tarball_tinkerbell sends us to the NY Times for word on a book due out next year that claims that beginning in the late 1990s, on average patents cost companies more than they earned them. A big exception was pharmaceuticals, which accounted for 2/3 of the revenues attributable to patents. The authors of the book Do Patents Work? (synopsis and sample chapters), James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer of the Boston University School of Law, have crunched the numbers and say that, especially in the IT industry, patents no longer make economic sense. Their views are less radical than those of a pair of Washington University at St. Louis economists who argue that the patent system should be abolished outright.