Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nathan Myhrvold claims patent 'problem' is myth -- "and patent trolls don't exist either"

Former Microsoft wunderkind, amateur paleontologist and accused "patent troll" Nathan Myhrvold opines that the US patent system is functioning quite well.

"Patent litigation represents only three per cent of federal lawsuits and there has been a steady decline in the number of lawsuits filed per patent, Myhrvold said at Progress & Freedom Foundation national conference on Tuesday. "Almost everything you have heard about patent litigation statistics is not true," he said. "Patents are the least litigious part of intellectual property law."

Although, clearly, Myhrvold has a distinct financial interest in strengthening the patent laws, as his latest endeavor, Intellectual Ventures, is in the business of enforcing other people's patents, this self-interest should not, in my view, devalue the central thrust of his remarks -- patents are no good to anyone unless they are enforced and there is nothing inherently wrong with a third party who intends to enforce those patents purchasing that intellectual property from an inventor who either cannot or will not spend the time and money for enforcement.

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