Time to eliminate patents altogether?

Fed paper urges more open innovation

By Joe McKendrick | September 29, 2012, 9:07 AM PDT

The patent system, intended to legally protect innovation and intellectual property, is essentially useless, rife with abuse and trolls, and should be disbanded. In spite of the enormous increase in the number of patents and in the strength of their legal protection, they have not accelerated R&D investments or technological progress.

That’s the view taken in a new paper from Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, researchers at the US Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Rapid and massive innovation usually springs out of cooperative environments in which technologies and discoveries are shared, not when industries batten down the hatches and call out the lawyers.  As they bluntly put it:

“There is strong evidence, instead, that patents have many negative consequences…. The initial eruption of small and large innovations leading to the creation of a new industry – from chemicals to cars, from radio and TV to personal computers and investment banking – is seldom, if ever, born out of patent protection and is, instead, the fruits of highly competitive-cooperative environments. It is only after the initial stages of explosive innovation and rampant growth end that mature industries turn toward the legal protection of patents, usually because their internal grow potential diminishes and the industry structure become concentrated.”

Read more: Time to eliminate patents altogether? Fed paper urges more open innovation | SmartPlanet

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