26th feb, 2010

Inventors doesn´t need patents, they just need a market

I have been pondering over a blogpost about venture capitalists attitude towards IP/patents for a few days. On tech dirt there is a post claiming that many venture capitalists are seeing patents as blocking investments opposed to encouraging them. The author says “It comes back to the same point that we’ve been making for years: truly inventive people don’t need a patent as incentive to invent: they just need a need in the marketplace and they go and create.” 


In my opinion there is a contradiction here. You cannot have a market without ideas, and the only thing protecting an idea is either secrecy or IP. True IP is an artificial creation mimicking physical property, but it is a creation which in my opinion is founded in basic property rights – fruits of your labour – philosophical stuff. 


This leads to the next problem in the blogpost. In the post (and the post by Brad Burnham which it quotes) there is talk of patents blocking similar solutions. It is a common mistake to make, when you say that a patent blocks similar solutions to a problem. The fact is that it is the other way around. You are given a patent to a specific solution, leaving alternatives free to competition. I will, however, acknowledge a major problem here. In the US there is too broad patents and too little distance between the patents. This leads to the problems described in the post where frustrations with late emerging patents are very bothersome. 


In Brad Burnhams post he doubt that companies like Google and ebay support patent protection. I think that with their 2500+ and 660+ patents both companies hope to benefit from patent protection. 

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