Sunday, October 2, 2011

A China Syndrome for the patent system

Noted at the Washington Post:
The Chinese have learned to play the same games that American tech companies and patent trolls do: Use patents to extort licensing fees from other industry players.
Now that it is becoming an international issue perhaps some serious thought will be given to real patent reform -- not just the minor technical tweaks in the recently enacted Patent Reform Act of 2011.

By its basic nature, knowledge resists monopolization so it is unsurprising that the contrary to nature patent system has perverse unintended consequences. While I seriously believe the world would be better off without patents, a good step in the right direction would be to greatly shorten their duration -- which, like that of copyright, is excessive. At the very least, observing the effects of term reduction could provide a helpful empirical check on the supposed value of patents in promoting innovation.

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