Discussions about law are never free of politics. Some areas of law become overrun by politics. It’s then foolish to discuss them using only the lenses of policy, governance or legal principles.

Patent law for online software, copyright law for traditional entertainment industries, and trade mark law relating to tobacco labelling are current areas of intellectual property law overrun by politics or public policy.

Law making in the U.S. for patents resembles a zoo for some commentators. A recent account of the debates and haggling over proposed U.S. patent law changes appears in the Huffington Post report: The Spoilsmen: How Congress Corrupted Patent Reform. Published on 4 August, it has attracted 2,167 comments so far.

The detailed article focuses on troubling and still relatively newish areas of patent law, namely business method patents and software patents.

"android-nexus-one-"Similarly a patent law debate raged online triggered by When patents attack Android, a blog post by David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Google.

Drummond’s August post followed a remarkable patent auction in July in which a consortium led by Apple Inc paid $US4.5 billion beating Google in the purchase of 4,500 Nortel patents. Reports on the bid process clearly suggest members of the consortium were keen to prevent Google becoming the owner of the patents.

The focus on news and controversy in articles and blog posts exaggerate the general stable state position of a great deal of patent law, both in the U.S. and Australia.

The message which should not be lost is that patents can provide enormous advantages for many. For patent inventors, owners and investors benefits flow if patent work is done as part of a well-considered overall IP strategy and business strategy. On IP strategy see The joy of IP strategy – 10 questions.

As the commentators have highlighted, it is true that business method patents, software patents and patents affecting smartphones can be troubling in light of analysis under law, policy, governance or legal principles.

This should not be completely surprising or of itself objectionable. We are going through the fasted period of change in history. National economies are evolving at a rapid pace, in the U.S. and Australia away from manufactured products, a traditional and familiar area for patent protection.

Newer technologies which seek or have patent protection are going through a teething process with patent law. Friction rises as stakeholders and interest groups jockey with PR for political solutions in IP law making metropoles such as Washington D.C., London, Paris and Canberra.

There’s a great deal of writing on this site underlining this pro-patent law message. Articles on patents are listed below and are linked in the “Related Articles” list on this page.

  • Patent law works for inventions and investment
  • Patent and trade marks acts to be strengthened
  • Business method patents still OK in U.S.
  • Software patents and IP risk management
  • iPhone pinch pinched?
  • How to be smart in patent search work
  • Report finds 5.6 million reasons for doing a patent search
  • “Making it under US patent litigation”
  • National and international patent application numbers
  • IT companies pile on patents in the US
  • Fox in Socks: A parable for 30 years of IP for IT
  • Two centuries of patents
  • Patent infringement damages skyrocket
  • “The most successful product ever marketed in America”
  • “I’d like to thank my lawyer”
  • Striking gold with kiwifruit

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Noric Dilanchian