Are patents obsolete for digital products?
The patent system is so slow—in some cases being overtaken by the life span of a digital product—that some tech companies simply ignore it, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said this week at an open source software event sponsored by The Hill.
“It can take, maybe, four years to get a patent,” said Polis, who chairs the Congressional Open Source Caucus with Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. “[The] lifecycle of a digital product might be more in months. So, by the time intellectual property protection even enters the picture, the economic lifecycle of the product is over.”
As a result, some tech companies “just ignore [the patent system] altogether, don’t bother with it, don’t believe in patents and don’t file them,” he said.
Other tech firms assemble defensive patent arsenals “that are kind of mutually assured destruction should any other companies, sort of, seek a battle royale throwdown match with them on patents,” he said.
Polis wants Congress reform patents to better suit the digital age. He currently is sponsoring a bill that would impose greater transparency on companies that send licensing demand letters, which typically threaten lawsuits unless their recipients halt some type of purportedly unlawful conduct.
The caucus co-chaired by Polis is a bipartisan group of lawmakers focusing on how open source technology, which mostly refers to software code that’s free for public use, is used in the private sector and to make government more efficient and transparent.
As for patents, they’re fine for the products they were originally intended for, he argued.
“Our system of patents and so forth still works fine for mechanical innovation, and mechanical innovation will always be there,” said Polis. “People will always be trying to build a better mousetrap and that’s wonderful and by and large we should leave that alone.”
But the modern world—with its digital, biotechnology and other innovative, rapidly evolving, cutting-edge industries—needs a system of IP protection that can keep up.
“These sort of frontiers that, when patent law was last majorly updated a century ago, were not even on the horizon,” Polis said.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)