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
    :), 7 Feb 2010 @ 3:59pm

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

    And why should they "have" to be able to recoupe anything?

    If they can't research and put anything new they should just die or this is communist too?

    If they don't have a model business that don't work why should people be penalized for it? Why should others not be able to take the torch a little bit further?

    Biology was done in the 1700's by people who where only interested in advancing science, like Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and actually people can replicate his microscope with any glass they found in the house today, more importantly microscopy today can be done on the cheap because anyone can do it high quality cheap microscope, was that liberty that enabled great discoveries, and what was true then it is true now we don't live in a different world, the power of connection and freedom of information never was more visible then on the internet that is hailed everywhere as the "super highway of information" and it is something so useful that had transformed the way we live today, that is power.

    Why does it cost so much?

    Clinical data can be done in a distributed form:

    Now we have open source for clinical trials, too, but instead


    - Discovery of compounds are simulated and we have the computer power to do it on the cheap.

    - We can do distributed genetic mapping and even children have the ability to test DNA today.

    Why does it cost billions?

    Open Source Food and Genetic Engineering - Michael Pollan

    We have all the tools to do it in a scale that big pharma could only dream on. Why exactly do we need those people to sell us anything? Why do we need them to research anything? and why do they need to exist in the first place?

    And if they don't need to exist why do they have to have any profits at all?

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