Critics have suggested plenty of reasonable reforms, from
eliminating software patents to clamping down on “trolls” who buy
up patent portfolios only so they can file lawsuits. But do we
need a more radical solution? Would we be possibly be better off
without any patents at all?
That’s the striking suggestion from a Federal Reserve Bank of St.
Louis working paper by Michele Boldrin and David Levine,
professors at Washington University in St. Louis who argue that
any patent system, no matter how well conceived, is bound to
devolve into the kind of quagmire we’re dealing with today.