Patent and Copyright Reform

We live in an age of perpetual copyright and overbroad patent protection for trivial ideas. Copyright can be reformed easily. Just make the copyright term 50 years, period. Doesn't matter if it's an individual's or corporations's copyright, it lasts for 50 years from the moment the expression of the idea is first fixed in a tangible form. If you can't cash in on your creation within 50 years, tough. Clearly, it's of more value to the public for free than to you.

The USPTO and by infliction and extension most of the patent offices of the world are massively corrupt by virtue of overwhelming incompetence. Perpetual copyrights are bad enough, but bad patents are poisonous to all industries. To avoid copyright problems, you just need to avoid plagiarizing the other guy's work, but overbroad and trivial patents are crippling because they are a government-granted monopoly on an idea, frequently a trivial and obvious idea that many people may have used many times without realizing that it's been patented (or believing that it's even patentable). It can be very difficult to work around a simple idea.

Fortunately, patent reform is easy. Upon initial submission and for every alteration, a patent application is published and the public has one year to submit comments and prior art to the patent office. The patent office acts as more of an administrative office, which is what it is improperly and dangerously doing now, rather than as a research office. When a patent is granted, it lasts for 10 years from the date of first submission. The patent may be extended for another 10 years for a fee of US$1-million, adjusted annually for inflation and different currencies. If the renewal fee is not received by the 10-year date, the invention instantly and irrevocably becomes public domain. If you don't think your invention is worth $1-million, then it is of more value to the public for free than to you.

The quality of patents submitted should increase as companies elect to submit only patents that they figure are likely to be granted, to avoid giving ideas away that likely aren't good enough for protection.


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