Christina Mulligan on patent scalability

April 3, 2012 · 2 comments

Christina Mulligan, Visiting Fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, discusses Her new paper, co-authored with Tim Lee, entitled, Scaling the Patent System. Mulligan begins by describing the policy behind patents: to give temporary exclusive rights to inventors so they can benefit monetarily for their inventions. She then explains the thesis of the paper, which argues that the patent system is failing because it is too large to scale. Mulligan claims that some industries are ignoring patents when they develop new products because it is nearly impossible to discover whether a new product will infringe on an existing patent. She then highlights industries where patents are effective, like the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. According to Mulligan, these industries rarely infringe on patents because existing patents are “indexable,” meaning they are easy to look up. The discussion concludes with Mulligan offering solutions for the current problem, which includes restricting the subject matter of patents to indexable matters.



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  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand your claim that you cannot create an index for software?   Software systems are abstractly based on design patterns.  Design patterns can be categorized and they are easily discernible as long as everyone is speaking the same software design language. 

     I think the real problem with software patents is that patent attorneys are allowed to write patents in as an obtuse use language as they can possibly use so no one can understand what the patent is about.  ( in some cases, not even the original inventor )

    I think a very important part of patent reform will be sanction the patent attorneys who write obtuse patents in order to hide the invention.   This is clearly counter to the intent of patents.