Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:30 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:30 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: The absurd US patent system

5 September 2012 10:13

Edwin Crump writes:

Stephen Grenville is right to say that copyright is no Mickey Mouse issue

However, copyright infringement was not the central element in the broader intellectual property dispute between Apple and Samsung. What was on show was the ludicrous US patent system, which is ridiculously broken, especially in regards to software patents. The dispute was so bad that the judge, Lucy Koh, repeatedly requested mediation between Samsung and Apple. Unfortunately, Apple and Samsung were incredibly acrimonious and rejected settlement on multiple occasions.

The point of all this is to highlight the gap between international laws developed by politicians and diplomats and the real-world desires and requirements of those at the forefront of innovation and creativity. Often, as Grenville pointed out, economic and powerful lobbying interests such as Hollywood and Big Four recording companies influence legislation to such a degree that it threatens the very basis of the system that should be supporting them. One only needs to look to SOPA (again, in the US) as an example of this.

Markus Persson, a lead developer of Minecraft, a popular game, puts it succinctly: ' can break (patent) law without even knowing that someone else thought of the idea first. This is one of the biggest problems with patents; there is no good safe way to find out if any idea you come up with is patented or not. Most other crimes require intent, patent infringement does not.'

We need real reform, real leadership and real innovation in this sector. With New Zealand already beginning to lead on this issue, why can't Australia take the reins?