Letters to the Editor - 18/11 - Crazy patents, Space spin-offs, Best of Twitter

Crazy patents

[Re: It’s time for tech firms to end their insane global patent wars, Friday]
The mis-use of patents has become crazy. As the economist Gary Becker has said, patents should be a last resort, to be used when market-based methods of encouraging innovation are likely to be insufficient. More worryingly, many companies use intellectual property rights to fight against negative consumer trends. Contrary to popular opinion, the music industry is a good model. Fans don’t value music as much as they did (they’ll download it for free). But some will pay a fortune to go to a concert or buy a perfume. Others should learn.

Christopher Short


Space spin-offs

[Re: UK leadership of the international space race isn’t entirely out-of-this-world, Friday]
Marc Sidwell makes a very good point. The “space” industry is really nothing to do with tourist trips to the Moon (though that would be fun). It’s about developing new materials that can survive beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and powerful fuels that weigh nothing. And these all have earthly uses also. Reportedly, the enriched nutrient baby foods we feed to our children and the cordless vacuum cleaners we use to hoover our kitches are Nasa space mission spin-offs. A bigger UK space industry could give a big boost to earthly innovation.

Name withheld



Obamacare is becoming a political disaster even before it starts.

Shale gas as percentage of US natural gas production: 2000 – 2 per cent. 2013 –44 per cent.

Look to France for effects of socialist economic policy. GDP down 0.1 per cent. Unemployment rising.

After nearly $4 trillion of QE, the US’s larget retailer, Walmart, sees sales decline for third straight quarter.