The H Open Source
This effect, of inhibiting innovation and the interchange of ideas, is not offset by the theoretical ability of individuals and SMEs to take out patents of their own. The patent industry is dominated by the giants and the lawyers they employ, as Robert Barr, vice president and worldwide patent counsel for Cisco Systems, explained in 2002 :
“Obtaining patents has become for many people and companies an end in itself, not to protect an investment in research and development, not to license technology to others who need it, but to generate revenue through licensing (‘holding up’) other companies that actually make and sell products without even being aware of their patents… This provides opportunities for contingency fee litigators, for licensing companies and consulting firms who claim to help people ‘mine’ their patent portfolios for patents that even they didn’t know they had.”
“It’s hard to see how this contributes to the progress of science and the useful arts,” Barr concluded.