Re: intellectual property

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Fri Mar 04 2005 - 21:29:32 MST

--- David Picon Alvarez <>
> I sort of understand copyright. You wrote it, it's
> yours. I don't agree with
> it, but I see the point. But with patents, even if
> you arrive at an
> independent insight, you're barred from exercising
> it because someone got
> there first. So, patents are like a landgrab of the
> natural world. Granted,
> a temporary landgrab, but a landgrab nonetheless,
> from what is, in
> principle, a commons, to private hands.

Insights are not patentable. Theories are not
patentable. Recently there have been rulings that
algorithms, notably RSA, are patentable, which is
closer to what you're worried about.

Land grabs can be good. Land grabs are how we settled
the Western US. The human genome might not
have been sequenced yet if people didn't hope to get
patents from it. Yes, I know one team was
government-led, but without Celera's competition,
it might have taken much longer.

BTW, the period for patents is apparently now 20
years. I think it's 12 for pharmaceuticals?

- Phil

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