IBM Admits Patents Do Not Equal Innovation

from the need-to-better-align-the-two dept

IBM, for many years running, has received the most patents received by any single company in the US. However, even they are admitting that the patent system needs help. They’re not necessarily advocating widespread reform, but a senior VP at IBM admits that there isn’t much correlation between patents and innovation these days. Figuring out a better way to align the two is important, since the entire purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation. He’s also afraid that we put too much emphasis on patents as innovation, and simply encourage people to patent ideas and pretend we’re innovating. The most important point he makes is that true innovation doesn’t come from a patent, but what people actually do with innovative ideas (whether patented or not). He also points out that we should be doing more to encourage true innovation by (a) getting more people interested in math, science and engineering (b) giving more incentive for universities to do innovative research and (c) pushing companies to do real innovation – and not just come up with patentable ideas. While he has a clear bias as an IBM employee, it’s nice to see that they’re thinking beyond just the “patent everything possible” approach (something they haven’t always done).

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