The U.S. patent system has had no shortage of detractors in recent months, with several supposed experts painting a direct correlation between high-tech infringement cases and market stagnation. However, several industry veterans believe the facts support the thesis that intellectual property management fuels innovation rather than restricts it.
In a recent New York Times article entitled "The Patent, Used as a Sword," the columnists tell the story of an independent inventor who seemingly gets his business model derailed by frivolous infringement suits filed by larger competitors. But as IP Watchdog founder Gene Quinn asserted in a responding column, the Times story wrongly implies that the inventor should somehow have been entitled to an unobstructed path to a patent award or pre-litigation settlement.
"What the Times either doesn't understand or is simply ignoring is that this 'arms race' is unequivocally a positive development," Quinn wrote. "This is exactly what the founding fathers wanted to encourage, and it is exactly what the patent laws have been designed to encourage since 1790."
As Quinn suggested, the public good that results from the current system should be readily apparent. By providing commercial incentive to disclose - and gain protection for - inventions as soon as possible, innovative ideas are disseminated into the public domain at a much faster rate.
Nevertheless, even some of those who appear to be profiting the most under current conditions have expressed their desire for change. In a recent conversation with All Things Digital, Google chairman Eric Schmidt tersely stated that "the patent wars are death," citing the recent Apple Maps debacle as a prime example of how industry skirmishes can leave consumers with fewer quality choices.