Saturday, December 10, 2005

Marketplace of Ideas: Take Two

After reviewing my thinking on patent law, (and some harsh comments from Noumenon), I propose instead that we create a market for patents similar to eBay. All U.S. patents would be placed on a searchable site. The site would allow those who needed to use an invention the ability to bid for the purchase, or licensing, of an invention. The site would also have all expired patents posted, so it could serve as a research tool for inventors as well.

Since we still need a way to use inventions in new inventions, given the pace of technology, we would need a change that an invention that incorporates a still patented invention, but is still different enough to warrant a separate patent, would be automatically referred to an administrative law judge. The ALJ (or even judges sitting en banc) would then decide to what extent the previous patent contributed to the new patent. The ALJ would then award a proportion of the sale, license, or profit derived from the new patent to the owner(s) of the prior patent(s).

Of course, this would, as everything seems to do, require an expansion of the bureaucracy. I read recently that the U.S. patent office has an extremely large backlog of patent applications. For this to work, it would need to be updated extremely rapidly. I'm not sure a bureaucracy could handle this. I haven't gotten past this point.

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