U.S. Patent Laws Meaningless

Original author: Sebastian Mallaby
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Translation of American law is patent nonsense .

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Elections are approaching in America, politicians will rant about their faith in America - while what is happening in California clearly shows why this belief is weakening. The decline of the main stronghold of capitalism becomes clear.

Namely, the US patent system, which allowed Apple to sue Samsung for a billion in compensation for, as she claims, theft of intellectual property. Ask any man in the street - and in his opinion, Samsung can already be renamed SameSung, since the properties of their smartphone are suspiciously similar to the properties of the iPhone.

Americans worship property rights, which is not without meaning, but at the same time extend the same attitude to intellectual rights, combining competitive products such as houses or hamburgers that cannot be shared for free, with intellectual products that can be shared - which makes no sense. At the same time, Americans honor innovation and progress, and suggest that intellectual property rights promote progress. But this assumption is incorrect.

A vivid example in the field of patenting is the pharmaceutical industry. Bringing a new drug to the market is an expensive pleasure, mainly because of the need to conduct clinical tests. The monopoly rights to sell the medicine for 20 years are of help. Moreover, research usually lasts about ten years, and as a result a ten-year monopoly comes out. But, as one of the judges noted, that he works in one industry, not necessarily suitable for another.

In the world of gadgets, everything is different. No clinical tests are needed, the cost of development is much lower, and the need for a monopoly is already more difficult to prove. 20 years of monopoly is unjustifiably a lot. At the same time, the work of Michel Boldrin and David Levin was published, in which they argue that patenting is generally necessary for Silicon Valley. Innovators gain an advantage simply because they were the first. In the 16 months since the launch of the iPhone and until the appearance of its first competitors on Android, Apple shipped more than 5 million phones.

And if the need for incentives like a monopoly in the technology industry is doubtful, the price of their use is clear. A drug patent usually covers a single product, and a technology patent often describes an elementary component of a product, such as the appearance of the icons on the screen, as in the case of one of Apple’s lawsuits against Samsung. By patenting such components, some companies prevent others from using yesterday’s inventions to create tomorrow’s improved devices. Instead of fueling progress, patents strangle him.

The problem of patents in the tech industry takes on the scale of the epidemic. For example, in 2005, 41 companies filed more than 8,000 patent lawsuits related to 3G networks. Another example is the MP3 standard, surrounded by thickets of lawsuits. And even if a company tries to comply with all patents and license products, it doesn’t always help - Microsoft was once sued by one and a half billion for violating these patents, although the verdict was later changed.

And if the company does not patent the component, it patents a piece of territory, like a cat that marks its site. Last month, Apple filed a patent for a bunch of products that use touchscreens "with the ability to use in four and five dimensions," whatever that means. Some patent trolls do not specifically advertise patents in the hope of getting hold of them after someone releases their product - while they themselves do not expect to do anything with them.

The United States is attempting to contain this epidemic by increasing funding for the patent office and narrowing the gap between its patent system and those of other countries. But a sound system is still a long way off. Its rules lead to the creation of a much larger number of patents than in any other country. Whereas in countries with more mature economies such as Japan or Britain, there is a decrease in the number of patents, in the US they do not see the end. The recent Apple-Samsung case will obviously be followed by a large number of expensive litigation.

Some observers believe that the patent system should be abolished altogether. But it is not necessary to go so far as to see the problem in all its significance. Americans have the illusion that today's paradise for legalists is an aid to innovation. It is unlikely that they can make more mistakes.