While this is a slight departure from business as usual here, there was a recent fire that roasted through the internet: at the Global Innovation Index, a number of speakers gathered during the “Innovation for Expanding the Frontiers of Growth and Development” panel. The closing argument for the panel was given to Dr. Francis Gurry, director of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) who was seated directly between Lynn Saint-Amour of the Internet Society (ISOC) and Rolf-Dieter Heuer of the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN). I will let the captioned screenshot capture the mood of the situation.
WIPO seems to believe that internet development is better antISOCial, which is conCERNing
The arguments that Gurry made seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding the concept of the World Wide Web and specifically the W3C standards body itself.
"If you had found a very flexible licensing model in which the burden for the innovation of the World Wide Web had been shared across the whole community in a very fair and reasonable manner and with a modest contribution for everyone for this wonderful innovation it would have enabled an enormous investment in turn in further basic research."
We have that: everyone invests in their personal projects relative to their goals and pushes it to be included freely into the open standard. The money does not flow into a single entity for research; the research flows into a single entity for inclusion.
"[after discussing the innovations on the patented Saxophone which is now public domain …] You can contrast that of course with the violin where nobody knows how the violins of Chremona in the 18th century were made because the secret was lost as it was passed in secrecy from family to family and not disclosed."
What Gurry apparently does not understand is that the W3C and other organizations standardizing the World Wide Web likewise ensure a lack of trade secrecy. What is more important for the success of the internet is that we are interoperable between all parties which the patent system does not promote. Even with a vastly dominant marketshare and ridiculous amounts of money, which Gurry seems to believe is the whole of research; Microsoft was unsuccessful in unseating the W3C standards and eventually needed to cave into supporting it. This structure is free which lowers the barrier to entry for those with a good idea: mission accomplished.
Lastly, as we are well aware: in practice we do not see patents used to disclose trade secrets. The ability to purchase something in one click is not a trade secret to be lost forever and yet it remains a defensible patent. Intellectual Property is a flexible tool that received a lot of bad stigma recently, but WIPO needs to acknowledge that it is still an unsuitable tool for the job at hand. Lastly, like a flexible pocket knife, patents can and have been used as a weapon as easily as a tool.