Patent Pirates Are Still Plundering

According to this recent article over on CNN Money, patent trolls have cost investors Half A Trillion Dollars over the last 20 years. Half A Trillion Dollars! That’s an awful lot of innovation down the drain!

At this point, I’m wondering which pirates are worse? The pirates off the coast of Somalia, who have escalated their attacks and brought ocean piracy to an all time high this year, with 142 attacks in the first quarter alone (and 346 attacks as of September 27). Now, it’s true that the attacks are sometimes violent and that 15 people have been killed this year, but for the most part, the Somali pirates are more focussed on taking hostages in return for ransoms, and release the hostages when they get the ransom. And while the ransoms are getting higher, with the average ransom reaching 5.4 Million in 2010, total payments in 2010 were only 238 Million. Yes, this is a big number, and 20 times 238 Million is a bigger number at 4.76 Billion, but that’s only 1% of losses that can be attributed to patent pirates. One percent!

And the “contributions” that the patent trolls supposedly make to innovation are essentially nonexistent. They’ve funnelled less than 10 Billion to R&D, or less than 1/50th of what they’ve cost investors and innovators. All they do is create a disincentive to innovate. And in SI’s view, they should be made to walk the plank.