Patent Battles Make It That Much More Difficult To Keep People Healthy
from the what-a-shame dept
The problem with the view that patents should be given out for every little improvement (most of which would have come about naturally thanks to market demand) is that you end up with “patent thickets” where a ton of different companies all claim patents on some small part of a larger offering. This isn’t just an argument about “ownership” or “rights” in some cases. It can also have direct impact on keeping people alive.
For example, just witness the patent battle going on in the medical device market concerning Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and… famed patent hoarder Acacia. Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic have all been suing each other concerning various patents used in stent and catheter technology. Acacia has now jumped into the fray by acquiring patents from Datascope and setting up yet another shell company called Cardio Access.
In all of these cases, everyone is claiming ownership over some piece of the technology used in stents and catheters, basically suggesting that others can’t use that part of the technology without paying them. The end result is that we’re all put at greater risk. Either stents and catheters won’t be able to be as useful as they should be because they can’t use the best possible technology — or if they do use that technology, they get priced much higher to pay for all of these licenses from everyone else. And, of course, with all of these patent lawsuits (and rewards — since Boston Scientific has already had to pay out the two largest patent fines this year, totaling $750 million), money that could have been spent on making a better product is instead going into lawsuits.