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. icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), 9 Feb 2010 @ 5:59am

    Who funded the study?

    "A recent study which I'll be writing about shortly actually showed how most inventions take place due to a company needing the solution themselves -- thus, not for the sake of selling it directly to profit, though that often comes later."

    Mike, you sure swallow big corporate propaganda hook, line and sinker. Even if this was true, most of these company inventions are minor incremental ones. Breakthrough market altering, disruptive advances come from independent and academic inventors most of the time.

    You say "there is tremendous evidence that shows your wrong" to which I say the idea is right but you have applied it wrong, YOU are the one who ignores TREMENDOUS evidence that the patent system is beneficial.

    Also, you keep whining about people distrusting your motives. If you were an inventor (and contrary to your previous claims you are no) who spent years, sometimes decades in perfecting an invention only to have some quick buck marketing weasel come along and steal it or try to steal it you would have a very different perspective.

    As I see it you are feeding to one degree or another at the trough of some of the worst tech and financial dis-service companies who just happen to be associated with stealing from inventors. That and the fact that you do promote their agenda of allowing theft of inventions gives everyone a very good reason to question your motives.

    On the issue of your upbringing I am the first to admit that regardless of a patents best efforts some children just do not turn out the way we would like. Conversely, some children grow up and closely follow the example set by their parents, good or bad. We really don't have any way of knowing what the situation is with you. But we do know from your actions that you are pushing an agenda counter to what current law and policy says is right and it is reasonable to wonder why.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

    Society benefits most from dueling inventors who leapfrog each other. Large companies generally are content to continue to rake in money from what they already have.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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