Patents for Harnessing Demons
- I've had discussions with one of our lab members about protecting an
innovation they've come up with. They would like to sell licenses to
corporations but are also attracted by an open source route. One
example to think about is the MP3 format which charges for the decoder
rather than the file:
and do a variant of that strategy.
I share below Flemming Funch's recent post on the movie The Corporation
http://www.thecorporation.tv I'm very struck by the thought that
corporations have all the rights of humans but none of the
responsibilities. They seem very much like the demons which Jesus
drives out in the Gospels. Or like the jinns (genies?) in the Quran.
I've been wondering about a form of Patent (for intellectual property)
that would allow humans to use it without permission (and hence for
free) but would require corporations to ask for permission with each use
(and pay). That would be a way to harness the genies. There are
Lithuanian folk tales where the demons are used to power windmills, etc.
I'm just wondering what's the practical way to do that.
I appreciate our thoughts and I share Flemming's post.
+370 (5) 264 5950
I finally saw the movie The Corporation. I mentioned it previously here.
It is a documentary about, well, corporations. Very well researched,
about the history of the concept of the corporation, and about how
(badly) corporations often end up behaving, following quite naturally
from their foundation, from what they're defined as. In brief, a
corporation is a legal person, but a person with often huge amounts of
resources, and no need to answer to the same standards as regular
humans. The obligation of the people who run a corporation is to make
large and increasing amounts of money for the people who own it. They
might be nice enough people on their own, but their job is simply to
acquire as large profits as possible. It is quite harmonious with that
aim to use child slave labor in foreign countries, or to let foreign
armies eliminate protesters who object to the environmental record of
their factories. Maybe not right, maybe not moral, but a corporation has
no conscience. It luckily has some people running it, who sometimes have
a conscience. But in itself it doesn't. So, if we evaluate a typical
multi-national corporation as if it were a person, it would fit every
criterion for being a psychopath. It can continously get away with all
sorts of irresponsible and destructive behavior. Yes, it might get
fined, somebody might get fired, somebody might even go to jail, but
those are just expenses and minor inconveniences. The corporation itself
typically goes on. Unless it somehow fails to make profits.
Another enlightening aspect is the economic concept of externality. It
is basically when a business makes a decision that causes costs (or
possibly benefits) to be incurred outside that particular organization.
You make it somebody else's problem, essentially. For example, a
corporation might cause heavy wear and tear on certain public roads, but
might let the local city government bear the costs of that. Or it might
pollute, and let somebody else worry about that. Or it might let some
army clear the way for its oil business, or remove people who were
standing in the way of their business. Externalities can be great for a
company's bottom line, making great profits, but at high costs
elsewhere. So that when we add up the total accounting, it is anything
but a beneficial and profitable activity. I.e. it causes much more
damange or uses many more resources than what good comes out of it.
It doesn't have to be that way. The movie provided some bright spots,
although not all that many. Business leaders might start thinking
differently, and some do. Thinking about how to run a sustainable
business, where what they do actually is beneficial, also when we count
the external influences.
Interestingly I saw the movie in a local business college. One of the
professors had persuaded the school to purchase the movie, so she could
show it to students. Which obviously would be rather controversial, as
that's a place where students are taught to do exactly the kinds of
things the movie warns against. But change starts by being conscious of
what is going on, of course. And, most likely, corporations will change
to the degree that somebody figures out a way for it to be profitable to
be sustainable and ethical.
> I've been wondering about a form of Patent (for intellectual property)Not sure if you could distinguish that way, as one way to do it is to make
> that would allow humans to use it without permission (and hence for
> free) but would require corporations to ask for permission with each use
> (and pay).
it free for non-commercial use, and then once you start making money from
it then you pay for it etc. that pre-supposes a person won't use it
commercially, so is that what you want to achieve? ie a person could
profit from its use, but a corporation couldn't?
- Hi Neil,
I'd like to draw a distinguish where a person - including a sole
proprietorship or any arrangement where the owners are liable for their
actions - is allowed to profit commercially without asking permission.
But entities like corporations, whose owners have liability limited by
the assets of the corporations, would have to deal with the patent holder.
It seems like something that could be done within the existing legal
framework. I'm just wondering what the best way to set this up would
be, and what might be the consequences.
Thank you for your reply!
Neil McEvoy wrote:
>>I've been wondering about a form of Patent (for intellectual property)Andrius Kulikauskas
>>that would allow humans to use it without permission (and hence for
>>free) but would require corporations to ask for permission with each use
> Not sure if you could distinguish that way, as one way to do it is to make
> it free for non-commercial use, and then once you start making money from
> it then you pay for it etc. that pre-supposes a person won't use it
> commercially, so is that what you want to achieve? ie a person could
> profit from its use, but a corporation couldn't?
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