Those opposed to inventors keeping property in their own inventions will often be heard muttering about the destructive economic effects of so-called “patent thickets.”
The patent thickets problem, a form of ‘tragedy of the anticommons,’ is
a phenomenon by which people underuse scarce resources because of
overlapping ownership. In the patent thickets, a technology is prone to
underuse because of the high costs of licensing resulting from multiple
ownership stakes in the same technology.”
“This concept is not unique to patent law,” notes associate professor at George Mason University Adam Mossoff,
it is based on Professor Michael Heller’s theory of the anticommons in real
property, which arises when there is excessive fragmentation of ownership
interests in a single parcel of land. According to economic theory, the problem of
such excessive fragmentation of ownership interests is straightforward: It
increases transaction costs, accentuates hold-out problems, and precipitates
costly litigation, which prevents commercial development of the affected property.
The implicit assumption is that some sort of redistribution of property is the answer to this alleged problem. But as Adam Mossoff points out, even “Professor Heller acknowledges that ‘the empirical studies that prove — or disprove — our theory remain inconclusive.’”
Why would you be interested in “sewing machine blogging”? Simple:
- because the invention of the sewing machine in the late-nineteenth century was an achievement then “on par with the latest high-tech or pharmaceutical discovery today”;
- because its invention, patenting and commercialisation tell us an awful lot about how patent law works, and once worked well;
- because it tells us how patent conflicts are resolved voluntarily; and,
- because author Adam Mossoff knows all about patent law.
- Who Cares About the Invention of the Sewing Machine?
- The Incremental Invention of the Sewing Machine (Part 1 of 2):
- The Incremental Invention of the Sewing Machine (Part 2 of 2)
- Patent Thickets, Incremental Invention, and Innovation
- Patent Thickets, Patent Pools and Antitrust:
- Patent Thickets and Patent Trolls:...
- Patent Thickets, Bad Patents, and Costly Patent Litigation: