This article on the patent system really sets me off. The problem with the patent system is not that the system as a whole is fatally flawed. The problem surrounds term and enablement. The term problem is even worse in copyright.
The article states that "Ideas kept under lock and key are much less useful than those that are freely available."
That's precisely the point of the patent system. It is supposed to encourage disclosure so that after the protected period the knowledge is made fully available to society.
The alternative is trade secret protection whereby inventors remain secretive about their work product, never disclosing to the public at large how the device works and not allowing follow-ons to build upon their knowledge.
The two problems with the current system are 1) protection terms are too long and 2) the enablement requirements aren't enforced well enough.
Let's say that the protection term is reduced to one year. And assume that the USPTO requires patents with sufficient detail to fully enable readers to replicate and practice the invention.
Under that scenario, I think that the patent system would be seen as an asset to society. In exchange for a year's worth of protection the inventor has to tell society explicitly how to do exactly what he or she is doing. I don't think most people would have a problem with that system.
If you go back to the Constitutional basis for the patent system, it was "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
As long as "limited time" is a reasonable period, I don't know that abolition is required.
The patent system: End it, don't mend it
From AIDS to Android phones, research shows that intellectual property rights are detrimental to the social good.St. Louis
It is common to argue that intellectual property (IP) in the form of copyrights and patents is crucial for the creation of innovative ideas and inventions such as machines, drugs, software, books, and music. Proponents argue that IP is just like ordinary property in houses and cars. In fact, empirical evidence shows that IP does not promote innovation and that, unlike ordinary property, it is detrimental to the social good.