05.14.17

Gemini version available ♊︎

Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette Questions Whether Patents Work When Patent Scope is Too Broad

Posted in America, Patents at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent systems don’t exist in a vacuum…

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette

Summary: Citing MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams, Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette from Stanford challenges old myths and quotes: “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”

TODAY we intend to publish a lot of articles about the USPTO and some of these will be relatively long. As usual, we are going to focus on software patents. After that, for at least a fortnight, I’ll be away on holiday and won’t be able to cover much.

“In the case of software, for instance, pace of innovation is high, code can count as prior art, code can be modified, forked, reused etc. and there are many programming languages with copyright assigned to underlying implementations.”Last week an article titled “Do Patents Work?” was published by Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford. Our position is that patents work, but not when everything under the sun is patentable. One must not lose sight of the collaterals/externalities; Always check economic impact in said domains. In the case of software, for instance, pace of innovation is high, code can count as prior art, code can be modified, forked, reused etc. and there are many programming languages with copyright assigned to underlying implementations. There is thus not much evidence that patents on software “work” or are even needed in the first place.

Here is what this Yale Law School graduate wrote in her analysis, which focuses on pharmaceutical and chemical industries:

As everyone who has taken a patent law course knows, the reason we have patents is to increase private incentives for knowledge production. But do patents actually work? Based on her review of the existing evidence, MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams isn’t sure; she concludes that “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”

This bottom line will not be a surprise to those who have followed the empirical literature, but Williams’s careful identification and modeling of the relevant empirical parameters and her discussion of the most relevant evidence on each point makes her review a must-read for anyone interested in patent policy.

[...]

On the second question, the ex ante incentive effect of stronger patent rights, there is again survey evidence, though it is useful primarily for indicating that the pharmaceutical and chemical industries value patent protection much more than other industries. To empirically estimate the relationship between patent strength and research investments, some researchers have looked at the impact of national patent law changes and found little effect. But one would expect such studies to understate patents’ impact: increasing protection in a small economy will not noticeably increase innovation in that economy if domestic firms were already innovating for the global market.

[...]

In the biomedical context, evidence from survey results and some clever instrumental variables studies of patent applications on human genes and patents invalidated in court have suggested that upstream patents have little effective (positive or negative) on the quantity of downstream innovation. But invalidation of patents in fields such as computing and electronics appears to increase the number of innovators subsequently citing that patent.

[...]

The bottom line is that despite the vast number of empirical patent studies—Williams notes the 3000 citations to a foundational patent-citation paper—very few studies have convincingly tackled the causal link between patent policy and research investments.

That point about “research investments” is often being exploited by pharmaceutical giants that ‘invest’ (funnel) massive profits not in research but instead give that money to shareholders. They just tell the public (and public officials) that those massive profits somehow “save lives”, by latching onto the “R&D” mythology.

“They just tell the public (and public officials) that those massive profits somehow “save lives”, by latching onto the “R&D” mythology.”What we are seeing in the news this month is the ITC weaponising patents for embargo, e.g. of drugs that are about to save lives. See this news report which says “practitioners suggest that pharmaceutical companies are beginning to look to the International Trade Commission (ITC) as an appealing alternate venue for patent litigation.”

People and firms go to the ITC when they want embargo (or injunction).

“Firms that stand to profit from the UPC are not credible when commenting on the prospects of the UPC.”Injunctions, incidentally, are what makes the UPC very dangerous to Europe. The UPC is largely backed by pharmaceutical giants; this has long been known.

Barker Brettell LLP, already mentioned here in relation to the UPC earlier this year and last year, wrote another article about the UPC (actually promotional piece in its corporate Web site) and it is noted as saying: “Irrespective of Brexit, the unitary patent (UP) agreement may come into force by early next year” (not a statement that the general public agrees with). Firms that stand to profit from the UPC are not credible when commenting on the prospects of the UPC. They just try to attract business. We certainly hope that more people now understand that patent maximalism is quite a disease; believing that the more patents we grant the better off we will be is misguided, especially when more radical measures such as embargoes are introduced. Later today we are going to show examples of software patents utilised for software embargoes (impacting small companies in Europe).

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 4/12/2021: Turnip Becomes Vulkan 1.1 Conformant

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, December 03, 2021



  3. Links 4/12/2021: EndeavourOS Atlantis, Krita 5.0.0 Beta 5, Istio 1.11.5, and Wine 6.23; International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on December 10th

    Links for the day



  4. Another Gemini Milestone: 1,500 Active Capsules

    This page from Balázs Botond plots a graph, based on these statistics that now (as of minutes ago) say: “We successfully connected recently to 1500 of them.” Less than a fortnight ago more than 1,800 capsules overall were registered by Lupa, almost quadrupling in a single year



  5. [Meme] António Campinos and Socialist Posturing

    Staff of the EPO isn’t as gullible as António Campinos needs it to be



  6. António Campinos as EPO President is Considered Worse Than Benoît Battistelli (in Some Regards) After 3.5 Years in Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The EPO's demise at the hands of people who don't understand patents and don't care what the EPO exists for is a real crisis which European media is unwilling to even speak about; today we share some internal publications and comment on them



  7. Media Coverage for Sale

    Today we're highlighting a couple of new examples (there are many other examples which can be found any day of the year) demonstrating that the World Wide Web is like a corporate spamfarm in "news" clothing



  8. Links 3/12/2021: GNU Poke 1.4 and KDDockWidgets 1.5.0

    Links for the day



  9. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 02, 2021



  10. Links 3/12/2021: Nitrux 1.7.1 and Xen 4.16 Released

    Links for the day



  11. Links 2/12/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.4 Alpha, Qt Creator 6

    Links for the day



  12. The EPO's “Gender Awareness Report”

    There’s a new document with remarks by the EPO’s staff representatives and it concerns opportunities for women at the EPO — a longstanding issue



  13. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 01, 2021



  14. EPO Staff Committee Compares the Tactics of António Campinos to Benoît Battistelli's

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO talks about EPO President António Campinos, arguing that “he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli…”



  15. Prof. Thomas Jaeger in GRUR: Unified Patent Court (UPC) “Incompatible With EU Law“

    The truth remains unquestionable and the law remains unchanged; Team UPC is living in another universe, unable to accept that what it is scheming will inevitably face high-level legal challenges (shall that become necessary) and it will lose because the facts are all still the same



  16. Links 1/12/2021: LibrePlanet CFS Extended to December 15th and DB Comparer for PostgreSQL Reaches 5.0

    Links for the day



  17. EPO Cannot and Will Not Self-Regulate

    The term financialisation helps describe some of the activities of the EPO in recent years; see Wikipedia on financialisation below



  18. [Meme] Germany's Licence to Break the Law

    Remember that the young Campinos asked dad for his immunity after he had gotten drunk and crashed the car; maybe the EPO should stop giving diplomatic immunity to people, seeing what criminals (e.g. Benoît Battistelli) this attracts; the German government is destroying its image (and the EU’s) by fostering such corruption, wrongly believing that it’s worth it because of Eurozone domination for patents/litigation



  19. EPO Dislikes Science and Scientists

    The EPO's management has become like a corrupt political party with blind faith in money and monopolies (or monopoly money); it has lost sight of its original goals and at this moment it serves to exacerbate an awful pandemic, as the video above explains



  20. Links 1/12/2021: LibreOffice 7.3 Beta, Krita 5.0, Julia 1.7

    Links for the day



  21. Links 1/12/2021: NixOS 21.11 Released

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 30, 2021



  23. Links 1/12/2021: Tux Paint 0.9.27 and WordPress 5.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] EPO Administrative Council Believing EPO-Bribed 'Media' (IAM Still Shilling and Lying for Cash)

    IAM continues to do what brings money from EPO management and Team UPC, never mind if it is being disputed by the patent examiners themselves



  25. The EPO's Mythical “Gap” Has Been Found and It's Bonuses for People Who Use Pure Fiction to Steal From Patent Examiners

    The phony president who has the audacity to claim there's a budget gap is issuing millions of euros for his enablers to enjoy; weeks ahead of the next meeting of national delegates the Central Staff Committee (CSC) tells them: "Events show that the delegations’ concerns about functional allowances have materialised. The lack of transparency and inflation of the budget envelope gives rise to the suspicion that high management is pursuing a policy of self-service at the expense of EPO staff, which is difficult to reconcile with the Office’s claimed cost-saving policy, and to the detriment of the whole Organisation."



  26. Video: Making the Internet a Better Place for People, Not Megacorporations

    Following that earlier list of suggested improvements for a freedom-respecting Internet, here's a video and outline



  27. Links 30/11/2021: KDE Plasma 5.23.4, 4MLinux 38.0, Long GitHub Downtime, and Microsoft's CEO Selling Away Shares

    Links for the day



  28. A Concise Manifesto For Freedom-Respecting Internet

    An informal list of considerations to make when reshaping the Internet to better serve people, not a few corporations that are mostly military contractors subsidised by the American taxpayers



  29. Freenode.net Becomes a 'Reddit Clone' and Freenode IRC is Back to Old Configurations After Flushing Down Decades' Worth of User/Channel Data and Locking/Shutting Out Longtime Users

    Freenode is having another go; after “chits” and “jobs” (among many other ideas) have clearly failed, and following the change of daemon (resulting in massive loss of data and even security issues associated with impersonation) as well as pointless rebrand as “Joseon”, the domain Freenode.net becomes something completely different and the IRC network reopens to all



  30. Jack Dorsey's Decision is a Wake-up Call: Social Control Media is Just a Toxic Bubble

    The state of the World Wide Web (reliability, preservation, accessibility, compatibility etc.) was worsened a lot more than a decade ago; with social control media that’s nowadays just a pile of JavaScript programs we’re basically seeing the Web gradually turning into another Adobe Flash (but this time they tell us it’s a “standard”), exacerbating an already-oversized ‘bubble economy’ where companies operate at a loss while claiming to be worth hundreds of billions (USD) and generally serve imperialistic objectives by means of manipulation like surveillance, selective curation, and censorship


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts