Stanford law professor discusses the current state of intellectual property

[MUSIC]>>Stanford University.>>The Supreme Court this past term had
ten intellectual property cases, which is more than they had in over a
century. Intellectual property is patents,
copyrights, trademarks, all things that are designed to give people protection for
their ideas or the things they create. The problem we’ve got in intellectual
property right now is that there is just too much of it. We’ve seen an explosion in the number of
lawsuits filed in patent cases, for instance. To the point where people worry that a
system that’s designed to encourage innovation might actually be
discouraging it instead. Probably the most significant of the
Supreme Court’s cases in 2014 in intellectual property was the Alice versus
CLS Bank case. And in Alice, the question was, what are the limits of patentable subject
matter, right? What sorts of things are not eligible for
patent protection at all. And while the court has refused to say
that software or business methods can’t be patentable at
all, they’ve imposed in Alice a very restrictive test that most
business method and software patents out there in the world
today probably don’t meet. What the court in Alice said was that an
abstract idea the way in which you solve some problem with software
is unpatentable. Unless it’s coupled with an inventive
concept, some particular new means of implementing
that abstract idea. One of the things we’ve seen is a wave of
decisions by the lower courts that have mostly invalidated a couple dozen of these
patents. And I think there are probably hundreds
more such cases coming up in the next year or so. The other thing we’ve seen is a
significant drop in the number of patent lawsuits filed since Alice. It’s down 33%. And I think what we’re seeing is a
reaction to the court’s conclusion that there are too
many software and business method patents, and they’ve
claimed too broadly. I think what you, what you want is not a
pendulum that swings back and forth past the optimum that happens to hit
it occasionally in the middle. Right?
What you’d like to do is dampen those swings. You’d like the system that’s closer to
balance. Right?
That’s not wildly overprotective, but not wildly under protective either. [BLANK_AUDIO]>>For more please visit us at

6 Replies to “Stanford law professor discusses the current state of intellectual property

  1. Excellent condensing of a challenging problem.  "Alice" decision that an abstract idea not be patentable unless accompanied with an inventive solution is critical.  Excellent example is Philo Farnsworth's patent application for all electronic television in 1927 with patent cleanly granted in 1930 was contested by RCA whose employee Vladimir Zworykin had abstractly visualized an all electronic system and submitted patent application in 1923.   But Zworykin didn't have a working electronic camera until he spent 3 days in 1931 at Farnsworth's lab in San Francisco.  Trusting his granted patent to protect him and hoping for RCA to license his invention Farnsworth showed Zworykin the details.  RCA filed for patent two weeks after that.. RCA sued but Farnsworth prevailed every lawsuit and RCA was eventually forced to pay Farnsworth one $1,000,000..  Farnsworth has been honored in Akron's "Hall of Inventors" for decades and in 2013 was placed in the American Academy of Television's "Hall of Fame" who wrote Farnsworth "beat everyone to the punch".  Yet Zworykin is widely being pushed as the inventor for his 1923 conceptual patent application which was not granted until 1938.      (Stanford 1953, MD '56).

  2. I think it's a little reckless to insinuate that the patent system in general may, in fact, be stifling innovation.  That is probably the case on the computer side of technology, but not so much in other areas, such as mechanical structures and systems.  Computer related patents are very much a challenge for many reasons, one of which being that a single tool, like a processor, can perform a seemingly infinite amount of functions.

  3. This is very much informative. My friend recently consulted for intellectual property. I wasn't sure if it was needed, but now I feel that it is very necessary nowadys

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