Event Photographers: Do you know Peter Wolf?

Started Mar 7, 2006 | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Veteran Member • Posts: 7,902
Why we have patents

mrfitz wrote:

...

Why does this idiot feel the need to patent this? I mean whats the
motivation? Let me guess........

...

The patent process is supposed to help society in the long run.

The theory is that the government grants the exclusive rights to a process to the inventor for a limited period of time, in exchange for the developer making the details of the invention public.

The inventor wins in the short term, and society wins in the long term when the invention becomes public domain.

Without patent protections, inventions would remain trade secrets, and may never pass into the public domain.

An example of this can be found in the drug market. Companies spend millions of dollars on drug research. Most of this investment never generates a product. Occasionally a useful drug is invented. The company sells it exclusively for a number of years until the patent runs out, then others can manufacturer the same drug (we call these generic drugs). Due to competition, generic drugs sell for a lower price.

Without patent protection, drug companies would keep drug formulas a secret. Drugs would never go generic, and consumers would lose.

Patents are not supposed to be issued for obvious ideas.

Some people have expressed outrage at the granting of Mr. Wolf's patent. I suspect the problem is not the concept of patents, but simply disbelief that Mr. Wolf actually invented something new, or a belief that the process described is obvious.

In general, properly issued patents are a good thing. They reward inventors and provide incentives for the development of new products.

The questions here are:

  • Did Mr. Wolf actually invent this process?

  • Was the process in use prior to Mr. Wolf's patent application?

  • If the process was in use, was Mr. Wolf aware of that?

  • Is the process obvious, and not patentable?

  • Should the patent have been issued in the first place?

  • Has any information come to light which might be useful in having the patent overturned?

  • Does anyone have the necessary budget to pay for a fight over the patent?

I think a major lesson learned is that it is far easier to stop a patent from being improperly issued than to overturn an issued patent. I urge everyone to occasionaly review patent applications for their professional fields, and where they know of prior art, to inform the patent office.

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