Fixing the US patent system

Just saw the White House putting out this page asking for input on innovation. I recommend every US citizen reading this making sure to fill out the form explaining how the current US patent regime is not helping innovation, but hindering it. How the patent system, due to the volume and low quality of patents granted, and the unbalanced and painful process of getting them revoked, has turned the patent system into a mafia style protection racket where it costs more to fight the extortion than to just pay up. There is a great article on techdirt on this.

3 thoughts on “Fixing the US patent system”

  1. The US patent system is not helping innovation because of the absurd costs and delays caused by the underfunding of the patent office. The patent office is totally supported by user fees. Unfortunately, when you send in your check to the patent office it is actually deposited in the general treasury of the US. Congress has failed to appropriate over $1B back to the patent office in fees it collected over the last two decades. If Congress was subject to Sarbanes Oxley they would all be in jail now.

    The patent quality issue is a myth. By every objective measure (R&D per patent, GDP per patent, number of citations per patent) patent quality has consistently been increasing see http://hallingblog.com/2010/01/07/patent-quality-nonsense/

  2. Sadly, as Obama’s SOTU speech showed, he’s still enamored of the “big government programs can drive innovation” model, rather than the “government should get out of the way and let the market do the work of innovation” small-government model which (IMNSHO) is the best way to do innovation. To use terms open-source developers should be familiar with, the big-government model is classic Cathedral: a few central planners decide what’s best for the economy and how to grow it most effectively. The small-government model is classic Bazaar: no central planners, and the government’s role is limited to not getting in the way of the market, and making sure other competition-hindering mechanisms (such as monopolies) don’t spring up.

    As we all know, software patents are one area where government involvement is clearly hindering, not helping, innovation. The best thing the Obama administration could do is shut down software patents entirely and get the government out of that particular sector of the economy. But with Obama’s Cathedral-based model, where he believes greater government involvement is better rather than less being better, I doubt he’ll be amenable to that suggestion, alas. Still, can’t hurt to try.

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