Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Feb 2013 16:49 UTC
Legal "The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded - which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity. Both theory and evidence suggest that while patents can have a partial equilibrium effect of improving incentives to invent, the general equilibrium effect on innovation can be negative. A properly designed patent system might serve to increase innovation at a certain time and place. Unfortunately, the political economy of government-operated patent systems indicates that such systems are susceptible to pressures that cause the ill effects of patents to grow over time. Our preferred policy solution is to abolish patents entirely and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent seeking, to foster innovation when there is clear evidence that laissez-faire undersupplies it. However, if that policy change seems too large to swallow, we discuss in the conclusion a set of partial reforms that could be implemented." Written by economics professors Michelle Boldrin and David K. Levine, published in the winter issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Via John Siracusa.
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I've actually heard variations of this one before... The problem is how do you incorporate such an idea into a system where there are already a few million active patents in existence?

IBM has something like 40,000 active patents right now. Do you make them pay license for them? At the rates you stated that would come up to 390 million and some change... a year. Of course it would taper off over 20 years, but it doesn't seem fair to financially punish a company for a bunch of patents they filed for legally in the past.

So you exempt all existing patents and only do it going forward. Now IBM, Microsoft, and others who hold large patent portfolios have an artificial advantage that lasts for 20 years - because smaller players just starting out have to pay huge amounts of money for the privilege of having more than 100 patents - the big guys got there huge portfolios for free - and they will probably use them aggressively. Doesn't seem fair...

Maybe a balance could be struck... Really though, my main issue with it is it is a form of "sin tax". It is a tax like those applied to tobacco - the point is not to generate revenue, but to limit a behavior. I just find it ironic that the patent system is so broken taxing it to disuade it's use sounds like a good idea...

Im still in the "gut the whole thing and start over" camp...

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