About a week ago, I was lucky to moderate the digital equivalent of a “fireside chat” with Richard Epstein about the patent system. The topic was “Patent Rights: A Spark or Hindrance for the Economy?,” and Richard offered his usual brilliant analysis of the systemic viritues of securing patents as property rights. you can listen to the podcast here.
The podcast is also available via iTunes, for readers of this blog who are members of the “cult of Apple.”
Here’s the description of the podcast:
Innovation and entrepreneurship are integral to America’s economic strength, and the U.S. patent system has been critical to nurturing the innovation economy. With its foundation in Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution, the U.S. patent system has been the strongest in the world. In recent years, some critics, including Judge Richard Posner, have argued that the patent system has led to excessive patenting, too much litigation, and unwarranted costs for consumers. Patent defenders have responded that with every spike in innovation comes a corresponding increase in the number of patent suits, and efforts to weaken patent rights will inevitably lead to less innovation. With the passage of the America Invents Act — the broadest overhaul of the patent system in 50 years America — many people believed that the dispute over patent rights would recede. However, with a string of high profile patent infringement suits in the smartphone industry – and a new effort to roll back patent rights at the International Trade Commission certain patents held by so-called “non-practicing entities” (NPEs) – the debate over intellectual property has grown more intense. Would reduced patent rights diminish U.S. competitiveness and depress innovation? In a diversified economy, should NPEs have fewer patent rights than those that manufacture their inventions? Will innovation continue apace even if patent protections are scaled back?