People. Progress. Results.

How Innovation-Killing Trolls Toppled the Patent Process

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on September 18, 2015 at 10:59 AM

Originally publish on Government Technology on September 16 by David Koepsell.

Intellectual property laws -- 19th-century legislation struggling for relevance in the 21st century -- are well overdue for reform.

Nearly everyone who isn’t a lawyer agrees: intellectual property law is a mess. And the monopolies granted by patent and copyright law have begun to hamper the very innovation they were designed to encourage.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) provides a limited monopoly for a patent holder, allowing them to exclusively benefit from their invention for a given period of time. This creates the incentive for others to create and innovate, instead of simply copying. However, today it seems patents don’t benefit innovators but instead only lawyers. The same is increasingly true for expressions protected under copyright, which often acts as a barrier for small artists and as a bludgeon wielded by big content companies.

Securing a patent isn’t easy or cheap, and since the mid-1960s only half of applicants have had their patents granted. Last year the total number of US patents granted was 326,033. Of these an estimated 3%-5% will be profitable, since a hypothetical monopoly on a market that doesn’t exist isn’t worth anything.

Leave it to lawyers, however, to find a way to make money from nothing: witness the rise of the “patent troll.”

Read the full story here: