21 September 2011

The True Cost of the Patent Trolls: Half a Trillion Dollars

I've written a number of pieces about the inherent flaws of patents, especially in the field of software. Those are mostly to do with how the good intentions of patents are not realised. But alongside those who try to use patents as they were supposedly intended are another group who are essentially parasites - those who seek to game the system, and extract money from its weaknesses: the patent trolls.

Aside from the patent trolls themselves, few have a good word for them, since it's pretty obvious to everyone that they suck money out of companies that make stuff, and thus act as a brake on real innovation. But those feelings have been largely unquantified. Now, thanks to recent work of the authors of the seminal book “Patent Failure”, James Bessen and Michael Meurer, along with a third author, Jennifer Laurissa Ford, we have perhaps the first rigorous estimate of the damage they cause. It's even worse than we thought:
On Open Enterprise blog.

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