Once in a while, if you cut through the din surrounding smartphone wars, patent trolls and multimillion-dollar patent verdicts, you might recall that U.S. patent law was created to encourage innovation. The system’s origins go back to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which says Congress is empowered “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” But a paper written by two economists has concluded that the patent system often has just the opposite effect.

Alberto Galasso of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Mark Schankerman of the London School of Economics published a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research earlier this year in which they found that the U.S. patent system actually inhibits innovation.

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