Archive for August, 2015


Saturday, August 15th, 2015

So there is this long ranging debate about the value of patents which stretches back hundreds of years.

If I understand it correctly, some people think that inventors should be rewarded for their ideas and be given an exclusive use period of time for selling their invention as the reward.

Other people think that patents stifle innovation and should be done away with.

So let’s think about that for a minute. What would happen if there were no more patents?

People who invented things for profit made by taking advantage of the patent system would stop inventing things.

Does this mean nothing would ever be invented ever again? Probably not. What would happen is that the same type of people who write open source software would invent things and make the invention publicly available for the greater good and expect no financial gain in return.

Maybe they’d get some popularity out of it which might get them a job or funding for their project, but they wouldn’t expect to make any money directly from their invention.

The other side of the coin is that not all inventions are cheap and easy to create. Like drugs from pharmaceutical companies, sometimes a lot of R&D goes into inventing something, and this could not be produced by a handful of volunteers willing to give their ideas away.

So what we’d end up with is something different that would work better in some cases, and worse in others. Simpler ideas would be picked up by quick manufacturers and brought to market more quickly. And complex and difficult ideas just wouldn’t happen, or would take a lot lot longer as the ideas were slowly grown over a long periods of people standing on the shoulders of their predecessors.

There is also the argument that people who find no value in patents aren’t creative and have never had an idea worth protecting and therefore would only gain by getting rid of the patent system.