Patent number 6,004,596 covers a “Sealed Crust-less Sandwich.” With a description so open and vague, has wrought nightmares to one of James Boyle’s students. This invention was so obvious that anyone could be violating it anytime they pack their lunch. The patent system backfires.
NPR’s, This American Life has two segments entitled, “When Patents Attack.” As the title suggests, this is geared towards litigious abuses of the patent system. Empty office buildings in East Texas, directed purchasing of patents without intent of exercising monopoly, and non-practicing entities (colloquially “shell companies”) are topics in these segments. This is all demonstrating that the patent system has backfired.
These back firings are a detriment to an otherwise good system; the system works, but the practice opens the door for abuse. I see this as a problem.
US patent law is enshrined in the Constitution under Article 1, Section 1, Clause 8. Patents offer a very unique combination of protections: protection of the inventor against infringement and protection of the public domain.
Inventors have the advantage; and with that advantage, they can safely go to market without someone else taking and marketing the original inventor’s idea. The inventors are given “an exclusive right for [a] limited [time]”: a monopoly intended to boost economic and scientific growth.
Should there be a trespass on a patent, the holder has the prerogative to sue.
This field of study interests me greatly and I look forward to passing the bar.