A market for ideas Oct 20th 2005 From The Economist print edition
The granting [of] patents ‘inflames cupidity', excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits...The principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just.
The Economist may have put it rather strongly in 1851, but its disapproval of patents represented conventional wisdom at the time. A century earlier, Adam Smith had described them as necessary evils, to be handed out sparingly, and many other economists have since echoed his reservations. Patents amount to temporary monopolies on useful new inventions. …
Now you can read through those great anti patent editorials without even going to an archive or library. The entire run of The Economist is now online and searchable here .
Thanks to Mark Brady for the pointer.