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Re: Patent pending: Network-based classified information systems.

From: Dudley Mills <dudmills@ozemail.com.au>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 11:20:10 +1100
Message-ID: <34F363BA.43B8@ozemail.com.au>
To: "Joseph M. Reagle Jr." <reagle@w3.org>
CC: www-talk@w3.org
Hi Joseph,

Thanks for wading into these murky waters.

The "big question", as I see it, is what is in the public's best

Is the public best served by the Law not recognising any Intellectual
Property rights (such as currently expressed in copyright and patent
law)? This is often argued in the positive by parties who have no
Intellectual Property to protect.

However, Consider a person who has written and published a novel or
compiled a technical text book. Often they have invested substantial
labour and capital. In the absence of copyright, any one could copy the
book and sell it as their own without payment of royalties to the
author. Even if the purpose of writing and publishing a book was purely
artistic or intellectual expression, failure by authors to recoup costs
or even to make a profit on their invested labour and capital would make
it very difficult for most authors to continue to write and publish. In
many instances, the public would be impoverished by the reduced choice
in books. Copyright laws are acts of parliament where the public,
through their political representatives, have expressed their wish that
authors be granted a monopoly on the sale of their work.

The intent of patent law is only slightly different. Successful patent
applicants are granted by the State a temporary monopoly over sales of
inventive products and processes of the practical arts in return for
full disclosure to the public of how the products can be made or how the
processes can be practically applied. The intent is not only to reward
innovation in the practical arts but also to encourage further
innovation by providing public disclosure of patented inventions.

It seems there always has been debate about the patent system and how
it serves or damages the public interest. I find Churchill's view of
democracy illuminating - to paraphrase "Democracy is a poor form of
government, but it's the best we have".

Perhaps the patent system needs reform in relation to 'net inventions
but what reform precisely? I believe it has been suggested that the term
of patents (typically 20 years) is too long. Any one who can make a
profit from patent royalties in under 5 years is doing most remarkably
well. Any one's patent in the computer field that is still being used
after 20 years of technical advancement has probably contributed greatly
to that advancement.

The one reform that I believe could be in the public interest is the
publishing of completed patent applications (ie not provisional patent
applications) as soon as practicable after their lodgement. I believe
that is done in Germany. This would give notice to the public of
the possibility of their being Intellectual Property in a particular
area of 'net inventions and encourage better discovery of prior art
which, in turn, would result in more accurate definition of the claims
of inventions.

However, such reform would be costly to the State, that is to the Patent
Office, if it was required to undertake the publishing immediately after
filing. The alternative is to require the applicant to publish. This is
commonly the case with mining claims which must be published in
newspapers. However, publishing in newspapers would cost patent
applicants far more than the patent filing and examination fees. A
practical alternative is to require publishing on the 'net. I have done
that with my patent application:

Kind regards,
Dudley Mills,
30 Hutchison Crescent, Kambah, ACT 2902, Australia.
phone/fax: +61-2-6296-2639
email: dudmills@ozemail.com.au
web: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~dudmills/

Joseph M. Reagle Jr. <reagle@w3.org> wrote:
> I guess the closest thing to a "schema," which is what people should
> be thinking about, is a data-base structure, and this does seem to
> fall under patent grants and rulings. However, many, many things will
> be able to be represented in schema and I wonder whether patents are
> really the right legal instrument for the future.
> ___________________________________________________________
> Joseph Reagle Jr.  W3C:       http://www.w3.org/People/Reagle/
> Policy Analyst     Personal:  http://web.mit.edu/reagle/www/
>                    mailto:    reagle@w3.org
Received on Tuesday, 24 February 1998 19:24:53 UTC

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