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Washington Post on Patent Trolls, Software Patents, and Patent Reform

From the Washington Post:

Where are the jobs? Ask the patent trolls.

By , Published: May 7

President Obama has been touting patents as a way to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. “These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” he said of patent applications last September, “somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.”The President is mistaken—at least when it comes to the patent system as it relates to software patents. These patents—and the patent system—aren’t creating innovation, they are inhibiting it and, by extension, job creation. Why? Because the breakthroughs aren’t in the patents, they are in the way ideas are commercialized and marketed. Because of flaws in the patent system and government leaders’ misunderstandings, there is an arms race of sorts happening in the tech industry that is sapping billions out of the economy and crushing technology startups. This system is enriching patent trolls—companies that buy patents in order to extort money from innovators. These trolls are like a modern day mafia. Given this, I argue software patents need to be eliminated or curtailed.

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(h/t Gary Chartier)

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the author misdiagnoses the problem, given his mainstream but non-principled, non-radical, utilitarian approach. The problem is not software patents, or patent trolls, or even “bad” or low-quality patents. The solution is not patent reform, or reducing the term of or even getting rid of “software patents.” The problem is the good patents—”legitimate,” hiqh-quality, unassailable patents granted not to patent trolls (“non-practicing entities”) but to practicing entities who use these patents and the force of law to squelch competition.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Luís Marques May 9, 2012, 10:19 am

    Stupid article. Here’s a quote:

    “Indeed, 106 out of roughly 1 million patents (or .0001 percent)”

    Great math skills!

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