Thursday :: Aug 11, 2011

Patent Reform


by Mary

When Obama talks about jobs lately, he mentions the idea of patent reform. But what does he mean exactly?

Just last month, This American Life had a show about how broken our patent system is which I wrote about here. The biggest problem with our patent system is it has become a mafia style shakedown scam where companies make more money suing others for patent infringement using bad patents that are too broad and have little relevance to the technology they claim. Yesterday, TPM had a piece about how the founder of Fark had been a target for a patent litigation which he finally won simply by telling the patent holder to take a jump.

FARK.com Founder Drew Curtis on Wednesday disclosed that he's managed to escape the threats of a patent holding firm called "Gooseberry Natural Resources" -- without having to pay a cent.

"Their patent had nothing to do with Fark," wrote Curtis in a Wednesday blog post on the subject. "The patent troll realized we were going to fight them instead of settle, so they asked for our best offer. I said how about you get nothing and drop the lawsuit? They accepted."

Patents have become the currency of the technology industry as companies like Intellectual Ventures amass huge portfolios purchased from other companies and then sell them to other vultures for a cut of the profits, employing no one except lawyers who shake down the companies actually making products. It's destroying the ability for small innovators to get into business.

So perhaps the patent reform is supposed to fix that problem? Nope.

As Brad Plummer explained, the bill being worked in Congress is not designed to help with the real problems with patents. And Tim Lee at Ars Technica wrote about what reforms should be considered and concludes that most of these ideas have been blocked by special interests.

Powerful interest groups like the pharmaceutical industry that benefit from the status quo have successfully prevented consideration of serious reforms.

So when you hear that patent reform is a good jobs bill, it looks like it might do as much good as the HAMP program in helping people keep their homes.

Mary :: 7:57 AM :: Comments (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!