How Patents Harm Biotech Innovation

from the scaring-people-off dept

Patent defenders often claim that patents are necessary because top venture capitalists would never invest without patents. And yet, we keep pointing to examples of some of the best venture capitalists in the business who are quite skeptical of patents. For the most part, those have been limited to software patents, but Brad Feld seems to have jumped the hurdle to recognizing it's not just software patents that are the problem, and is digging into the research on how much patents have held back innovation in lots of other fields as well (Brad: if you want a list of more such research, let us know...). He's written up a post about some upcoming research concerning patents in the biotech field, where he explains how patents are hindering innovation in that field as well by scaring off research into certain areas:
Regularly, patent advocates tell me how important patents are for the biotech and life science industries. However, there apparently is academic research in the works that shows that patents actually slow down innovation in biotech. The specific example we discussed was that there is increasing evidence that when a professor or company gets a patent in the field of genetics research, other researchers simply stop doing work in that specific area. As a result, the number of researchers on a particular topic decreases, especially if the patent is broad. It's not hard to theorize that this results in less innovation around this area over time.
I can't wait to see the final results of that study, as it would fit in well with a few other studies that have found similar results.

Filed Under: biotech, brad feld, innovation, patents, vcs


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  1. identicon
    TAAM, 7 Feb 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fringe studies funded by who?

    "Yet, he is unable to show this to be true."

    He has provided plenty of examples where in the absence of Intellectual Property things go just fine. You may disagree with them but they still speak to the truth.

    When you advocate for special privileges in our society the burden of proof should be on you, not the other way around. The real crux of IP has always been control and has nothing to do with recouping R&D costs like you keep blathering about.

    "We just wouldn't have the same levels of research and development if the retail price of medicines was set only by marginal costs."

    So what if you sell like this? You think you cannot fund R&D through other means, that only profit from selling can drive this development?

    Last time I checked you can thank most of your modern technologies to taxpayer run government programs like NASA and the Pentagon.

    Now provide your examples of why your way is the only right way. Or you can just open your mouth and insert foot again :)

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