Patent Reform Bill May Have Stalled Out

from the and-here-we-are-yet-again dept

Pretty much every year Congress tries to reform patent law, and there's always a big fight. Of course, the entrenched interests who are profiting tremendously off of the patent system have no interest in changing it, so every time patent reform is introduced, it eventually stalls out and goes nowhere. Each time it's reintroduced, the few kernels of good ideas are diminished and more bad ideas are included. And eventually you get to this year, where the patent reform bill basically leaves out most of the good ideas and includes plenty of bad ideas. So, it's at least some bit of good news that it looks like this bill has stalled out as well, as the House isn't happy with the Senate bill, and neither side seems willing to compromise any more. The patent system is in drastic need of reform -- but this bill will almost certainly make the system worse, not better. The likelihood of getting any useful reform seems pretty unlikely at this point. At best, we have to hope that the courts keeping making smart rulings on patents.
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Filed Under: patent reform, patents

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  1. identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 7 May 2010 @ 6:48am

    Let The Courts Do It.

    Well, I don't know. Patents and Copyrights may be one of those things which are best handled by the courts. A life-tenured judge can be logical in ways that an elected congresscritter cannot be. Over the long term, the courts respond to the state of educated opinion, meaning things like the editorials in the New York Times, insofar as they do not appear to be an expression of the paper's business interests. The problem with congresscritters is that they cannot come to Washington with definite instructions from their average constituent about something so esoteric as software patents. The man in the street can only give instructions about things which affect him directly, such as National Health Insurance, or his urgent desire to get his GI son out of the Middle East. That means, inevitably that the congresscritter's decision about software patents will be swayed by whoever offers the largest bribe.

    Assuming the Supreme Court decides Bilski the way I think they will, a lot of patent issues will simply go away, become moot. If software patents are invalid per se, you don't have to worry about whether they are obvious or not. I'm pretty sure that the courts have the means, by judiciously striking particular clauses out of the various copyright laws, to reduce the term of copyright back to 14/28 years, which would practically make most copyright issues go away.

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