One (of several) good arguments for eliminating, or at least drastically scaling back, patents, is the existence of patent trolls, entities whose sole business is trying to hinder the diffusion of innovation. They buy patents believed to have little value, and try to intimidate actual productive individuals or companies into licensing them. If you’re, say, a manufacturer, and a troll offers you a license for a few thousand dollars, you might just pay up to avoid the expense and risk of defending yourself.
Now, we have debt trolls. These are (per second page of this article) “well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, that buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect.” The reason it’s news is that, in Minnesota and some other states, taxpayer-funded police, jails, and courts are used to arrest the alleged debtor and collect the debt. It’s not exactly debtor’s prison, but it is going to jail because you’ve failed to pay what you (presumably) owe.
via Naked Capitalism.