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Ideas for patent reform

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Ideas for patent reform

The essence of the opposing views on patent reform is well-summarized as follows by James DeLong in an excellent paper on the subject available at the Progress & Freedom Foundation:

Reading one side, one learns that inventors are mostly sneaking trolls hiding under bridges to ambush honest enterprises as soon as they commit to producing a product. Read the other, and you are convinced that all corporate hierarchs are uncreative hacks lying in wait to steal the fruits of the honest inventors’ toil.

Some of the proposals for patent reform are too radical, according to DeLong:

  • [n]o distinction between the rights of integrated firms and those of invention shops is viable … factors [] such as whether the patentee lay in wait until a firm committed capital or the availability of information about the existing patent, are relevant to the equity of an injunction.
  • If standards are clear and incentives appropriate, then one procedure plus an appeal is enough.

Others are not radical enough. DeLong notes that only 3 days of examiner time are needed for First Office Action, so the total turnaround time should be about a week instead of 14 months on average. “If such standards cannot be met, then the system should be privatized.”
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See:Patent Reform & Industrial Structure,” by James DeLong (Nov. 7, 2006)