Democratizing Federal and State Components

Problem:        Federal agencies are organized more like dictatorships than democracies.

Solution:        Organize federal agencies like democracies within democracies.

Example: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Currently, the USPTO is run much like a dictatorship within a democracy. Laws constrain the behavior of the leaders of the USPTO to an extent, but there is much power placed in the hands of administrators. The power is not distributed among the various constituencies involved in the patent process. There is no form of parliament which represents the various constituencies in the overall intellectual property system which can serve as a check on the executive power. Congress, as a whole, does not understand the patent and trademark system, and is not qualified to regulate it directly. While there are processes of allowing stakeholder input, these processes fail to fully recognize and take full advantage of the new communication tools in the design of the system.

i.)        Discussion of the issues could be conducted in a manner similar to the website at slashdot.org. In that system, comments which are not useful may be easily ranked lower and filtered out by users wishing to see only the most interesting/helpful/funny/informative comments.

ii.)       Voting and polling on patent and trademark issues could be instituted. A USPTO parliament elected by various constituencies, including inventors, patent office employees, attorneys, corporations, and advocates for the public domain could be established. The current paradigm of publishing rule changes in the federal register, taking commentaries, and making the rule changes final does not seem to be an effective way of identifying conflicts among parties with respect to patent issues, identifying different possibilities and solutions to those conflicts, and negotiating compromise if necessary among the interested parties. A dictatorship is an easy form of government, but it is not the most effective in the long term.

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