Take One Line in the Constitution and Add Lawyers To Make A Mess

December 14, 2012

I'm so sick of patent lawsuits, I sue you, you sue me, both of us sue that feller behind the tree. It's getting totally ridiculous.

The US Constitution has only a simple statement in it about patents and copyright: "The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;".

If that was all there was to the idea of a patent, that it belonged solely to the author or inventor, then none of the insanity of today would exist. But lawyers figured out early that if patents could be bought and sold, untold riches could be theirs. Congress, filled with their ilk, obliged making law after law that created the mess we live in today. Can anything stop the madness?

Probably not, given the enormous money at stake, both from large companies that wield large patent portfolios for defense and offense and small ones that try to amass patents that might prove valuable to extort companies with.

Originally the idea of a patent was to encourage invention and discovery by giving a short term exclusive benefit as a reward. I highly doubt if the original idea was to create the incredible mess we have today.

Virtually every moderate-sized or greater company in the U.S. is probably involved in one or more patent related lawsuits. My own employer has a whole team of lawyers whose only job is to deal with these. We even have some terrible software system that we have to interact with that supports all the details. We're not that big of a company (but a well known brand) but we still get targeted all the time. It's a total waste of time and money.

I think this will only get worse as technology allows for more and more opportunities to file suits in addition to making it easier to manage information and even search for targets. Ironic that the invention of technology makes it easier to stifle future invention of technology.

Despite the self-serving statements from the patent trolls, attorneys and even the Patent office itself, I still believe we would be better served by eliminating the patent system entirely before our entire economy is mired in patent hell. It's not like the level of absurdity is going to decrease.

In the old days the mafia would extort money from local businesses by requiring payment to ensure no fires might accidentally start. Today the patent legal mafia has found a much better system.

I am sure that if the original authors of that line in the U.S. Constitution could come back to life they'd probably file a lawsuit to stop the insanity it created. That's one I'd probably support wholeheartedly.