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 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    True and single companies are not cutting either there needs to be more openness so people everywhere can do more things.

    Big companies get their funding from the people make no mistake about that, it would be cheaper to people pay universities and private laboratories to do research then to let a company do it, I just don't understand why people think they need the big pharma boys, they don't everything they need is already in place and they probably could do a better job if they shared the job around the world like SETI, simulations for compounds that could lead to cancer treatments etc this all can be done without the Big pharma.

    Basically big pharma spends more begging for people to spend then they do developing new things. Who needs that?

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