Monday, December 27, 2010

So how to end Great Depression 2.0?

We have a new republican house coming in a few days. We have a democratic party sufficiently scared by the 2010 election to listen to a little reason. We ought to be able to do something.
Firstly the economy is suffering from a want of demand. People just are not buying anything that they don't have to. Cars, appliances, new clothes, home repairs, lawncare, books, and a lotta other stuff doesn't have to be bought now, it can be postponed. And that's what everyone is doing, postponing the purchases of everything and anything they can. So the makers of everything and anything are cutting back production, laying people off, and sitting on their available cash, waiting for better times.
How to stimulate demand? Simple, introduce new products that people are willing to spend on. In the past, automobiles, radios, refrigerators, television, vacuum cleaners, stereos, chainsaws, power mowers, cell phones , and PC's were irresistible products that people bought, 'cause they needed them or 'cause they were cool. This has slowed in recent years. About the only guy still doing new products is Steve Jobs at Apple.
We need to get more new products going. First step would be to straighten out the Patent Office mess. Today's Patent Office grants patents on totally obvious stuff, grants patents on stuff that has been common knowledge for decades. Result, invent something that makes money and get sued. Doesn't matter much what it is, some patent troll will sue you. The Blackberry makers got ripped off for $600 million by a patent troll who had a couple of patents on totally obvious ideas.
Large companies have lawyers, and stock of their own patents, and defend them selves by countersuing. Small startups without deep pockets cannot afford these suits.
Net result, we have a patent system that discourages innovation and new product development. Not what we need to get out of Great Depression 2.0
A cleaned up patent office would go back to where it was in the 1970's. No patents on computer programs, business methods, and intangibles like file formats and communications protocols. A good patent office would put the entire backlog of patents onto a computer searchable data base on the internet for all to see. It would conduct a serious search for prior art before granting a patent, and it would solicit industry responses to all new patent claims. New patents should be only granted for things are are truly new, and advance the state of the art. Allowing patents on one click selection on a website (which is done today) merely give welfare to lawyers.

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