Monday, January 15, 2007

Demonizing patent attorneys?

Of the various attempts by Jaffe and Lerner to demonize patent attorneys, text from IPKat is relevant:

It is unfair to identify the interests of a profession as a whole with the perceived interest of a particular client sector. One may as well say that lawyers who specialise in criminal law are in favour of crime because their income depends on the continued criminality of a class of persons.

Of Jaffe and Lerner on patent attorneys (from LBE's April 2005 paper):

Adam B. Jaffe and Josh Lerner have stated that "Increasingly, the firm with best lawyers or the greatest willingness to risk litigation wins the innovation wars --rather than the company with the brightest scientists or the most original, valuable ideas." Jaffe and Lerner further assert "Whatever the solutions, when issues of US patent policy are considered by the courts, the Congress, and the executive branch, you can be sure that the opinions of patent lawyers and patent holders will be heard. While their arguments will often be couched in terms of the public interest, at bottom their focus will be on improving their own profits and livelihoods, not on designing a patent system to foster the overall rate of innovation."

footnote 43-->In a review of the Jaffe/Lerner book, Brad Stone (Newsweek Web, Oct. 13, 2004) wrote in Plain Text: Patent Problems: But [the Forgent lawsuit] is evidence of a system out of control. The patent process seems to incentivize pinstriped lawyers instead of white-smocked inventors.

Reviews of the Jaffe/Lerner book, from the Princeton Press website:

"A lucid, entertaining and sobering look at the American patent system."--Hal R. Varian, New York Times

"A disturbing analysis of how the patent system, the heart of the knowledge economy, is rotten. With plenty of examples, the authors explain how America's patent system has become slow and bureaucratic, awarding too many patents for the wrong sorts of things. As a result, it is a threat to this most innovative economy."--Economist

"This book sounds an alarm bell that is hard to ignore since this is a policy area, which is very important for the national interests of the United States. The authors maintain that the present patent system in this country is profoundly flawed."--Giuseppe Ammendola, American Foreign Policy Interests

"This is a timely and concise book that presents a comprehensive and convincing argument about the not-so-explicit changes in U.S. patent law beginning in 1982, changes that the authors argue have broken a patent system that worked previously."--Zainub Verjee, Leonardo Reviews

"Adam Jaffe and Josh Lerner have given us a wonderfully timely book--and also one that is beautifully executed. If Congress is to reform the system, the public ought to understand its current failings."--Rochelle Dreyfuss, Michigan Law Review

The Princeton Press discussion begins:

The United States patent system has become sand rather than lubricant in the wheels of American progress. Such is the premise behind this provocative and timely book by two of the nation's leading experts on patents and economic innovation.

***from a post by on May 24, 2004-->
from Scientific American (Gary Stix):

The patent bar is a priesthood with its own secret dialect, intelligible only to initiates. Two economists--Adam B. Jaffe of Brandeis University and Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School [remember Harvard: home of the 97% grant rate]--have now undertaken to translate for the rest of us the inner workings of the patent process and then to dissect what plagues it. Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System Is Endangering Innovation and Progress and What to Do about It is to be published by Princeton University Press in October.
Rather than marking a blossoming of innovation, the patent boom has signified a rise in the number of questionable patents, such as, infamously, a Smucker's patent on crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A broadening of patent coverage has also inhibited research. For instance, some medical investigators, the authors note, have abandoned their programs to study two breast cancer genes because of what they perceive as onerous licensing terms imposed by Myriad Genetics, the holder of the patents on these genes. A concurrent growth in infringement lawsuits creates a situation in which established companies, often with declining market shares but large patent portfolios, file suit against smaller firms, forcing the defendants to pay royalties that crimp their ability to conduct their own research and development. The collective effect has produced what the authors characterize as nothing less than a tax on innovation.


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