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
    Lonnie E. Holder, 27 Jan 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Response

    Oliver K.:

    In response to your second point, I find it interesting that prior to the Plant Variety Act, it took an entire decade for 150 new plant species to be developed. After the act, the next decade saw 3000 new plant species developed. Note that this act did not encompass bioengineered (genetically altered) plants, which were covered in a separate act. It seems that here is yet again (there are other studies showing that when IP is available, money will follow the IP - IP appears to provide incentive by reducing risk) proof that the ability to apply for patents and invention have a positive correlation.

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