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The High Cost of Invention Theft: Why Channel 1 on TV Does Not Exist

The High Cost of Invention Theft: Why Channel 1 on TV Does Not Exist

Edwin Armstrong is the inventor of FM, the Regeneration receiver, Super Regeneration, Superheterodyne, and many others.  This creative genius’ life was wasted fighting RCA who blatantly stole his patents for FM and the FCC arbitrarily moved the FM radio range from 44-50 MHz to 88-108 MHz, where it is today, just to destroy the network of radio stations Armstrong had built up.  Channel 1 on you TV would be at 44-50MHz and this is why it does not exist.  The failure of our government to protect property rights and the arbitrary power given the FCC, kept all of us from enjoying FM radio decades earlier, arbitrarily destroyed the investment of hundreds of people, and diverted Armstong from inventing, which probably deprived us of other great inventions.  Mr. Armstong’s life encapsulates everything that is wrong with the United States today.

Here is a great article on Amrstrong

 Of course the anti-patent crowd does not believe in genius, at least in the technical arts.  Economist argue against that someone would of come up with these inventions because of market demand.  First of all there is no “market demand” for something that does not exist.  Second, all macroeconomic evidence shows that in the absence of property rights for inventions, technological change is glacially slow and mankind falls back into the Malthusian Trap.


  1. The federal reserve in st. louis looks at patents and finds, not surprisingly, that patents do not help innovation, but hinder it:

    “The vast bulk of patents are not only useless, they don’t represent innovation at all.”

  2. “The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve
    to increase innovation and productivity …”

    There is that word “innovation” again.
    The war against inventors, the war against science, the war against reason; it’s game on for all of these … and best of all from the people who create “money” out of thin air every day: the Fed Reserve.

  3. And their conclusion (near end of PDF paper):

    “The same way that trade restrictions were progressively reduced until
    reaching (almost complete) abolition, a similar (albeit, hopefully less slow) approach should be adopted to
    “get rid” of patents.”


  4. Beaker, Perhaps you should broaden you reading. Here is a study based on facts, not conjecture, that shows strong patent systems are associated with economic growth.

    “This empirical study investigates the dynamic link between patent growth and GDP growth in G7 economies by Josheski, Dushko and Koteski, CaneGoce Delcev University-Stip, Goce Delcev University-Stip. Here are some interesting quotes from the paper.”

    In a report from National University of Singapore they show a chart of the Fraser index vs. Ginarte-Park index. The Fraser Index is a ranking of economic freedom and the Ginart-Park index is a ranking of patent strength. The chart shows an almost perfect correlation between the two. For those of you who are not familiar with economic freedom indices, there are several and they all show that economic freedom correlates positively with economic growth, wealth, education access, health, longevity, the environment, civil rights, etc.

    Here’s another study based on empirical evidence that show Levine and Boldrin’s position is without any basis in fact – 50% of patents are Commercialized Schmookler, Jacob, Invention and Economic Growth, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1966, p. 49.

    Levine and Boldrin ignore the obvious fact that countries with weak patent systems, e.g., North Korean, African countries, etc have some of the lowest growth rates, do not produce new technologies, and live in squalor. This shows that Levine and Boldrin are not interested in facts, they are just propagandists.

    Professors Levine and Boldrin make a number of proven inaccurate statements about patents. 1) Patents are not a monopoly, 2) The Constitution requires Congress to protect the rights of inventors, 3) Every study that has looked at economic growth, economic freedom and patents shows a strong correlation between the three.

  5. Beaker, Patents are not monopolies. I have written extensively on this matter. See.

    Patents: Monopoly or Property Right a Testable Hypothesis

    Monopoly/Rent Seeking vs. Property Rights/Intellectual Property

    More on the Myth that Patents are Monopolies

    The Myth that Patents are a Monopoly

  6. Dale,

    Enough BS about “monopolies” and global warming.

    Have you seen the latest outrage: ???

    That is where you should be focusing your energies.
    The Patent Appeals Court has become the Patent Repeal Court.

    Dude. When did the Spanish Inquisition move back into town?

  7. Step back,

    I will take look at the case, but the case and the lack of understanding of property rights are tied to each other. Until Judges understand that patents are property rights and not monopolies, they will continue to strike patents down. Monopolies are arbitrary government decrees that allow some people to profit at the expense of other people and cause market inefficiencies. Property rights are granted because you have create something – it is the law recognizing reality. Property rights are not granted at the expense of other people and do not cause market inefficiencies. Until you understand the importance of this, then you will never achieve your goal of a strong consistent patent system.

  8. Entrepreneurs do not have to rely on patents – check out this article:

  9. Beaker:

    Of itself, there is nothing wrong with having a “monopoly”.

    There are several types of monopolies that are favored by economists:

    1. A business so well run and so good to its customers that they never dream of going anywhere else.

    2. A market niche where economies of scale rule and it would highly inefficient to have anything other than a monopoly (a well regulated monopoly) example: your local electric power and natural gas delivering company.

    3. A start up in a new market niche that no one else knows of or services

  10. Beaker:

    There are politico/economic interests in this country that have a vested interest in killing patents:

    Primarily, they are the big companies that have monopoly or oligopoly share of their market segments and the last thing they need is someone coming in with “disruptive technology”.

    Techdirt is just a shill for those interests and will say whatever works to fool clueless tech workers into mindlessly following the party line.

  11. @stepback: What you state about big companies seeking to kill patents does not make any sense. Patents are extremely expensive and time-consuming to get. Patents are also very expensive to litigate. Only very big, well-funded companies can really use patents. Patents are a large companies’ best friend – patents can be used to squash and prevent competition, and hinder innovation (ever heard of a “patent thicket”?), from competitors, which are typically smaller, less well-funded and established companies (like start-ups).

  12. Beaker,

    I cited econometric studies not anecdotal evidence. If you wish to comment, please provide both the argument, the link, and make sure the argument is not based on anecdotal evidence.

    I have shown that economic growth and the success of startups are tied to a strong patent system. I have provided macroeconomic evidence, not random examples to fit my theory.

  13. @Beaker (4:57 PM)

    Part of what you say is true:
    Patents are expensive to obtain,
    Expensive to maintain,
    Very expensive to litigate.

    But like the broken clock that is right twice a day, that does not make the rest of what you state correct.

    It sounds counter intuitive.
    But if you were a market leader, you would push for the same thing: namely to quash anymore changes in the game, to subvert disruptive innovations and to thereby maintain your cushy position in the marketplace.

    The patent thicket story only applies to an old and well established technologies and then only for a limited period of years.

    On the other hand, if you are a start up with a truly novel new technology, the patent thicket fairy tale does not apply at all. There is no pile of blocking patents and there is no “thicket”. It is a ruse used by those who oppose disruptive changes to throw your mind off track –and apparently the ruse works.

  14. @Beaker (November 28, 2012 at 10:44 am)

    The people you rely on for providing the so-called “clear” explanations are clueless hacks.

    At the following web site, the originating author states:

    “Because all software is fundamentally just a series of mathematical operations that are performed on inputs to generate results, whether a numerical value, text on a page or music from your speakers. ”

    That is utter nonsense spoken by person who probably has no clue about what hardware, firmware and software are.

    Then the same author asserts:

    “The only beneficiaries of software patents are lawyers and giant companies”

    What about small start ups with disruptive new ideas? Don’t they benefit? Of course they do. The lawyer bashing ruse is there to throw your mind off track. –The ruse works. But you can be bigger that that and not fall into that midget-swallowing pot hole.

  15. Step back,

    Software is a way of wiring an electronic circuit. It is no more mathematical operations than any electronics or physics or chemistry.

  16. Dale,

    It appears you are facing the wrong way and scolding at the choir on this issue.

    As a young engineer (eons ago) I used to debug computer “micro-code” with an oscilloscope (because we were using async logic to squeeze more speed out of the slow transistors of yesteryear). So I know all too well the hardware aspects of “software”.

    An awful many people easily spurt the word “software” from their copycat vocal chords without having studied the origins of the word and all its many meanings. The author of the PC world article linked to above is just one more in the parrot birds’ flock. No clue. But still sings a melodic tune.

  17. @Beaker

    If you want to celebrate in a love fest of ‘software patent haters’, check out this Grocklaw posting:

  18. @Beaker
    Isn’t it wonderful?
    Never have so many patent haters gathered in one room to spill their venom:

    … and the good part is that they can start out with the axiomatic “truth” that the debate is over, that patents are evil and most evil of all are the “software” patents which therefore must be gotten rid of in every way possible

  19. @Beaker

    Although they say the debate is “over”, the software haters club starts tripping up and getting entangled in their own web of mal-definitions.

    “Software is stuff that can be stored and transmitted entirely electronically. Other stuff isn’t software.”


    (In other words, “stuff” that is transmitted optically by fiber optics is not “software” and can thus be freely patented as long as you mention that it is transmitted optically)

    (In other words, all radio and TV shows are “software” because they are stuff that can be stored and transmitted entirely electronically. So are all eBooks. So are all regular books, because they “can be” yaddah yaddah. My gosh so much in the world is nothing but “software”. The glorious Singularity is already upon us! Yee ha!)

  20. @Beaker

    Here is one Dirt comment that admits to how they all go wrong in the haters club:

    “So, when we hear about a patent on software, we mentally break it into its component parts (like we would do while programming), and see only basic uses of math (all basic operations of any programming language are equivalent to mathematical statements). We see it as forbidding us from using something composed only of basic uses of math, said basic uses of math being the very basis of the programming we do. It is no wonder we have such a visceral negative reaction to these patents.”


    That and the belief in the mythical man month and the mythical “general purpose” computer.

  21. Step back,

    I was not scolding. I am just trying to provide clear definitions. I am sure that you have thought through what software is. As you say if you study the history of software it was originally setting the states of the vacuum tubes by flipping switches. Obviously this was tedious and people invented ways to do this more efficiently. But in the end that is all you are doing with software – making or breaking electrical connections.

    However, just like your comment on “innovation” you need to understand that this debate cannot be solved unless you understand that patents are property rights not monopolies. As you point out patents are an important part of breaking up large entrenched companies. I suggest you look at the statute of monopolies. It was about limiting the power of the government – monopolies are/were arbitrary government grants to favor certain groups. Property rights were a recognition of the creator.

  22. Dale,

    I respectfully submit that there is no clear definition for “software”.

    Even the patent-haters over at TechDirt are tripping up all over one another in disagreeing on the definition of “software”.

    See for example this guy:

    So if you program a purely mechanical computer using punched cards, you’re not writing software?
    Software is a set of instructions, nothing more or less. The medium it’s in isn’t relevant.


    This debate among the patent haters does not surprise me. They “assume” that there is a clear definition and then they struggle to prove their assumption with disastrous results.

    The problem for them, of course, is that if you are going to ban “software” patents you first have to define what “software” is is and what makes a particular patent a “software patent”.

  23. Yes, I understand that you can program a mechanical computer however no one is using mechanical computers. Software maybe a set of instructions, but not all sets of instructions are software. Software is a set of instructions used to open and close switches of an electronic circuit.

    I agree they do not have a logical consistent definition, which is why they state nonsense like software is just math.

    The lack of a clear definition is even more problematic with “business method” patents. People all assume they know what they are talking about. Every patent to a method is intended to be used in a business – so aren’t all method patents – business method patents?

  24. Ben Franklin was anti-patent:

    I was listening to a fellow on the radio talk about his book, Poor Richard’s Lament, a biographical novel on Benjamin Franklin. One point he made about Franklin was he spent his first 42 years getting rich and the last 42 giving it away. Franklin was a world-class inventor, but he open sourced his designs, such as the lightening rod and the Franklin stove, two inventions widely used to this day. In spite of his friend Thos. Jefferson’s belief that intellectual property would help the little guy, Franklin would not go along with that regime.

    We pretend the world is so much more complicated and those people too backward to be relevant today. No, the problems today are the same as back then, and the solution the same. Open source it, eschew intellectual property rights.

  25. Ben Franklin was not anti-patent and he was primarily not an inventor – he was primarily a scientist. Franklin made most of his money being a printer and then made money serving in various government functions. He was not rich enough to spend the last 42 years of his life giving it away.

    To hold Franklin out as a proponent of open source is nonsense. Patents are property rights and sometimes it makes good marketing, business, or personal goal sense to provide your inventions for free. However, there are many examples of giving away inventions (penicillin – most Gov. R&D before Bayh Dole Act) where a lack of property rights mean important inventions never get commercialized. One size does not fit all situations and without a property system for inventions we are all less wealth – every bit of macroeconomic data fits this – North Korea is open source and look at where they are.

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