Judge Posner Thinks Patents Largely UnnecessaryConservative heavyweight Judge Richard Posner, an appointee of GOP superhero Ronald Reagan, has confessed that he no longer thinks that patents are needed in most industries.
Judge Richard Posner
Specifically, he said "It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries," when discussing his controversial ruling on the Motorola V Apple case he cancelled earlier this year. Talking about how every component of a smartphone gets patented, he said "You just have this proliferation of patents. It's a problem."
His issue is that software advances are generally cheaper than, as he mentioned, pharmaceutical drug development. So the creation of new patents is almost free. Which leads to companies using their portfolio of patents not to protect their innovations but to injure their competition, something that patents were definitely not designed for. Explained Posner to the Chicago Tribune:
"It's a constant struggle for survival. As in any jungle, the animals will use all the means at their disposal, all their teeth and claws that are permitted by the ecosystem."Judge Posner actually volunteered to oversee the case between Motorola and Apple. In fact, he was excited to try the case. Posner is interested in patents and their place in the modern business world, and wanted some hands-on experience with how they are used. What he witnessed was not what he had hoped for. Motorola had started a preemptive case against Apple under the assumption that Apple would bring suit against them.
Apple, using this as an excuse, did. The entire thing was a mess that no one outside of those two companies wanted. Posner found that neither side had a good claim to a case, and cancelled both suits. Then he placed an injunction against Apple from pursuing the same case again with a different judge.
The Chicago Tribune has a great piece on the Judge that covers the many facets of this case beautifully, so go ahead and click through to the source link.