Friday, May 6, 2011

The Economist Demands Funding for Innovation to be Restored

The Economist, America's foremost "authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology," is calling for the reinstatement of funding for the US Patent Office.  In an online editorial the magazine argues that Congress' rush to reduce funding stifles the very innovations that they profess the desire to encourage.

So how come Congress and the White House have decided not merely to underfund a crucial cog in American’s innovation machine but actually to take away revenue it earns?

According to The Economist, there are "more than 700,000" backlogged patent applications.  And "on average, hopeful inventors wait for two years until their applications are even considered. Ten months more may go by before they learn whether they have been successful. While they wait for a decision, the American economy is losing out."

They argue that it makes no sense to further slow the process. 

The backlog extends the uncertainty that the process causes to businesses, applicants and competitors alike, slowing investment and constraining the economy. 

But it doesn't stop there.  Congress has also been considering other patent reforms.  For example, one reform would "let the Patent Office determine its own fees and keep all the money that it collects."  This could help it reduce the backlog of applications.  And more importantly, both stimulate more inventors to innovate and speed up the process of getting those innovations to the people who can use them (perhaps to make even more innovations).

The article can be read in full in the online edition of The Economist.

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