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Patents

From: Gregory Carter <gcarter@aesgi.com>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 02:02:28 -0500
Message-ID: <3BBC0984.8090705@aesgi.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Hello, a few comments on patents and technology:

I have worked in a great deal many areas regarding patents and 
technology, specifically in the most recent years in the biotech 
industry, now I have my own company that deals with software.

I can say with quite a bit of experience, that patents and technology 
don't go together too well.  They usually result in the following:

1) More expensive products, and a lower quality.

They have to be more expensive by definition, patents require royalties 
almost 99% of the time.

Patents that deal with software or technology standards are equally 
ineffective because people usually patent the science that builds the 
technology instead of the end product itself, which in regards to a 
priori work, causes a great deal of concern for those scientists who 
wish to work or do research in a related field of study.

Since competition cannot improve a "process" that is patented, further 
work to extend or correct deficiences in the technology usually comes to 
a halt.

Since the owner owns the patent on the process, no improvements have to 
be made.  I don't have to point out what happened in the past year with 
our Russian friend do I?

NO improvements almost always equals poor quality.

Patents just aren't bad for the software/standards industry, they are 
bad for the consumer as well.

2) Opportunity never comes from patents, and niether does growth in our 
industry and by thier very design patents restrict opportunit/halt 
progress.  It always comes from the open standards that are free, which 
allow interoperability and markets to develop as a result of products 
from many different manufacturers comming together to form a solution.

That is how the internet works.  This is why YOU people exist.

With the encouragement of a non standard or non level playing field, 
owned only by one company, there is no POSSIBLE way, a company can 
compete in the market place.

What would have happened if Cisco would have been able to patent the 
TCP/IP protocol?

We would have only one manufacturer of routers.  Think Cisco routers are 
expensive now?

Just consider for a moment what would happen if such a thing came to pass?

The internet would be a mighty different place indeed.


3) Patents=Information for only those who can pay.

Number 3 is I think the biggest threat.  If you endorse a new Web 
Browser protocol, which is patented, not out of the question, and 
Microsoft loads it all up on thier desktops.

Do you understand what will happen to those who cannot use this protocol?

I don't like the idea, and I don't think many people do, of a standards 
body that endorses a method where by manufacturers can restrict 
information for example about Breast Cancer, Goverment Tax policies, 
etc, by granting patents to individuals or companies on what browser 
they can pay for.

4) Patents slow down innovation.  This is a simple fact.  My biotech 
company I use to work for owned patents on a number of dubious natural 
structures they claimed to have "discovered" and of course where not 
apriori.

These patents covered certain areas of research into cancer drugs.

A total of 100 or so people worked in that lab, and what struck me about 
the whole idea of science and progress, both as an intellectual endeavor 
and as an economic one, was this:

Only 100 people in the world can legally work on those genes covered at 
this firm.  Do you honestly think they are the BEST and the BRIGHTEST in 
the world?  Of course not.

What would happen if every major University Institution had access to 
the research this company was doing.  Imagine, instead of 100 no names 
in science working on this cancer drug problem 100,000's of people world 
wide working on the problem?

Do you think the drug would take 10 years to solve the technical 
problems and issues with it, with 100 people working on the problem, OR 
2 years if the research could share that information in a non patented 
environment?

How many people will die in those 8 years because lawyers have to patrol 
competitors and how much profit potential will be lost in those 8 years 
if the drug could be brought to market in only 2 years?

Same thing for any technology including the web.  Patents on any portion 
of the web will restrict developing nations participation with business, 
science and industry in much the same way.

Reconsider what you are doing in light of the above.  It isn't good for 
the consumer, the industry health as a whole which has relied on open 
standards to build the internet in the first place is at stake here, and 
this will set a very bad precendent.

-Gregory Carter
-CEO Applied Engineering Software Group
-gcarter@aesgi.com
Received on Saturday, 6 October 2001 05:58:01 GMT

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