Copyrights and Patents versus The Ant Hill Innovation

Apple threatens Exxon as the most valuable company on Earth. Nations are faced with an ever increasing debt problem.

I have written about the Ant Hill Innovation earlier. As the world faces increasing economic challenges, it seems the rationale behind patents and copyrights are increasingly questioned.

As Apple is squelching opposition, many start wondering if offering companies monopolies is such a good idea. What would the world have been like if Tim Berners-Lee had patented The Web 20 years ago?

With even The Economist weighing in, the future is hopefully dimmer for those who want to secure their own at the expense of the many:

…it is next to impossible to offer a new technology or software-driven service without getting sued for patent infringement.


At a time when our future affluence depends so heavily on innovation, we have drifted toward a patent regime that not only fails to fulfil its justifying function, to incentivise innovation, but actively impedes innovation. We rarely directly confront the effects of this immense waste of resources and brainpower and the attendant retardation of the pace of discovery, but it affect us all the same. It makes us all poorer and helps keep us stuck in the great stagnation.

It is time to rethink the patent and copyright regimes.

It is succinctly summed up over at TED:

What do you think the world would be like if there were no patents or copyrights?

6 thoughts on “Copyrights and Patents versus The Ant Hill Innovation

  1. Geir, I get all your BPI emails, and I just want to thank you for taking the time and for doing the research to put things like this post up on copyright and patents. Your energy and intelligence is appreciated and much desired. Thanks.

  2. Geir, you and i track the same on this issue. Copyright and patents was a goos idea long ago but in the last 40 years they have turned into something unrecognizable – they are now more of a weapon and less of a legal protection for hard-working creators of new things.

    The best evidence for how far south this whole process has gone is the mostly unknown “Intellectual Property” fiction in the EU called Community Design. Most people have never heard of it, a week ago I hadn’t either. It’s not copyright and it’s not trademark either, it’s sort of in the middle but without any form of checking that the design being registered is in any way valid. This is what Apple are using to force Samsung’s Galaxy Tab off the shelves in the EU.

    The design they are protecting?

    A rectangular object with round corners and black border and a screen-like bit in the middle.

    The evidence that Apple presented to the judge in Germany to get their injunction was doctored too.

    This is important as you have to ask the question “under what kind of legal and social systems would it even be possibly to come up with this level of absurdity?”

    1. The society where those passing the laws have no real understanding of the technologies involved or the consequences of their decisions.

      I myself do not even believe the rationale behind the original copyright/patent laws had any merit.

  3. Monsanto, and a few other companies involved in genetic engineering, have actually been granted patents for specific sequences of DNA, the blueprint of lifeforms. Given Monsanto’s history of suing farmers whose crops were accidentally pollinated from GE crops in a neighbor’s field, it’s not hard to imagine a future where human genes are engineered and Monsanto will sue you for reproducing without a license from them.

    Technology has far outstripped our patent and trademark laws, and the whole concept of ownership of an idea needs to be re-examined. Also in need of re-examination is the concept of a corporation having the rights of a person, but with no personal responsibility and without the individual’s built-in limit to life span. The result is that corporations are accumulating more and more power, and we are in danger of becoming vassals of corporations rather than vassals of the aristocracy.

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s