A pedant that hangs out in the dark corner-cases of the web.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Patents

Aside from the larger argument (whether ideas can and should be "owned"), the concept of patents seem predicated on an anachronistic assumption: that "inventions" are independant.

Current developments require so much infrastructure from previous inventions as to highlight the crippling effect that denying additional incremental improvements produces.

For example, the infamous Amazon one-click ordering patent relied on the existence of a the Internet infrastructure, the power grid, a web browser, an operating system, semiconductors, transistors, input devices, displays, plastics used in keyboards and other components, de facto standards for HTML and JavaScript, the DNS system, etc. When viewed as a whole system, their development was a small piece that leveraged a huge existing body of work. This "invention" would not have been possible if, say, JavaScript was unavailable (or unaffordable) due to patent restrictions.

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