IF PATENTS are a measure of inventiveness, Americans have a long pedigree of inventing better mousetraps. With around 350 international patents granted per million population, they rank alongside the savvy Swedes—though neither can hold a candle to the ingenious Japanese or Swiss (with 1,200 and 500 patents per million respectively). Congress hopes to boost America’s ranking in the innovation stakes by overhauling the country’s patent system—and thereby create millions of new jobs in the process. The America Invents Act, the most sweeping reform of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in over 200 years, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on September 16th.
The sole reason countries have for granting patents is to promote innovation—in short, to create local jobs and national prosperity. Patents seek to do this by requiring the inventor to make prompt and full disclosure of the money-making idea in question, so others can see and benefit from it—either by devising a legitmate way around the patent or by buying a licence to use it. In exchange, the inventor is granted the monopoly right to exploit the idea for 20 years or so.
The deal has worked well for centuries, creating wealth, jobs and economic growth in the process. Patents have fostered conditions for drug-makers to produce medicines that have improved people’s lot no end. Likewise, patents have allowed chip-makers to deliver a torrent of goods that amplify the public’s ability to work, learn and play in unprecedented ways.
These supine, craven idiots, pretenders to economic wisdom, spout these consequentialist conclusions without a shred of proof. There is no reason to think that the patent system has ever “worked well” or “created jobs and wealth” etc. See Yet Another Study Finds Patents Do Not Encourage Innovation.