Optional Patent System Incentive Opportunity?
There is something about the incentive system for patents that just does not seem right.
The goal appears to be to issues patents so as to encourage both technology and business.
The problem seems to be the use of the legal system as part of the incentive
machinery. The legal system ,as far as criminal and tort laws, seem to be
designed to discourage behavior. Its not obvious it is best suited to participate
in the encouragement of anything like the spread of technology.
Consider two semiconductor companies. Suppose someone at Linear Technology discovers and
patents a great circuit. In another company like National Semiconductor, the
engineers are highly discouraged from even knowing about this great new invention. If
it can be proven that engineers knew about an invention, and if a court finds that a
patent has be violated, the penalties will be much greater. So engineers are expected
by their legal departments to remain as much in the dark as possible in terms of the latest
Engineers are strongly encouraged to find ways not use an invention, even when
the alternative is far inferior. The actual issuing of the patent seems to make it
every engineer's job to find a way to not use it. Is this how things get done
in science? If a scientist makes a great discovery, is ever other scientist in
the world being legally encouraged to not adopt and built upon this great discovery?
Now the patent process needs some sort of incentive machinery. Some how, the expense required
to develop the invention needs to be reimburse. But right now, legal means are being used to
do this. In effect, every patent owner is playing a little bit of the "Patent Troll" role.
Use someone's invention, pay up, or risk being taken to court, and legally being shut down.
Is there better alternative? Perhaps?
Suppose the IRS tax laws where written so that National Semiconductor had an
double financial incentive to use a great invention from Linear Technology?
Only a very small percent of patents are money makers. Suppose the tax laws were written
so that if National Semiconductor is actually making money off of a Linear Technology
invention, they would have an attractive tax incentive to voluntarily send some
"R+D reimbursement" to Linear Technology. Make the tax incentive something like giving
National Semiconductor a choice between either sending a dollar to the IRS as income taxes,
or send 80 cents to Linear Technology as "R+D reimbursement".
Now make it so that in order for National Semiconductor to take advantage of this
double incentive, National Semiconductor would have to prove how much money they
are actually making per year off of the invention. This would therefore entitled
them to send a small proportion of that amount to Linear Technology as "R+D reimbursement"
to realize this special tax incentive.
One thing, the IRS "appears" to encourage anything that increases their
tax revenue. In the special case where a particular patent is actually making money
for an industry, could this be used by the IRS to actually promote tax revenue?
Inventions can create whole new industries.
Engineers should be able to adopt and build upon any great idea that comes
along. And being able to freely make money off of any invention certainly
speeds up that process. The idea is to effectively encourage National Semiconductor,
Linear Technology, and the IRS, to all actually make as much money as possible
off of the invention. This could shift the emphasis in the patent system from
the quantity of patents to the quality of patents.
The present patent laws need not be touched. Only money making patents would
be affected. All the users of the invention would voluntary send as much money to the
patent owner as the IRS would allow them. Make it so everyone using the invention will
try to make as much money as possible, and do it as fast as possible, to enjoy this double
For the few quality patents, this need only be optionally applied. For the majority of
patents, leave the present patent rules as they are. Think of what this could mean for
patent owners. For the high quality patents, the patent owner now would only have
to sell a known patent user on the double financial benefits to using the invention as
much as possible.
...Don Sauer 10/26/09 email@example.com