I've argued before that patents aren't much good for entrepreneurs.
Here's Erick Schonfeld's view on whether they're good for large corporations:
Google is paying $12.5 billion for Motorola largely for its huge mobile patent portfolio. In July, an anti-Google consortium ponied up $4.5 billion Nortel’s patents (and they overpayed). Interdigital, Kodak, and others are looking to sell their patent portfolios. We are in the middle of a patent bubble.
If you think about the cost of these patents, technology companies are spending billions of dollars on assets which they need primarily to defend themselves against the rising tide of patent litigation. Those are billions of dollars that Google, Apple, Microsoft and others won’t invest in new products, new jobs, new facilities or other economically productive activities. And by and large, they will not use these patents to create new products. Google is doing it just to protect Android from rival patent claims.
It's hard to get a lawyer to agree that the patent system is screwed up. After all, patents generate vast amounts of work for lawyers - it must be working great, then!
It's much rarer to find a technologist that supports the patent system.
So, in short, the patent system, as it stands today, is great for lawyers who invent nothing, and terrible for people who actually invent stuff. And, of course, that makes it a bad deal for the public.
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