Tim Lee on patent reform — Timothy B. Lee, adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, a contributor to Ars Technica, and blogger at Forbes.com, discusses the recent patent wars and the prospects for reform. Over the last two decades, large software companies like Microsoft and Apple began acquiring a significant number of patents, gaining the power to shut down or demand payment from any software company that might inadvertently infringe those patents. Lee talks about Google’s entry into the patent game, particularly with the acquisition of Motorola. He also discusses the theory behind these patent wars and how the use of patents have been altered from incentives for innovation to a litigation shield. Finally, Lee talks about different proposals for patent reform, including a first to file scheme that is part of the America Invents Act.
How Gene Patents Work — Should a company be able to own the rights to something found inside your own body? In this episode, Chuck and Josh delve into the complicated, controversial world of gene patents. Tune in to learn more about the history — and future — of gene patents.
A new cold war is raging in America. Patents are the weapons and "trolls" are the soldiers as tech and software companies battle for market supremacy. That’s according to an investigation by NPR Planet Money cohorts Laura Sydell and Alex Blumberg. They join Doug on Monday to talk about the billionaire-backed company that’s one of the most intimidating patent trolls out there, the battleground town of 24,000 people in East Texas and how patents became the tech industry equivalent of a broadsword.
Two big patent cases this summer in the smartphone industry:
A jury finds that Samsung violated Apple’s patents, and orders Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion.
A judge throws out a case between Apple and Motorola (now owned by Google). The judge goes on to write an article in the Atlantic arguing that there are too many patents in America, and lots of industries could probably get along fine with no patents at all.
These radically different rulings were just the latest reminder that the world of software patents is a mess. Big companies that should be focused on inventing the next great thing are instead spending billions of dollars buying up patents and suing each other. Small companies have to worry that someone with some random patent is going to sue them and shut them down.
On today’s show, we talk with Mark Lemley, who has some ideas for fixing the patent mess. Lemley is a professor at Stanford law school and an expert on software patents. Lemley also works for clients in the private sector, including Google.
For More: See When Patents Attack, our big patent story from last year, and The Case Against Patents, a paper by the St. Louis Fed.