Symbiosis in LOs LO11275
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 00:15:05 -0500

Replying to LO11264 --

RKB wrote:

> If information is freely shared beyond the organization, all rights to
> patent the technology will most probably be lost (because the information
> is being released into the public domain). Isn't this too high a price to
> pay? And, won't the competition MAKE the competitors better?

IBM has made a lot of money through their patents. Novell has tried to do
the same. So has Microsoft. A few years ago, in Dr. Dobbs magazine, there
was an article -- or series of articles, perhaps -- about the implications
of patent law and computer technology. It's been so long I can't remember
the logic, but the conclusion was that patent law will have to change as
technology progressively moves faster and faster.

This also raises an issue of industrial espionage, which happens all the
time. For instance, at work we're required to close our blinds at night so
no one can park outside the building and take pictures of the stuff on our
whiteboards. Our workplace is peppered with paper shredders, so we don't
put "confidential information" in the trash where it can be easily

My Dad works for a defense contractor. They've taken a new approach to
this problem. They simply make everything public information, and never
define which of all the stuff that is available is actually used. They
even include "plausible distractors" which confuse the perpsective thief.

It seems to me that this requires a lot of effort and money. Perhaps it is
an uneducated and simple belief, but I still think the more freely we
share the better we will become. Maybe patent law, in some ways, tries to
insulate us from the realities of our environment. . .could it try to
separate us and our knowledge from nature? I have no idea because I'm not
a lawyer nor am I educated about patent law.


Benjamin B. Compton

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