More Evidence That Patents Are Hurting Technology Innovation

from the not-helping-at-all dept

USA Today, of all places, has a good article describing just how screwed up our current patent system is, where it’s clearly slowing down innovation in the technology space, rather than (as is its entire purpose) helping to speed it up. Companies are admitting that they’re shutting down various projects (or not even bothering to start) after realizing that someone (who usually isn’t doing anything with it) already owns an overly broad patent that might cover what they want to do. Meanwhile, other companies say that they feel the need to spend big bucks filing for more and more patents, just to have them to defend themselves against others. It seems that the only ones who defend the system are those getting rich off of it – and none of those people seem to have done anything to make the world more innovative. The point of a patent is to give the inventor a limited monopoly in return for revealing the invention so that the whole world could benefit after the monopoly expired. Now, however, patents are used as extortion. They’re written in overly broad ways, and hoarded until someone else comes up with a similar idea entirely independently. Almost none of these cases are situations where someone looked at the patent to come up with their plan and just ripped it off. The fact that these ideas, then, are clearly obvious to many people suggests that they never should have been patented in the first place.

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Comments on “More Evidence That Patents Are Hurting Technology Innovation”

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Rich says:

The utility of patents

Patent farms are a serious issue, one that I predict will come to a fore in the next few years. Patent hoarding is a “pillar” of competitive advantage in the nanotech sector (along with human resources, innovation, and commercialization), but as you point out, many patents are being granted today in areas that will later prove overly broad.

I’ve reposted this article at Thanks, Mike.

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