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Apparently the benefits of patents for Pharma have been overstated | 397 comments | Create New Account
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Apparently the benefits of patents for Pharma have been overstated
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 18 2012 @ 01:22 AM EST

Fundamentally, a software program is nothing but a very long and precise description of exactly what is to happen. Going from a vague idea to a working product requires dealing with a huge number of individually trivial details in order to build that description...

All of that work is left out of a patent. It *has* to be, because if every small point of design and implementation was covered, the patent would be enormous and would cover only the particular system the patentee built -- thus rendering it useless for crippling the competition.
Unless you forgot the <sarcasm> tags, you ought to read what the USPTO has to say about the description and claims of a patent:
The specification must include a written description of the invention and of the manner and process of making and using it, and is required to be in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the technological area to which the invention pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same.
Without all that detail, the patentee has NOT provided the "full, clear, concise and exact terms" so that someone skilled in the "arts" can "make and use the same" - the person using the patent would only be able to make something that might be something like the original "invention" - and as such would NOT be eligible for patent protection (something the USPTO seems to have forgotten).

The point of patents is to protect novel ways (NOT ideas) that improve things. If you have a process that converts A to B and part of that process is novel (that may have required lots of expense in finding) then having patent protection on that part of the process makes sense: there would be full, clear, concise and exact details of how that part of the process works. BUT it would allow others to look at that part of the process and see if they could develop a better way of doing it - the patent holder may have found the best (most efficient, etc) way of doing it and so licensing the patent would be cost effective.

However, someone may find an even better way of doing it. BUT by your argument, they would not be allowed to do so because it would be indistinguishable from the patented invention as the details of the process would be missing and it would contain exactly the same vague description.

With software, the program may be a very detailed description of what the CPU has to do at every click of the clock, but that is not what is needed; what is needed is "rough but detailed" directions: when asked for directions to somewhere I don't give details down to the last inch, nor do I tell about everything on the way that can be seen; I will use approximate distances and selected landmarks, but there will be enough detail for the requestee to follow the route I give them; in fact anyone following those instructions will follow exactly the same route from A to B - I have given them a route (algorithm) to get to the destination (but it might not be the most efficient or best).

Consider this: suppose you want to add 36 and 49. You can add 6 and 9 to get 15, put down the 5, carry the 1, add 3 and 6 and the carried 1 to get 8, put that down in front to get the answer of 85. However, 49 is 50 minus 1, so 36 plus 49 is the same as 36 plus 50 minus 1: 36 add 50 is 86 minus 1 is 85. The latter is somewhat easier to do in the head.

By your reckoning, if I had a patent on adding 36 and 49 (using the first method described), I would describe it as a patent to add 36 and 49 without the gory details of adding the units, carrying and adding the tens - afterall that's just the "[very long and] precise detail of what is going to happen", having started with the "vague idea" of adding 36 and 49 - and get a patent on "adding 36 and 50 and subtracting 1" even though I never touched that method.

To put it another way, what you are proposing is a patent on [vague] ideas, not actual inventions.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Apparently the benefits of patents for Pharma have been overstated
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 18 2012 @ 03:53 PM EST
As pointed out, the purpose of patents is NOT to "cripple the
competition" but to "advance progress in the useful arts and
sciences" by getting published the exact details of the
invention, so that someone else can create it, thus
preventing lost knowledge. In exchange for giving up that
detail, the individual gets 20 years monopoly before anyone
else can copy it.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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