Monday, October 8, 2012

Broken Patents

A truly excellent and extensive article (here) in today's New York Times explores the mess created when a uniform system of patent law is applied to new forms of technological innovation - in this case, computer software - which are fundamentally different from the kinds of innovations the system was designed to foster (such as pharmaceuticals). Software patents are too easy to get; they often serve a primarily defensive purpose to impede rather than facilitate innovation; and they result in billions of dollars worth of unproductive spending on litigation.

Thanks in large part to a patent bar operating under the self-serving but socially misguided mantra that more property rights is always better than less property rights, the patent system is out of control and requires change. The problem, of course, is that the required changes, including differential patent terms for different kinds of innovations, will be fought tooth and nail by the same patent bar that overwhelmingly benefits from the current system's pathologies.


  1. Will you please say something about this paper?
    Lee Anne Fennell (Chicago) is reconceptualizing transaction costs in property as Resource Access Costs, forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review.

  2. Lee Anne's paper is sitting on my desk. I plan to read it this week, and I'll probably post something about it.



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