Thursday, August 06, 2009

No progress on patents for over 100 years?

I finally got around to subscribing to Greg Aharonian's widely admired Internet Patent News Service today after meaning to do so for many years. Interestingly enough in today's newsletter Greg is lamenting the total lack of progress on the question of obviousness in patent assessment in the US for over 100 years.

Regular readers will know I've wondered for some time about the Groundhog Day like surreality surrounding IP, where the same story and the same arguments seem to be repeated time after time after time. I even devoted the opening story in my book to a 6th century book-copying case in Ireland, where the closing arguments were essentially repeated before the US Supreme Court in the Eldred case more tham fourteen hundred years later. (Incidentally if you follow the search inside links for the book at Amazon you can read the whole story of 'Colmcille and the battle of the book' there).

Is there something about intellectual property in particular or just human nature that means we're doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again?

Update: I should have said that Greg came to his conclusions having been reading a copy of the 1894 volume of the Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, where engineers had been articulating the same problems with the US patent system as are apparent today.

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