Sunday, August 26, 2012

I hereby patent everything in this world that has not yet been patented

Conventional thinking is that without patents,we would not have innovation. Mankind would stagnate in the Dark Ages. Really ?? 

This port is triggered by the drama between Apple and Samsung . In the tech industry, everybody is suing everybody else over patent infringement. Hundreds of patents are granted over what goes inside one mobile phone. Is this all necessary ? These days, that business seems to be driven by lawyers rather than technology - M&A activity in this industry seem to be driven mostly by patents.The patent industry has exploded so much that this blogger even blogged about the ridiculous patents that have been granted.

The central premise that innovation will be stopped if there are no patents is nonsense. Right through human history, innovation has flourished with no help from the patent office, thank you.  Patents are a recent human invention - perhaps in the 15th century. Innovation has not exactly been stifled throughout human history.  You may say, ancient history is not relevant. But take even the 20th century - the discovery of the cure for malaria, the satellites that make today's communication possible, the green revolution , the internet, and even the cellphone itself arrived with no help from patents. NASA, which has helped an incredible amount of innovation in the last 50 years, does not patent stuff.

Human nature is to innovate - thank God. No amount of pressure can stifle that. The central problem with patents is that they create monopolies. Monopolies, by definition, stifle competition and are against the consumer.  Huge ethical issues arise when drugs are patented and the poor are excluded from the benefits of life saving drugs.

I am not saying that we should afford no protection to the inventor and simply allow free boarders to copy and ride on somebody else's work.  But the current situation has gone too far. My prescription is a drastic reduction in what can be patented, significantly lower patent periods and public funding of research to compete with private industry.

This would be absolutely heresy to the business world, and if I were important enough, I would simply be branded a communist. I know of at least one reader of this blog who is going to call me and express shock that I have morphed into Kim Jong Il. But I know business They will simply adapt to a different regime. Innovation will not slow down one bit. It might actually become  more cost effective.

There is zero chance that any of this will happen. But just on the off chance , I hereby patent this idea and in case anybody wants to adopt it, they can only do so after paying me $4,567,984.32 .

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