Life is funny. If you were to ask me, anytime during my entire life, whether I would ever work in a law firm dealing with details, I would say that you were crazy to even ask that. Details just aren’t my thing.
Not only that, I’ve always been more that a little jaded in my view of the law and those who practice it. On the other hand, I have always thought that the Supreme Court was the most interesting part of our political system and where the more intelligent, thoughtful members of the government find themselves (even if I don’t agree with them — I’m looking at you, Anton!).
But here I am, working at a Patent Firm as a technical analyst. I wish I got to be more of a technical analyst day to day, actually. Unfortunately, that’s only part of the job. The rest is just legal office work, which amounts to a very expensive service industry where you don’t want to make anything shy of the best impression on your clients.
I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t see it as a kind of experiment though. So, if it’s an experiment, what’s the question?
The purpose of Patent Law comes directly from the Constitution:
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
The idea behind the law is that inventors exchange a detailed description of their inventions in a clearly defined way that would enable one of ordinary skill in their art to repeat the invention for monopoly over the use of the invention for a period of time in order to capture the financial benefit (20 years).
So, my question is, is this what patent law achieves? Is the progress of science promoted? Do inventors receive the benefit the law claims to provide? Does the public benefit from this exchange?
It’s easy to have a feeling for this, but how can one measure it? I’ve got to mull this over and come up with a list of possibilities and then start collecting some data. Ideas?