August 11, 2023 at 6:53 am #139Jonathan BuhacoffKeymaster
A patent is a grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.
There is a better way to promote innovation.
Background: existing patent system gives the patent “owner” an exclusive right to practice it, which is intended to promote invention by guaranteeing some amount of time for the inventor to benefit from it financially before everyone else can copy it, and it does that but it also has two awful types of abuse: 1) someone patenting an invention and never intending to practice it, or trying and failing, and later when someone else invents essentially the same thing and practices it, even if they developed it completely separately, the original patent owner sues them and tries to get a lot money for “damages” when the original patent owner has not really lost anything since they weren’t in business selling that invention anyway — this is known as a patent troll. 2) someone can buy the patent rights to a medicine and then hike up the price to abuse sick people who need it; there is little financial benefit to the original inventor and it’s taking unfair amounts of money from sick people who don’t have any other choice because nobody else can make that medicine because of the patent and they might die before the patent expires.
Description of this idea for a different patent system:
An inventor has developed a method or design, so the inventor registers it with the government. The method must be specific enough to be done by someone else “skilled in the art”. If it mentions steps that are not obvious or well documented elsewhere, the inventor needs to either provide those details in the patent or file a separate patent with the detailed steps for that part first, then reference it. Abstract ideas would not patentable. When filing, the inventor has to do a search on prior art, reference it, point out what improvement or change is being made relative to that one, and with what benefits or advantages, and what additional limitations or constraints or disadvantages.
Everyone who files a patent gets a receipt with the filing receipt date and a sequence number for that date (every patent filed on that date gets a number in a sequence starting with “1”). First to file the gets the patent on that innovation. Patents are never rejected outright due to being “obvious” or “covered” by prior art – they stay in the public record forever. But they may be tagged as “covered” by prior art with reference to it. To remove the tag the inventor would have to show and explain what is different. The patent is updated to be just the part that is new with references to the prior art.
But everyone can use these patents. Inventors don’t get any exclusive rights to practice the inventions. What they do get is points for every instance where their patent was referenced as prior art that someone improves on (with their own patent) and when their patent is referenced in an actual product, they get points for sales volume of that product. All patents referenced in a product get the points.
The government is getting sales taxes and income taxes from sales of products and services. When inventors get to a certain number of points… They earn a fixed income stream for some period of time. They get more income or more time if they get to some next level. But there would be a maximum, and when the inventor reaches that limit they won’t get more money but will continue to accrue points.
Eventually the inventor might get some awards for high score. They’re already set with the money , they are just doing more because they’re awesome, or to get more recognition (which is cheap for govt to grant… not a title of nobility, just an award like a ribbon or medal).
With this system inventors want other people to take their idea because they still get credit for it. Referencing their idea won’t cost manufacturers anything. The taxes stay the same, the points get assigned ot everyone, it’s only the dollar amounts given to inventors that change when more patents are added, but that is ok because 1) when economy grows more dollars are spent to be divided over all the patents being referenced so it’s still significant, 2) when inventors or their heirs reach the earnings limit they don’t get any more money so that makes room for other inventors to get paid more significantly, 3) inventors still earn points for other recognition beyond money and that recognition is unlimited
If an inventor see a product and look up its references and don’t see their patent listed , you could file a grievance. Let the patent office review it, if it’s covered by the inventor’s patent they just correct the record and assign the inventor the uncredited points (which doesn’t take away from anyone else’s points), and the company will pay the inventor’s filing fee since it was their negligence and also a fine (which is used to pay only the interest on income the inventor should have received but didn’t, the income itself is paid by government starting after the decision according to its point system described above). If the inventor loses (which should be rare since they can look up what patents are referenced by that product and they can know if their own patent is relevant or not), the inventor pays the investigation and filing fee. So patent office can afford to do these checks. Once an inventor receives previously uncredited points, the income for that inventor is adjusted as necessary (they start getting payments for that they were “owed”, but they don’t get it all at once because it’s just part of the whole budget, they do get interest on the payments they didn’t receive and that interest is paid by the company that should have referenced them and didn’t).
So companies want to reference all relevant patents so they don’t need to pay omission penalties. But if they err in the other direction and list patents that don’t cover the invention, the government can sue them for giving credit where it’s not due (costing the government and other inventors money) and get back from the company as a penalty any money that was paid to inventors incorrectly due to the bad reference as well as penalty and interest to the government (which helps to fund the patent investigations). This gives companies a narrow and righteous path to giving credit where it’s due, not giving it where it’s not due, and “in exchange” companies are able to use any publicly disclosed invention without asking for permission, saving them lots of money they would otherwise have paid on research, negotiation, lawsuits, and licensing, or even the possibility that they can’t make the product at all for some years because they weren’t able to negotiate a license.
The reduced operating expenses for business means that products and services may be cheaper (or government can collect more sales tax and its affordable).
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