Saturday, May 03, 2008

Albert Einstein and the Swiss patent office

Of Mike's comment on blogging/invention:

Care to comment on what happened in the Netherlands and Switzerland in the 1800s when both countries went without a patent system?

Gee, Mike, I already did. Is Alzeheimer's setting in? That "myth" was taken apart long ago.

Also, it's a good thing that Switzerland was so impressed with the success of the "no patent" system that they got rid of it,
thereby giving Albert Einstein a job opportunity.

For those who don't remember, apparently including Mike Masnick, LBE discussed the Switzerland issue on TechDirt, back in the year 2005:

Re: Missing the Pointby Lawrence B. Ebert on Nov 12th, 2005 @ 2:43pm
Let's see, you meant to say both economies thrived by becoming piracy centers.

From George Monbiot's 2002 "Patent Nonsense":

But in 1859 a small company based in Basel "borrowed" the aniline dying process which had been developed and patented in Britain two years before. The company, later called Ciba, soon became a massive industrial enterprise, swiftly outstripping competing firms in Britain. Monbiot neglects to mention that the giants of dyes (later I.G. Farben) were located in Germany, with strong patent protection.

In the 1890s, Gerard Philips, unhampered by intellectual property laws, started manufacturing the incandescent lamps developed by Thomas Edison in the United States.

Monbiot gives the periods of "no patents" as 1850-1907 in Switzerland; 1869-1912 in the Netherlands.

Given that this is Einstein's "centennial" year of the three big papers, we know that there was a Swiss patent office in 1905, because Einstein was working there. Thus, the numbers may be a bit suspect. Otherwise, it might be a bit surprising that the Swiss and the Dutch didn't steal the Wright Brothers work, too. They certainly were after pharma.

And, of course, somewhere along the line they decided to cease being patent-free.


Thus, Mike was re-cycling an earlier theory proposed by Monbiot, which didn't even get the facts right. This is very similar to Jaffe and Lerner, who copied their prior art argument from Greg Aharonian, who didn't get the facts right. Kind of funny to have the advocates of copyists copying their arguments from other people, who had the arguments wrong in the first place.
Funny indeed, but welcome to the wacky world of patent reform!


Blogger Unknown said...

Funny, you don't point to anything. You don't cite anything. And you complain when you say I say stuff without citing? Hard to take you seriously sometimes.

Also, I note that you ignore all the other questions -- and, most specifically, totally ignore the fact that it's the market that provides incentive.

I note you have not retracted your false statements. I wonder why...

Still afraid of recognizing what's going on, Lawrence? If you weren't so afraid, you might actually learn something once in a while.

For example, you might actually learn that Switzerland, like so many place, implemented a stricter patent system *following* a rather rapid buildup of innovation, not before. In other words, the patent system was used to protect back innovations, not to incent new ones (as it's supposed to do).

Facts. They're so troubling sometimes.

8:55 PM  

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