Thursday, June 02, 2005

Why Even Bother

With patents like this one, it's no wonder that the innovation, small businesses and independant game shops are dying out. No, it's not because of market conditions. No, it's not because the cost of development is too steep. It's because huge companies get to patent vague notions such as "keeping score in a game." The Patent Office obviously doesn't care about what's a valid patent anymore - they get paid if your patent is later litigated & revoked or not. Basically all the USPTO does is take gobs of money from large companies, stamp their patent form, file it away, then call it a day around 10 AM.

Since no one is reviewing patents before approving them anymore, it's up to challenges & lawsuits to decide if a patent is valid or not. And who has the money to challenge patents? You guessed it... big corporations! So the only way to be able to use a vague notion of a non-unique concept patented by a USPTO that just doesn't give a damn is to be another big company and be willing to fight it out in a court battle.

So... let's see... we kill off every small business, which employs the majority of the workforce, then scratch our butts and wonder why unemployment figures are so high. Here's the reason... small companies don't make sizable political contributions to lawmakers. So why do they give two craps about small business? They have a job, a quite comfortable one, thank you. Why would they waste their effort helping the thousands of companies that won't give any money back, when they could be catering to bigger interests that continually pull trucks of money to their back door?

You want employment? You want innovation? You want capitalism to work? Get rid of stupid patents. Make the USPTO work for a living. Kick out congressmen who would rather enjoy a nice, sizzly steak than think twice about Joe Sixpack.

Gamasutra wrote a pro-patent article, saying:

Patents, by their very nature, grant the right to exclude your competitors from stealing the fruits of your labor, and yet this powerful tool appears to be overlooked by the majority of the industry. In an effort to answer this question, we set out below to dispel what we see as the top myths surrounding patent protection of video games, and hope to encourage innovative game developers to take steps to protect their valuable innovations.

What the hell? Tell you what, let's replace the word "patent" with the words "machine gun" and see if it sounds any more convincing.

Machine guns, by their very nature, grant the right to exclude your competitors from stealing the fruits of your labor, and yet this powerful tool appears to be overlooked by the majority of the industry. In an effort to answer this question, we set out below to dispel what we see as the top myths surrounding machine gun protection of video games, and hope to encourage innovative game developers to take steps to protect their valuable innovations.

Same general gist. If dem der people try ter steel yer propertie, giv 'em a quik shot in the arse. Hell, it's my right to own a machine gun patent. Another quote from the Gamasutra article:

A classic argument among those who feel that the entire patent system should be abolished. You might want to make that argument to your representative in Congress, because unless the Constitution is amended to do away with patents, they're here to stay. In drafting the Constitution, our founding fathers recognized that the best way to promote progress in the "useful arts" was to reward inventors who come forward and share their inventions with the public by granting them a limited period of exclusivity in which they can exploit the fruits of their labor. In other words, discouraging slavish copying encourages innovation.

Wrong. This isn't what the founding fathers were talking about.

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, 1813

We haven't evolved as a society by making ourselves grandiose versions of the Hatfield's and the McCoy's. We have grown by accepting and integrating a free exchange of ideas, concepts and principles that make us stronger. Firing warning shots at people close to your property and building a row of razor wire will only ensure that you become nothing but inbred and ignorant.

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