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Wed October 24, 2012
Planet Money: How To Fix The Patent Mess
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 7:47 am
Two big patent cases this summer in the smartphone industry:
1. A jury finds that Samsung violated Apple's patents, and orders Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion.
2. A judge throws out a case between Apple and Motorola (now owned by Google). The judge goes on to write an article in the Atlantic arguing that there are too many patents in America, and lots of industries could probably get along fine with no patents at all.
These radically different rulings were just the latest reminder that the world of software patents is a mess. Big companies that should be focused on inventing the next great thing are instead spending billions of dollars buying up patents and suing each other. Small companies have to worry that someone with some random patent is going to sue them and shut them down.
On today's show, we talk with Mark Lemley, who has some ideas for fixing the patent mess. Lemley is a professor at Stanford law school and an expert on software patents. Lemley also works for clients in the private sector, including Google.