It’s no secret that big money is backing the patent trolling industry. Corporate giants are patenting literally anything and the are doing it in volume. They do so with the knowledge that a small minority of the so called inventions can be used to kill a competitor or shake down the successful innovator. The patent office is inundated by frivolity, most of which will never be built, unless you consider building a court case constructive. How high is the cost of this insanity?
Last month, in talking about an episode of Planet Money with James Bessen on it, we mentioned his new research suggesting that patent trolls evaporated half a trillion dollars in wealth. Now that research, done with Michael Meurer and Jennifer Ford has been released (thanks to Tim Lee for the pointer): The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls. (Techdirt)
From my viewpoint, this estimate seems incredibly low. When you consider how many entrepreneurs deliberately avoid developing anything that may need to be physically built, I think two or three trillion dollars could be more realistic.
Unfortunately it gets worse. In the presence of a virtual media blackout, so called patent reform sailed through Congress and was signed into law by the president. The reformed law tilted the system to favor those with deep pockets and professional trolls even more. I guess this constitute’s ‘reform’ if your a corporate crony and / or lawyer which just about covers the entire bunch of elected feds. This almost guarantees that the US will continue to lose it’s technological edge. Going forward, the best and brightest who wish to invent will have to chose between serving a corporate master or setting up shop in a more enlightened nation.