Saturday, August 07, 2004

Intellectual Property: A Global Concern

Tim Bray writes

"But what I really worry about is the basic broken-ness of the US Patent system. It’s sucking money and time and resources out of the whole technology ecosystem; it’s a bleeding sore on our business and our culture and our people. It’s way past time to fix it."

I agree. The IP Wars are a cancer on our economies. I believe that unless we fix the global patent system, reforming the US patent system avoids the larger problems.

1. International recognition of kinds and types of property rights
2. International recognition of the states of property rights
3. International regulations for the collection and distribution of licensing fees.

We are both engineers who have worked for most of our careers to create, evoke, or otherwise recognize the power of international standards. Yet we both also recognize that technology is not governed wholly by standards. If we are to have international agreements to govern the kinds, types, states, and regulations, we need systems that implement these at least as well as we implement web browsers.

For while we both know that the development of the web technology must be followed by the standards and specifications that enable these to be developed by anyone with the skill and moxie, we recognize the need for simplicity, particularly in systems that must scale to be most effective. The challenge for nations, courts, and industries and the people that govern nations, rule in courts, and create product for all of these is to discover the simplest and most universally accepted laws for intellectual property in all forms.

It is time to recognize and administer intellectual property in a global system.


  • The URI is the key.

  • Google and systems like it point the way.

  • The Semantic Web is the means.



The goal of the means is to ensure fairness, accuracy, clarity, and transparency but above all, to lower costs. If this goal is met, the system will right itself.

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