Some time ago, Mozart ran a policy development group to radically rethink PPAU Copyright policy.
It resulted in a policy for a new Creative Works Act.
You can see the result here: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Culture_and_creative_works
As we kicked off Policy Development for the year, there was some grumbling about Patents, and I lament that our position on Patents is just somehow a bit of a jumble. There’s some good ideas in there, but I think we need to go back to basics, and rethink the fundamental premises.
And so, now I’m leading the "Creative Methods Act Working Group".
As a starting principle:
A patent is a grant of a temporary monopoly, enforced by law.
We should only grant such things on the basis of some equitable gain that is acquired by the public in return for that monopoly.
What form might a public “equitable gain” take?
In the current patent system, a key gain is considered to be “disclosure”.
We all get to know how it works, or at least we should if they were forced to a high disclosure standard. In practice, Patents are about the most obfuscated documents I have ever seen. They are just ridiculous.
We’re supposed to gain the benefit of the new technology being brought to market, to improve all of our lives, but in practice a patent holder may not actively pursue product/service based upon the patent. It’s quite common to use patents as a technology blocker; to own the idea so nobody else can do it and thereby challenge your established market position.
There’s also a big problem around the most fundamental of policies, in key new research areas.
e.g. the CRISPR patents could block massive volumes of productive life saving research.
This really can’t be allowed. There has to be a way to force buy-out such things, equivalent to eminent domain in land issues. Similarly for specific, but lifesaving drug patents.
Public interest has to be at the top of the list of criteria.
How temporary is it really?
Other problems include “Ever greening” - the practice of effectively renewing a patent before it expires, by making changes that are considered significant in the granting of patents, but insignificant in the challenges of a patent in regards to its scope. This can’t stand.
Other fundamental questions
- Can we promote alternative business models that work without the need for patents and yet still provide disclosure and other benefits?
- Are there other more fundamental alternatives to patents?
- How can any proposed solutions fit with our international commitments in intellectual property?
- Do we need different systems for different industries (pharma, software, hardware, agriculture etc) ?