Scary Questions: Can Patents Be Socially Responsible?
from the if-they're-not,-why-do-we-have-them?!? dept
Alan Wexelblat over at Copyfight has a post where he’s pointing to an article from Berkeley wondering if patents can also be socially responsible. What’s scary about this is the assumption implicit in the question: patents are the antithesis of socially responsible activity, and that you have to make a special effort to make a patent licensing policy that is socially responsible. That’s bizarre when you think about it. The whole point of patent policy, in the first place, is that it’s supposed to be beneficial to society, by creating the incentive to innovate. If we’ve reached the point where the natural assumption is that social responsibility and patent policy is at odds, it certainly suggests that something’s wrong with today’s patent system. Obviously, we’ve pointed out plenty of examples as to why we think the current patent system is hindering, rather than promoting, innovation — but to see even patent supporters (in an intellectual property licensing office) basically stating that patents need special treatment to help society, it should open some eyes for those who blindly seem to support the patent system as it currently stands.