October 30, 2004

Sun’s Jonathan Schwarts on Patents [4:27 pm]

Things that scare Sun’s Schwartz

Litigation gone awry Spurious patent litigation was a problem well before Sun settled with Kodak. It’s been going on for years, and lately, it’s steadily gotten much worse. Intellectual property is the foundation of global economies, and legitimate patents are crucial cauldrons in which sweat, brains and dollars can create value. Companies that acquire (often questionable) patents and later wield them against new market participants unleash a destructive force that stifles innovation and prevents participation–the polar opposite of the purpose for which patents were created.

Everybody suffers from the abuse of the judicial system and the detritus strewn around the market by spurious patent suits. My view is that we issue patents too freely, without sufficient regard to prior art or triviality. We need to raise the threshold for patent approval to prevent abuse of the system. This would ensure that we’re safeguarding incentives and rewards for invention while reducing the legions of bad actors stifling competition.

America is at risk of letting cobwebs in our patent system ensnare real innovation, siphoning energy and effort that could otherwise be directed at progress for the planet while the bloodsuckers drain resources.

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