Yet another article on “Patent Reform” today. To listen to some of these guys, you’d think the Microsofts, Intels, Googles and IBMs of the world are at risk of being bankrupted by small patent holders.
In case you missed it the first time, let’s try this again.
A patent right is a property right. The essence of a property right is the right to exclude others. “Owning” my home means I can keep strangers and others I don’t want from living there. Having a “legal” ownership right means I can call on the legal system for help (e.g. if the strangers in my house are considerably larger than I am). Similarly, if I take a chance and buy a house in a less established area, and a few years later that area gets “hot” and I can now sell it for several times what I paid, is there anything inherently wrong with doing that? (This is, after all, America…) Should the law step in and force me to “rent” my home to any stranger who wants it or, worse yet, simply breaks in and takes it? Should the law step in and force me to do so at reduced rates when that stranger is a billionaire and can easily afford what I’m asking? Why should things be different when the property is a patent rather than a home?
I don’t know which of the proposed “reforms” I find most distasteful. (There are so many good choices!) At present, I think the attack on injunctions is what galls me most. If you can’t keep people off your property, what makes it either “yours” or “property”?
The author of the subject article asks “why you should care.” You should, but perhaps not for the reasons he thinks.
When I was an engineer, I had no intention of spending my life with a huge company. Like most of my contemporaries, I had dreams of just learning the ropes with an established company and then forming my own business around a new idea. Law school and some other things sort of sidetracked that for a while, but I’d like to think today’s youngsters still share that dream. If they do, I hope they realize that strong patents, and more importantly a legal system that will enforce them even against powerful business interests, are some of the few things that might give them an even break. If so, they should be fighting these supposed “patent reforms” tooth and nail.
Time will tell.