Freesteel Blog » Patents in Liverpool

Patents in Liverpool

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 at 5:47 pm Written by:

We went to the Liverpool Inventor’s Club in the Central Library last night with a talk by John Lambert. Oh my. I kept my mouth zipped shut. It’s all very well explaining the patenting process in terms of the opportunity for the private citizen to dream up an invention, keep it secret, take out a patent, avoid the scam artists and patent sharks, and somehow negotiate with someone who has the money for a small cut of the profits should they back it as a product. It might be fine to warn us that only 2% of the patents ever become actual inventions, and that an even smaller fraction ever make money, but that’s not the whole story.

The real story is that almost all patents are taken out by corporations, not private individuals who are inventors, and any presentation that leads people to believe otherwise should be seen as a malicious act of deception. There is a strong case that the patent system in its present form is responsible for such an exceptional amount of damage to the public that it is the duty of everyone involved to raise awareness of it, rather than promulgating highly selective fantasies about how a little person managed to make a fortune out of the system against all the odds stacked against him by the system. It’s as unethical as plastering the town with the picture of the one grinning gambler who won fifty thousand pounds down at the casino last year.

Most people are going to be ripped off massively in their lifetime by just the cost of patented drugs to keep them alive, beyond any patent royalties they could ever hope to earn. The scandal behind this business, and the lies that are told to justify the status quo are quite breathtaking. It’s a disgrace that we let them get away with it, rather than prosecute them for fraud.

The whole concept of Intellectual Property is a nest of thorns. One pattern is clear: those who are the keenest on it tend to be the least creative and least productive in terms of generating this “property”. This includes has-been musicians, who of course aren’t speaking out for themselves, but are speaking up for “other lesser-known singers [who] would lose out on what in some cases was effectively their pension”… if they hadn’t already sold all their recording rights to a record company back in 1959 as they tended to do on condition of getting their single released. We don’t expect dear Cliff to know about the well-worn dirty tricks in the record industry. We also don’t expect him to be aware that when he compares copyrights of recording to copyrights of writing, the terms of the latter are already outrageous. It’s about the continual theft from the public of what should now be our cultural heritage. The extremist view would like to Shakespeare’s plays still under copyright. A real genius, one who was creative in their art each and every day, would be generous with their work, knowing that there is more where that came from. For this attitude we should rate mathematicians more highly than mere artists in terms of respect, since they don’t pretend that their work is private property; it is given to all at the time of invention.

Whatever. Your mind can drift during these lectures. Ostensibly we were there to ask about software patent indemnities in an OEM contract that didn’t look quite right. Apparently you can get insurance for this sort of thing. However, I don’t think our case fits into the standard mold enough to find someone who can give us a quote. But I may be surprised yet.

Meanwhile, back to some debugging of my pencil milling algorithm which I have been studiously avoiding for days.

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