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First, we kill all the patent lawyers

Nice piece in Computerworld. However, the author buys into the standard reasoning: “In the beginning, the U.S. patent system was meant to encourage inventors and innovation.” He is talking about “abuse”. We’ve gone “too far.” He wants business method and software patents eliminated. Why just them?

Here is my comment, posted there:

Nice post. But you are wrong to assume that the patent system at one time was justified (your comment “In the beginning, the U.S. patent system was meant to encourage inventors and innovation.”). You also write:

“What we really need is a complete overhaul of the U.S. patent system. If the Supreme Court doesn’t strike down business process patents, the federal government should take up the problem. As it is now, any software program can be attacked either by patent trolls — companies that do nothing but collect patents and then look for companies that might be implementing the ideas within them — or by big companies wanting to stomp out competition.”

The problem is not patent trolls or business and software patents. There is nothing particularly wrong with patent trolls; this is a natural result of having a patent system. (See my Patent Trolls and Empirical Thinking; Patent Law, State Courts, and Free Speech: The Case of Troll Tracker.) And there is no reason not to have patents extend to software and business methods, given the logic of the patent system. Once you set up a patent system, you can expect its scope to cover many areas, and for patent trolls to arise. As Ludwig von Mises, wrote,

“No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.”

We do not need patent “reform” or a patent overhaul. Patent and copyrights nothing but anti-competitive grants of monopoly privilege. They are completely anathema to private property rights and the free market. People who say that patents are necessary or a good idea but have been abused or “taken too far” are part of the problem. We don’t need an overhaul. We need a brush fire. For more information on the anti-market evil of patent and copyright, see my C4SIF resources page.

Stephan Kinsella, Registered patent attorney and libertarian

Here’s the post:

First, we kill all the patent lawyers

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
May 3, 2010 01:30 PM ET

Computerworld – Actually, I don’t think we should kill all the patent lawyers. Some of my best friends are patent attorneys — no, really. But I’d happily stick a knife into the American patent system.

In the beginning, the U.S. patent system was meant to encourage inventors and innovation. Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, “The Patent System added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” That was then. This is now.

Unless the Supreme Court does the right thing and tosses out business practice and, by implication, software patents with the proper decision in the Bilski case, we’re stuck with a system designed to wreck anyone who actually tries to implement his own ideas.

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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.