Scientists Feel That Patents Cause Significant Harm To Research

from the anyone-other-than-lawyers-and-monopolists-like-these-things? dept

In the last few years, as more and more problems with the patent system have come out, we've seen some defenders of the patent system try to categorize and compartmentalize the problems. They'll say things like "well, maybe patents cause some problems with software" but they're important elsewhere. The problem is that in pretty much every area they claim patents "work" for, the actual evidence suggests otherwise. For example, there's been a belief among many that patents are hugely important to scientists. A few years back, we saw that this wasn't necessarily true, with many scientists complaining about the damage done by patents -- especially when it came to collaborating and sharing ideas -- a key and important element of creating useful and compelling research.

Michael Geist points us to a recent survey of scientists who say that IP protection has a negative impact on their research. It's greatly slowed down the ability to do research, as universities (thanks to the dreadful and damaging Bayh-Dole Act -- which has significantly hurt progress in scientific research) are trying to hoard anything that can be patented for the sake of profit, rather than scientific advancement. Of course, advancement doesn't work that way. It works through collaboration and sharing ideas -- and what patents do is add a huge bureaucracy to the process, encouraging secrecy, not sharing and hoarding, not collaboration. Once again, we're seeing that about the only folks who really truly benefit from patents are the lawyers.

Filed Under: bayh-dole, patents, scientists


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  1. identicon
    Oliver K, 27 Jan 2009 @ 10:44am

    Conclusions are incorrect

    The conclusions you draw in this article are incorrect, especially the last line of this artcile: "Once again, we're seeing that about the only folks who really truly benefit from patents are the lawyers."

    While I am a staunch supporter of IP reform, pretending that the only reason we need IP is for lawyers to make money is preposterous. While it is true that scientific research is hampered by an extremely inefficient IP system, the writer of this article needs to explore where the funding for all of this research comes from. IP law allows scientific research to be commercialized into a viable product or service. Contrary to what the artcile implies, this product or service greatly advances research by spurring more companies to invest in R&D for the commercializable product.

    This article incorrectly assumes that the funding and infrastructure for scientific development comes from the desire to expand scientific knowledge as fast as possible. While this is admirable, scientific thrust (with the exception of "pure research" which is not affected by IP law anyway) comes from the ability to commercialize a new technology.

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