Wanted: Hopeful optimist.
Duties: Remind me that the system works a lot of the time, and that when it doesn’t it is better to fight for change, than to rail at the powers that be uselessly. Remind me with newspaper clippings, email alerts, and phone calls that there are others out there fighting to make the system work, and the protect the rights and lives of others.
Compensation: Appreciation and love.
This morning I awoke to a world that doesn’t make sense. The legal stuff going on with Vonage indicates to me that our system of patents is broken. It is no longer protecting the creative and intellectual property of innovators so they can see profit from their ideas, but instead is curtailing innovation, and preventing creative thinkers from expanding the technology of our country. It is allowing big business to monopolize markets and drive competitors out of business, not with superior product, but with vaque, overbroad patent filing.
The idea behind the patent was to insure people continue to create and innovate by protecting their work, by limiting those who would profit by it to the innovater and their family for a number of years. It was intended to protect actual inventions and processes. It was not intended to limit innovation in an entire arena.
For example. Milk production. A person or company is not supposed to be able to patent milk production. A machine that produces milk more effectively, or more organically, sure, but not the production of milk itself.
One of the three patents upheld by the court basically allows Verizon ownership of milk production. It is a hugely over broad patent, limiting other businesses from being able to compete in the voice over IP market. Further, it allows Verizon to profit from prior art, in existence without any innovation or creativity on thier part, simply because they filed the patent first. They are using the patent system to monopolize the market, as Vonage has a more well known and less expensive VOIP product that theirs. Instead of innovating and creating a better product than Vonage, Verizon is saying to it’s customers and the rest of the country “Don’t worry, soon you will only have our paltry VOIP product to choose from, then you won’t miss the cheaper, more effective service.”
Sadly, when this case first went to trial, I actually thought the factfinders would be able to see that this is not an innovator protecting hard work and creativity, but a massive corporation seeking to drive competition out of the market. They didn’t. They upheld the patent. Now hope rests in the appellate court.
Which is why I need a hopeful optimist. Nick held the job prior to his death. He would always remind me why the system generally works, point out the reasons behind the flaws, and encourage me to find a way to fight to correct the system. Unfortunately, he is no longer here to provide that much needed service. Anyone else wish to step up to the plate?