11.04.09

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Canada’s National Bureau of Economic Research: Patents Harm Poor People (and Help Rich People)

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Out on the streets

Summary: A new report sheds light on the lesser-known impact of patents on society, and sometimes life or death

BILL Gates and Microsoft happen to be some of the biggest fans (and investors) of pharmaceutical patents, which according to a new study from the Canadian authorities are actually leading to death of the world’s poor while vainly pretending to help (it’s no secret that today's patent system offers protection to the rich class). IP Watch has just a summary of the study:

Canada’s National Bureau of Economic Research today released a report on the relationship between patent protection for pharmaceuticals and investment in development of new drugs since the negotiation of the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The NBER report “Investments in Pharmaceuticals Before and After TRIPS” found that patent protection is associated with increases in research and development in developed countries, but “the introduction of patents in developing countries has not been followed by greater investment.”

We have already shown that the head of the USPTO acknowledges that patents are a “20-year monopoly”. Using the same logic, one blogger adopts a fantastic path of exploration, which goes under the headline “And the monopoly goes to…” (like “the Oscar goes to…”).

I’m not a great fan of patents, not because I’m against innovation, but because I don’t believe the patent system (especially in the United States) has kept up with, or modernized, in a way that actually encourages the widest possible public benefit at the lowest cost in the least amount of time. In other words, what we’ve learned from open source is that different types of competitive pressures in transparent markets can do as much if not more than centrally conferred monopolies over a given idea, implementation, or design.

Indeed, Free software (or “open source” as the author calls it) truly revolutionised development for the betterment of society as a whole, mostly capitalising on the information liberation facilitated by the Internet (and especially the World Wide Web). It is a democratising force that also promotes peer production, as the Linux Foundation proudly calls it. That’s productive capitalism at work.

Based on this news report from Wired, some people are still so selfish and greedy that they want a monopoly on human genes. This practice is fortunately being challenged by a judge now.

A federal judge ruled Monday that a lawsuit can move forward against the Patent and Trademark Office and the research company that was awarded exclusive rights to human genes known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer.

Those who think that patenting life is outrageous ought to look at this new nugget of information.

Pepsi Told To Pay Over A Billion Dollars For ‘Stealing’ The Idea For Bottled Water

[...]

First, $1.26 billion? For the “idea” of filtered bottled water? And for a lawsuit filed nearly thirty years after the alleged conversation? Nearly fifteen years after the product came to market? Yeah, that makes sense…

It makes a lot of sense for people who use the patent system as their welfare system.

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3 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    November 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Gravatar

    >> “the introduction of patents in developing countries has not been followed by greater investment.”

    The intent is for the big dogs to hold that innovation growth rate down to a manageable level, so patents get introduced.

    We see a flourishing of ideas, but the established dogs see threats. They also see a resource, a swelling fountain, whose output needs to be monetized. To pull this off, they need to share some of the spoils with “small inventors”. It puts a lovable face on the filthy patent business.

    http://lwn.net/Articles/360428/

    Jose_X Reply:

    Some degree of government subsidy can be useful, but a flat rate 20 year monopoly on broadly-scoped software ideas is not very useful to very many and can be used in an extremely stifling manner against the majority and, in particular, against FOSS.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, Microsoft has its share of pet “small inventors”, e.g. Daniel Doll-Steinberg and Tribeka. See this post for details.

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