The End of Patents?

Forbes has two articles critical of the patent system. “The Smother of Invention

But there is bad news on this bicentennial. After 200 years of lumbering down the tracks, the intellectual-property process in the United States is beginning to go off the rails. Branches of the government are intervening where they never have before. Opposing camps, many with money and influence, are forming. Small inventors are diverted from where they can make the greatest contributions. And a culture of litigation, circumvention, and secrecy has evolved from an area where openness and law had long ruled.

From an editorial “Patently Absurd

After IBM’s presentation, our turn came. As the Big Blue crew looked on (without a flicker of emotion), my colleagues-all of whom had both engineering and law degrees-took to the whiteboard with markers, methodically illustrating, dissecting, and demolishing IBM’s claims. We used phrases like: “You must be kidding,” and “You ought to be ashamed.” But the IBM team showed no emotion, save outright indifference. Confidently, we proclaimed our conclusion: Only one of the seven IBM patents would be deemed valid by a court, and no rational court would find that Sun’s technology infringed even that one.

An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. “OK,” he said, “maybe you don’t infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?”