Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It, The

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot


Dan Burk and Mark Lemley


University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2009


This book surveys problems with patents and proposes solutions.

Policy Relevance

The courts can resolve problems with the patent systems by resolving cases in ways that take account of the differences between different sectors like pharmaceuticals and software. The courts will be better able to resolve these problems than Congress.

Main Points

  • The patent system presently governs many different sectors, from pharmaceuticals to software to semiconductors.

  • These sectors, however, innovate very differently, and trying to apply rules designed for one sector to the others has resulted in serious problems.

  • Each sector tends to view patents and patent theory differently, depending on the experience of firms in that sectors.

  • Courts can use principles in patent law as “policy levers” to adjust the coverage of patents to suit sectors like software and biotechnology much better, fine-tuning the system.

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