Patently Offensive

Corporate America and their servants in the White House and Congress have found another disgraceful but rather novel method of stealing what isn't theirs. Not content to just steal your future and your tax dollars, Corporate America now wants to target those Americans who have been the basis for much of our economic growth, those individuals who exemplify the very ideal of the noble American; the individual inventor.

The patenting process used in Japan and many European countries is far different than in America. There, patent applications are published by the government long before the patent is issued, allowing major corporations to steal the technology and then falsely claim that they were using the technology before the patent was issued, allowing them to continue to do so without paying the required royalty. This, Corporate America claims, puts them at a disadvantage because our process doesn't allow for publication until the patent is issued and the technology protected.

Their answer, of course, is not to continue the honorable legal tradition of protecting the thoughts and creations of Americans but rather to emulate their fellow corporate-owned government's disgusting practices of state-encouraged robbery.

In order to maximize profits, the vast majority of Corporate America has chosen to decrease or outright eliminate their own Research & Development divisions and have convinced the common American to support their destructive idea of "Smaller Government" which has destroyed the federal government's ability to fund other forms of pure research. This has resulted in the obvious consequence of little or no technological innovation occurring in Corporate America's now idle labs. Rather than improve their contemptible business practices in order to honestly discover the technology of tomorrow, they are planning to steal what others produce, instead.

Many Americans still believe that Corporate America produces the vast majority of todays patent applications. The reality is just the opposite. Paul Herbig, a corporate consultant and author of "The Innovation Matrix", shows that individual inventors are responsible for the most radical innovations because they are not influenced by committees or corporate group think problems. Corporations, Herbig shows, are barely capable of advancing their product lines by borrowing from existing technology.

Most of the technology which we take for granted today is the result of the individual tinkerer. We all know the stories of electric lights and the telephone and the airplane and earmuffs (invented by Chester Greenwood in 1873) to the basic technology which made the MRI Scanner possible (Raymond Damadian in 1978) to vulcanized rubber which made the automobile and tire industry possible (Charles Goodyear) to that most amazing of inventions, the television (invented by a 16 year old Philo T. Farnsworth while still in high school), the list of inventions discovered after arduous hours of work in someone's garage or basement or workshop is nearly endless.

While many of the inventors became wealthy as a result of their endeavors, many had to fight long and expensive legal battles with giant corporations in order to receive the royalties which they deserved. Farnsworth was forced into a lengthy battle with RCA after they stole his invention and sold the technology as their own. Goodyear died a poverty stricken death after his patents were widely infringed upon and he spent what money he possessed fighting trying to reestablish his rights.

If this horrid legislation had been in force during the lifetimes of these brilliant men, neither would have even possessed the right to have taken the case to court in the first place. Their years of labor and genius could have been stolen without being paid a penny. The corporations which were involved in the theft would have been free to profit from the sweat of others, a very evil form of involuntary welfare supplied by the hard working American.

Most nations who are surpassing America in creating the technology of tomorrow have a close working relationship with their government. America could emulate this symbiotic relationship but with the caveat that the production of whatever is invented using your tax dollars must be done by American workers in America. This would have the dual benefits of providing the huge resources of the federal government which would result in increased employment in the manufacturing sector, historically the best paid field in the economy. (That wouldn't be the result, of course, since Corporate America would simply send the jobs off to children working twelve hour days, seven days a week in some Third World country.)

Should this vile legislation become law in the future, no intellectual property will be safe from the greedy grasp of Corporate America. Any innovations sent for registration to the U.S. Patent Office will be stolen the moment that the application is published and all future profits will go, not to the individual who spent possibly years of their life creating the technology, but to the corporation whose only investment in innovation will be a subscription to the Patent Office's publications.

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Copyright 1/27/98