(Originally appearing in The Hill)
Two recent op-eds published in The Hill argue that broad patent legislation—misleadingly labeled “reform”—is needed because the U.S. patent system is fundamentally broken. In the first, Timothy Lee contends that opponents “cannot with a straight face” argue that we don’t need wide-sweeping changes to our patent system. In the second, Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine maintain that there is “consensus among academic researchers” that the system is “failing.”
Both op-eds suggest that there are no principled reasons, whether legal or economic, to object to the overhaul of the patent system included in the Innovation Act. Both op-eds are wrong.
Of course, the very premise that the U.S. patent system is fundamentally broken is itself suspect. A 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that patent-intensive industries in 2010 accounted for 3.9 million jobs and 5.3 percent of GDP—$763 billion in value added to our national economy. Earlier this month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new study showing that the United States is the world leader in inventive activity.
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