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
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 8 Feb 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Use it or lose it

    Not only this but make it so if one company sues another for infringement over some feature, no other company can.
    Since they would be suing over the same feature on an item (I am mainly thinking tech here, and have not thought everything out for areas this would affect), they would have to sue the other company that did the licensing.
    Off the top of my head I think this would greatly reduce patent thicket problems for innovators, and make companies think twice about filing for patents that cover the same thing in differently vague terms.
    I am sure this would cause other problems though. Just didn't take the time to think them through.

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