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
    The Anti-Mike (profile), 6 Feb 2010 @ 5:56pm

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

    Wrong! development cost resources not money.

    I'll remember to use that line when I try to push an idea to market. I will tell them to work for free, because it doesn't cost money, it only cost resources.

    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.

    There is no absolute ownership. Patents are for a VERY limited time, copyright is for a limited time as well. They are generally very narrow in context. As I said before, you know that copyright isn't over broad when you go to a major bookstore and see tens of thousands of different books for sale, often multiple books on the same subjects.

    Since there is no absolute ownership of IP, the rest of your argument is moot.

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