Bloomberg Law: A Patent Crisis—Supreme Court Can Help America Compete Again by Randall Rader
For the last two centuries, our country was the world leader in technological innovation. Now, we are losing our ability to compete against Asia and Europe. The problem is not that Americans have become any less innovative or hard-working. Instead the problem lies in our patent system, which is under attack from within.
Our country’s founders understood that patents are critical to innovation. For that reason, the principle is enshrined in our Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” by awarding “Inventors the exclusive Right” to their discoveries. Indeed, our patent system incentivized and empowered early inventors like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, and helped create today’s technological giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM.
This is basic economics. Patents guarantee a limited monopoly on inventions (usually 20 years), which lets inventors recoup the costs of research and development, and repay investors who help convert scientific theory into usable technology. It is no coincidence that America in the 20th century had both the strongest patent system and the most powerful economy in the world.