Subject: Re: Examples needed against Soft Patents
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2005 04:55:59 +0900

>>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <> writes:

    Ben> It is impossible to spread a work/invention that was not made
    Ben> or invented because nobody found it worthwhile to do so.

This is not the problem.  Everything will get invented for the fun of
it, and probably sooner rather than later.  I'm sure that Thomas
Jefferson knew that, because he enjoyed thinking and creating just as
much as any of us do, and was sufficiently democratic as to anticipate
our enjoyment.  Encouraging _creation_ is _not_ what IP is all about,
as many brilliant inventors (including the poor guy who wrote MS-DOS
if I've heard that story correctly) have learned to their sorrow.

It's the 9/10 (Fred Brook's estimate) or 99/100 (Thomas Edison's) of
costs that are hidden _below_ the waterline, down with the glacial
grit, the "suits" and the "marketroids" and the "VPs of IT" who've
never written a line of code or installed a motherboard and the 9-to-5
Visual Basic coders and the data-entry clerks, which Jefferson and his
colleagues foresaw the need to finance via IP franchises 230 years
ago.  Not the glistening crystal peaks of creativity.

That doesn't mean there are no valid economic arguments against
software patents, of course.  But to make headway against the "suits"
and other proponents, you need to attack the assumption that the
miscellaneous work and supporting development essential to diffusion
of innovation is sufficiently expensive, and the revenues sufficiently
evanescent, as to require a franchised monopoly to finance it.  Not
the non-assumption (at least on the part of the core proponents, who
generally do know better) that thinking is so painful that people
won't do it unless they get a monopoly on their inventions.

Happy New Year!


Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.