Me in Bloomberg, on Patents
I have a new post out for Bloomberg View, on the economics of patent law and the need for reform. "Patent Law Needs Update in Age of Apple" looks at the recent Apple v. Samsung decision and brings it back to the fundamentals. Here's an excerpt, just to get you started:
Imitation is the most illegal form of flattery, or so nine jurors of U.S. District Court told Samsung Electronics Co. with a billion-dollar intellectual property ruling in Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s favor.I would say that it's patently obvious you should read this...but that would be corny. So just go and read it.
Whether Samsung actually copied seven features of the Apple iPhone is hardly in doubt: Its devices replicate the iPhone from the exterior casing down to the color of application icons on the home screen. What is in doubt is whether such copying is something courts should prevent. What is in jeopardy is the complex relationship between imitation and innovation, the trade-off between a bountiful stock of public knowledge and the incentives that encourage a flow of discovery. What is -- or ought to be -- in question is the proper role of patent law in the 21st century.
Under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, patents exist in the U.S. "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." They do not exist to make ideas property but rather to balance the benefits that flow to the innovator on one hand and to the public on the other, and to old discoveries and to the ones that follow.