[linux-elitists] QOTD

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Wed Jun 14 08:48:22 PDT 2006


begin Ben Finney quotation of Wed, Jun 14, 2006 at 01:41:28PM +1000:

> With luck, it might even become *so* cool that the check for prior art
> is made *before* the patent is granted. But for such a novel idea, it
> might take some time to implement that.

It would be awful public policy to make any
improvements in "patent quality" without fixing
patentability creep.  20 patents, one of which
will hold up in court, are worth much less than two
patents, one of which will hold up in court.

If software patents increase in quality, it's like
issuing higher-quality ammunition to stagecoach
robbers.  If 19 out of 20 rounds on both sides
are duds, only a real desperado would do a holdup,
since a stagecoach operator with a few guards would
be likely to finish him off.

Give more reliable ammo to both sides, and it pushes
the balance in favor of the bandit to the point where
risk-tolerant but sane people would go into the patent
litigation, I mean bandit, business.

Investors also discount risk -- so the price of 10
patents at a 50% quality level should be higher than
the price of 100 patents at 5%.

Today, the software patent market seems to be a good
example of "lemon economics".  Prices are low because
buyers don't have reliable information about which are
"good".

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_(economics)

   http://www.johnkay.com/in_action/130

What about Tim O'Reilly's strategy of keeping the
"killer prior art" published but not easily indexable?

http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2003/bountyquest_1003.html

Amazon hasn't tried a One-Click lawsuit on anyone
since that article, as far as I know.

-- 
Don Marti                    
http://zgp.org/~dmarti/
dmarti@zgp.org           LinuxWorld: August 14-17, 2006, San Francisco
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