Thursday, December 9, 2010

The collapse of the patent system!

US Patent # 6,293,874

I predict a major war between corporations and the multitude over intellectual property rights similar to the copyright war between the multitude and new artists on one side, and the mainstream cultural establishment (Hollywood, Sony etc.) on the other. This war will destroy the patent system as we know it.


1) We are moving towards a Knowhow Economy NOT towards a Knowledge Economy

  • the Internet technology enhances communication, collaboration and coordination , which gives an economical advantage to open and social entities, which in turn means that sharing information and knowledge becomes a better strategy than controlling and going for it alone.
  • knowledge becomes slippery, leaky, hard to control, it "wants to be free"
  • the model to extract value from society will be primarily based on knowhow, but also on who you know and on how many people you know.

Having the recipe (knowledge) doesn't mean you are able to make (knowhow) the cake!
The world is NOT short on ideas, it is rather short on people who do stuff.

2) We already see the emergence of the open enterprise and of open collaborative communities of innovation. A good source of information is the P2P Fundation.

Creative Commons is on the raise. Creative Commons is a parallel system emerging out of the conflict between the multitude and the mainstream media/culture establishment. The multitude said: fine, keep your junk for yourself, we'll design our own framework for creation and distribution, and we'll create a separate pool of value which we'll exchange based on our new framework.

3) As more and more individuals move towards open standards and Creative Commons, sooner or later we'll have an open community pushing an open "something" on the market, for which there happens to be a patent. People part of open communities usually don't do the boring and painful patent searching to see if their ideas are already protected, they are too busy co-innovating! The company holding the patent in question will try to defend it, because the open community constitutes an economical threat. The conflict will be inevitable because the two practices of commercialization are incompatible.

3) The legal battle: They closed down Napster and they punished individuals caught downloading music for free. But everyone soon realized that it is easier to win the lottery than to be sued for having downloaded a song. They tried all sorts of fear tactics which in the end proved to be unsuccessful. Gradually, the artists themselves started to realize that the open model actually benefits them. New models of remuneration emerged, which were in tune with the new media. But let's go back to our problem, in our case, who is the company going to sue? Suppose that the open community is a diffuse entity with no head office; not registered as a legal entity. Suppose it is just a bunch of passionate scientists and engineers collaborating to find solutions to solve socially relevant problems; an ad hoc, fluid group based on a wiki (this one for example, or this one, or a million others). As a social entity it looks much like the file-sharing community. Moreover, once the open community launches an open "something" as Creative Commons, this thing will be picked up by hundreds if not thousands of other entities around the world, part of different jurisdictions. It will make no sense, economically speaking,  for the company owning the patent to defend it.

This is the flow... A new culture is emerging. Knowledge becomes free. The way we extract value from our knowledge is by our knowhow associated with it. Patents will die! We need to adapt.

See other reasons in this document "Why patenting doesn't make economical sense anymore"

Visit Multitude Innovation, read about the Discovery Network
See SENSORICA, an open enterprise making open hardware. 

By AllOfUs

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