Tuesday, December 20, 2005

BusinessWeek on our Failed Patent System

From the article:
For over 200 years, the U.S. patent system has catalyzed economic growth and protected the national interest. Unfortunately, over the past few decades, patents have become irrelevant -- even harmful -- to the innovation process.
The striking thing is, this editorial wasn't written by some crank. This is Greg Blonder, who led research at AT&T for a number of years, has 70 patents to his name, and is now involved in funding startups through venture capital. What does someone with his experience think of the current state of affairs with our patent system? He thinks that there is a serious problem with patent quality, even admitting that most of his 70 patents shouldn't be protected by government granted monopoly.

Read this article. Then read the comments in the feedback section. It seems that we are reaching broad consensus on these issues: the patent system needs some serious, meaningful reform.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to abolish the patent system.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous keean said...

This was posted as a comment to the BusinessWeek article by someone that goes by 'Keean':

"I have been thinking about the patent problem for a while, and I think the key point made was that patents were intended to encourage innovation not stifle it. Patents were intended to allow companies to reveal their trade secrets in return for a limited monopoly, this allows reasearchers to build of the secret technology . As such this is a trade between the holder of the secret and the people. Details of the technology in exchange for the monopoly. If what the people recieve is worthless then this is a bad deal for the people. This leads to the "trade-secret test" ... A patent should only be granted for something that could reasonably be kept as a trade secret - in this case independent invention is a sure sign that the people are not recieving a fair deal."

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keean said stupid things...

According to him, patents should
not be granted for new drugs: once distributed to public it is relatively easy to analyze any chemical substance and reproduce it at a fraction of the original R&D cost - no or very weak trade secret protection and no patent then, that is, according to Keean...

Foolish thinking...

I hope Keean doesn't need Viagra,
good for him...

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who said patents shouldn't be granted for new drugs? Keean was simply proposing a better test for the obviousness clause.

And, BTW, your precious Viagra wouldn't be threatened by such a change -- today you can already by generic and name brand alternatives (levitra, et. al).

The real value in a new drug is in its marketing. Viagra is perhaps the best example of this that we have. Compare the amount of money Pfizer spent on research into creating Viagra vs. the amount of money they spend marketing it. Hint: the research investment is insignificant in comparison. By speaking with its dollars, Pfizer is saying, loud and clear, that the real value of Viagra is in the ads and brand name, not in the components that make up the drug.

Seriously. Suppose I could clone Viagra and put it on the market tomorrow as "BoneUpra" -- sure, I'd take some small amount of customers away from Pfizer, but the majority of you would stick with the original -- just as you do today even though there are cheaper alternatives.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The real value in a new drug is in its marketing."

This is just BS.

None of this stuff (Viagra, Levitra, Cialis or what ever generic alternative you name like Konagra etc.) existed just a few short years ago.

The discovery by Pfiser was purely accidental (read the history of this) and without patent incentive there would be absolutely no motovation for them to bring it to the mass market

Your comments don't hold any water...

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The discovery by Pfizer was accidental? Isn't that further proof that pharmaceuticals don't need monopolies to incentivize their efforts? In this case, they weren't even looking for Viagra when, *poof*, they discovered it.

Are you claiming that without the patent, Pfizer would have just said, "Ho hum. A male impotency drug. How boring. Let's not try to sell it. Everybody, let's go home!", because I hate to tell you, but that sounds absolutely absurd.

Its like saying that the makers of Cialis would never make Cialis because Pfizer already has a monopoly on Viagra -- ridiculous.

The truth is, there are boatloads of money waiting for the makers of these drugs, regardless of whether the government grants them monopolies over those discoveries or not. Might the profits be a bit less without patents? Sure -- but that's how a free market works: competition drives down prices. But that doesn't mean that drug production and research wouldn't still be extremely profitable, and it doesn't mean that your tax dollars would suddenly stop funding 90% of all basic drug research in this country.

Why not try addressing these issues instead of just blindly calling 'BS'?

4:20 PM  
Blogger Blake6489 said...

///////////////Begin Quote////////////////
Anonymous said...

Keean said stupid things...

According to him, patents should
not be granted for new drugs: once distributed to public it is relatively easy to analyze any chemical substance and reproduce it at a fraction of the original R&D cost - no or very weak trade secret protection and no patent then, that is, according to Keean...

Foolish thinking...

I hope Keean doesn't need Viagra,
good for him...
////////////////End Quote/////////////////

Heres my stand, Keean's statements on trade secrets "A patent should only be granted for something that could reasonably be kept as a trade secret"(see the second comment for Keean's post) arnt based on whether or not you could keep the science of your tech under raps, but whether or not the 'trade secret' would be something that set your product apart from other current products. Keean is refering to a 'trade secret' as the part of your inovation that makes it inovative and marketable, not a tech that must be kept secret to remain valid as the facelesscoward above claimed.

9:57 PM  

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