Subject: Re: EY invests in online patent exchange
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 18:27:55 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "kms" == Karsten M Self <> writes:

    kms> "Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

    >> What's _different_ about software?

    kms> We might ask: what's different about drugs?

You might.  I think that's the wrong question, however, because if you 
lump software in with all industry non-drugs, you're stuck with the
burden that the death of industrial innovation due to the flaws of the 
patent system is greatly overdue, and shows no real signs of actually
occurring, whereas there are theoretical reasons to believe it should
help encourage innovation.

OTOH, if you make special pleadings for software, you have historical
fact on your side---there's no particular evidence that software
patents have accelerated development, and plenty of anecdotal evidence
that it is a thorn in the side of creative amateurs and experienced
professional developers alike.  Add a plausible theoretical analysis
that justifies those anecdotes as examples of fundamental processes of
the patent system, and you're ready to go live.

    kms> I'd like to see the debate turned on its head for once: we
    kms> should do away with patents and give drugs the sui generis
    kms> protections they require which are peculiar to the scientific
    kms> and regulatory process they must pass through.

I don't know any academic economists who agree with your implicit
thesis offhand.  I'll go take a careful look, but that mere fact
suggests that this strategy would face a real uphill battle on the
political side.

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."