Re: poly: Patenting Economic Institutions

From: Carl Feynman <>
Date: Mon Aug 24 1998 - 09:48:46 PDT

At 09:11 AM 8/24/98 -0700, you wrote:
>David Brin forwarded the following article to me.
>I agree about the ultimate importance of new institutions
>and ways of doing things. But I'm not sure I like letting
>people patent them.
>Given that a big thing I do is invent social institutions,
>I should be thrilled. Except that I can't patent any ideas
>I've published, which is most of them. And our experience
>with software patents hasn't been good for software innovation.

There are two things wrong with software patents. First, the 17-year term
of a patent is absurdly long compared to the development and payback time
for a software innovation. Second, the patent office doesn't have good
software patent examiners, so they let in lots of things that are obvious
or even already known.

For innovative social institutions, the first problem will be less of a
problem, since an institution typically requires years to get going. But
the second problem will be far worse.

Received on Mon Aug 24 16:51:12 1998

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