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Userland.com: Patents are the 18th century equivalent of open source

“Patents are the 18th century equivalent of open source: in
exchange for a limited time protection of the process, an inventor
discloses all the details of his or her invention. The goal was to
make sure that new industrial methods wouldn’t be shrouded by
secrecy and possibly lost, and to assure that others could build
upon the work performed earlier.”

“… If you have a problem with a patent, you can challenge it,
in theory. Now, in practice, that tends to cost too much for any
individual or small company, but it does mean that bad decisions by
the US PTO can be reversed.”

“There are a number of worthwhile fixes to the patent
system. The underlying idea, IMHO, is sound…”

Complete
story
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