Saturday, February 14, 2009

Previously patented post

Lately there have been many calls for legislations regarding "intellectual property" (IP). IP laws grant exclusive monopoly to one's creative work usually for a given period of time. The term "intellectual property" is a confusing term in that it could mean copyright, patent or trademarks. Therefore when discussing IP it is important to specify which one (copyright, patent or trademark) that we are talking about, as each of these have a specific meaning.

As Maldives will eventually have such laws, it is important for the general public to understand what these actually mean. Some people do mistakenly believe that whole ideas and concepts can be patented. What can and should be patentable is a particular implementation of an idea. There are various other conditions that have to be met for a claim to be patented. If an idea or concept can be patented, that would mean someone could patent the idea of say blogs. That would mean whoever got that patent will have an exclusive monopoly over the whole concept of blogging. How would that promote innovation? How would that allow competition? Luckily, ideas and concepts are not patentable, and we do have lots of competition for blog software and hosts.

Even if only a specific implementation of an idea is patentable, the crucial question is who will be examining the patent application for its merit. How qualified will that person or institution be? Will they be able to identify obvious and non-obvious claims? What about the existence of prior art? How long shall the patent be valid for? 5 years? 20 years? What types of patents will be allowed?

These have to be addressed to have a healthy patent system that promotes and rewards the real inventors rather than the patent trolls. We should not let our patent office become like some others where stupid and obvious patents were granted.

And there still remains the problem with rewarding the independent inventor. What happens if I make the same invention independently? Will the first applicant (and hence the patent holder) be able to stop me from developing my invention, which I made with my own effort and my very own ideas? Is he not interfering with my freedom of expression?

Maybe I should patent the idea of establishing a good patent system?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

IP is covered in Shariah Law, dont u think?

f i Я a s said...

i don't care if they patent art or music 135 years... medicine, water and grain/seeds must be made readily available, when and where they are needed. but increasingly, we find companies patenting these things and holding human lives to ransom, especially in the poorer countries where they cannot afford to pay these patented products.

i guess it's no big surprise in today's profit driven world.

meekaaku said...

Why stop at medicine, water and seeds? Today those are what is being held hostage, tomorrow it might be something completely different.

As for holding human lives for ransom, it was not long along that Brazil voided the patent held by Merck for an AIDS drug. The big pharma companies go to great lengths to monopolise and hold human lives to ransom by patenting human genome sequences.

axee said...

Heard about cases in USA where they can patent animal/plant species. Now that is nonsense...Then again if you look at this broadly, w/o patent laws pharmaceutical companies will stop their research. The moment they release a drug after years of research anyone can copy it and mass produce.

axee said...

Heard about cases in USA where they can patent animal/plant species. Now that is nonsense...Then again if you look at this broadly, w/o patent laws pharmaceutical companies will stop their research. The moment they release a drug after years of research anyone can copy it and mass produce.

meekaaku said...

axee:
Its not just the US, it happens in the europe as well. I dont think it was for naturally occurring species, but I do recall a Monsanto patent on genetically engineered bean, and there was a huge public outcry over it. Not sure how it ended.

If you really look at the finances, most of the big pharma dont spend relatively much on R&D. Their marketing and admin budgets are bigger, and they do obtain patents for discoveries made with taxpayer funded research done at academic institutions!

Report said...

Maldivians dont watch out for IP or copyright at present. So, we need awareness before the new law gets launched.

f i Я a s said...

report... awareness is something unheard of in this country... the basic idea is to catch the public off guard with complicated new laws and try to trick as many people as possible... we then consider the number of individuals trapped to be the indicative of the effectiveness of the law...

meekaaku said...

firass:
you are right. but that means the need for making people aware is even more. we cant just let things be.