So the question is, how do we make sure lawyers don't want to? (without going to jail).
Don’t get caught. ;-)
But seriously, there only seems to be one answer that is likely to work in practice: change the risk/reward structure so that patent trolling isn’t profitable any more.
One obvious approach would be making fewer things subject to patent protection in the first place. You could explicitly exclude whole categories like software or business method parents, assuming you could define them clearly enough. You could raise the general bar for granting/defending patents in terms of originality and non-obviousness. You could leave the standards the same in principle but apply more robust checking for prior art and/or a more thorough consultation to determine obviousness before awarding a patent. Each of these has costs in different places: principally, the legislature, the courts, and the patent office, respectively.
Another approach would be to look at the types and magnitudes of consequences that result if you lose a patent case, either by being found to infringe someone else’s patent or by claiming that someone infringes your patent and failing to win the case. For example, what if the remedies available to someone who owned a patent but who was not actively working to exploit that patent in some reasonable way themselves were made dramatically less than the remedies available to someone who was using the patent system “properly” to secure exclusive rights while they worked hard to exploit a real invention? What if there were a meaningful cost to bringing a patent case and losing not just because the court invalidated your original patent but also because the court actively determined that the original patent had been [some legal specification of “obviously abusing the system”], a kind of patent case analogy for dismissing with prejudice?
You have drugs at one end of the spectrum and software and business processes at the other. There is a huge cost associated with medical research due to the inherit complexity of the human body and the requirements governments put on proper testing. Any patent solution has to address that problem as well.
(And, yes, drug companies are doing a horrible job at doing real research, but that doesn't alter the substance of the argument.)
JRR did not patent 'the application of height-challenged individuals manually transported to a heated device for the purpose of destroying small amounts of jewelery', but the work is copyrighted so you cannot just find/replace the story so it reads Shrodo and Hamwise going to Mt Foomp with their trusty sidekick Bandalf.
To take a quote from your source: "Every writer owes a similar debt to those who have come before." - this is something I believe speaks more to the core of software development than the patent system we use today.
Terry Brooks' supposed imitation of The Lord of The Rings didn't stop it from generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
And yeah, that is the level on innovation in software patents.
Curiosity, love, boredom, responsibility, etc... There are a lot of incentives other than profit and billions already gets spent in R&D for reasons other than profit.
But if profit is your motive, and patents don't exist, you have several options. One of the interesting ones is that of monetising expertise. People will copy you, but you are also known globally as the expert, for the simple reason that you can prove you developed it. So you not only have a market made of the people who will buy the stuff, but also of those who want to learn off the expert how to build the stuff. To make the most of this requires good marketing, and an acceptance that you should be developing your next thing for when the money slows down from the current one as the market saturates, but that is the same as today anyway.
That is also the classic case for patent abuse. Take a drug that works, tack on some non-active atoms somewhere, change the name, patent it, jack up the prices on the old drug when the patent is about to expire to push buyers to your new monopoly.
(Customers usually don't care about cost, which is certainly a problem for holding down prices, but this doesn't seem anything like "patent abuse.")
I assume this is the new trade name for a variation on Viagra.
>which has everything to do with politicians
Most of them start out as lawyers. Coincidence?
Make a condition of patent defence to actually have brought to market a product that uses the patent. Licensing the technology to someone would also be a valid defence, but it should be within a reasonable timeframe. Patent protection could then be limited to the actual use made of the technology, overly wide patents would be more clearly identifiable, and the patent could be legally reduced in scope without losing all cover.
However there's a right to a jury trial. So I propose the following.
Juries for patent trials should be paid dramatically more (in the neighbourhood of what lawyers get) and selected from a list of volunteers according to criteria that the two sides argue over.
The idea being that we want competent people to fight to get on juries rather than come up with an excuse not too.
There is already legislation coming into effect in the US which will give parties 9 months to contest any patent, through the patent office. This should help solve the problem of lay juries deciding the validity of recent patents.
Not so much that he was an expert, but he thought he had relevant expertise, made a false presumption about the nature of the law based on that misunderstanding (namely, that because object files would not run without recompilation between the iPhone and instances of prior art produced by Samsung, it didn't count as "real" prior art), and convinced the rest of the jury to deliver a guilty verdict based on whether the processor could execute the same object code or not, not whether the presented evidence actually was sufficient "prior art", meaning a demonstration that the invention was not unique enough at the time to warrant protection, to invalidate Apple's patent.
This seems like an archaic goal that could safely be discarded if the legal system were changed from adversarial to inquisitorial to compensate for the fact that differences in wealth allow the wealthier side to hire more convincing counsel.
Even loser pays can be problematic, though, because the troll or bigcorp can fund a war of attrition for far longer than a startup or small business. I saw a variant of this happen to a company. An adaptation of the inquisitorial system to civil cases seems like the most sensible approach, if the goal is to provide equitable outcomes regardless of the financial resources of the litigants.
An alternative idea is a shared pool of legal funds. Both parties contribute to the pool and the pool is divided equally. If an aggressor wants to hire the best lawyers in the business, they have to provide the equivalent to the defendant.
Good luck with that.
The only way to stop this troll problem is to stop these patents from being issued. Nip it in the bud. There will always be someone willing to pay for an exclusive license to the patent (i.e. buy junk patents) with the sole intent of using it to sue startups. Sad but true.
Even if the junk patent was filed for and obtained by a person who was intending to build a product or see that products get built using the technology, what we all know can happen is the product never gets developed, the patent is never practiced, and it gets sold or traded for something or acquired through bankruptcy or some other means. And... eventually... it can wind up in the hands of a troll.
Having these junk patents "floating around out there" (or maybe we should say lurking in the depths, like dormant but functional submarines ready to take out any ships who have set off on a journey to build products and made it far enough... it puts every startup at risk.
The essence of a patent is a government-granted right to sue. That is really all it is for the grantee. Nothing more and nothing less. The often cited language from the US Constituion only relates to the creation of a patent office and the purpose behind it, not what the patent office grants you. The USPTO does not give you a free ticket to a monopoly (modern US patents are not "letters patent") nor does it even ensure a successful business. You have to accomplish that on your own. Being able to sue infringers or having rights to sue as a bargaining chip in negotiation _might_ help. But it won't ensure your success. (Unless your "business" is pure patent trolling.)
Ideally (as the Constitution suggests) the patent is intended to spur innovation and (we would assume) protect a growing business of sharing those innovations (e.g. as products) with others, but that doesn't always happen. Businesses fail for a variety of reasons. But a patent, no matter how poor in quality, remains a right to sue, as long as the maintenance fees are paid. Thus even a long forgotten junk patent with no associated product or innovations is still a "live" right to sue, a potential threat, laying dormant until a. the owner gets bitter enough to adopt an extortionist mindset (e.g. look at what the co-founder of Microsoft, one of the wealthiest men in the world tried a number of years ago- no one is immune from this mindset) or b. the patent falls into the hands of a natural born extortionist, e.g. someone who actively looks to buy junk patents in order to sue people for a windfall. The patent troll.