My point is this. Innovation is an evolution. Everybody takes from everybody else. A truly competitve darwinian system where it's survival of the fittest may produce orders of magnitude more innovation than a system where someone gets to keep a lid on their invention (if in fact it is their invention which is a serious problem with our current system).Keep in mind, VC's are the guys funding innovative startups. They aren't puppets of large corporations, and they aren't crackpots.
I think of the patent system in our country a bit like the tenure system in our academic institutions. It protects ideas and people that may not deserve to be protected and it allows for underperformance and it stifles creativity and energy.
Clearly we cannot abolish our system of intellectual property overnight. Many billions of dollars (including tens of millions of capital I manage) has been invested in companies that are using intellectual property protection as a competitive weapon. If there is going to be change, it must be gradual.
But I am encouraging all of us, the readers of this blog, other bloggers, academics, politicians, public policy wonks, and anyone else who cares about innovation in our country and the world at large to think hard about a world without patents and less intellectual property protection broadly speaking and what impact that would have on innovation and the flow of capital around innovation.
I believe we need a new way in the years to come. Our current approach is holding us back, not taking us forward.
Friday, April 14, 2006
A venture capitalist in New York is speaking out against patents, urging their abolishment: