Patent Law and Innovation Chill – Meme of the Week

5 Jan ’06

Eric Reguly writes today in the Globe on patent law and innovation chill (“Patent protection a threat to innovation”); earlier this week it was Business Week (“The Patent Epidemic”) which, judging by the comments (now a handy dandy reference for a definition of ‘ad hominem’), has survived unscathed its thrashing by Patent Prospector.

Reguly’s article contains this little nugget:

Prof. Lerner of Harvard thinks there are “worrisome” aspects to the BlackBerry case. In an interview yesterday, he said some degree of patent protection is a good thing because it spurs innovation; too much can kill it. Research he did on patent law history in 60 countries showed that the countries with the strongest patent protection did not necessarily have the best record of innovation.

and Business Week’s article contains this one:

Barr [Robert Barr, who was chief patent counsel for Cisco from January, 2000, to July, 2005], who now teaches at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, says it’s too easy for engineers to inadvertently infringe patents just by doing their normal work. “That’s not what the law is intended to do,” he says. “There shouldn’t be patents on things that people will just routinely invent.” Barr adds that “the idea of the obviousness test is to root these things out.”

The article then explores what it describes as “the evisceration of the obviousness test by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals”.

It would be interesting to hear more on these issues from those who do not have a vested interest in the perpetuation of the current patent system. But is there anyone left who doesn’t?

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