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 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: investments

    Nope, but 1000 small companies with no money for research don't hire very many people either.


    Really?
    How is that?
    The money for research doesn't come from many smaller donations(sales) of products to people who has no real money to spend in research?

    Happens all the time, see the previous point. "it takes money to make money"


    Agreed look at the previous answer.

    Can 1000 small companies survive having nothing to sell?


    What nothing?

    Better services and fewer complaints and cheaper resources are bad?

    Besides if the thousand one have nothing to sell what makes you think the bigger ones will have anything to sell?

    Are you saying that one big company can survive better then a thousand? How is the music industry faring?


    if the 1000 companies have no money to research, the big company can always do more research.


    Really, then to simulate chemical reactions in thousands of IT Centers is worst?
    Have you ever researched anything in your life?
    How much does it cost to trial thousands of compounds at one place and how much does it cost to one company to take one test do it 100 times and send the results to a common database?

    Thousands of companies working at different things will not be able to do better then one big one?

    Again, without money to research, the small companies can't evolve because they aren't moving at all


    Again, most research is done by individuals that then sell or are financed after they discover something so research happens without the aid of big companies all the time and that is unlikely to change see above how costly is to do computer simulation these days.


    This is where your logic fails. If your 1000 smaller companies are going to hire more people and do more research, they are going to consume larger sums of money and resources, and likely are going to duplicate each other's efforts, thus being even more inefficient. Having many players is not the most efficient market.


    Last I heard the internet was created, distributed computing was a reality, clinical trials can be coordinated in a global scale, all small labs can coordinate and take one piece of the puzzle at a time and do it at a fraction of the cost and file reports on common databases, duplication of efforts was called redundancy and is a big part of quality assuarance and control besides the fact that it increases good behaviour on all the players, because no one wants to be called out in public.

    yeah, all the do is make it possible for companies in invest in new developments, to grow, and to bring new products to market. The only thing inhibited is companies who would seek to profit off of others by flooding the market with generic drugs, not paying for research, just paying to replicate.


    No what it does is give the tools to a handful of companies to kill the competitors it does nothing to increase innovation if it did the U.S. would be king but it is not.

    You assume that flooding the market with cheap generics is a bad thing when it is not, it maintain the public healthy and generate enough money to maintain local productions in place that generate local jobs with global cooperation and best practices auto regulated by true market freedom and to maintain their services they would invest in new researches and even if they did not other interested parties would, medical personell, researches, clinics, hospitals etc which would have more capital to do so with cheaper hardware and resources.

    The human genome was done in distributed form with labs all around the world doing it was it not?

    What makes you think it cannot be done with research for new medicines?

    You are making the same mistake Mike seems to make: You cannot look only at the marginal costs of selling the product, you have to look at the costs to get to that moment. In a market without protections, the generic makers would just sit there and pick off ever decent medication, and make it impossible for the people paying to create the new medicines to make them pay out.


    The marginal cost for fabrication of compounds can go down that is not a problem, research and development don't depend on that to occur. We don't really need a company to do it, we need researchers that are already paid for not only by public funding but by a lot of smaller private ones.

    What we really don't need is big companies patenting everything and spending more money buying and marketing things then innovating.

    They stop innovation for the sole purpose of profiting for something.

    Intel doesn't have that luxury, if they don't compete they would be crushed by asian and canadian competition despite the fact that there is a lot of patenting going on so patents don't even protect them really it just protects big companies from smaller ones they enable the killing of baby companies that could be something.

    Turn the field sterile and what happens is that other more competitive companies arise elsewhere whiping them out, that is what happened to the auto industry, the TV industry and other industries in the U.S. they lost everything.

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