A Modest Proposal

by on June 13, 2007 · 0 comments

Over at the Abstract Factory, an excellent proposal for patent reform:

  1. Software companies that wish to protect their intellectual property register with a new ICANN gTLD, .sft.

  2. A .sft receives “IP points” every time it produces a “significant” software innovation. For example, every time a .sft publishes a peer-reviewed paper in a major computer science conference, that .sft gets 100 IP points.
  3. Any .sft may “sue” another .sft at any time, for any reason, for any quantity of money.
  4. Lawsuits are settled by best-of-7 tournaments of StarCraft. A .sft’s designated StarCraft player (“IP lawyer”) starts each match with a bonus quantity of minerals, Vespene gas, and peons determined by a time-weighted function of a the .sft’s IP points. The victor wins a fraction of their client’s requested damages determined by the ratio of their buildings razed, units constructed, etc. vs. their opponents’.
  5. IP lawyers may play Protoss, Terran, Zerg, or random race, at their discretion.

The merits of this reform are obvious. Much like patent law, StarCraft is governed by a system of arcane rules that are mostly irrelevant to the actual process of writing innovative software. Much like patent law, StarCraft’s rules can only be mastered by a caste of professionals whose expertise is honed over years of practice. Unlike the legal system, however, StarCraft is swift, decisive, objective, and exquisitely balanced for fairness. Any minor loss in the quality of judgment on the margin would be overwhelmed by the reduced transaction costs of the system as a whole.

I like it. If you’re not convinced, he’s got an excellent FAQ addressing the most common objections.

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