- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 23, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 069113491X
- ISBN-13: 978-0691134918
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,747,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk
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Honorable Mention for the 2008 PROSE Award in Law and Legal Studies, Association of American Publishers
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009
"James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer explode...illusions in their hard-hitting analysis of how patents perform economically. [T]his is an important book, for policymakers, lawyers, scholars and also for universities."--Fiona Reid, Times Higher Education
"The U.S. patent system is not working. It stands accused on all sides of stifling innovation instead of nurturing it. [E]conomist James Bessen and law academic Michael Meurer show that the system no longer provides predictable property rights. They go on to offer solutions based on empirical evidence from history, law and economics."--Harold Wegner, Financial Times
"Bessen and Meurer provide the first comprehensive review of the patent system in more than a generation, bringing together a survey of the available empirical data and a clear statement of the usefulness of and limits to the patents as property model."--Choice
"[R]eaders of Patent Failure may not be sanguine about the likelihood that Congress or other policy-makers even care about, much less rely on, empirical data to inform their decision-making. But this book successfully demonstrates that they should. Ultimately, Patent Failure is a significant contribution to the growing literature on the problems and promise of the US patent system. . . . Patent Failure rewards careful reading and is a book that cannot credibly be ignored by anyone seriously concerned about the fate of the US patent system."--William T. Gallagher, Law and Politics Book Review
"[W]ell-written and well-documented book. . . . [T]heir finding regarding the profitability of patents for patenting firms is the piece de résistance."--Julio H. Cole, Independent Review
"In Patent Failure, Bessen and Meurer examine the U.S. patent system's current procedural and operational shortcomings. Considering the book's titular promise to reveal the dangers posed by judges, bureaucrats, and lawyers, readers might expect an angry broadside leveled at the entire legal profession. On the contrary, Patent Failure is measured and methodical, a provocative, evidence-based book for the lawyer and entrepreneur alike. The authors are nothing if not reasonable men."--Strategy + Business
"[Patent Failure is] one of the most comprehensive empirical analyses of the patent system that has been performed in decades. Rather than piling up anecdotes of beleaguered innovators and rapacious patent trolls, Bessen and Meurer have done the hard work of collecting detailed data about the patent system. And the findings documented in Patent Failure are sobering."--Timothy B. Lee, ARS Technica
"In keeping with its title, Patent Failure provides a critical assessment of the nation's patent system. The book inevitably leads the reader to ponder the value of patents as property and as gauges of economic growth."--Livinia N. Jones, Centre Daily Times
"All in all, this book's advantage over other titles in the field is that it goes beyond models and theories providing a bright and well documented picture of the real world of the US patent system."--Andrea Filippetti, Research Policy
From the Inside Flap
"This is a pioneering and heroic effort to quantify the ways in which our patent system has failed to live up to its raison d'être: promoting innovation. The book will be controversial. But the authors make a forceful case that deserves to be heard."--Eric Maskin, Albert O. Hirschman Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and Nobel Laureate in Economics
"Bessen and Meurer provide a strong, balanced empirical analysis of the real-world effects the U.S. patent system has on our twenty-first century economy. Their book is essential reading for anyone interested in promoting a patent system that truly drives innovation for the U.S. economy."--Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco Systems
"Bessen and Meurer's book is grounded in both economics and the real world. It hits the right notes for scholars, lawyers, and policymakers. Timely and important, Patent Failure is the best of the books on patent reform."--Mark Lemley, Stanford University
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Although the authors deal with patents broadly, the book has great relevance to digital technology policy because of their discussion of business method patents and software patents. They argue that software technology is especially prone to problems of "abstraction" and obviousness. As a result, software patenting has been a major contributor to the litigation explosion we have seen in recent years.
Although I agree with their case against software patents, I remain unconvinced that the patent system is failing as badly as Bessen and Meurer claim. Nonetheless, they present a powerful case that deserves to be taken seriously. Patent Failure will have an enormous impact on these debates going forward.
I'm not a patent attorney, I'm an entrepreneur always trying to improve our Internet service. What confounds me, our engineers, and our law firm is the vague language of many software patents that we can't understand.
I loved the discussion of obviousness, boundaries, continuations, and abstract claims.
The two downers for me were:
1. The academic language. It makes you squint as if you're reading a patent application, ironic for a book suggesting claims be clear and unambiguous. Sample paragraph:
"Some readers might immediately find our objective to be somewhat oddly stated or, perhaps, overreaching. The key limiting qualifier here--the limitation that makes the empirical exercise feasible--is 'as property.' At the risk of getting a big pedantic, this phrase requires more careful discussion."
2. They dismiss patent trolls in a sentence or two as not a significant percentage of litigation. Um. Anyone noticing the exponential rise of defendants in patent troll cases over the last few years? Their data on trolls seemed olde.
One thing that annoyed me to no end is the harping on the E-Data case. Yes, we get it, the authors don't like software patents, but they should have come up with different examples. Actually, the case is not as bad as the authors make it seem. The definitions used by the court were not pulled from thin air but expert testimony and the specification of the patent. The authors over-rely on this case as a mistake, but it wasn't that baseless.
Another shortcoming is that they authors don't even mention (as far as I can remember) the MOST IMPORTANT patent case for the next few decades - the KSR decision. That came down in April of 2007 and it should have been discussed in this book from March 2008. This is especially so since obviousness standards are incorrect according to the authors. I guess the opinion undermined some of the authors objections so they just ignored it.
Overall the book is not a bad read, but the last few chapters where solutions are discussed are bare on the details. Asking the PTO to issue clearance opinions may be a good idea, but the details of this scheme are extremely important. Most likely if they thought it through, they would realize that if something is hard and expensive for a private attorney to do, it is impossible for the government to do. Also, if the specialized court of appeals is so bad, why are they asking for specialized district courts. The book would have been more worthwhile if there was more analysis of their suggestions, but still the work is worthwhile.