This oft-made contrast by libertarians between so-called “common law property in land” versus “statutory IP” is a myth that has no basis in the reality of how common law property rights in land evolved in England and then in the United States of America.
Weakening intellectual property laws due to negative policy rhetoric, hyperbolic internet commentary, and even extensive lobbying by firms who choose to infringe patents because they don’t want to pay the licenses offered to them by patent licensing firms is irresponsible.
The real problem with this “broken reporting” by Mr. Bilton and his ilk is that it is feeding a growing anti-patent frenzy among commentators, academics, and the public, who seem to think that your smart phones, tablets and other technological marvels just don’t exist because of a so-called “broken patent system” that has stymied software and other high-tech innovation at every turn.
The claim that there is a “patent litigation explosion” is a myth, but there’s a related patent litigation myth that has proven cantankerously resilient in the patent policy debates — there’s an “explosion” of patent-owners racing to the International Trade Commission (ITC) who are obtaining exclusion orders against infringers.
Unfortunately, the complaints today about today’s patent litigation crisis arise more from unchecked intuitions about what feels like a bad situation, from unrealistic assumptions about how much certainty we can achieve in the patent system, and from emotionally-compelling anecdotes about innovators running into trouble with patents.
The New York Times set hearts aflutter in the IP world yesterday with its hit piece on patents in the high-tech industry.
The historical patent litigation rates are significant because they also include the same “patent wars” that we are experiencing with the “smart phone war.”
It’s time to bring objectivity and a historical-based perspective to public policy discussions about software patents and the role of property rights in innovation.