Joel D Canfield asked: >>Much ado about nothing, methinks. Hi Joel, At risk of agreeing with Shawn (Hi Shawn!) I think this is an "it depends" situation. >>"If you want to think clearly about the issues raised by patents, >>or copyrights, or trademarks, the first step is to forget the >>idea of lumping them together, and treat them as separate topics." The degree to which the differences between objects is important depends, very much I think, on the context in which you are considering those objects. >>Is it inaccurate, then, to refer to fiction writing, painting, musical composition, et al, as 'the arts' ? Sometimes. I think a better example may be "snow". Inuit tribes may have 20 different word to distinguish fine gradations between different types of snow. We don't have those words, not because those differences don't exist, but because those differences are not as important to us. In this case we *do* have different words for patents and things. Therefore, some of the aspects of those differences have been deemed to be important. But instead of that good example I will use a crappy one involving 'stringed instruments'. ;-) Someone might play bass guitar. Bass guitar is a stringed instrument. If I hand that person a sitar (which is also a stringed instrument) and say "lay down a bass line to 'Roundabout' so we can rock out" ... I may very likely (and in this case deservedly) take one upside the head! Patents, copyrights, and trademarks may be 'related' like guitars, banjos, and Chapman sticks. So they _can_ be discussed collectively as long as you keep to aspects where they are similar. But they are not the same things so - depending on the context of what aspect of them you are talking about - lumping them together may cause little harm or may cause great harm. A person familiar with fiction writing and musical composition and painting has some competence in discussing them collectively because they understand their differences. This may be a similar situation where one needs to understand patents, copywrites, and the like individually in order to be able to appreciate the similarities and differences between them. HTH, RonL.