The Economist Notices That The Patent System Is Hindering Innovation And Needs To Be Fixed

from the wow dept

A whole bunch of you are sending in one of the first mainstream articles I've seen on patents that gets almost (but not quite) everything right. The Economist has a wonderful piece that clearly explains why patents are hindering, rather than helping innovation. It notes the difference between innovation and invention -- and how patents quite often can hinder the former. It discusses how patent thickets get in the way of innovation, and the focus on using patents to force through massive cross-licensing deals simply adds transaction costs and reduces efficiency in the market. The solution to all of this put forth by the Economist is mostly the same thing we've been suggesting for years: bring back a real test for "obviousness" that gets rid of obvious patents -- though, it falls short in not suggesting an independent invention test for obviousness. The only other areas where I'd say the Economist article falls short is (1) simply assuming that patents do work in pharma and biotech -- when there's evidence that's not true, (2) assuming that a ruling in Bilski alone might clear up the obviousness issue and, finally, (3) its parting suggestion that programmers focus on copyright monopolies, rather than patents. Still, it's about as good a piece on this subject as you might expect to see in such a mainstream publication.

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Feb 2010 @ 9:29pm

    Re: E CON in the Mist

    Sometimes (perhaps more often then not) the ECON artists at the eponymous magazine opine on subject they really don't know anything about. This then is one of those times.

    Actually, most of what they wrote has numerous studies and evidence backing it up. We've presented much of that here.

    If you have evidence to the contrary, would you care to share it? Thanks!

    I understand that this column seeks the approval of those whose main claim to accuracy is their English accent.

    Ah, I see. When you don't have any evidence or facts on your side, resort to insults.

    There is a very good reason why Japan leads England in both invention and innovation. It certainly helps that they have neither Economists nor Techdirt to misguide and misinform.

    Odd. Both the Economist and Techdirt are available in Japan. Perhaps you are not familiar with how this internet works.

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