"Patent-induced constraints force technological ingenuity — which, in turn, drives innovation."
That sounds nice in theory but in practice there are these things called "laws of physics" and American patent laws are certainly broad enough to paint potential innovators into corners where they would have to break the laws of physics to escape.
it's only when you want to distribute or sell that patent legal issues arise.
patents are good, 3-D printing is even better. so long as you are not mass distributing or selling patented tech, there is no problem making something for yourself, now if friends or family want one, i suppose you can get away with making them as a gift, just make sure any $ goes into them purchasing the materials required to make it, and not for the end result and you can avoid 99.9% of legal claims unless you're using a plan you did not make or did not purchase there is no legal problem as long as something is 30% different from anything patented, even if it's just cosmetic additions or subtractions, you are in the free and clear.
Patents if carefully used properly will cause technological progress, but will do the opposite if used carelessly.
Technological progress is not just something to entertain us; it's a matter of life and death; huge numbers of people will horribly suffer and die if technology does not advance at a sufficiently high rate to compensate for other changes such as human population increase and the decrease of certain resources. If all patents were abolished and all information such as trade secrets were released into the open for free then it would boost technology advancement enormously, but only in the short term; in the long term it would almost completely destroy any further technological advancement because nobody would want to spend the billions of dollars for R&D anymore to make new technologies, because instead of it making them profits in the billions of dollars, it will put them billions of dollars into debt, which will get them thrown into jail and will ruin their lives.
The argument that patent constraints drive innovation may be a valid point, but just as valid is the notion that competition drives innovation as well. Perhaps if the patents were not an issue, we may have have this technology available much sooner. The drive for competitors to differentiate likely would have produced significant innovations years ago. Lucky for us, the first patent on computers were mishandled, resulting in the concept becoming public domain. Had this not occurred, we might just now be seeing computers as emerging technology, rather than a foundation of modern life. See http/www.ehow.com/about_6515358_holds-patent-invention-computer_.html
To clarify my position, I'm not against patents... but when it comes to technology, I am against the length of time patents hold sway. I believe patents should expire 4 years after being issued, and if it's a software patent, then shorten that down to 2 years. In either case, it gives the inventor a sufficient head start, without locking out competition for inordinate amounts of time.
It's a silly argument... innovation will happen anyways, not just "to get around somebody's patents"! it will happen sooner or create more widespread (less concentrated) wealth if not held back by patents. In general patents should be abolished or severely limited, say to 3 years only. Real companies don't need more than maybe 3 years to recoup their R&D nowadays, or some such low number... certainly not 17 years! you could also argue that because you don't rest on the laurels of your previous patents you will continue to innovate, so less patents means more innovation...