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October 3, 2008

What Goes Around...

Much sourness has been provoked in recent years, and legislation mooted, that would radically alter patent law. From one writer regarding the current public temper -

To put the matter very frankly, the attitude of many people in the country today with regard to patents is a petulant, irritated mood. The greatest danger which could result from any such upsurge of popular disapproval of patents because of associating them with an illegal, antisocial institution is that it might lead to an unwise, wholesale purge of the entire patent system. In view of the nature of the evidence which has been presented to the legislators, it is not unreasonable to fear that the Congress might move on to the subject of permanent reform in a petulant, angry mood.

That there is, on the part of some writers, a deliberate attempt to create an antipathy for patents per se by a careful misuse of words and ideas is all too evident. Unfortunately, the confusion is easy to create; it is hard to be guarded against. This is particularly true because of the intangible nature of the patent grant and the rights which it conveys.

It is, of course, incontrovertible that the pooling of patents and the interweaving of restrictive licenses may be used by dominating elements in an industry to facilitate the creation and protection of a monopoly. But the Supreme Court is awake to the dangers which have arisen through the illegal use of a screen of licenses to control the activities of an entire industry. As long as license restrictions are confined to those necessary to the reasonable benefit of the patentee - and that is all that the law recognizes - the right to so qualify is a valuable and easily controlled asset.

Patent laws are for the benefit of the public, not for anyone individual. The value and importance of patents as they relate to our economic welfare must therefore be borne in mind. Patents today, as for many decades, furnish a substantial encouragement for the investment of speculative capital in new industries. While the abuses present in the patent system must be eliminated, it is essential that the abridgment of the rights of the individual be no greater than is necessary, so as not to impair the incentive of the patent system.

The proposals contained in these Bills are not on this basis; they obviously do not spring from that economic philosophy.

Laurence I. Wood, author of Patents and Antitrust Law, from the George Washington Law Review article "Patent Reform and 1943: Antitrust or Anti-Patent Law," published 1942.

A hat tip of thanks to Hal Wegner.

Posted by Patent Hawk at October 3, 2008 12:38 AM | The Patent System

Comments

Perhaps the (patently) clueless members of our beloved Congress should all go watch the movie "Flash of Genius" before enacting any kind of patent legislation at all..

It's all in the movie

The movie is out today

"Flash of Genius" ‎- Rated PG-13‎, ‎Drama‎
in theaters October 3

Posted by: angry dude at October 3, 2008 5:48 AM