Epicrealm Uses Vague Patents to sue Web Sites.
And yes, that includes this site as well. And pretty much any other blogging or journal sites.
Patents were supposed to be a very specific thing originally. A short exemption from having your product copied, sort of limited monopoly, in exchange for the information being published and after a few years (14 it seems, now extended to 20 for general patents.), then it would go into the public domain.
Lately these have proliferated to such an extent, crossing boundaries into software and other areas, that they are stifling any kind of innovation because every tiny idea is being patented, no matter how obvious, trivial or otherwise that it has been. It's nearly impossible to create anything today without infringing on several patents held by other companies, putting you at the risk of later being sued, or having to pay expensive licensing fees etc.
Copyrights have gone horribly wrong in a different direction, by repeatedly extending the term they cover (And RETROACTIVELY applying this extension backwards to previous copyrights that would otherwise be expiring, the obvious main culprit being Disney's massive lobbying efforts in order to maintain control of the Mickey Mouse image.)
There was a statement not long ago that I think might have been Bill Gates (it was from Microsoft) saying that the future economy would not be in creating products, but instead licensing ideas. All ideas would be owned as Intellectual Property and in order to actually create anything, you would have to pay these warehouses of ideas.
Chilling if you ask me. That is not a world I want to live in.
I am not completely against the idea of Intellectual Property. I don't think it would be unreasonable to allow a period of 2 or 3 years where you would have exclusive rights to produce your specific invention to recoup the costs of investment production and development and personal effort etc. Then allow the idea to move into the public domain where it could benefit society and also promote actual competition, either replacing the product with a better one, or forcing you to come up with a new innovation or to advance that innovation to match pace with your competitors etc. All around good for society as a whole.
Locking away ideas for over a century is detrimental to society to say the least.
"If creativity is the field, copyright is the fence". --John Oswald
"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property." --Thomas Jefferson
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