The idea that the patent system in the US needs to be reformed is not new. Many people -- on all sides of the debate -- seem to agree that there are some serious problems as the system is set up. However, as we feared when Jon Dudas (who helped push through the DMCA) took over last year, his ideas for patent reform are likely to make the system much worse, not better. His first idea is to convert the US system, which is supposed to award the patent to the first person who invented the idea, to the European system, which gives the patent to the first person to file the idea for a patent. This gives more incentive for more companies to rush through patents and get them filed before anyone else can. His second idea is to make it easier to challenge a patent after it's granted. On the whole, this is better than nothing -- but shouldn't the challenging be done before the patent is granted, so as to avoid the long and costly patent battles involved with fighting bogus patents? One other proposal involves making patents last for an even longer time, which makes almost no sense in this day and age, where the span of time over which it makes sense to exploit a monopoly on an invention seems shorter and shorter.
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