The IEEE is stumping for a new type of patent. I like the idea because it seems to be a good compromise between protection and timeliness.
nstead, a new "limited patent" should be developed that grants protection from the moment the technology is first used in commerce. The primary purpose of the limited patent would be to provide immediate protection for technology that-once on the market-could otherwise be copied by a competitor before regular patent protection could be secured. Inventions not actually available in the marketplace would not be protected.
Protection would last for four years, enough time to establish a market and about the time required to process a regular patent application today. That would allow inventors to have immediate protection against knockoffs of a technology even as they try to get broader protection by meeting the more stringent requirements for a conventional patent. It would also encourage further innovation, because new features could get their own four-year protection.
Let's face it. The patent system wasn't designed to handle the inventions of this day and age. Whether this or something else is the solution, it has to change.