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U.S. Judge Calls Patents a "Problem"

By - Source: Firstpost | B 54 comments

Richard Posner, who recently voiced his concerns about patents and chastised Apple and Motorola in a patent case, considers patents for most industries potentially unnecessary and, in the way they are currently leveraged, a "problem."

Posner is a unique personality in the U.S. Justice system today. As a member of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, he has been the most vocal judge against an apparent abuse of the legal system by companies to gain an advantage over their rivals. Posner described the process to Reuters as a "constant struggle for survival" and as a "jungle" environment in which "animals will use all the means at their disposal, all their teeth and claws that are permitted by the ecosystem."

However, he noted that while some industries (such as pharmaceuticals) can protect their staggering investments in product development with patents, software companies and gadget makers have much lower investment volumes. He said that the technology industry's "high profits and volatility made patent litigation attractive for companies looking to wound competitors," Firstpost wrote.

“It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries," Posner told Reuters. "You just have this proliferation of patents. It's a problem." Patent infringement claims have become a competitive tool, as opposed to a tool to protect actual innovation. Referring to Apple's claims, he said that patent litigation is "a small expense for them." On the note of him throwing out the case between Motorola and Apple, Posner said that he "didn't think [he] could have a trial just for fun.”

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Top Comments
  • 37 Hide
    memadmax , July 8, 2012 4:05 PM
    About damn time someone starts speaking up about this...
  • 33 Hide
    tntom , July 8, 2012 4:16 PM
    Finally! I don't want to takes sides nor am I qualified to, but I have grown wearisome of all the conflict. Most of the lawyers I know are upset that something as dignified as the courtroom has been turned into a childish playground by lawyers who are greedy and lack ethic. It is nice to hear some public discussion on this from someone who really knows what he is talking about. But his remarks make it sound too complicated for either a simple or complex solution as who would know where to set the boundaries.
  • 31 Hide
    -Jackson , July 8, 2012 4:29 PM
    Finally, someone who isn't a zombified moron.
    +1
Other Comments
    Display all 54 comments.
  • 37 Hide
    memadmax , July 8, 2012 4:05 PM
    About damn time someone starts speaking up about this...
  • 33 Hide
    tntom , July 8, 2012 4:16 PM
    Finally! I don't want to takes sides nor am I qualified to, but I have grown wearisome of all the conflict. Most of the lawyers I know are upset that something as dignified as the courtroom has been turned into a childish playground by lawyers who are greedy and lack ethic. It is nice to hear some public discussion on this from someone who really knows what he is talking about. But his remarks make it sound too complicated for either a simple or complex solution as who would know where to set the boundaries.
  • 21 Hide
    friskiest , July 8, 2012 4:20 PM
    Patent trolling,. Until there's enough political will to demolish or at least revise the patent system,. it'll be hard NOT to find trolls trolling others.

  • 31 Hide
    -Jackson , July 8, 2012 4:29 PM
    Finally, someone who isn't a zombified moron.
    +1
  • 10 Hide
    NightLight , July 8, 2012 4:39 PM
    give that man a sigar!
  • 7 Hide
    Kami3k , July 8, 2012 4:48 PM
    *Sets up shrine to Richard Posner*
  • 5 Hide
    Pinhedd , July 8, 2012 4:59 PM
    There are no problems with patents, there are problems with how easily some patents are given out. Patents may put Google and Apple at each other's throat but at the same time they also keep less remarkable companies from simply reverse engineering someone else's work and bypassing the R&D costs completely.
  • 5 Hide
    K2N hater , July 8, 2012 5:19 PM
    Patenting pharmaceuticals should be forbidden in 1st place. It's not about hindering technology in its advance but depriving billions from the latest and most effective treatments. Several treatments cost more than it takes to build a house... a month.

    Yes, patents are a cancer indeed.
  • 12 Hide
    wopr11 , July 8, 2012 5:27 PM
    About time judges start speaking about the abusive and criminal patent abuse of companies like apple.
    I wonder if we will ever get to see when all those criminals get put into jail.
  • 7 Hide
    DjEaZy , July 8, 2012 5:38 PM
    ... give the Nobel Peace Price to him...
  • 14 Hide
    Unolocogringo , July 8, 2012 5:45 PM
    Finally A judge with real brains.
    He should reside on all patent infringement trials.
  • 16 Hide
    nesk , July 8, 2012 5:45 PM
    @K2N Hater the problem with banning patents pharmaceuticals is that not a single private company will invest on it as it will not generate enough returns over their invesments, then we don't have any research done and no new medicines made .So who is going to invest then? the goverment? I guess we need a new model, maybe licensing the meds so every pharmaceutical can make them at a cost or some subsides from gov but then where are you going to take money? Change it's pretty hard i guess.
  • -3 Hide
    Marcus52 , July 8, 2012 5:53 PM
    K2N haterPatenting pharmaceuticals should be forbidden in 1st place. It's not about hindering technology in its advance but depriving billions from the latest and most effective treatments. Several treatments cost more than it takes to build a house... a month.Yes, patents are a cancer indeed.


    When you or someone you love gets cancer, be sure to ask them to treat with drugs that did not cost millions of dollars to find or create, and make. Tell them you only want those cheap drugs.
  • -1 Hide
    blazorthon , July 8, 2012 6:08 PM
    Marcus52When you or someone you love gets cancer, be sure to ask them to treat with drugs that did not cost millions of dollars to find or create, and make. Tell them you only want those cheap drugs.


    K2N hater didn't say anything about the R&D costs, only the costs to buy the medicine when you need it.
  • 10 Hide
    blazorthon , July 8, 2012 6:13 PM
    Quote:
    @K2N Hater the problem with banning patents pharmaceuticals is that not a single private company will invest on it as it will not generate enough returns over their invesments, then we don't have any research done and no new medicines made .So who is going to invest then? the goverment? I guess we need a new model, maybe licensing the meds so every pharmaceutical can make them at a cost or some subsides from gov but then where are you going to take money? Change it's pretty hard i guess.


    Once the drugs are ready for general consumption, the medical company could be required to have fair prices through some sort of regulation. They could license it out as you stated or do one or more of many other things. There are changes that could be implemented. Granted, as you said, change is hard. Greed rules in the business sector and this industry is particularly ingrained in that because it can be, although I'm not downplaying the depth in which greed infested other industries.
  • 16 Hide
    drednoxx , July 8, 2012 6:22 PM
    Pharma patents are nothing like the tech patents. There are many differences which most of you here are unaware of. While there are plenty of greed based abuses by the pharma companies, you have to keep in mind that they are afterall businesses and do need to make money. My wife did a study on the pharma R&D not long ago from multitude of companies and multitude of drugs.

    Some drugs and treatments take as much as 20 BILLION USD to complete (although thats the highest end) and entire lifetimes of highly educated professionals who dedicated themselves entirely to the development process.

    They also take 10-20 years, and it some rare cases much much more, entire generations.

    Can you compare that to the software and tech industry ? What would happen to android and crapple if their stuff took 20 years and 20B$ per feature to develop ?

    Also, on many drugs the patents can only be enforced within the 1st 5 or 10 years (dont rememebr exactly), this is to help these companies recoup the initial investment. Often times it takes about a decade before they see 1st positive ROI, not so in the software industry.

    Hence pharma and tech patents are not a very good comparison.

    I do applaud judge Posner, may there be many more like him, patenting needs to be sorted out and applied where its needed and functional not just because an entity files for it.

  • 7 Hide
    drednoxx , July 8, 2012 6:26 PM
    Forgot to mention, one of the solutions would be to impose expirations on the tech pattents much like the one in the pharma industry. Once a drug goes retail it is exclusive for a number of years, after which the patent expires and you see generic and other versions of it on the market.

    This would solve a lot of problems in tech world, dont want to litigate or deal with lawsuits ? Wait then out.
  • 4 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , July 8, 2012 6:28 PM
    It's been a problem since it started. Obviously it's gotten ridiculously out of control.
  • 4 Hide
    blazorthon , July 8, 2012 6:29 PM
    drednoxxForgot to mention, one of the solutions would be to impose expirations on the tech pattents much like the one in the pharma industry. Once a drug goes retail it is exclusive for a number of years, after which the patent expires and you see generic and other versions of it on the market.This would solve a lot of problems in tech world, dont want to litigate or deal with lawsuits ? Wait then out.


    I'm pretty sure that tech patents do expire. It might be something like 10 or 20 years, but they expire eventually. The problem that I'd see with them is that many of them wouldn't expire until they're almost useless for anything other than patent trolling.
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