Sunday, October 11, 2009

Patents run amok?

Rob Preston of InformationWeek writes :

The system wasn't conceived to enrich inventors. It was set up to encourage innovation, and stimulate the job creation and broader economic and societal value derived from innovation. Letting companies assemble a portfolio of other people's patents for the express purpose of suing alleged violators hardly serves that interest.

Preston is right that the patent system was NOT conceived to enrich inventors. He is not right that the system was set up to encourage innovation. The patent system was set up to facilitate the disclosure of information. With information about inventions publicly known and available to free-market participants, the free market promotes innovation, which is a change in the way people live.

If patents are being granted for inventions that don't meet the requirements of patent law, that problem needs to be addressed at the USPTO. The issue of "who" owns, and enforces, the patents is irrelevant.


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