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 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Patents.

    Wrong! development cost resources not money.

    Those resources can be gathered by people and used, today we use money to gather those resources but there are other means.

    Now even money can be gathered in other ways to pay for research and development.

    Opendental is a free software that is made by a dentist and it gather resources in new ways and the guy is doing ok.

    Clinics and hospitals can finance research and development, the public through communities can do it, big pharma gather those resources through sales that doesn't mean there is no other way to do it, what it means is that people are accustomed to this way now, and it is risky, inefficient and unbalanced. Why people has to pay a big company to do work for them? why they cannot do it themselves? is there a lack of good facilities in universities? is there lack of good facilities for hire? no there is not, the only thing lacking is the will to change or the vision. People, hospitals and clinics pay through the nose already for the research that is not even the big cost for medicine, marketing is 2 times the size of the budget for development according to some. Why are the people paying for this and being allowed to be raped at the store?

    About the Cuban poverty that only makes more impressive the medical achievements how is that a people that have nothing can do better than a country that has everything?

    But I will concede and agree with you, a communist state is not a good idea, but also absolute ownership on IP is not a good idea either.

    Food for though.
    Professor Samuel Bowles is even more "radical" them I'm and people listen to him.
    http://sfreporter.com/stories/born_poor/5339/all/

    The third is the most recent US Gini, as calculated by the Census Bureau. It’s at a level comparable to the Philippines, a former colony of islands where every other person lives on less than $2 a day, or Rwanda, an even poorer country in Central Africa that was home to a genocide 16 years ago—a country whose name is often synonymous with hopelessness. SFR


    Bowles offers a key reason why this is so. “Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources,” he says.

    In short, in a very unequal society, the people at the top have to spend a lot of time and energy keeping the lower classes obedient and productive.

    Inequality leads to an excess of what Bowles calls “guard labor.” In a 2007 paper on the subject, he and co-author Arjun Jayadev, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, make an astonishing claim: Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods.

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