by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 7th 2008 11:54am
I've talked repeatedly about some of the problems with the current patent reform efforts underway in Congress, but it amazes me when I read some of the arguments made against the bill. The latest comes from Steve Tobak at News.com, who argues that patent reform will harm US innovation. It's a position that others have taken, but you need to be able to back it up. Tobak's entire argument seems to be that since this new law would make it more difficult to get a patent, it would be harder to innovate. The problem with this argument is that it simply equates patents to innovation, which has never been true. In fact, if you look at the research you quickly realize that actual innovation is totally disconnected from patents. That's because the important part of innovation (unlike Tobak's claims) have little to do with invention and much to do with the process of making any technology more useful for the market. Patents don't help with that. In fact, patents quite often can often do a lot more damage by slowing the pace of innovation -- limiting the ability for companies to improve upon a technology or even a business model concept. Tobak's article is based on a faulty premise. I agree that the patent reform act has many problems, but the reasoning that fewer patents would mean less innovation is not supported by the research about the impact on patents.
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