I have been reading a series of stories in the Wall Street Journal, Tech Republic, Business Week, Wired etc.. about what a horrible world it is as people are working with Patent Trolls to enforce patent right on supposedly spurious patents that is causing so much trouble in our world and stifling innovation, often citing all this great free knowledge that could exists but for patents and those pesky Patent Trolls.
The patent laws exist to provide people a legal framework to establish a title in law for the intangible property created as the result of the fruits of the inventor’s labor. Intellectual Property law is a western law and philosophy at its very best.
The “Patent Trolls” exist because there is an incentive. The incentive exists because the access to the federal courts to defend one rights to an item of intellectual property is defective. The halls of the courts of justice for intellectual property disputes are open equally to all just as the doors of the Ritz Carlton. (Apologies to Rumpole of the Bailey). Patent Trolls exist to profit from exploiting the advantage they have, money and thus access to the courts.
Eighty percent plus of the book value of the modern company consist of intangible assets. To take even the smallest bits of a Patent Whiner’s suggestions would be to wipe out billion of dollars in value. Taking it to the full extent … I can just envision patent communes and patent kibbutzim where all intellectual labors are equal valued.* At least if the commune were growing beets the commune could have some hope of protecting their property defending their crop against the Free Beet Movement and the very dangerous French Terroir Organization Comite pour les betteraves libres.
A more constructive and logical path would be for the US to create a new federal court system dedicated solely to Intellectual Property just as divisions currently exist for, Civil, Criminal, and Bankruptcy and Appellate courts. The Dutch version of this IP Court looks to have resolution from 6 to 8 weeks as opposed to 6 to 8 years. With such a system the Patent Trolls would loose much of their comparative advantage. Qualified decisions on inequitable claims and bonafide intellectual property would be rendered quickly and yes even efficaciously and silence the Patent Whiners. I am also certain this small change would encourage even more genuine patentable innovations.
* This sentence must be read dripping with sarcasm.