Just remember, you are a professional thief:
thanks… it definitely takes the whole humanity for science to flourish…
Thanks for the link!
@brucecaron, I liked your article. It noticed that you mentioned patenting basic discoveries, and then I followed your link to the Research Enterprise blog, which I found to be an amazing trove of discussion about the interaction of patenting with academia. I have not read the blog comprehensively (it seems to be huge) but I found a few interesting pages such as:
A patent gives its holder the right to exclude all others from making, using, selling, or importing anything within the scope of the claimed invention. A patent holder does not have to exclude all others. It’s a choice. On its own, a patent is a publication of the invention–teaching both how to practice the invention, often showing the best mode of practice, and laying out with some care in one or more claims the full extent of the invention. Holding a patent may be a bad thing when one neither practices the invention or allows others to practice it. It may be a bad thing when one uses it to make a product directed at public health but available only at a monopoly price far above the cost to develop the product plus a reasonable profit. It may be a bad thing when the patent arises in a project of distributed research in a given area in which others involved are denied the use of the invention so that those acquiring the patent can attempt to profit. It becomes more obviously a bad thing when the patent that’s not used or used unreasonably covers an invention made in publicly supported research–where the basis for providing the funding is that the work is done in the public interest and is not a subsidy for a private profit-seeking venture.
I’ve been thinking about the interaction of IP with scholarship for a while now. I had previously been quite against the restriction of knowledge usage through patenting, but I’m also good friends with a patent attorney and discussions with him have opened me up to the idea more (I also started considering patenting more as a personal income source after beginning to work independently). One point I’ve never felt we converged on an agreement about is whether patenting reduces the value of an invention to society as a whole - my friend is steadfast on the viewpoint that not patenting leads to loss of value, but I feel that this probably only applies to the inventor, as an unpatented invention can allow more widespread usage. However, I do admit it’s conceivable that certain forms of innovation may fail to ever be commercialized if they are not protected by a patent monopoly. I’d be open to hearing a good argument for that last point, but the general sentiment of the blog leads to me to think it will be hard to make.
One patent use case I’ve found out about does seem somewhat more appealing, which is to patent with the intention of preventing monopolies rather than creating them. My understanding (which may be wrong) is that by having a patent on some early-stage research that is likely to be built on, a patentee keeps themselves in the decision-making process for how the knowledge is commercialized, even if they are not actively involved all the way to a final product. For instance, if later innovators extend upon the original patentee’s work and file a derivative patent and intend to create a monopoly, the original patentee can force the later innovators to form patent pool that provides more accessible licensing, with the threat of excluding them from the scope covered by the original patent if they don’t comply. If the original patentee had simply published their work without publishing then they wouldn’t have that option, as the later innovators would be extending upon a public idea rather than a patented invention. I think that in certain situations this could be a more strategic method of knowledge dissemination than open-publishing, although I wouldn’t be confident on how to use this strategy effectively. And of course, if there wasn’t a risk of basic research ideas being locked of by patents then this strategy wouldn’t be necessary at all…
Great link to the pandemic patent issue.