Monday, 30 December 2013

Patent Erosion 2013: What Would the Founding Fathers Think? - | Patents & Patent Law

Here  is an interesting review of developments in patent law in the US over the past year, by Gene Quinn. I am pleased to be reminded of some of those quotes, and introduced to others that I haven't seen before. Gene's posting reads on its face like a plea for stronger patent rights, but on deeper reflection it's more a call for a better balance, which is what the entire intellectual property universe could do with. His observations about the relative roles of large and small businesses in innovation are thought-provoking (or perhaps they just show that I haven't really thought enough about this?): if innovation comes mostly from small businesses, universities, and the like, and large corporations merely pick up the fruits of others' labour, what constitutes a troll is a subtle matter - although the key element in the definition of a troll is the 'non-practising' part.

What is clear, from Gene's comments and those of many other people, is that the intellectual property systems (and I use the plural deliberately) need to be adapted to the needs of smaller businesses, yet everywhere I look the trend seems to favour big IP owners. To reverse that trend is a huge challenge, but as long as the balance is tipped in favour of big business there will be calls for revolutionary changes in intellectual property protection. Is radical reform the way to stave off revolution? I am sure that legislators everywhere need to think carefully about their presumptions, which too often come down to the simple proposition that intellectual property is a Good Thing and therefore more of it is even better.

Thanks, Gene, for an valuable piece. I would have added that you ought to review and rewrite and correct before pressing 'publish', but the beam in my eye prevents me from drawing attention to the mote in yours (Matthew 7: 3-5).

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