John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Papr No. 393, 2009
This paper looks at benefits from fees and bureaucratic hurdles at the patent office.
If patents were easier to get, nuisance lawsuits might multiply.
- Patent examiners do a remarkably poor job of screening out invalid applications, and the examination process is very expensive.
- Many reform proposals seek to improve the quality of patent review and reduce the cost.
- The high costs of getting a patent actually have important benefits.
- Applicants reveal how much value they think their innovation has.
- The process stops applicants from collecting patents for the main purpose of filing lawsuits to extract nuisance settlements from commercial firms willing to pay the filers to go away.
- Expensive administrative processes also screen out similar problems in landlord-tenant and employment law, environmental permitting, and immigration law.
- The private costs of the navigating the process may pose a more effective barrier to entry than the process itself.