Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Which Patent Reform?

Who is behind the current [by many accounts flawed] legislation to reform the patent system? Is it parties that feel oppression under the current system, or is this just a tweak by major stakeholders and proponents of a powerful Intellectual Monopoly Regime?

IEEE Spectrum has a nice article on the current cacophy surrounding patent reform:
While representing diverse constituencies, the critics and reformers largely agree on the problem: overly broad or obvious, unchallengeable patents hobble legitimate innovators. The cause is twofold. First, patents are much cheaper to obtain than to invalidate. The legal presumption of patent validity erects a high bar against a challenge, so even an idiotic patent can present a potent threat, not least because patent lawsuits can be fearsomely expensive to defend or prosecute.
Amen to that. The article points out that some of the currently proposed reforms may actually make things worse. We've talked about that before. Proposing unworkable patent reform solutions has a disasterous two-fold effect on meaningful reform: a) the bad reform will fail, because even supporters of good reform can see that it doesn't help and b) the patent reform movement loses steam, because the general public walks away from the failed reform with a bad taste in their mouths.

I find it interesting that meaningful reform, such as the independent invention defense, or automatic premature patent revocation, aren't being discussed. Do the drafters of current legislative reform attempts have an agenda to preserve many of the problems in our patent system? Or are they simply incompetent to perform meaningful reform?


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