Patent Law: Pharma vs. Tech

The Washington Post has a good backgrounder on the politics of the patent debate. I’ve written before about the problems with software patents.

As much as tech companies use and abuse the patent system, there is a basic understanding that patents on the tools of the trade are a roadblock. You either have to challenge them, pay off the patent holder, or as commonly happens, counterclaim patent infringement using your own patents. Even the biggest patent holders, e.g. Microsoft or IBM, would agree that this wastes resources.

On the other hand, for pharmaceutical companies, patents on the tools of the trade are the lifeblood of the business. So these two huge industries are fighting over patent reform. Congress seems to enjoy getting paid by both sides to wind up doing nothing, while the unfairness, stifling of innovation, and costs of the current broken patent system continue to screw the public.

We’ll see what happens: yesterday the 2007 Patent Reform Act was introduced to the House and Senate. [Ars Technica]

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