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July 4, 2007

Strong, balanced patents are an American innovation

"Abusive patent litigation and low patent quality are stifling innovation. One questionable patent can restrict innovation and competition. Why innovate or take the entrepreneurial risk of making products if it just increases the risk of costly litigation?"

Rod Lewis, general counsel for Micron Technology, provides his assessment of the current U.S. patent system in the Salt Lake Tribune, where we are reminded that Micron Technology, with its partner, Intel, employs 1,300 people in Utah.

While many patents have been granted recently for some very important new inventions, patents have also been granted for a crustless peanut butter sandwich and for a method of swinging sideways on a playground swing. More seriously, poor-quality patents have been granted in many critical sectors on which our economy depends, from financial services to technology to manufacturing.

One questionable patent can restrict innovation and competition. Multiply this several thousand times and it becomes a serious economic threat. More important, the number of patent lawsuits, and the costs of defending a patent case and the average size of damage awards, have all skyrocketed. This is due to the growing number of companies that are basing their business models on using patents to sue companies that make products. Not only does this force productive companies to funnel resources from research and development to their legal departments, but it also actively discourages innovation.

Fortunately, Congress, led by Sen. Hatch, Rep. Cannon and others, is ahead of the curve[,] taking action.

Rather astonishing tripe, isn't it?! It's unlikely that Lewis is so ignorant to actually believe what he wrote, so this propaganda is probably merely a pack of disingenuous lies by which Lewis hopes to pull the wool over the eyes of the less knowing. For example, the idea that bad patents discourage innovation is illogical: if patents were so easy to get, better to get some yourself. The motivation of people of this ilk is to gut patent enforcement, so that these deep-pocketed companies can more easily rape inventors of their intellectual property rights.

Posted by Patent Hawk at July 4, 2007 2:25 AM | The Patent System