* 17 Seconds #9

17 Seconds gives you useful info quickly.

17 Seconds

All modern patent law is a derivative of the Venetian Patent Act of 1474, which was designed to encourage “men of great genius” (and, unfortunately, they did mean men) to come to Venice.

Today if you have a product that is better, faster, and stronger than the competition’s, then you should be able to get a patent for it.

With a patent, you get to exclude others from making and using the patented thing for a period of time. Society’s quid pro quo is the knowledge of how to make and use the thing.

The model breaks when there is no thing. Enter patent trolls. A patent troll is a non practicing entity (NPE), someone who owns a patent but doesn’t make a product.

But what about universities like MIT, who produce research but not things? What about the independent inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, whose idea was stolen? Are they patent trolls?

No, not all NPEs are patent trolls. A patent troll is like art (or perhaps the lack thereof): you know it when you see it.

Which explains one of Clocktower’s trademarks:

Lawyers For Human Beings. (Patent trolls, trademark bullies, and cybersquatters need not apply.)

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