Saturday, June 30, 2007

"It is always easier to deal with things than with men"

More than one year ago, IPBiz discussed efforts by California's CIRM to come up with an intellectual property policy. More than one year later, everyone is still waiting to hear from CIRM. SB 771 isn't happening. Californiastemcellreport noted that the removal of SB771 gave CIRM breathing room: Johnson also quoted Dale Carlson, chief communications officer for CIRM, as saying the agency appreciates "being able to finish their policy without having to worry about legislators passing a competing one."
"We begged and pleaded for time to complete our regulatory process and it appears that's what they're giving us."

What policy?

Testimony given more than one year ago to CIRM included historically inaccurate statements about the Wright Brothers and about the aviation patent pool. Look at IPBiz posts of May 28 and of July 1.

For further historical background, I include some text from the book by James Tobin, To Conquer the Air, Free Press, 2003.

page 332: "Curtiss weighed his options. The Wrights already had invented a practical aeroplane and patented it. If he wished to sell his own aeroplanes without paying the Wrights for the privilege, he had three choices. He could use the Wrights' system and instantly incur a lawsuit for violating their patent rights. He could adapt or improve the Wrights' system--this was what the AEA claimed to have done, but with no assurance of escaping patent problems. Or he could find some wholly new system of controlling an aeroplane. This was what Bell hoped to do with tetrahedrals, and what Herring said he could do with gyroscopes. Only this option offered an escape from the shadow of the Wrights."

Strangely presaging certain contemporary statements about the Bush veto on stem cells, Tobin quoted Bishop about the aviation matter of nearly 100 years ago on page 333:

"America has taken the lead in the development of aviation. (...) If Congress will offer no incentive to inventors to remain in their own country, the next best thing is to keep them here by private enterprise. This has now been done...."

IPBiz notes, at that time, financing of research by states was not even considered.

At page 339, Tobin notes that Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909 in a monoplane.

At page 353, Tobin notes that Judge John R. Hazel ordered the Herring-Curtiss Company and Glenn Curtiss to stop making aeroplanes on grounds that they infringed upon patents owned by Wilbur and Orville Wright.

At pages 360-1, Tobin notes that Alexander Graham Bell, in presenting the first Langley Award to the Wrights, congratulated the Wrights for bringing the aerodrome to the commercial and practical stage. But it was Langley himself, Bell declared, who must be recognized as "the great pioneer of aerial flight." Langley had constructed "a perfectly good flying machine" that failed to fly only because of a faulty launcher. IPBiz notes that comments such as these of Bell presaged the Curtiss attack on the the Wright patent based on the re-constructed Langley Aerodrome.

On page 361, Tobin notes "The whole aim of Will's [Wilbur Wright's] efforts from 1905 to 1909 had been to avoid "business cares and vexatious law suits.""

There is an important quote of Wilbur Wright on page 361: "We had hoped in 1906 to sell our invention to governments for enough money to satisfy our needs and then devote our time to science, but the jealously of certain persons blocked this plan, and compelled us to rely on our patents and commercial exploitation... When we think what we might have accomplished if we had been able to devote this time to experiments, we feel very sad, but it is always easier to deal with things than with men, and no one can direct his life entirely as he would chose." [This was written in January 1912. Four month later, Wilbur became ill in Boston. He died on May 30, 1912.]

Also of note in the Tobin book is the discussion of Amos Ives Root. On page 220, Tobin notes that an account written by Root for his readers of Gleanings in Bee Culture was rejected for publication in Scientific American.


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