The Economist Weights In on Patent Deform
The Economist in an article entitled The spluttering invention machine repeats a number of lies associated with patent reform. For instance, they repeat the Patent Thicket theory for which there is absolutely no empirical evidence. You would expect that a magazine like the The Economist would at least do a little research on the topic. Here are some of the errors in the article.
This Article repeats the Patent Thicket theory (too many patents inhibit innovation). Every single empirical study has found little or no evidence for the Patent Thicket theory. For instance see R&D, Invention and Economic Growth: An Empirical Analysis, by Professor Hulya Ulku and Ted Buckley, Ph.D., The Myth of the Anticommons, Bio, http://www.bio.org (2007) and Epstien, Richard A., Kuhlik, Bruce N., Is there a Biomedical Anticommons, Regulation, (Summer 2004), pp. 54-58. You would expect an organization like the Economist to do their homework before they repeat these myths.
However, there is plenty of evidence that a lack of a patent system or a weak patent system inhibits innovation and economic growth. For instance, North Korea has no patent system and has absolutely no innovation. Those countries that first adopted a modern patent system have been the most innovative. When the patent system was under attack in the US in the 1970s the US suffered stagflation. For more information see The Source of Economic Growth.
This Article also repeats the myth of low patent quality in the US. By every objective measure the quality of patents has been increasing, including GDP per patent, R&D spending per patents, and number of citations per patent. See Patent Quality Nonsense and The Patent Quality Myth. It is disappointing that the Economist repeats these diatribes against patents without even a cursory check of the facts.
PATENT REFORM: America Invents Act
The main problem with the US patent system is the long pendency time. This is a result of the underfunding (stealing of user fees) of the Patent Office. Suffice it to say that correcting this situation is not the major thrust of this legislation. The main point of this legislation is to weaken the US patent system, by the addition of oppositions and the weakening of the US grace period, so that it easier for large corporations to steal the inventions of startups and independent inventors.
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