February 24, 2007

LATimes Editorial On Alcatel v Microsoft [7:54 am]

Patent problems in patent law - pdf (see this earlier post)

THE PATENT SYSTEM in the United States is so dysfunctional that it can even generate sympathy for Microsoft.

[...] The purpose of patents, like copyrights, is to promote innovation by giving inventors exclusive rights to use and distribute their creations for a limited time. There’s no requirement that a patent holder create products based on the invention; to do so would give big companies an unfair advantage over small players with good ideas. But lately there’s been a trend in the opposite direction: Patent holders stay on the sidelines while large companies build the market for a technology, then the patent holders claim that their rights have been infringed and demand compensation.

[...] The threat posed by this trend is that technology companies will limit their products’ capabilities to minimize unexpected patent claims. That’s the exact opposite of what patent law was designed to do.

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