Absurdity of patents

I’ve been thinking about patents a bit recently. I thought about alien invasion, from a far world with a strict patent system. What would the aliens tell us?

“We can see you have been using a lot of our patented inventions, from the wheel to the rocket science, without paying us licensing fees. These are clear patent infringements, we have got all the inventions patented for at least million years. We protect our intellectual property properly, so our patents never expire and we are here to get indemnified. You have to pay us for your unlicensed use of our patented inventions during the whole human existence. We respect you have not read all the patent applications at the VPO (Vogon Patent Office) so we give you a chance to indemnify us just by passing all your possessions and all the mineral resources of the Earth and the Solar System to us. Do not try to excuse you did not know at all: You apply similar laws and your copyright expiration period gets lengthened all the time in order to prevent any further copyright expiration so you are well aware how important intellectual property protection is. And we will take what belongs to us due to your unscrupulous use of our intellectual properties in any case. We are aware you shall not survive after you pass everything you have to us. Since we are from a civilized society we won’t let you suffer and make an act of humanity: We are going to destroy you right now (and then we take everything).”

I’m surprised I haven’t seen such a story so far but I don’t think it’s original. It’s likely it was used as an illustration of the patent system absurdity several times. Well, independent thinking can lead to similar results. I like what Kent Pitman once wrote: “I think any law that restricts independent use of brainpower is suspect.”

EFF supporter

The Electronic Frontier Foundation does a lot of good for online and software freedom so I decided to donate to it. If you care about software freedom (and you should care about it today if you care about freedom generally), please consider contributing to organizations which defend it. One of the most important ones besides the Electronic Frontier Foundation are the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center.

BTW, this winter’s Free Software Foundation fundraising campaign just starts.