We Need More Patents?

from the says-who? dept

When I was an undergrad, Lester Thurow’s book Head to Head had just come out and was incredibly popular. I was forced to read it for three different classes. In it, he talks about the forces of globalization and how the US, Japan, and Europe (mainly Germany) would compete for world economic supremacy in the nineties. It’s been a decade since I last read the book, but what I remember from it was that he was a big fan of government intervention in industry and believed that Germany was clearly poised to beat the US throughout the nineties. Of course, that didn’t happen. Now, Thurow is back and saying that the world needs more patents and stronger patent enforcement – but that governments should buy up all those patents. In other words, more big government incentives. It didn’t work a decade ago, and I don’t see why it should work now either. In the interview linked above, he says that without copyright enforcement there would be no music. Of course, that’s not true. First of all, there was music before there was copyright protection for it. More importantly, though, it assumes that there simply can’t be any business model for music or intellectual property that doesn’t involve copyright protection. That’s very uncreative. There are other business models (some of which we’ve discussed before) and forcing everyone to adopt an obsolete one is only going to hinder, not help, innovation.

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Comments on “We Need More Patents?”

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Gregory Kennedy (user link) says:

No Subject Given

This interview is such an MTV sound bite length, that it’s hard to form an opinion about what he is saying. These professors at MIT are great at making the wrong predictions; 5 years later they just write another book and pretend that their older work never existed. What is more amazing is how few people remember what they said in the past, remember Clayton Christensen’s first book?

As far as the GVMNT buying up patents, I am not even sure I understand what he wants to happen? He proposes to buy the patent then “give it away”. Give what away? The patent or the drugs? Either way, I fail to see how this will encourage drug companies to produce drugs that there is little profit in.

International patent law is a curious thing. I think as developing countries evlove, they will be forced to settle patent disputes with the US in order to keep the largest market in the world(US) open to them.

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