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Why Innovation And Hoarding Intellectual Property Don't Mix

from the building-on-the-work-of-others dept

We recently wrote about how innovation was more important to the economy than invention, while noting that the patent system was really more focused on protecting invention, and slowing down innovation. Now, Robert I. Sutton is noting the worrying trend that, as startups are showing up again, they all seem to be most focused on protecting and hiding their intellectual property which tends to harm, more than help, innovation. Remember, the original point of the patent system wasn't just to protect information, but to open it up so that others could make use of it. Unfortunately, that use of the patent system is becoming less apparent every day. Sutton points out, properly, that some protection of intellectual property makes sense, but: "If you take it too far, innovation can't happen. If you never show your ideas to other people, or to only a very few like-minded people, then your ideas won't get any better and you won't get the information you need about which customers will—and will not—buy them." Innovation happens by getting your product out into the market and figuring out what it takes to get people to buy into the idea." Innovation isn't about a (patentable) spark of genius, but "world-class persistence to spend long hours trying to do new things with old ideas." Isn't it time we reformed the patent system to encourage real innovation, and not this focus on hiding away inventions and making innovation more difficult?

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