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
    :), 6 Feb 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents.

    Funny your comment about China because I know the government owns everything and tells companies what they can and cannot do they limit ownership and it is only open in certain "special commercial" areas with the government actively ignoring IP laws so if you want proof that it works there it is, weak IP laws encourage innovation and growth, while stronger IP laws do exactly the contrary.

    Now if we go to the case of medical databases, in Europe they are smaller and less useful than in other countries.

    You don't need a bigger carrot you only need a small one to entice companies, they will be fighting for it even for tinny little scraps and that is the beauty of greed it turns intelligent people into idiots it appeals to the selfish nature in all of us and it doesn't need to be big.

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