The Case for Abolishing Patents?

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Patented!!!

  Patented!!! (Photo credit: @MSG)

This September 2012 paper issued under the auspices of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis argues that patents should be abolished.  While they may initially promote innovation, “entrenched players like intellectual property lawyers who make their living filing lawsuits and old, established corporations that want to keep new players out of their markets lobby to expand the breadth of patent rights. And as patent rights get stronger, they take a serious toll on the economy, including our ability to innovate.”   See this short article in the Atlantic Monthly about the Fed paper.

Of course, the debate over the actual utility of patents — particularly software patents — is not new.  See this recent New York Times article.  But while some reforms are undoubtedly needed, abolishing all patents — particularly when other countries continue to protect IP through patents — seems like it might be throwing the baby out with the bath water and might lead to non-optimal outcomes in the U.S.

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