Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blaming Lawyers

The law-blog-o-sphere (blawgosphere) is up in arms ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]) over an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that blames lawyers for some of our patent woes.

Okay, I'll say it: patent lawyers don't deserve all of the blame for our current mess. If I had to put accountability on one group's shoulders, I'd probably first blame Congress, for abdicating their responsibility of oversight and allowing the courts to invent patent law (a la State Street, etc.). But, the lawyers don't get off scot-free here either. They do make a lot of money from a broken system, and have a vested interest in keeping it broken. I know I'll catch some flak for saying it, but the more broken the patent system, the more we need lawyers to help us sort it out. And by not pushing for reforms that would eliminate such court-created patent categories as software and business method patents, attorneys become complicit in supporting a corrupt system (The EU recently rejected software patents, and in Asia, only Japan has them). Of course, software and business method patents are very profitable for attorneys, so they have nothing but disincentives to change the system. It's awfully difficult to have the courage to stand up against an oppressive regime, especially if that oppressive regime pays for your large home and nice car.

So, to my lawyer colleagues and fellow bloggers, I'd say this: if you want to ensure that editorials like the one in WSJ don't keep appearing, stand up on the right side of these issues and actively push for reform. It would help if you occasionally sought out volunteer pro-bono patent defense work for those individuals, researchers, and even small businesses who are harangued by unjust cease-and-desist letters. Or find a couple of patents that you view as obviously bad and donate your time to help out in invalidating them through the USPTO's re-exam process. Pick high-profile cases, publicize your activities, and help the common man see that you really are in this because of ideals, and not just for the money.

Perhaps you are already doing this, but we aren't hearing about it. If so, speak up!

But sadly, from the looks of most of your blogs, you've chosen to adopt 'ideals' that conveniently align with your own profit motives. Maybe those mores are convincing to you, but they aren't to the rest of us.


Anonymous The Atheist Geek said...

I have been working on a patent for 10 years now. I have tossed a lot of money at an incomprehensible system of frauds and red tape and am still no where near a patent on my idea.

Not because it isn't patentable, but because the system is very very geared against a single person without thousands upon thousands of disposable dollars succeeding in patenting an idea.

9:27 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home