On the subject I have following 2 opinions.
First the length of a patent should be variable depending on the field of the patent. The idea behind this is: researching something can be incredible expensive (chemestry) or not (computer science). Computer Science like the famous one click patents, or the scrollbar patent... these costed nada in research and thus also the grant should be as small. If you had to pay millions to get something done, you should roughly be able to get that as monopoly revenue + some business usual revenue gain + maybe a risk compensation. But there it stops. I know this is difficult to implement, as sometimes a patent is difficult to assign a specific field. But IMHO the patent office should be able to dymically set a time frame, depending on the estimated costs of the patent.
Definetly the "one size fits all" regulation we have now, is IMHO not constitutional legal (at least in europe). Since one of the highest constitutional rules we have "law may not treat equal things unequally. But also not treat unequal things equally". The first one is well known as "anti-sexism" principle, but the second is less known... and IMHO patents do treat unequal things equal, just for comfort, because its may be difficult to make them more just. I know many lawyers would conter me on this interpretation, its also expected since if you would share it, it would make patent law illegal, from the moment on, its not something many would want to achive (and yes constitional lawyer do make politics! Altough they often say they don't they do.)
My second opinion on patents/copyrights is: Alough a single person never has any idea, I'm not strictly against them. In my opinion a human mind is to some degree like any other "machine" also. What you don't put into, doesn't get out. For every invention, for every story, for every intelectual capital you can expost make a research and discover the series of inputs that this person was given, so the "output" he gave was no surprise. Also there is sometimes considerable knowledge existent within groups, transported just by talk, sharing ideas/emotions and so on... However it takes often considerable work to translate this implicit knowledge in explicit knowledge. That is to write a story is muuuuch more work than to tell it your kid as goodnight story. The same about ideas in patents. Many groups had some sort of implicit knowledge/techniques sometimes given on from master to apprentice for generation. It takes however additional work to sit down, and to write a document, so that everybody else can also now do this technique, without having to visit the master and learn in person. That is the sort of work that needs to be compensated by copyright and patent laws. And in the case someone did not research something himself, but for example just wrote down and made publically available what was "secret" knowledge in a closed group before, he needs to compensated for the work to aquire that knowledge and to write it down. Not for the work that "secretive group" needed to develop it first place. You may ask, when now more than one of a group would have been willing to write such a document, to make their group internal knowledge public, why just give the money to the one who brings the document? Well I think it is unfair to some regard, but its something we IMHO can live with, its a race, and thus encourages to be quick about it. Which is for the society as whole good I think.
Last edited by axel77; 09-18-2008 at 04:49 PM.