A major British inventor is calling for a change in the law to strengthen protection against those who try to steal ideas.
Trevor Baylis, who invented the wind-up radio, has written to the business secretary urging him to criminalise the theft of intellectual property.
The move would involve a fundamental change to the law on patents.
Currently, inventors have to sue those they believe have stolen their idea through the civil courts.
For an apparently intelligent inventor, this is a rather foolish thing to suggest.
It's foolish on a theoretical level, as this quotation proves:
"If I was to nick your car, which is worth £10,000, say, I could go to jail," Trevor Baylis told the BBC.
"But if I were to nick your patent, which is worth a million pounds, you'd have to sue me.
Which is the old confusion between theft and infringement. Indeed, it's probably impossible to nick a patent, since it's a government-granted monopoly, and they're pretty hard to steal.
And it's foolish on a practical level: imagine the current insanity of patent law cases turned into even higher-stake criminal cases, and the burden they would imposed on an already stretched legal system.
So, Trevor, do stick to inventing clever things, and leave stupid intellectual monopolies alone.
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