Last fall, after years and years of bickering and fighting, Congress and the President finally got together to pass
what they called a "patent reform" bill. While the bill made a few changes to how the patent system works, it almost completely ignored the issue of patent trolling or just how destructive patents are to innovation. Even more ridiculous is that the President insisted that the new bill would create jobs. Perhaps for patent lawyers, but not for many others. Vivek Wadhwa has written up a great piece in the Washington Post noting that if we want job growth, we need to deal with the patent trolls
, and most specifically the software patent trolls:
The President is mistaken—at least when it comes to the patent system as it relates to software patents. These patents—and the patent system—aren’t creating innovation, they are inhibiting it and, by extension, job creation. Why? Because the breakthroughs aren’t in the patents, they are in the way ideas are commercialized and marketed. Because of flaws in the patent system and government leaders’ misunderstandings, there is an arms race of sorts happening in the tech industry that is sapping billions out of the economy and crushing technology startups. This system is enriching patent trolls—companies that buy patents in order to extort money from innovators. These trolls are like a modern day mafia. Given this, I argue software patents need to be eliminated or curtailed.
Indeed. But we'll never fix the patent system if the government continues to think that patents themselves are the key to innovation, despite the evidence showing that patents simply don't correlate to actual innovation.