I caught most of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's speech
(to a surprisingly small audience) yesterday at CES. There really wasn't that much that was worth commenting on, as it was mostly filled with typical political platitudes, and statements that often were based on questionable assumptions. For example, when he spoke about patents, as he's done before
, he talked up the importance of approving more patents faster. But, right after that, he also talked about the importance of increasing the quality of approved patents, and getting rid of bad patents. What he didn't explain is how the USPTO would deal with the inherent conflict. If you speed up the pace of approving patents, you're inevitably going to let more bad patents through. It's nice to just say you want to speed up patent approvals while improving the quality of patents, but you have to at least recognize that the two goals are clearly in conflict. There may be ways to mitigate that (though, I'm not convinced any would actually work all that well in the long run), but it seems like the typical political promises of things that work against each other, such as claiming to want to increase government funded social services, while decreasing taxes. The two concepts are inherently in conflict, but politicians make such promises all the time. Still, if Locke really believes it's possible to bridge that conflict, it would be nice if he actually explained how.