14 March 2013

Maybe There’s A Simpler Solution

Podcasters everywhere are asking people to contact their representatives—which takes two minutes via the Electronic Frontier Foundation—to urge them to back the SHIELD Act. The law dictates that trolls would have to pay defendants’ legal bills should they lose the case, which happens 76 percent of the time, and that would kill the financial incentive for trolling. The problem is most don’t go to trial because it’s insanely expensive. That comprehensive Wired article notes that companies spent $29 billion in 2011 defending against nearly 6,000 troll cases. That number was only $6.5 billion for 1,400 cases in 2005. It also noted that Apple and Google spend more money on patent acquisition and defense now than they do on research and development.

Remember, the whole justification for patent law, per the constitution, is that the brief monopoly rights that inventors get hold for their inventions is supposed to encourage innovation.  In light of this, can it truly be said that patent law does more to encourage innovation than it does to stifle it? And if you’re spending nearly as much money defending your hard work as you’re making from it, is the patent system really that advantageous?

And so, it seems that the best solution to this problem is to simply dispense with the whole legal charade of intellectual property and just scrap patent law.  When the idea industry spends more on defending ideas than coming up with new ones, perhaps it’s simply time to consider the experiment of intellectual property a failure and move on.  One benefit would be that companies could spend on money on more useful things than lawyers.