Friday, 15 November 2013

"It’s time for tech firms to end their insane global patent wars"

Allister Heath, good on details but gloriously missing the bigger picture as per usual:

Patents were originally designed to spur innovators by giving them a way of profiting from their inventions; but the current ultra-strict application of patent rules has turned into a major block to progress.

Rather than trying to innovate or launch better products, some tech firms are now endlessly accusing one another of violating obscure patents. In fact, patent hoarding to stymie competitors has become a huge growth industry; the only winners are lawyers.

Apple and Samsung are currently locked in a bitter war; Google bought Motorola for its patents and is now locked in legal battles with Microsoft. The energy and time wasted is proving hugely destructive; these firms could be making new products to make all of our lives better but are instead allocating far too many of their resources on trying to cripple their competitors via lawsuits.

Patents are state-granted monopolies on an invention; they are only acceptable as a means of promoting innovation, not as a means of slowing it down.

Sure, there is a lot of rent being collected and a lot of time being wasted here to the detriment of the economy in general, but you could re-write the whole article substituting "land owners" for "patent holders" and reach much the same conclusion, only the amounts and deadweight costs involved would be about twenty times as big.