Protecting Freedom in the Patent System from Daniel B. Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation and Google Tech Talks.

​Patent System Books

  • Innovation and Its Discontents: How our broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress and what to do about it. Adam B. Jaffe and Josh Lerner. Princeton University Press 2004.

This book is the single most illuminating book on the U.S. patent system. It is unbiased, well-written, and only 200 pages. It is written by two economists whose only purpose is to explain — not to impress the reader with their cleverness or to further an agenda.

PDF of Introduction and text search of book. Princeton University Press


​Read online or order book

  • Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk. James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. Princeton University Press 2008.
    ​Contains many of the same arguments as Jaffe and Lerner. Presents empirical data showing that for drugs and chemicals, patents produce economic benefits that are greater than the costs of litigation. But for patents on software, business methods, and other abstract concepts, the economic benefits, if any, pale compared with the cost of litigation.

Book Website. Princeton University Press

Review in Nature.

  • The Patent Crisis and How The Courts Can Solve It. Dan L. Burk & Mark Lemley. University of Chicago Press. 2009
    ​A treatise on patent theory and practice from the perspective of two of the most highly cited law professors. Contains the same diagnosis as Jaffe & Lerner, Bessen & Meurer, and the National Academy of Sciences. An excellent resource for IP professionals but gives short shrift to patent reform aimed at improving patent quality and decreasing litigation. The authors might make excellent appeals court judges but the idea of IP lawyers and judges controlling the levers of of biomedical innovation presents a frightening vision of the future.
  • Gridlock Economy: How too much ownership wrecks markets, stops innovations, and costs lives. Michael Heller 2009.
    ​An economist’s perspective. Although the whole book is important, the chapter “Where are the cures” is most relevant to this website

Book website

Patent Absurdity from Luca Lucarini and the Free Software Foundation.  



“Our work is based on the concept of protecting freedom from illegimate restraint.The patents we seek to have the Patent Office reexamine are those that have a chilling effect on some conduct that would otherwise be permissible.”
Profiles of PubPat Executive Director Dan Ravicher:
A ‘Robin Hood’ declares wars on lucrative U.S. patents. Science 309;1319-20.

There are certain activities that should never be stopped under any cicumstances, no matter how valid the patent is. Nat Biotechnol 2008;26:369.

“Modernization and reform of the current patent system will spur job creation by allowing American businesses to focus on innovation instead of unjustified patent litigation.”
“An industry has developed in which firms use patents not as a basis for producing and selling goods but, instead, primarily for obtaining licensing fees” – Supreme Court Justice Kennedy (Ebay v. Mercantile).

"To reduce the barriers to affordable healthcare and to educate the public about the effects of intellectual property laws on the availability of healthcare for all."

"Now some patent holders have begun to set their sights on the new class of technology users – small organizations and individuals who cannot afford to retain lawyers. Faced with million-dollar legal demands, they have no choice but to capitulate and pay license fees – fees that often fund more threat letters and lawsuits."

The quality of patents issued has reduced over the past decade, especially in the software and business method areas. These low quality patents discourage innovation because follow on inventors will not innovate based on a technology covered by a patent. Because certain key courts tend to favor patent owners in litigation, many competitors license these patents rather than challenge them, thus unfairly raising the cost of products containing these patents.