Richard Posner: “It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries"

Knowing that Dick Posner doesn't believe in patents for most industries goes a long way to explaining his behavior in the case that he heard between Apple and Motorola.  Reuters did an interview with Posner:
Posner said some industries, like pharmaceuticals, had a better claim to intellectual property protection because of the enormous investment it takes to create a successful drug. . . .
Well, it is hard to see how one differentiates the theory of patents based on the size of the investment.  Whether it is five small investments or one large one the issue of encouraging investment and letting recoup their investments seems the same.  In any case, how much did Apple spend developing the iPhone?  It is hard to believe that your average drug involved a larger investment than the iPhone.  

Apple apparently began developing the ideas behind the iPhone when they original started working on the iPad.  It was: "A revolutionary UI, the result of years of development -- the result of years of development."   The interface development started in the "early 2000s."

If Posner doesn't want to let Apple patent the different component features, can he let them patent the phone itself?  Obviously not.  You have to patent the features.  The question Posner has to ask is whether we want more of these interface developments to occur. 



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The central problem here is that it isn't Posner's job to decide whether or not economic realities justify patent protection for Apple or any other firm. The courts' function is to interpret and apply the patent laws as written by Congress. It's Congress' job to decide whether there should patent protection should be limited based on investment, revenues or any other factor and write patent laws that reflect those decisions. Yet another example of judges operating under the delusion that they've been selected to play the role of Plato's philosopher-kings.

7/05/2012 11:37 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

I agree, Ken. I was thinking about adding that myself, but I forgot to include it.

7/06/2012 12:27 AM  

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