Rather Than Giving Banks A Patent Exemption, Why Not Fix The Patent System?
from the still-wondering... dept
Back in February, we wrote about how some folks in Congress had hidden a sneaky bit of legislation into a bill that would exempt banks from a particular patent on automated check scanning. This was a terrible abuse of Congressional power, that would only lead to more similar actions. But the real problem isn’t Congress trying to protect banks from a bad patent (and rest assured, it’s a ridiculously broad patent on an obvious idea), it’s that they’re trying to create a specific exception, rather than fix the entire system.
However, no matter how ridiculous this particular “exception” is, Tom Giovanetti’s latest article complaining about it has numerous problems. First, he starts off by suggesting that traditional property and patents are similar, and that they’re there to “protect the little guy.” Unfortunately, patents and property are quite different, and patents were never designed to “protect the little guy,” but to promote the progress, which again is entirely different. Giovanetti then claims that: “there is something heroic, even romantic, about the small inventor who comes up with a breakthrough idea.” Yes, there is something romantic about it — but perhaps that’s why it’s generally a myth. There are very few stories of small inventors coming up with breakthrough ideas. Most of the stories you can think of are actually revisionist history of those who actually copied the ideas of others, and were better marketers (and able to abuse the patent system to their own advantage).
So, yes, this particular exception is bad, even if it’s for the right reasons. The patent itself is quite questionable and covers a broad and obvious topic. The company has done little to commercialize the offering itself and has been looking to sit back and cash in. But, the idea that this is an affront to “small inventors” making “breakthrough inventions” is a myth that’s better left by the wayside. This is merely yet another example of a broken patent system and Congress’ unwillingness to fix the root causes of the problem, preferring instead to treat the symptoms.