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I wish there were more people in the legal profession like Judge Posner. The man has his head screwed on right!
I am concerned that both patent and copyright protection, though particularly the former, may be excessive. To evaluate optimal patent protection for an invention, one has to consider both the cost of...
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This article might violate Betteridge's Law of Headlines.. I'm surprised.
Also note the Becker post on the same topic. 
It's a self affirming question, so i think Betteridge's Law of Headlines can not be applied here.
Is Betteridge's Law (of which this is the first I've heard)  an overgeneralisation ?

(Article omitted)
I believe that the best inventions are always made at an affordable price :) 
I really do respect this guy. I'm praying for the patent system to be reformed and I think he's doing the right thing.
Honestly, I feel that we can never convince the other half of the people to abolish patents.

We can only try to ask to limit the patents to a maximum of 5 years. And only for technology, because it obviously will become obsolete in the future as long as it is not the wheel, which was patented by Apple, becasue they managed to create a new type of square with round corners.
Disagree.  He talks at length about how "ideal" patent protection is for pharmaceutics.  What he probably doesn't even know is that in Europe, pharmaceutical patents are rather new - until the 60s and 70s, most countries didn't have them.  The big German pharma giants all became big without any patent protection.

The other wrong here is that these enormous costs for new drugs are natural and unavoidable.  That's not the case.  The cost has been created by the pharma giants themselves, to prevent market entry from newcomers.  The large amount of paid (and therefore biased) studies before a new drug is accepted does only one thing: Preventing innovative drugs from being developed.

This is done, because pharma patents are very narrow, and therefore no real protection.  They protect one particular substance; most drugs have "friends", similar substances with minor differences, which work, too.  Discovering suitable friends is not really expensive.  Showing that they have a similar effect is, and that's due to the expensive testing.

Most areas were new drugs are dearly needed have now exceptions to this expensive testing, because otherwise, it would be impossible to make them.  The pharma giants themselves are not interested in these markets (most are for "rare diseases", of which there are many hundreds, each of them with not that many patients).

The Indian pharma industry, which had done rather well after they stopped having patents is now struggling again, because due to some WIPO pressure, India re-instantiated commonwealth pharma patent laws.  It's not that easy.  IMHO, pharma patents kill million poor people per year, they are the greatest evil ever.  But it is difficult to see behind this curtain.  The evilness of software patents is much more obvious, but software patents don't cause million dead people.  Pharma patents do.
so is the linux kernel going public domain now?
+Linus Torvalds I agree pretty much. Most software 99.99% should be turned down. Unless someone comes up with a fully working AI in the next decade then I probably would turn most if not all down myself. If they did truly come up with something unique I wouldn't go past 10 years on software.

Most software is built on top of old knowledge. We have massive standardization going on. Adding a few new features shouldn't be qualified as a new product of any kind.

Actual art I would say should get a life time.

There does need to be some balancing done on the patent front. The way it is now it creates stagnation. It should be patents should encourage development.
thats nice but ppl dont use ps2 anymore its ps3 xbox360 and MAYB WII
+Michael Barnes: that is the kind of idiotic misreading and lack of intelligence that I despise. 

Look up "false dichotomy", and until you understand what it means, just shut the f*ck up. Ok? 

What part of "excessive" do you not understand? The world is not a black-and-white thing, and fixing "excessive" patent and copyright issues is not the same as removing patents and copyrights entirely.

Copyright - and particularly patents - is generally too strong. That doesn't necessarily mean that it should be removed entirely, but it does mean that it should be weakened. Patents should be limited (and not just a little bit), and copyright terms should be shorter.
I thought the original requirements for a patent were that the idea was new and non-trivial? Given that, most of the design patents in the mobile industry should be invalid.
Ars Technica has a great article about what went wrong, as far as the judiciary is concerned, with the patent system and trials.
Hopefully this judge is influential and can bring more of his peers to this sort of rational thinking.
Trouble is, it doesn't matter if they're invalid if it takes $50,000 to pay for a licence or $500,000 to litigate their validity. Particularly when the defendant is a patent troll with no assets to make good the costs judgement, these entities should be barred from bringing suit unless the directors are personally liable.

The bar to entry needs to be raised, or the cost of failing in court. e.g. both sides of the mobile patent war need to be charged 10x costs for patents that are invalid, paid to government, such that it would be possible for both companies to beggar themselves in these ridiculous suits.
Recommended reading for people who want a broader view about various kinds of intellectual monopolies from a economical point of view should read

The authors came to the conclusion that - for software - copyright should not be abolished completely, but replaced with copyleft instead.  Because that way the benefit is greater than without any copyright at all.

So +Michael Barnes, Linus already has chosen the best license framework.
Just get rid of patents all together. 
I am sure someone broke some patent or copyright just posting to this blog. That is how out of control it is getting.
I tend to agree particularly on the software/computer side of things. creating a button with rounded corners or 3d effects should not be a patentable item. I tend to agree on pharmaceuticals except on some of the games the companies play to extend their patents... Like tweaking the formula for 24 hour relief or other features... The new feature could be covered but should not affect the original patent, which I believe currently allows the company to extend the patent protection on the original product (.e.g I recall claritan came out with a 24 hour version and they were able to then block production of the generic...)
Today, copyright should not need to be longer than 15 years past market release. We are in the days of lightning speed information spread. If producers cannot make a profit off their works within 15 years, they should consider another profession.
David Klingler
I am sure someone broke some patent or copyright just posting to this blog.  

Yes but Not all of us has the money to hire a team of lawyers to defend the patent/copyright except the big. That is the key :)
I had to send this one to my father, a retired attorney, who just doesn't get the whole software patent issue.  Hopefully by seeing a judges writings on the matter, he'll come around.  Its a big mess out there right now and the more people that people are educated about it, the better.  Unfortunately the patent reform isn't exactly a platform that a politician can get elected on so I'm not holding my breath for any changes any time soon.  Sadly, most people just don't care.
Not sure I would go 15 years. but somewhere between that and the 125 Mickey Mouse years that was custom granted to Disney... 50 or life of author would seem reasonable.
+Benjamin York You know, the original 1710 copyright was two times 7 years - and most works were out of print after the first 7 years, so nobody bothered to renew the copyright.  That was back when copyrighted work needed a printing press, and the books were distributed with horses and carriages, because the railroad hadn't been invented yet.

The typical market period for copyrighted products as of today is about 6 months.  If anything would make sense, then a "two times 7 months, renewal required, granted only for a new edition".
Patents should be limited to a single scope of implementation! The real problem is that the USPTO will grant any patent to any huge corporation who lines their coffers (however "discretely" that may be), and allow for vague (excessively broad) patent applications to be approved.
They also convieniently ignore the abundance of prior art for the wealthiest of corporations (e.g. Apple and its bullshit patent on "Slide to Unlock", something that existed long before Apple stole it and called it their own).

The entire patent system serves to grant rights to the rich while excluding the poor.

Hell, even the patent on what we know as the Telephone was granted to Bell through an act of corruption at the USPTO! The design for the microphone used to transmit speech over copper wire was taken from the patent application of a genius Amish man and placed into Bell's "statement of intent" (because that's all he really had up to that point). Subsequently, the Amish genuis's patent was rejected in favour of what the USPTO gave to Bell.

These days its even more disgraceful with "design patents" like those granted to Apple, which serve only to propagate endless "it looks like ours" lawsuits (the cost of which invariably falls upon the consumer).

In fact, I seem to remember at one point someone filed a trademark on the name "Linux", and that you (+Linus Torvalds) had to go to court to seize that trademark (is that right?)

Patent Trolls, Copyright Trolls, Trademark Trolls... all of them nothing but a bunch of parasites with not an ounce of worthwhile skill between them. Natural Selection should see their kind extinct, yet the artificial "society" our species has created rewards them while punishing those who posess genuine skill. If that's the result of "Humanity" then I'd rather be Inhuman!
Copyright Law should be limited and more copyleft procedures are needed to be applied...
Its the vaguness of some patents and some that should not be allowed. For instance you would never allow a patent on 4 legs to be a table. For someone to own that would mean you have to pay for every time any manufacturer made anything with 4 legs. But we see these type of patents on hardware and software. Like rounded corners on designs of phone or tablet. Ridiculous and restrictive for the wrong reasons.
Too bad the example for big pharm talks about the cost for 'developing' new drugs - which is actually largely dominated by marketing costs over developing new drugs by almost 8:1 Marketing to actual research/development (including all the failed drug trials).
The patents aren't the issue. it's all these companies fighting like 10 year olds that i have a problem with.  if they stopped acting like children and focused on progress and collective research and development Patents would become far less relevant. 
Probably we have to amend copyright and patent law to reflect on changing changing demographics and wider global economy
companies are fighting to tap into the ever changing digital market.Hows Linux doing?
it would be better Linus if the laws were not so bad or so strange to understnad that you need 12 lawyers to get a idea of whats being said and an angle on how to innovate around or with ....GEE i almost started to sound like a lawyer SHOOT ME NOW....less law more creating can be better....
Not at all. It allows for improvisation and emulation. Look at Mr. Coffee, they put a clock on a drip coffee maker. If you can change a patent 10% you should be safe. Now Apple will most likely disagree and sue me for typing their name so I'll use Crapple from now on.
+amadeus max Patents were not meant to be vague. Australian IP law is a really good model - Patents are allowed only on new "methods of manufacturing", not on designs.
The Linux kernel could end up in a pretty odd situation due to current patent law.  With the number of contributors inputting code, there's very little that could be done to check every line or every implementation for patent implications.  If a current software patent holder (read:  patent troll) was to examine the code close enough, they could very easily find something that was within scope of their patent.  If you remember the Oracle vs Google suit that was argued a few months ago.  Fortunately there was someone presiding who seems to have had a clue.  Most justices wouldn't know the first thing about how to proceed.  And if you're foreign enough to an idea, any two things can be made to look similar.

The main advantage of Linux is that with the number of coders out there, a work around would probably be fairly quickly produced.  Couple that with is non-commercial use and you find a pretty hard case for anyone to argue damages out of.

I, for one, am in favor of patent reform.  I just don't know how to do it.  I leave those things to the experts, like Judge Posner to figure out.  Of course, I'm in favor of other hot-topics in the judicial realm, like medical tort reform.
"When patent protection provides an inventor with more insulation from competition than he needed to have an adequate incentive to make the invention, ..." With the word 'needed'; therein lies the rub.  Everybody who wants to copy the invention or wants to use the invention will argue that the 'need' of the inventor is small, really small.  People who build stuff for the intellectual rewards, such as people involved with free software, will view the 'needed' financial incentive to be small, really small.  The inventor must stand alone to make an invention and has nobody, other than a handful of 'idealists', who support allowing for an incentive.
+Bernd Paysan Who is to blame for those expensive and exhaustive tests? Big Pharma or Big Government? They are required by the FDA and its associates, not P&G and theirs. Now, one might be able to argue regulatory capture but surely in that case they would have engineered things in such a manner as not to cost them gobs of money while still keeping the little guys out, no?
I think patents could be changed into something where if you advertise the fact that you use or even describe it, you must say "originally invented by __" or something.
i agree w/ most things the man behind the linux kernal says
No. Creativity would be coming up with your own design/thing verses copying something. Copyright and patents just make sure no one copies already made things. 
I have a theory. There is nothing in the digital field that doesnt have prior art...therefore all tech patents belong in the public domain.
Btw....I liked GPL untill I realized its a virus. Everything touched by it must be free to everyone and free for them to change and redistribute otherwise your technology is in violation and cant be protected....
The public domain is in regulatory and licensing.Do companies innovate in public interest? Do firms innovate for profit?
Companies need to innovate then sell their innovation....not sit on patents and collect fees and or trade them. Its killing the field. Intellectual property in tech is a farse....there is very little in IT that is true innovation and that hasnt some prior art in parts of it now. Most of that source for IT comes from government funded the Internet.
we should all be driving model t fords I think.
Patents were created to solve an 18th century problem. It's time to rethink how to maximize the benefits of technological progress. That's not necessarily the same as maximizing the profits of the first company to implement an obvious idea. If it would be obvious to someone skilled in the art then it's not innovation. 
Kill all the lawyers, then the real estate agents. In my many thoughtful years, I have not encountered an original idea. Didn't Socrates first think up the computer, or was that technology lost in the Alexandria fire? And if you want to copyright a written work, you must make up all new words. Shakespeare did.
+Bernd Paysan "What he probably doesn't even know is that in Europe, pharmaceutical patents are rather new - until the 60s and 70s, most countries didn't have them.  The big German pharma giants all became big without any patent protection."
Interesting. Can you back this up? I can't find anything on it.
Patent and copyright abuse by corporations has gotten so outrageous that it's laughable. What people forget in patent and copyright disputes is the original intent of the law under the US Constitution, which is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

The "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Rights...." is not so the author can get rich. It is in fact to promote the progress of science and the arts. In-so-far as our current copyright and patent laws do the opposite, they should be rewritten to benefit the progress of science and the arts, not to secure monopolies and choke holds by greedy corporations. The abuse of the 14th Amendment by corporations has led to the wholesale hijacking of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 by the same.
+Ed Gamble I would interpret "needed" differently. You seem to be suggesting that the "copiers" determine how much incentive was needed. I think a more realistic interpretation is that the "inventor" is the only one who can make that decision. If I am a pharmaceutical company, I'm not going to invest millions of dollars on research and testing without a guarantee of sufficient exclusively to recoup my costs. On the other hand, if I'm a software company, I'm going to invest the necessary time and resources to create a valuable product regardless of the fact that someone might copy it later. The software industry moves so fast that the mere fact of being first is enough to justify that investment. They don't need the additional motivation of the limited monopoly provided by patents. (Although that doesn't stop them from exploiting the existing law to further enhance their profits at the expense of consumers.) 
I agree to Mr. Postner's view of the need for patent protection. But I believe that the legal profession is not at fault. Judges judge according to the law. Patent protection is granted by those laws even for the most trivial inventions, and patent trolling is backed by those laws. This is true pretty much worldwide, no matter if you look at US, European or Chinese law.
Politicians make those laws. We need to make sure politicians understand the pain that the patent system imposes on inventors, and why the patent system slows technological progress. Only then we may hope that they create laws that promote progress.
+Carsten Otte He never said that it was the legal profession's fault. He criticises current patent laws.
Let's try a Gedankenexperiment. In a world without patents, would Apple still create and sell the iPhone? If you say yes, you agree with Torvalds and Posner. If you say no, you are, in the words of Judge Koh, "smoking crack."
With his talk of the net present value of the 70 years after death, Posner is just considering copyright in financial terms.  However, some copyrightable material is not produced for money, but for art, reputation and posterity.  Copyright protects not just against making copies but against plagiarism, appropriating the credit for creation of the work. 
Would apple still create the Mac Book Pro?  Would they invest in development and expect people to pay a premium, if less expensive laptops could replicate key aspects like the magnetic power connector, and a quality GUI on top of a  unix OS?
+Martin Lewitt The Gentleman doth protest too much, methinks. (Shakespeare is public domain, so this is plagiarism but not copyright violation.)
+Martin Lewitt My 10 year old fondue pot has a magnetic power connector. Apparently patent inspectors weren't aware of that prior art.
Fundamental ideas are actually held back by the current system where powerful interests dominate all aspects of copyright and patents.

If the real innovators could secure a living with professional recognition going forward, that satisfies part of it. The other problem is shear costs of execution beyond that of simpler software systems.

Should an innovation in User Interface receive protection?

That is my quandary is that a real leap beyond current modes in my efforts to research genetics derived a truly astounding advancement in user interface technology.

What do I do with it now? Nothing, monetization of a user interface for a smaller player is out of the question.

My time needs spent on more modest but monetizing iPad App's where the Apple Volume Purchase Program applies.

Maybe if and only if a 100k+ copies there get moved, that user interface will get built and perhaps even a modified innovation between copy left with a mobile Linux or brand new concept pops it in front of your eyes to wonder as, 'the next big idea'.

Wishes as in most innovators as we hunker down to pay our bills while the billionaire corporations squabble over last years product design.

As for big pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies, both are actually buggy whip,makers due for humility soon.

Hint, other peoples ideas beyond my own make their assets in the long term worthless, including patent drugs all because spooky quantum science turns more ideas on their heads in the commercial world than any one of us even pretends to contemplate. Big stuff and big bankruptcies in telecommunications with pharmaceuticals too, plus others.

Can you wait for policy or is your next big idea going to trump that copyright or patents despite this mere flash of today's reality.

Fix it by changing it from the inside, with technology, their long term debt will crater and Wall Street will fickle them into a cash crunch.

+Jeff Willard +Linus Torvalds - I think that Judge Alsup (in the Oracle v. Google) case really did "get it".

But this article by Posner just blows me away. It is outstanding to see somebody on the bench who understands this.  Could he perhaps manage to hear all further cases in the Smartphone Wars?
+Linus Torvalds, I agree with the point of view of "reducing" the scope of patents. But also I don't think the idea of completely removing them is wrong. I respect Richard Stallman in that regard because he thinks copy right is a big harm for society so trying just to minimize it is still accepting a little bit of that problem, which could be understood as chickening out. So white is good, black is bad but grey is still bad.
+Linus Torvalds
Item one: I really enjoy the article you posted on patent law and I tend to agree that reform is necessary... It was necessary with the patent wars between Edison and Tesla, and it necessary today.
Item two: I dislike the premise of false dichotomy. The act of negating an argument because it presents bi polar choices is asinine. Of course there are more than two choices to most questions (duh). But the act of examining extremes causes us to think more seriously about our decision. It does not close debate, it opens it up.
People, in my opinion, wrongly condemn the old adage "false in one thing false in everything". That adage did not negate all of a person's testimony because of one falsehood, it mandated outside corroboration when falsehood was found... This is just one example of many where people label something a "false dichotomy" and end what could be an intelligent debate by the vary same dogmatism that they accuse others of.
Tried to read everything, but quite lengthy including everyone post. Like the responses from everyone, thanks all. Will go back to read the rest, enjoy life all.
The original copyright term in the USA was 14 years & one 14 year extension. It's just about the perfect length. Think back to the things you grew up with. Right now, you can only interact with them passively. If copyright term had never changed, a good chunk of those things would be in or nearly in public domain, and you would be able to interact with them as a creator.

You might ask why that is important, but remember when the first editions of encyclopedias began entering public domain? Now that information is part of Wikipedia. How about Bach and the other classical composers? I guarantee that most of the versions of their works you have heard have been arranged by people who loved the original and contributed to it. The new works are under new copyright, held by Wikipedia and the arranger, respectively.

Now think about Star Wars and The Beatles. If you write a Star Wars story, George Lucas has to approve it before you can sell it. If you remix a Beatles track and sell it, you will be sued. Have you heard of the "despecialized" editions of Star Wars? Look them up; the work that was put into that project is immense. It is actually illegal for the fan that put that together to sell his work. The story writer owns the copyright to his story, but he cannot sell it. The remixer holds the copyright to his remix, but he cannot sell it.

I'm not arguing for no copyrights or patents just copyrights and patents that encourage--or at least not harm--creativity.
sp ace
Patents inspires creativity. You know how that works crazily well. How on earth then did everything get better and better. Like now. Patent tightly.
Judge Posner for us supreme court.
+Justin Goss I understand your view, however I do believe +Linus Torvalds was right to post his comment. If I understand you correctly, you're saying the comment was misplaced due to there being an opportunity for debate. However in reading the comment posted, it was a one lined comment with no specific intent except to incite contradiction. This would not allow debate in any form and thus I feel the original comment is valid.

If i did read and misinterpret your comment, I apologise. 
Scuci ä moa! Truth being told you think this because this particular law affects you in some way, good for you. Sadly these judges partake on all sorts of lawmaking, that affect peoples in the opposite way. These guys studied law in school and majored in a particular area of it! When these guys sit in those rooms up above everyone for a long time in them plush taxpayer money maid chairs, they seem to forget this small but VERY important fact. He hit on this one? Well bet he's missed on much more. Think of it like this: "would you go out duck hunting and bring along a pointer cat" ridiculous right, you'd most likely use him to catch a mouse. Sadly the powers that be have never gone out duck hunting, or they really love cats!
I think a lot of problems can be solved if patents are not allowed to be purchased by others. With my limited understanding of the world, I completely fail to understand how someone can claim ownership of someone's invention just because he/ she paid money to purchase it.
Doesn't it ALL boil down to the motives of the inventor? I ask this because my belief is that you invent for the benefit of something/one!

Maybe the first question on the Can I Patent this questionnaire should be;

Are you dong this solely for the benefit of your fellow man and NOT to make a shitload of money?

IF the answer is YES, Patent Granted!
Presently I do not understand what it feels like to be in a situation when I have to decide whether to patent something or not cos I've not invented anything. So I think its a decision only creators can take. 
Arun, that kind of restriction for selling and buying patents, would pretty much end the nature of patents being intellectual property, and in most cases make the value of a patent 0, so I'm pretty sure that there aren't many patent owners what agree to your suggestion, and I'm pretty sure that they have powerful lobbies, so that will never happen anywhere. Inventors very often just don't come up with a great idea, usually it takes a lot of work and effort and studying etc. and often, when it comes to independent inventors, with their own risk, so you would pretty much take away these peoples livelihood. So the question have to be finetuned, and only should it be targeted to software patents, and maybe just certain kinds of software patents, and it is getting ever more difficult to draw the line, now that there are more and more embedded software in hardware products.
Unfortunately this is fact of life. On the other hand many software patents that we are meaning are owned now by big companies, and maybe that is one way of identifying the ones what causes harm. But it is a difficult task for lawmakers to write changes to laws that would be fair for everybody. Judge Posner has a good point, and maybe something ought to be done about it, but how ? But I'm afraid that even if there wasn't any laws about patents and copyrigth, as long as there is in force the basic rule, that contracts must be kept (pacta sunt servanda), the lawyers could by making a contract jungle, make things just as difficult in the long run.
+Mikko Silvennoinen in "most" cases the inventor just gets shafted by someone who uses financial/other muscles to get them out of the way! How is that protecting the inventors livelihood?

The system, as it is, is designed to protect the wealthy/powerful and when you consider a rich individual/company can just buy a bunch of patents ad hoc with NO input into creating them then the system is corrupt!

Lawyers should be the LAST and NOT the first person you speak to!
The primary purpose of patents is not to protect inventors, corporate or individuals or those who invest in them, but is for the preservation and self interest of the issuing State. Looking at patent law in abstract from the main purpose of them as instruments of state control is where much of the confusion about patents starts.

In a world that is increasingly technology dependent, global in trade and political influence, national interest and economic survival may have ever widening interpretations and consequences.

Patent laws remain parochial in form, archaic in structure and are used to underpin protectionism.
In this age of technological profusion, nothing has the capacity to unite all peoples of the world like Open Source.
all judges suck even paula
I think Apple and some other companies screwed the patent system.
As much as I dislike Apple, they didn't screw up the system. They did however take advantage of the deeply-flawed system. Patents are a very good thing used to stimulate competition as well as reward those inventors who develop new ideas. But decades of manipulation of some laws and neglect of others has caused this problem to balloon into what it is today, where corporations can attack others over stupid things like rounded buttons. 
+Wayne Young This question is easy to answer: "Big Government" make the laws the sponsors want.  The sponsors for expensive testing are the big pharma corporations.  The US doesn't have "Big Government", they have corrupt government.

State-granted monopolies or big market entry barriers are a very strong indication for corruption.  The statute of monopolies from 1624 in England was issued (and abolished almost every patent monopoly except that on inventions) due to the fact that the government, and especially Sir Franics Bacon have become way too corrupt.

I.e. the statue of monopolies is the step from feudal to capitalist (free market) economy, and the invention patent system is a remainder of feudal economy.
Imagine this : if Samsung, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Linux, Oracle, AMD, INTEL, NASA, etc work together, not separate by patent, maybe a human being can Live in Moon, or Mars or other planet in other galaxy.. Or maybe there is no climate issues.. Thx +Linus Torvalds for share this article
Oh wow. Looks like Linus went straight into bully mode when confronted with something in opposition to what "his" brain deduced. I'd be happy to discuss the issue but not with someone who tells an opposing viewpoint to shut the f$&@ up and has legions of yes men chiming in with nonsense like pwned.
I agree, though I would never wish for "more people in the legal profession" lol
+1! Posner has a dry sense of humour. there is a great line in that blogpost about textbooks. 
I have been preaching this message for a long time.  to both people who will listen.  We need a "Use it or lose it" approach to Patent law to prevent the stifling of human advancement.  Ideas should not be purchased and shelved because they compete with an established technology.  IMO.
+Leo Goile Leo - hey, thanks for your addition to the debate! So when I originally posted I couldn't find any relevant posts that made any sense by +Michael Barnes . His only post was an allusion to Linux open source... Not sure how that incited contradiction.
That being said, I was really singling out one part of his argument-"false dichotomy", not negating his whole argument. I dislike condemning hyperbole as an effective tool to provoke thought...
So while not attacking +Linus Torvalds position (it is very close to my own) I was cautioning against a specific point I found flawed.
+Arun Seshan , that sounds good on the surface. But what if I invent an engine that runs on refuse (shout out to Back to the Future). I don't want to get into the manufacturing business, because I am an inventor. But I still want to benefit from my invention so I offer to sell my invention to someone who can build in mass quantities. This does not, to me, seem to be wrong.
My only addendum would be that if you don't use your patent for a certain period of time, you should lose it and it become public domain.
Yeah you think?! If we had more level headed people...all the frivolous time-wasting lawsuits would be less but not necessarily go away! 
Apple seem to be on a Patent spree, they're patents seem to be more a more broad - there is no doubt that this has little to do with anything Apple is working on and more to do with stopping any one else from innovating. 
I am all for someone protecting their original concept, in any field. This however gets complicated when their initial research are based on things in the open domain. This can happen in software to medicine. If you have two innovators using public domain ideas or patents, and do come up with improvements with that, should either of them have exclusive right to that patent? My thinking is that they only own a part of it. Also what to do, if independently they come up with the same innovation? What if that research was done with taxpayer money?  
There were/are so many innovators who didn't know anything about PATENT rights whereas there were and are some smart copycats did/doing the legal way to patent for the innovation(s).
Whatever improvements/upgradations on an innovative product/service should be beneficial to the original innovator(s) legally, financially and publicity-wise.
Software patents are not good, period. They only serve to stifle innovation, especially by smaller companies which can't handle the legal pressure of larger ones who can essentially always win via attrition, whether they are right or wrong.

In the case of a cell phone interface, if the patent is specific enough, maybe ok. If it's too general, definitely bad.

A patent on the way a cell phone looks is pure bullshit. That should be the realm of trademark, as it likely doesn't contribute to unique function.
+Bernd Paysan the counterargument to patents killing millions per year is that many more would die if the drug wasn't invented in the first place.

Figuring out if a drug is safe is expensive, and most turn out not to be. After spending a billion dollars testing failed drugs the ones that work have to pay for it all. There are other ways to do it, but wishful thinking isn't one of them...
Patent laws are screwed up but that won't change it will just get worse with the amount of private interest money being poured into political systems around the world the big boys won't let anybody compete
Wouldn't say I completely agree with Judge Posner but he's dead on about patent issues.
Je suis tto conten de googuell et suis desoler pour mon aicreture bonne soire a tous
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