Thursday, June 5, 2008

Patents

The whole US patent system is broken, as are similar systems in other countries.

If a US court finds you knowingly infringed a patent, then the damages awarded are tripled.

Since you can't possibly check all interpretations of all patents, and the triple damages clause, you are apparently better off closing your eyes and hoping.

Patents favour big patent-collecting organisations, such as IBM. If you have a patent they need, they'll swap you for the 10 of theirs that you need to commercialize your product. If you're lucky you won't have to pay for the privilege.

Since patents are a limited monopoly granted by the government, it seems to me that the onus should be on proving that patents are an efficient method of encouraging innovation, and perhaps providing support to those clever enough to advance us technologically. I claim they do not meet this burden, and hence should be removed, or seriously reformed.

One thing that no one mentions when discussing patent reform is the damage that rapidly changing expectations have to the market. So, although I think the system needs reform, I think a long 5-20 year phase-in period for the new system makes a lot of sense to enable the market to react in a not-too-disruptive manner.

See this article for a discussion of the cost / benefit ratio of patents.

1 comment:

joyzeemom said...

Ok, so your blog requires me using the smart part of my brain to enjoy it. I guess I can handle that if the clock reads PM rather than AM right now...meanwhile, my 2 cents on this is.. in all my mothering years I have said that I should invent a "tag toy". You know what I mean..when your kids gets this expensive colorful, mind engaging toy, they play and suck on the tag that reads made in some country ending is "sia/ia". Anywayz..after baby #5, we come across the tag toy. I could have made a tiny bundle right? At least enough to get one kid through one year of college?? Ok, so I am a bit remorseful and will get over it. Maybe if getting a patent wasn't such a difficult process for the average SAHM. My next invention, retractable floor vents on the van floor, for all crumbs to fall through while driving 90 on I-90. :)