how to define property; intellectual or otherwise.

Can hardly wait for your followup blog.

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#8) On July 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

Patent protection of 5 years would be nearly worthless.  To apply for the patent you need to disclose everything.  It takes years for the patent to be issued. 

Free riders (one good example is the entire nation of China) have been campaigning against intellectual property protection for years claiming that it interferes with the "free market."  The "free market" in turn is the nirvana of neocons and libertarians.  But no one needs to rip off the ideas of others in order to compete effectively.  And by allowing such rip offs we discourage the investment necessary to make real progress.

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#9) On July 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Here is something that I think went to far in protecting intellectual property rights.  Say I buy a book, many people can read the book I bought and the book was only paid for once.  This is the thing about when we buy things, we are not necessarily a soul user.

Here is where I think intellectual property rights on computer programs go to far.  I could have more then one computer and I am expected to buy a copy for every computer.  So, we have gone from an owner's right to share with friends and family to not even being able to use exclusively for only your personal use on your desktop and personal computers.  It is like you have no right to hand me down clothes to your kids, if you get my point.

I agree with intellectual property rights, but the has to be some balance with individual purchasers rights.

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#10) On July 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Drat, hit send too fast, could use an edit there.

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#11) On July 11, 2010 at 12:30 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:


Very sloppy for a teacher, lol.

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#12) On July 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:


Why shouldn't the owner of the intellectual property get the right to decide the terms of the licenses?  In some cases I think the answer is because the item is so essential it needs to be licensed.  And current laws do have mandatory licensing under some circumstances.

But why should I, in a household with 2 people and 2 computers, pay the same amount as someone in a household with say 4 people and 4 computers.  And why should someone on their own with one computer pay as much as I pay? 

On the other hand, I see your point that when my computer wears out why can't I pass down the programs to my next computer?

Interesting questions.

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#13) On July 11, 2010 at 1:46 PM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

As I was told the story, Bill Gates's greatest innovation wasn't any particular software, but rather applying copyright to it--thereby making the same claim to intellectual property protections as paintings, sculptures, and books.  Those who push for patented software make the same claims as steam engines, manufacturing processes, warp drives, and perpetual-motion machines.

Unfortunately, software isn't exactly the same as  either art (you don't expect your copy of War and Peace to do your taxes) or the Veggie-Matic (any computer can churn out a massive number of copies of 1's and 0's without reverse-engineering the manufacturing process).

I tend to think that the major problem with intellectual property laws is that the old concepts of "work of art" and "patentable process" are being misapplied to something that is neither--leading to waste and frustration for all.  Music, for example, is clearly a work of art--but once transferred into digital form, it really is "just software" until the computer changes it back into sound.

On the other hand, as tom points out, why should you pay over and over for a "process" (program) that is still yours and will only be used by you?

Add to that the abuse (in my poor, humble opinion) of copyright and patent by patent trolls, "business processes", Mickey Mouse, and the recording industry, and the entire structure gets weakened.  A case over a software company has huge implications for a drug company, even if the two companies are as different as possible.

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#14) On July 11, 2010 at 2:29 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

Bill Gates was not the first to apply copyright concepts to software.

Like a book, software takes a long time to write.  If someone other than the author can literally just copy the software and sell it then there will eventually be little or no inventive for authors to create it in the first place.  In these important respects, software is just like a book.  The fact that it is stored differently and represents a different technology is irrelevant.

Nonetheless, there are problems.  There are, as pointed out in #13, patent trolls.  So we do have abuses of intellectual property laws.  But we also have a real free rider problem.  And we see it most in our trade relationship with China and India and other countries that encourage piracy.  So I wouldn't just abandon intellectual property laws.

It's a really difficult set of problems.  I for one will be very interested in future posts with proposed solutions. 

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#15) On July 11, 2010 at 4:49 PM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

If someone other than the author can literally just copy the software and sell it then there will eventually be little or no inventive for authors to create it in the first place.

I believe that I can come up with counter examples to thisMaybe I'll dig up a link or two and post later.

It's not that this doesn't count as intellectual property, but the claim that there would be "little or no [incentive]" for creation is not completely true--and, in fact, causes a hindrance to a very robust software ecosystem (open source, hobbyists, researchers) whose desire is to actually encourage distribution.

My proposal?  Create a third alternative to copyright (creative works of art) and patents (creative things that do something) and encode it into intellectual property laws.  Software as copyright material misses the "doing something" factor, and patent protection misses the creative "rearranging bits/bytes/words" factor.

It would limit the crossover influence (Micky Mouse Protection Act) and some potential abuses of patent that have nothing to do with a real-world machine (patent on social networking).

That way, the author/inventor has a clear definition of exactly which area he falls under, with concomitant (and clearly defined) periods of legitimate monopoly.

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#16) On July 11, 2010 at 5:32 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

Thanks for all the input everyone and keep it coming. I'm going to try to come up with something comprehensive in my next blog.

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#17) On July 11, 2010 at 5:50 PM, cthomas1017 (77.02) wrote:


Intellectual property laws in the US, Germany, Israel... most innovative societies in the history of the world.

Intellectual property laws in China, Russia, Vietnam, Iran, Venezuela...

I suppose, like all good communists, we just haven't tried it hard enough. 

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#18) On July 11, 2010 at 6:25 PM, AbstractMotion (54.15) wrote:

There's problems with intellectual property law, but more in the way it's applied.  In general I think most of the problems can be solved with more robust patent law and judges that actually know something about the topic they're ruling on, as well as a patent office that actually screens patents properly.  There's a very strong correlation between how well a country respects intellectual property and their prosperity.


I also think there's been some poor arguments in the thread here.  Transferring something to a computer doesn't make it software, it makes it data and by in large that what's most people are paying for when it comes to content.  If you go on Amazon and use their video on demand or download a song off Itunes you aren't paying for the service so much as the data and the license to that content.  Software itself is no different than buying a tool, if you went to a hardware store and bought a hammer would you be furious that you, your neighbor, your friend and your boss couldn't use the same hammer at the same time?  Absolutely nothing stops you from lending access to a piece of software physically through your computer or cellphone.  People seem to assume that because there isn't a purely physical limitation that software should be an exception to standard product sales models.  It's true that an EULA can prevent you from redistributing software sometimes, but that's not really an issue of patent law.

I also think the open source movement is largely taken for granted and misunderstood.  Most of the people writing that open source software are employed by companies as full time programmers, who have jobs because software is protected under patent law.  Many of the others are academia and students who are either training people for the private software industry or planning to work in it themselves.  People still might develop software as a hobby, but the amount and quality of free or opensource software out there would plummet dramatically.  Likewise even the FSF benefits from strong IP law as it prevents their software from being modified, closed off and then sold for a profit.  In general I think people greatly underestimate just how much even free software benefits from the protections afforded to the field under patent law and the software for profit industry.


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#19) On July 11, 2010 at 7:06 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

The copyright/patent laws were enacted to foster creativity and inventiveness.  When was the last time you bought software invented in China?  Hell, when did the Chinese ever respect intellectual property rights?  They just pirate everything.

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#20) On July 11, 2010 at 8:13 PM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

Abstract makes a lot of good points, and I largely agree.

There's problems with intellectual property law, but more in the way it's applied.

And here's a good example:


A simple sequence of bits.  Is it a super-secret instruction in innovative software?  Is it that famous down beat on the latest Top 100 hit?  Is it part of an OpenSource project that lies at the heart of most major industries?  Or is it the cryptologic key to classified information?

Better yet, can it be patented?  Copyrighted?  Protected in any form?  It doesn't matter if it is only 8 bits, 800 bits, or 1.21 Gigabytes (heh), it's still 1's and 0's.

The problem is that, at heart, "software" is just data...period.  It's how it is interpreted by the computer that gives us music, Clippy, or Motley Fool.  Music is only music when converted to sound.  Microsoft Office is only valuable when converted to functions.  (Try running this download on a Windows machine--nothing.  But does that make the software useless?)

But, get a patent on it (or any arbitrary string of 1's and 0's) and you have a sole monopoly.  Go for a copyright, and you get it for your lifetime+.

I agree with that the problem is largely how IP law is applied.  The trouble with the digital world is that IP laws were built for books, sculpture, Wayback machines, and jet engines--things that were either very distinct, very difficult to make, or easily recognizable.  But when you convert it to binary--it's all data.

That's why I believe that there should be a different category for digital products--they just don't fall cleanly into the normal IP domain.

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#21) On July 11, 2010 at 8:38 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

#20 assumes that data cannot be protected.  But it can be.  For example a phone book can be copyrighted.  Does that mean no one else can print one?  Of course not.  But they have to do their own work to compile the data.  How do you prove they didn't?  Most phone book publishers put a few false addresses in their book.  If those false addresses show up in your phone book then you copied and hence you violated the copyright.  An example we used to use in law school is the following:  If you had an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly at an infinite number of typewriters (sorry I went to law school some time ago) one of them would eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespere.  There would be no copyright violation because the works would not have been copied from Shakespere but would have been independently created.  Of course patents are different and independent creation is not a defense to a patent claim as I understand it.  But in each case of IP the goal is to protect the original creative work from being ripped off but not to protect it from independent and different competition.

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#22) On July 11, 2010 at 9:20 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

Abstract, your first paragraph seems to sum up why I have such a problem with intellectual property, but I'll warn you that I have issues with your second paragraph. 

The DCMA has went overboard in protecting innovators, by punishing consumers. The DCMA has made it legal for companies to insure that if I want to watch a movie on my DVD player and my cell phone, I have to pay for it twice. I break the law simply by trying to insure the portability of something that I already own.

"Can I watch it on a tram? You cannot watch it Sam I am!"

The process of insuring portability or back-up of something that I already own should not be illegal. The process of copying something that I didn't create to distribute to the world should be illegal. The thing is that no matter how strict the law is, people will still copy and distribute. The only choice that movie and music companies have is to create fear by prosecuting even what used to be fair use to slow that process.  All is not lost in the media industries, but a shake-up is in order.  I don't want to drop too many hints on my next blog post, but I think that I have an answer.

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#23) On July 11, 2010 at 9:29 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

tom, I would assure you that the offending monkey would get sued out of his last banana.

LOL, I did get your point on the intent of IP law, but I feel that we have drifted away from that intent. I can see the lawyer now asking me if I could prove that the monkey had never read Shakespeare.


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#24) On July 11, 2010 at 9:39 PM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

Actually, tom, you bring up the perfect point:  Independent creation is not protected under patents, while it [can be/is] under copyright.  (Ambivalence because of Chris's Fair Use argument.)

Take Amazon's 1-click patent, or the social networking patent, or the Microsoft "splitting foreground from background 2005" patent.  Independent creation is not protected, even though all of those things seem fairly obvious, and none of them are actual machines...just ideas.

But I don't believe that data cannot be protected--just that it will have to be protected differently to create a sustainable system.  It's not that the current law is wrong, just that it doesn't properly apply to this subject.  (For instance, an analogous situation would be bringing up "nukes in space" at the Hague Conventions. in 1899 ir 1907...or applying the original wording to that subject.  They just didn't cover that topic, so new treaties (laws) had to be made.)

And with that, I eagerly await Chris's proposal.

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#25) On July 11, 2010 at 10:06 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

Chris--#23 is very funny!  I can see it now-- a judgment in bananas.  LOL.  And yes the lawyer might ask you if the monkey read Shakespere.  Lawyers are drawn to make every argument, no matter how inane, in part because a lot of jurors are idiots.  Just consider the OJ jury.

Angus--#24--yes I do think patents can me more of a problem.  Both in the sense of inappropriate restriction of the use of mere ideas in some cases and in the misappropriation of the IP of others in other cases.  It is very difficult to find the right balance.

I think IP law always has been and always will be a work in progress. 

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#26) On July 11, 2010 at 11:04 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

Tom, we definitely agree. It's not just jurors that are idiots though, it's the whole population.

The legal process contributes by taking advantage of the fact that people are stupid. These distortions of what should be right and wrong are created in our own court system. They are entirely dwarfed by the distortions created by our legislative system.

I really never knew any aspiring politicians when I was young, but I did know a few aspiring lawyers. All of those people told me that they wanted to be a lawyer to help people and all of those people went to extremes to make sure that they did help their clients win the case. Did they do anything wrong? No. Did they break a code of ethics? No, they actually followed it to the letter. The problem is that if if you push the extremes with a population of morons, you just create more confusion.

You are sworn to help your client, but that doesn't always help the population as a whole. Expanding the definition of the law does nothing for the rest of the country, but narrowing it helps the majority of things. Normally, you do your client a disservice if you narrow the scope of the law though. You have to create the very problems that we are addressing now.

We can't make the law more vague. We have to make it more defined. The biggest problem is that people are taking advantage of of making it more vague.

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#27) On July 11, 2010 at 11:08 PM, devoish (99.07) wrote:

  On the flip side consider the following:  I spend millions to research and get approval for a drug.  I sell the drug.  You immediately (and inexpensively) reverse engineer it.  Since you have none of my research costs you sell the drug much more cheaply than I do and you reap huge profits.  I am out my investment with no reward.  End result?  No one invests money for the research and approval of new drugs -tomlongrpv

Why the assumption that people only invent to achieve wealth? That is rarely the case.

Edward Jenner

He continued his research and reported it to the Royal Society, who did not publish the initial report. After improvement and further work, he published a report of twenty-three cases. Some of his conclusions were correct, and some erroneous – modern microbiological and microscopic methods would make this easier to repeat. The medical establishment, as cautious then as now, considered his findings for some time before accepting them. Eventually vaccination was accepted, and in 1840 the British government banned variolation – the use of smallpox itself – and provided vaccination – using cowpox – free of charge. (See Vaccination acts)

Jenner's continuing work on vaccination prevented his continuing his ordinary medical practice. He was supported by his colleagues and the King in petitioning Parliament and was granted £10,000 for his work on vaccination. In 1806 he was granted another £20,000 for his continuing work.Jenner did the vast majority of his work in his spare time, without expectation of pay.

Misallocation of resources - making this guy work for a living.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

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#28) On July 11, 2010 at 11:18 PM, AbstractMotion (54.15) wrote:

Chris - I think what's in order is a consumer bill of rights for software and digital content, consumers should be able to do certain things with a given product.  Backups, mobile copies, in house streaming and so forth.  I agree that current legislation has neglected many of these things, largely because consumers didn't write it and simply were not consulted in the process.  Ideally I'd like to see consumer and creators each have a certain bill of rights.  Creators having absolute rights with things like distrobution and licensing for public presentation etc.

angusthermopylae: Laws probably do need to be updated, but I really think there's enough of a foundation in place to do it without much hassle.  Data might be bits on a disk, but books are just certain arrangements of characters and records are just grooves in some vinyl, etc.  It seems to me it's not so much the idea here as the problems that have come about with the ease of duplication.  Likewise just patenting a set of bits wouldn't even work properly.  A Jpeg file will be encoded slightly differently then a GIF or a PNG file.  I do think your idea of defining things as art is closer to what's necessary, perhaps a broader definition of something simply as a raw product.


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#29) On July 11, 2010 at 11:31 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:

Chris  Points well taken.  But you may find the quest for precision in the law an elusive one.  And as difficult as an adversary system of justice is, it is difficult to conceive of something better at ferreting out the truth.  Perhaps the problem is not that we need to dumb down the legal system to meet the needs of a poorly educated population.  Perhaps the problem is that we need to achieve a better level of education of the population.  In sum we have a legal system designed by educated people for educated people.  It does not work like well like you know with like people who ain't got much like you know education.

Devoish  I never said people only invent to achieve wealth.  Invention is only important if you want to improve standards of living for the population as a whole.  If you are a Mongol warlord you can achieve wealth without invention just fine by taking what you want from others.  In your world a few people (perhaps including you) would be well off and most people would be serfs and we would still be in the Middle Ages.  I prefer a different course that encourages invention. 

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#30) On July 11, 2010 at 11:37 PM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

OK, talking points that I have so far...

Intellectual Property






Fair Use

Digital Media


Unfair competition

Incentive to create

Public health vs Intellectual property

Defining what's frivolous

What should be unpatentable, uncopyrightable and untrademarkable?

The length of Intellectual property protection.

Who decides the terms of the licenses?

What exactly is a work of art?

What exactly is a patentable process?

Should pantent trolls be able to force licensing requirements on on companies using vague patents that were never developed by the institution granted the patent?

Should patents, copyrights, or trademarks control individual ownership?

Is digital media different and is software different than data? Can the open source movement fill a void created with a digital media policy that is more lax?

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#31) On July 12, 2010 at 12:23 AM, ChrisGraley (30.25) wrote:

tom , dumbing down the legal system is guaranteed to fail. A better educational system is an uphill climb.

I think that the educated among us have to consider the results of our actions beyond personal success.  We have to consider our actions as having an effect on the population as a whole. We seem to create our own purgatory by taking advantage of the weak. We can't sustain the results. We can't sustain the success. By eliminating the weak, we create a scenario where we will eventually be the weak.

In a blog post or two ago, I was talking about right, wrong and popular. The people that control popular seem to control it entirely for a short period of time. People that tend to believe in what is right, tend to lose to people that believe what is popular. People that tend to believe in what is wrong tend to cling to people that believe what is popular.

People respect your thought processes above most things, but they would be better served by thinking about the results of that thought process. Greedy is great until you are the victim. Control is great until you are accountable. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong. I can pretend to be a saint or a victim and it still doesn't change right or wrong. Instead of buying into the best salesman, everyone needs to think the hardest about right and wrong.

The answer is different for everyone, but the problem is that we don't have enough people thinking about it.

If you want to live then do. If you want to die then accept. If you want to understand then do both. 

I always seem to wind up in the same diatribe, but it isn't by design.

We all need to think and the people exploiting us do so because they know that we don't want to do it. 

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#32) On July 12, 2010 at 4:46 AM, devoish (99.07) wrote:

 I am out my investment with no reward.  End result?  No one invests money for the research and approval of new drugs - tomlongrpv

Devoish  I never said people only invent to achieve wealth. - tomlongrpv

I guess I misunderstood.

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#33) On July 13, 2010 at 11:28 PM, tomlongrpv (82.09) wrote:


No I think I misunderstood you.  You point was that some people invent for reasons other than wealth.  Fair enough.  I am sure you are correct.  But there will still be more invention if we encourage it with financial reward.



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#34) On July 14, 2010 at 12:36 AM, ViolaLeeBlues (97.54) wrote:

I worry about Intellectual Property as concerns genetically modified foods like corn & soy beans. I certainly think some of these inventions are valuable and should be encouraged like developing foods with resistances to certain fungus or maybe a warm weather plant that can tolerate frost better. Of more dubious value are products like Monsanto's Round-Up ready soybeans. While brilliant from a business perspective (they can sell the seeds which they have the sole right to which can tolerate more of their Round-Up herbicide which they can now sell more of also), environmentally I think it sucks.

But really my concern is that the wind and insects don't respect patent law and pollinate non GM soy beans or corn with pollen from GM varieties. Farmers who grow delicious heirloom varieties of corn and wish to save their seeds can and are being sued by the developers of GM corn because through the natural process of pollination all corn plants come to have some of the modified genes in them. In effect the owner of a plant gene patent can market and sell it's product to a select group of farmers in an area and eventually force all farmers in the area to buy it's seeds or at least to buy seeds because they can no longer save their own due to gene leakage. In my mind that is incredibly unfair and predatory.

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#35) On July 14, 2010 at 10:16 AM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

I think Viola's point would fall squarely into the debate over patenting "natural processes"--another very sticky problem.

Making a gene could arguably be patented, but the gene sequence itself is a whole 'nother matter--especially when the sequence is discovered rather than made.

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#36) On July 14, 2010 at 9:06 PM, blesto (31.64) wrote:


People respect your thought processes above most things, but they would be better served by thinking about the results of that thought process. Greedy is great until you are the victim. Control is great until you are accountable. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong. I can pretend to be a saint or a victim and it still doesn't change right or wrong. Instead of buying into the best salesman, everyone needs to think the hardest about right and wrong.

So determining definitions of right and wrong as it pertains to patent law is what you're trying to do? 

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#37) On July 15, 2010 at 12:16 PM, angusthermopylae (40.04) wrote:

Thought you might like this article, Chris--directly addresses the software patentability question.

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#38) On July 26, 2010 at 9:19 PM, FleaBagger (29.37) wrote:

I actually agree with devoish here, and I would like to point out to Tom that a lot of people do not have access to data and the drugs they could reverse engineer to innovate because of patents and copyrights. There's no evidence that I'm aware of that intellectual "property" rights stimulate innovation. It's possible that they stifle it.

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