The only BS here is the misplaced idea that the patent office is a substitute for due diligence. If you are an investor who puts weight on patents, then do your own due diligence. Patents are public documents, and investors are free to read them. If it reads like BS, then don’t invest. If you don’t understand it, then disregard the patent when you go through your decision process.
The claim that receipt of a patent ought to imply the thing it describes works … that is often an impossible standard, because patents seldom describe a “thing” per se. The patent is obligated to describe enablements, and there are often an infinite number of ways to put something together from those enablements. Furthermore, a good patent will generally have claims that the assignee never intends to use … they are there for the sake of discouraging competitors from pursuing other paths to a similar end, or they are there because the inventor conceived related, possibly licensable claims. And you often need patents so that you can do horse-trading with others that hold patents that you need to do business. That may seem awful and vaguely corrupt, but it’s how business is done.
So, someone files patents, uses them as part of a scam, and some overzealous investors buy. That is not, in itself a reason to blame a “broken patent system”, any more than the PowerPoint decks that were part of that scam are an indictment of Microsoft, or the fact that checks were issued, cashed etc. is part an indictment of the banking system.
As far as whether this poisons the well for other patent applications, I doubt it. If it does, that’s a shame, but it it’s just the flip side of the flawed “patents are magical” idea. The patent office doesn’t owe an inventor anything besides a patent, and that only if it meets the standards of patentability. Patents are not suddenly worthless,
post-Theranos, any more than they were inherently magical pre-Theranos. There are a lot of worthless patents out there, and there are some (e.g. PageRank) that were borderline magical. I am a named inventor on several patents, and have yet to see a penny of direct income from any of them. That doesn’t dissuade me from filing (I expect to file several this year).
I’m not saying the US patent system is perfect. Far from it. And there may be modern, free market tech licensing techniques that will ultimately replace patents, or alter the nature of their role. I’m just saying that Theranos, their patents, and the patent process are rather separate things, and saying, in effect, “Patent system broken, because Theranos”, is unforgivably sloppy thinking … especially when proclaimed in a column that seems to fancy itself as a source thought leadership.