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. icon
    Mike (profile), 27 Jan 2009 @ 11:35am


    In all of years of dealing quite closely with scientists performing basic research, not once have I heard any of them decry that patents were stifling their research

    So, let's see... who do we believe? One staunch patent system defender vs. now multiple studies that highlight scientists who have clearly explained the chilling effects done to their research via the patent system?

    They perform their research as they see fit, publish their results in journals, and then move on to their next project. But, some might ask, "what if a patentee gets out of sorts?" The simple answer, I guess, is that in these circumstances a patentee would find it difficult, if not impossible, to prove financial damage, and that equitable relief in the form of an injunction under these circustances is but a pipe dream under the MercExchange v. eBay standard articulated a couple of years ago by the Supreme Court.

    You're apparently ignoring all the chilling effects of people afraid to do research in certain areas, or told by their universities to not share research.

    Scientific research will go on. Patents will continue to issue. The two will live side by side in peaceful harmony and life will go on with business as usual.

    If only that were actually the case.

    I'm going with the latter...

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