More Calls To Reform The Patent System

from the it's-bash-intellectual-property-laws-day dept

Earlier today we posted an article about how copyright law was harming, not helping, innovation. To go with that, how about an article from the Washington Post about how the patent system is harming, not helping, innovation. While the first article looked at DMCA smack-down suits, this one looks at all of the little patent shops that buy up ridiculous patents, don’t actually build anything, wait for someone else (completely independently) to build something similar, and then sue them. It also looks at big companies who patent thousands of ideas every year, and then threaten any small company that might compete with them to “license our patents or else.” The article mentions that many are hopeful that the resignation of the current USPTO directer will encourage real reform (despite all the praise he’s receiving for being a “reformer”). From the quotes from the incoming director, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. In response to an FTC report that loudly questions the current patent system, the new USPTO director basically says that his hands are tied by treaty agreements the US has. He is happy, however, that the FTC suggests the patent office gets more money. Big surprise there. The money will go to more patent examiners, which just means that bad patents will get approved that much faster. What’s needed is a real rethinking of the process. If the point of patents is to encourage innovation, we need to see if that’s really happening or (if as appears in many cases) it’s really just legalized extortion.

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Comments on “More Calls To Reform The Patent System”

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Stephen Jones says:

Collaborative Patent System

Maybe the Internet is the answer. What if we adopted a collaborative, peer-reviewed model for patent review? This would be a sort of Project Greenlight for patents where if you submit one you have to review five. The best rated patents would bubble up the review pyramid and only the top, most original 200 patents (say) would be granted each month.

This would end complaints about backlog, lame patents, ignorance of prior art, etc. At the same time this scheme might actually restore the luster of innovation that patents once had before they became a backroom lottery for lawyers.

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