Patent Office Hires Economist To Add Some Actual Evidence To Patent Policy
from the that-would-be-a-start dept
Given all this, it's interesting to hear, via Jamie Love, that the USPTO has hired economist Stuart Graham to the newly created position of "chief economist." Love notes that Graham's appointment comes with the mandate to compile economic data while doing a true economic analysis of patents for the USPTO. This seems like a good thing. I did a quick search on Graham's previous research and came up with a a listing of some of his research -- and at a first pass, it bodes well. He's done work on how post-grant opposition to patents can improve quality of patents (pdf) and also has done research on patents in the pharmaceutical world, noting that there is a disconnect between patents and actual product development. In fact, that same study found that increased R&D doesn't appear to be an indicator of greater product development at all. This is an important finding -- because plenty of studies have shown that patents may increase R&D in an area, but there's is little evidence (if any) that patents actually increase innovation in any area. A while back, he also looked into the economic evidence on software patents (pdf) and appears to be at least skeptical of the need for software patents -- though, he also admits that a lot more evidence is needed there (and worries that there could be harm in just getting rid of software patents too).
Anyway, he's done a lot of research in this area, and definitely does seem to really be focused on evidence-based policy. Hopefully, having him on staff at the USPTO, and continuing to do this kind of work, while introducing a more evidence-based approach to how patents really impact "progress," the USPTO can start to move away from supporting the faith-based approach of "patents must be good for innovation and progress," towards focusing on policies that actually do lead to greater innovation.