Law in Contemporary Society
Patent law is a huge problem that faces our society faces. While most people merely accept that patents are a part of our lives, a select group of people are abusing and profiting off of the patent laws in this country. I admit that I was guilty of the former; merely following the crowd and not challenging the idea that our patent laws were seriously stunting the growth of creativity in our country. However, once I became aware of the serious adverse effect of patent laws, I knew that they must be changed to reflect our growing technological society. Patent laws in the United States allow patents to last too long and can greatly reduce the amount of technological innovation from young companies.

Under our current laws, patents last 20 years subject to an extension ( On the surface, this appears to be a reasonable amount of time. It gives time for the creators of inventions to profit off of them, while not lasting long enough to adversely affect society. Another key point is that patents usually last the shortest amount of time out of all the forms of intellectual property. If investigated further however, it is easily discovered that patent length does in fact hurt our society. A patented product expressly prohibits its usage from others beyond what the owner of that patent allows. Whoever patents something gets the benefit of that technology for a certain amount of time. This set amount of time is extremely detrimental. Companies have a nasty habit of buying up patents and leaving them dormant, just to fire up a lawsuit against anybody that on their patents. Since our current laws allow patents to last 20 years, buying up patents is an easy way for corporations to make some money. They do not care that they are not contributing to technological innovation. It is all about making money. This is why there needs to be solutions put in place to limit this activity. If all of a sudden the amount of profit a company can make buy purchasing patents is reduced, it will in turn reduce their incentive to buy patents just to have them.

Also, as a current consequence of patent laws, technological innovation is significantly stifled. People do not want to try and be innovative if they are scared of the big, bad corporations waiting to slap them with a lawsuit. Who is going to spend days, weeks, months, privately developing a new technology when a company can so easily sue for patent infringement? This is a current trend in the business world ( The cost of fighting a patent battle is extremely high and the cost of a licensing agreement is relatively low. What incentive (or capital) does a small business have to fight a huge company over a patent when there is a bright and shiny licensing door right next to them? In addition to big companies that actually produce products, innovators have to be wary of patent aggregation companies that buy patents merely to file lawsuits sometimes years down the road. There is high value in keeping patents and not allowing other companies to use products through licensing ( There are tons of technological breakthroughs that allow require the use of patented technology. If a patent aggregation company does not license a patent to another company, they can hold all the cards and completely stifle innovation with patent litigation.

Patent laws not only disadvantage individual producers, they also hurt other companies and the overall market of the technology the patent is in. Companies who possess patents for groundbreaking technology for example, can easily stack the deck in their favor and designate the production and sale of the new technology however they see fit. If a company patent allows them to protect too much of an innovation, they can theoretically hold a monopoly on the market. Just take a look at the recent patent battle between Samsung and Apple ( Samsung was required to pay more than $2.5 billion in damages. Now, Samsung is a giant company that can “take” this kind of hit but what does this say for innovation? If Samsung cannot win a huge legal struggle (albeit they did willingly infringe on some of Apple’s patents), there leaves little hope for a young startup company.

Diving into the lawsuit between those two giants, you cans see that some of the infringement Apple claimed was on-screen icons. That sounds ridiculous because it is known people generally choose products based on what they are familiar with ( Herein lays another problem with patents. They are allowed to protect too much. Innovators should be allowed to use certain ideas in creating their own products. However, our patent laws simply do not allow this to happen. This is taking the abuse of patent laws too far. Companies seem to be completely focused on preventing each other from innovating and creating new technologies. They use this tactic to make their own company more popular and sell more of their own items.

Instead, their focus should be on their own internal affairs and allow their creativity and marketing to dictate which company dominates the market. They should not be allowed to pigeonhole consumers into choosing their company by default. While there is little incentive for them to do this now, there are some solutions that could increase their willingness to take this path.

Organizations such as Patent Progress ( and EFF ( offer some solutions to the patent troll problem. One of their main focuses is transparency with solutions like: heightened pleading requirements, showing exactly how a patent is infringed, etc. This is good in the ethereal sense but will require strong judicial backing to make it happen. As long as our laws protect patents to this extent and our judicial system supports prosecution for patent infringement, nothing will change and innovation will remain stifled.


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r4 - 29 Jun 2015 - 20:55:44 - MarkDrake
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