Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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The Messy History of U.S. Patent Law

Check out Prof. Adam Mossoff's recent guest blogging at Volokh.com where he discusses the history of the U.S. patent system via how the sewing machine developed, and the slew of lawsuits it generated in order to try and stifle competition.

Mossoff seems to advance some conclusions that I take issue with (i.e., that legal innovations such as 'patent pools' are solutions worth considering to help help resolve patent troll problems - as opposed to more fundamental reforms of patent law), but its still stimulating reading.

Read it all on one page here:



Does it not seem a bit premature to start drawing conclusions when the posts to date have been no more than presenting a factual predicate in anticipation of a future post to try and "tie it all together"?

MLS - I was not drawing conclusions "prematurely". I was responding to Mossoff's own words such as these:

"[T]he story of the invention of the sewing machine is a striking account of early American technological, commercial and legal ingenuity, which heralds important empirical lessons for understanding how the successful American patent system has weathered patent thickets and related problems."

The phrase "successful American patent system", combined with his May 2nd post on the development of the patent pool hardly shows that I am somehow "jumping to conclusions".

I'm sure I'll have more thought as Mossoff posts more material, but I fail to see how my initial thoughts somehow jump the gun. I just don't understand your criticism at all.

I found this a very interesting case study in what happens with patents in fields with lots of competitors--competition leads to oligopoly and a conspiracy to restrain competition. Incidentally, readers may find one of the sites with the full paper easier to read. I used this one: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1354849
Mr. Levine,

I was left confused by your comment since I had not read the material you cited in any of the posts by Mr. Mossoff. I now understand that it is not contained in any of his Volokh Conspiracy posts, but is noted in a post by Eugene Volokh announcing that Mr. Mossoff would be presenting posts as a guest on the site.

I look forward to Mr. Mossoff's concluding posts in which I understand he will try and pull the information together and provide his views on how this historical matter pertains to present day issues.


M. Slonecker (aka, MLS)

Mr. Levine,

For such assistance as it may provide, I have read Mr. Mossoff's article available via SSRN. The portion you rerefence appears solely in the preface, and not the ensuing body of the article.

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