Fixing Our Broken Patent System
This short Article digests what the Author see as the most important substantive criticism and proposes specific solutions in the form of the "guts" of a new patent statute. Its statutory proposal tracks the current statute's organization and has numerous annotations explaining what is the same, what is changed and why, and what never-before-codified principles of judge-made law are explicitly codified. Among the proposed statute's fundamental changes are: (1) explicit restrictions on patentable subject matter to avoid patents on bare abstractions; (2) adoption of a first-to-file system requiring worldwide novelty; (3) abolition of the doctrine of constructive reduction to practice (with exceptions for reasonable simulation of costly-to-build inventions); and (4) replacement of the troublesome criterion of "nonobviousness" with economic criteria that real investors actually use when deciding whether to invest in risky technology development. An introduction to the proposed, annotated statutory language explains its basic principles. They include: (1) recognizing invention as an economic and commercial process, rather than a single, abstract act of conception, (2) reducing blockage of future innovation by discouraging patents on abstract, early-stage research, and (3) changing the substantive focus of patent law from abstract semantics to practical economic and commercial criteria amenable to adjudication.