He begins strongly with this: "... out in Silicon Valley, patents have become the competitive weapon of choice, used by high-tech giants to bludgeon rivals and crush upstarts."
He then says that "The best reporting I have found on the subject was by National Public Radio" link here which focused among other places, on an old adversary to readers of this blog, Intellectual Ventures and the whole business of patent trolls, suing about patent violations in East Texas.
He observes "What may have started out as a clever way to "turbocharge technological progress," seems to have morphed into something closer to a Jersey City protection racket. When Intellectual Ventures came knocking on the door of tech companies offering to license its patents, companies began to get the sense that it was an offer they couldn't refuse.
Pearlstein then turns to the proposed legislation now in Congress and commends it for making it easier to challenge a patent before issuance while adding "missing from the bill... is any attempt to narrow the range of what can be patented in the areas of software and business methods".
He closes by suggesting that big companies with lots of patents aren't interested in fixing that, so nothing will come from Congress or from the Supreme Court which "has done so much to slam the courtroom door on consumers and workers [and] left it wide open for corporate interests running a legal protection racket. If there ever was an abuse of the judicial process, this is surely it."
Pearlstein's voice on these issues is a welcome addition to the growing coverage and number of articulate critics of patents.