Monday, December 29, 2014

Dietzen proposal in Forbes neither modest nor correct

In Fixing What Ails The U.S. Patent System: A Modest Proposal [Forbes; Scott Dietzen], one finds the text

Back in 1789, when the first patent was granted, patent terms didn’t exceed 14 years.

As wikipedia notes:

On July 31, 1790, [Samuel Hopkins] was granted the first U.S. patent, under the new U.S. patent statute just signed into law by President Washington on April 10, 1790.

As reported in ExplorePaHistory, Hopkins never made a profit.   ExplorePaHistory notes of the Act of 1790

The American board members took their responsibilities seriously, rejected many applications, and issued fifty-seven patents between 1790 and 1793. Deeply concerned about Europe's technological superiority, and the need to stimulate American innovation, critics pushed for new laws.

The Patent Act of 1790 was replaced by the Patent Act of 1793, which made it easier to obtain patents.

Of the Forbes text

The point is, technological innovation unfolds at a stunning rate. Rather than allowing 20-year old patents to block innovation, we should ensure that our patent system supports and nurtures innovation.

one recalls the story of Chester Carlson and xerography, which took more than 20 years to unfold into commercial relevance. 

One also notes that the time frame of 20 years from priority filing date arises from attempts to harmonize with the law of other nations, rather than some selection peculiar to the U.S. 


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