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Re: Gates Patents Flipping a Light Switch

From: AES/newspost
Subject: Re: Gates Patents Flipping a Light Switch
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 17:41:58 -0000
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.1 (PPC)

In article <ca95kp$if5$>, 

> > Little guys might not be able to afford patents. 
> > Does anyone have an idea how much it costs to get
> > a software invention patented?
> I attended a talk the other day on patents by the former
> corporate counsel of a software company.  He mentioned
> a range of $7K-$60K to get each patent, but noted that
> it was probably going to cost at least $500K to fight or
> defend a patent in court.  That's the more significant

I believe the Natl Academies are about to publish a report on needed 
improvements (aka reforms) in the patent system that will cite similar 
data -- from $10K to a few times $10K total costs to get a typical 
patent, compared with at least $100K and normally many multiples of that 
to fight or defend against a patent after issue.

I'll say once again that I find this situation really indefensible.  For 
on the order of $10K, and with no other real or potential downside to 
you, you can get the government to issue you a license (meaning, in 
effect, to write a kind of private law on your behalf) which 

*   gives you *no* new rights to use your own invention that you would 
not already have had simply by publishing your idea;

*   given the competence of the PTO, has a very substantial probability 
of being an unjustified or invalid right;

*   but which nonetheless, once issued, *takes away* from everyone else 
the right to have or use the same idea, unless they're willing and able 
to invest $100K and up -- potentially way up -- in an expensive and 
highly uncertain fight just to try to get themselves back to the same 
state they would have been in before your patent issued.

It's claimed this benefits society.  I don't believe that as a matter of 
fact it really does; the claimed "proofs" that it provides major 
benefits  to society are very dubious and undocumented; and even if it 
does in some (a few?) cases provide some benefits, the costs and damages 
to others in many other cases are highly indefensible.

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