Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk

Princeton University Press
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In recent years, business leaders, policymakers, and inventors have complained to the media and to Congress that today's patent system stifles innovation instead of fostering it. But like the infamous patent on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, much of the cited evidence about the patent system is pure anecdote--making realistic policy formation difficult. Is the patent system fundamentally broken, or can it be fixed with a few modest reforms? Moving beyond rhetoric, Patent Failure provides the first authoritative and comprehensive look at the economic performance of patents in forty years. James Bessen and Michael Meurer ask whether patents work well as property rights, and, if not, what institutional and legal reforms are necessary to make the patent system more effective.

Patent Failure presents a wide range of empirical evidence from history, law, and economics. The book's findings are stark and conclusive. While patents do provide incentives to invest in research, development, and commercialization, for most businesses today, patents fail to provide predictable property rights. Instead, they produce costly disputes and excessive litigation that outweigh positive incentives. Only in some sectors, such as the pharmaceutical industry, do patents act as advertised, with their benefits outweighing the related costs.


By showing how the patent system has fallen short in providing predictable legal boundaries, Patent Failure serves as a call for change in institutions and laws. There are no simple solutions, but Bessen and Meurer's reform proposals need to be heard. The health and competitiveness of the nation's economy depend on it.

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About the author

James Bessen, a former software developer and CEO, is lecturer at Boston University School of Law. Michael J. Meurer is the Michaels Faculty Research Scholar and professor of law at Boston University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 3, 2009
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781400828692
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Investments & Securities / General
Law / Intellectual Property / General
Law / Intellectual Property / Patent
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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ESSENTIALS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Full of valuable tips, techniques, illustrative real-world examples, exhibits, and best practices, this handy and concise paperback will help you stay up to date on the newest thinking, strategies, developments, and technologies in intellectual property.

"Alexander Poltorak and Paul Lerner have written the definitive primer on intellectual property for business professionals. Thorough in its coverage and understandable in its delivery, Essentials of Intellectual Property provides not only an outstanding summary of intellectual property basics, but a useful and sensible strategy for using intellectual property to the best needs of a business. Poltorak and Lerner have combined their in-depth knowledge of patent law with their savvy business skills to yield an indispensable reference for the business professional."
—Jeffrey L. Brandt, Patent Attorney, Former Senior Vice President and Intellectual Property & Licensing Counsel, priceline.com

"Alex Poltorak and Paul Lerner have pulled off a mighty feat with Essentials of Intellectual Property. They have crafted a work that is clear for the beginning practitioner while nuanced and sophisticated for the savvy tech transfer and IP management veteran. Lively and often witty writing is a treat not often found in tomes on what can be a dry subject. With Essentials of Intellectual Property, the practitioner has a new literary tool for tying IP strategy to the business reality of tomorrow."
—Edward Kahn, Founder and President, EKMS, Inc., Cambridge, MA

"This critically important new volume of work not only provides the professional with a greater knowledge of this vast subject, but also the novice with a better understanding and appreciation for the results of their creative abilities."
—Lawrence J. Udell, Executive Director, California Invention Center, Professor of New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

The Wiley Essentials Series—because the business world is always changing...and so should you.

Inventor? Find out if you're the first to file a patent, online and in the library

In the past, if you wanted to assess the novelty of an idea, you had to wade through the patent database at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in Virginia -- or hire a lawyer to do a patent search for $500 and up. The cost and inconvenience of these searches often meant that good ideas were left to rot on the vine.

In Patent Searching Made Easy, find the plain-English information you need to:
verify the patent status of an idea search Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries use online patent search services
A physicist, engineer, and patent searching expert, author David Hitchcock gives you the vocabulary, instructions and strategies you need to search for a patent quickly and easily. He explains how the PTO classifies different types of inventions, so that you can assign your idea to the right class, compare it to related ideas, and then determine if it's novel enough to qualify for a patent.

Patent Searching Made Easy shows you how do patent searches yourself, on the Internet, at little or no cost. Plus, you'll learn how to:
prepare for online searches with the right hardware, software and computer skills access online patent searching resources narrow online searches with keywords and Boolean logic perform database searches at Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) do microfiche searches at PTDLs search fee-based patent databases on the Internet search international patent offices, and do advanced searches at the PTO and PTDL.
Written for both inventors and business owners interested in expanding their product line through the license, distribution or manufacture of other people's ideas, Patent Searching Made Easy is the easiest way for you to determine the answer to that all-important question, "Am I the first?"
“Bessen sets out to refute the arguments of . . . techno-pessimists, relying on economic analysis and on a fresh reading of history” (The Wall Street Journal).
 
Technology is constantly changing our world, leading to more efficient production. But where once technological advancements dramatically increased wages, the median wage has remained stagnant over the past three decades. Many of today’s machines have taken over the work of humans, destroying old jobs while increasing profits for business owners and raising the possibility of ever-widening economic inequality.
 
Here, economist and software company founder James Bessen discusses why these remarkable advances have, so far, benefited only a select few. He argues the need for unique policies to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to implement rapidly evolving technologies. Currently, this technical knowledge is mostly unstandardized and difficult to acquire, learned through job experience rather than in classrooms, but labor markets rarely provide strong incentives for learning on the job. Basing his analysis on intensive research into economic history as well as today’s labor markets, Bessen explores why the benefits of technology can take decades to emerge. Although the right policies can hasten the process, policy has moved in the wrong direction, protecting politically influential interests to the detriment of emerging technologies and broadly shared prosperity. This is a thoughtful look at what leaders need to do to ensure success not only for the next quarter, but for society in the long term.
 
“Everyone agrees that education is the key to wage growth. But what kind of education? . . . This enlightening and insightful book . . . shows that economic history can provide some useful and surprising answers.” —Hal Varian, chief economist at Google
Appreciation of the importance of innovation to the economy has increased over the past decade. There is an active debate regarding the implications of technological change for economic policy and the appropriate policies and programs regarding research, innovation, and the commercialization of new technology. This debate has only intensified as policymakers focus on new sources of innovation and growth in light of the recent economic downturn and the associated focus on enhancing employment and growth. Four of the five papers in this year’s volume highlight the increasing role of the Internet and digitization in our understanding of the changing nature of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the impact of innovation policy. The first offers an overview of the impact of “Big Data” on the ability to conduct novel types of measurement and research in economics and related fields. The second highlights the increasingly sophisticated and creative research designs that have been used to evaluate the interplay between piracy, the availability of legitimate digital channels, and the impact of anti-piracy enforcement efforts. The third paper provides an overview of the rapidly emerging area of crowdfunding. The fourth addresses the underpinnings of much of the digital economy by focusing on the institutional logic of standard-setting organizations and the conditions that allow standard-setting bodies to function and achieve their objectives. The final paper focuses on the interplay between geographic clusters, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
The United States patent system has become sand rather than lubricant in the wheels of American progress. Such is the premise behind this provocative and timely book by two of the nation's leading experts on patents and economic innovation.

Innovation and Its Discontents tells the story of how recent changes in patenting--an institutional process that was created to nurture innovation--have wreaked havoc on innovators, businesses, and economic productivity. Jaffe and Lerner, who have spent the past two decades studying the patent system, show how legal changes initiated in the 1980s converted the system from a stimulator of innovation to a creator of litigation and uncertainty that threatens the innovation process itself.


In one telling vignette, Jaffe and Lerner cite a patent litigation campaign brought by a a semi-conductor chip designer that claims control of an entire category of computer memory chips. The firm's claims are based on a modest 15-year old invention, whose scope and influenced were broadened by secretly manipulating an industry-wide cooperative standard-setting body.


Such cases are largely the result of two changes in the patent climate, Jaffe and Lerner contend. First, new laws have made it easier for businesses and inventors to secure patents on products of all kinds, and second, the laws have tilted the table to favor patent holders, no matter how tenuous their claims.


After analyzing the economic incentives created by the current policies, Jaffe and Lerner suggest a three-pronged solution for restoring the patent system: create incentives to motivate parties who have information about the novelty of a patent; provide multiple levels of patent review; and replace juries with judges and special masters to preside over certain aspects of infringement cases.


Well-argued and engagingly written, Innovation and Its Discontents offers a fresh approach for enhancing both the nation's creativity and its economic growth.

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