Saturday, December 03, 2005

Marketplace of Ideas

The Economist ran an article a few weeks ago which started the old wheels turning. The article talked about the role of the patent in modern society, and how the rapid expansion in patents of late is similar to the enclosure movement of the first industrial revolution. The Economist predicted that, eventually, the patent law would adapt into a marketplace in which one can buy and sell ideas.

My contribution to furthering the marketplace of ideas is that the current restrictions on who can use ideas for how long is hindering economic development. With the rapid pace of technology, keeping one out of the marketplace for several years shuts off huge swathes of potential development. I propose that, in addition to purchasing the rights to use an invention in toto, the use of an invention as part of a further development should gain for the inventor only that portion of the profit to which his invention contributed.

For example, if an inventor created a new gear pump which allowed someone else to build a machine around the pump, the inventor of the gear pump would, rather than denying the second inventor the use of the pump, be compensated by a share of the profit derived from the new machine.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A comment posted for Noumenon, since he is experiencing technical difficulties:

This is the sort of idea that tends to have an
enormous body of complications behind it. First legal
theorists argue in the journals over whether this is
the same as an automatic license or not. Then
economists decide whether a patent that doesn't serve
as a barrier to entry is worth it. Then patent
lawyers tackle various practical concerns. Then
political struggles to see who decides when people
can't agree on what share of the profits is owed to
what part (movie studios have a lot of tricks for
making blockbuster movies "unprofitable" for purposes
of royalties to the stars). Then you roll out the
policy and have unpredictable results as businesses
find the loopholes and competitive advantages.

You need to get a job in a specialized field where all
these ideas you pump out can gain some focus, as they
do to great effect where you work now. Without
specialization your ideas fall on the first step of
the staircase and go undeveloped.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

I am most idea productive when I face problems. I usually don't solve other people's problems well. I've turned in a half a dozen suggestions about how to improve running roll stock, since that's where I find problems. If I had to deal directly with patent laws, like you suggest, I'd probably have a better idea.

6:23 AM  

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