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In December, General Patent Corp. announced it was working on behalf of Worlds.com to enforce its patents on "Scalable Virtual World Chat Client-Server System" and "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space," which date back to 1995.
In 2004, Brandeis economist Adam Jaffe and Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner published Innovation and its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What to Do About It - a rare book on patents and written for generalists, not patent lawyers. "Broken" is strong language, but it gets attention.
A patent is a powerful thing: it's a legal monopoly on an invention for up to 20 years. In the past, patents were almost universally regarded as essential to the economy. By rewarding innovation, they created an incentive for inventors to invent more. Yet more than any other time in our history, the patent system now is under fire, and enormous change has been afoot to "fix" it.
Google's head of patents believes the U.S. patent system is "in crisis". Discussing patent reform at the annual Stanford Summit in Northern California, associate general counsel Michelle Lee told conference attendees that the American system is "out-of-balance [and] needs to be remedied".