LinuxCon: The mobile Linux patent landscape
Posted Sep 8, 2011 11:04 UTC (Thu) by hingo
In reply to: LinuxCon: The mobile Linux patent landscape
Parent article: LinuxCon: The mobile Linux patent landscape
You're citing a common justification for patents, but I think it's wrong to say that this is how patents were "invented". In medieval Europe we had the system of guilds: you had to be a member of a guild to trade articles in some area. Say you were a shoemaker, only those who were members of the one and only shoemaker guild in town, were allowed to sell shoes. I believe in Southern Europe it was also common that the king (or other ruler) would just hand out a monopoly to a businessman (such as as a favor to a friend or so).
The patent system is just a modern continuation of those monopolies. The explanation that it encourages innovation is retrofitted justification. On the other hand, the same justification was also used in medieval times: Businessman commits to invest in a ship that brings spices from India, and in return the king gives businessman monopoly on selling spices. This helps protect the businessman's huge investment into the ship and therefore encourages trade of new merchandise.
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