Prosecute The Patent Trolls

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) has a good post when he argues that the SEC should take the resources currently expended by the SEC on insider trading and give them to the FTC to take on patent trolls.

Go to any technology conference these days, and you’re likely to find VCs who say that there are entire sectors they refuse to invest in, just because the waters are so troll-infested. Google and Apple might be able to do interesting things in wearable computing, for instance, but a single lawsuit could easily wipe out a startup in the same space — even if it was entirely frivolous.

Lawyers set up companies designed to manipulate the patent system to earn rents. We don’t like rent seeking, particularly by lawyers, and intellectual property rights shouldn’t extend to the ability to take the mickey.

The fact that there are special law firms set up to help people engage in rent seeking via the intellectual property law system is not good. Intellectual property law is as beneficial as public law i.e. not particularly beneficial to society at all in my humble opinion.