Daniel Lemire's blog

, 5 min read

Do we need patents?

7 thoughts on “Do we need patents?”

  1. Franta says:

    I agree with the point. It is very interesting argument indeed.
    I would be interested to know if there is at least one good use of patents to help innovation and human progress.
    Copyright protection is somewhat similar but doesn’t have such a negative effect.

  2. Itman says:

    Even if patents are Ok in the farma they are trully atrocious in IT.

  3. Greg says:

    Very true. With phrama patents, I’d at least like to see an experiment of research grants that fund clinical trials in exchange for abandoning the ability to patent the results. If it leads to a few successful results, it would put pressure on our system of funding clinical trials with a government granted monopoly rather than funding them directly.

  4. anon says:

    Did industry in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc, have other means of protecting their products — trade secrets, lack of need to disclose targets or relavent compounds, etc — prior to introduction of patents in ’67-’77?

  5. @anon

    Yes, most countries recognized trade secrets and process patents prior to 1967-1977. The USA and UK offered much stronger protections however.

    If regulations were helpful, countries where inventions were more heavily regulated should have been more prosperous. It wasn’t the case.

  6. Sagar says:

    See Derek Lowe’s post for an opposing view point. He has worked for over 30 years in the pharma industry:


    I do think weakening patent protection substantially will lead to more trade secrets like it has in the self-driving car industry and possibly push driven people to work in societally less useful fields like finance / high frequency trading.

  7. Mr. No Name says:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has an intresting paper on this:

    We find that rising piracy increases subsequent R&D spending […] for large, incumbent software firms. […] We conclude that piracy and similar competitive shocks push firms to innovate to stay ahead of imitator products

    Source: https://www.uspto.gov/ip-policy/economic-research/publications/working-papers

    So basically the USPTO came to the conclusion that patents are a bad thing for innovation and more competition increases innovation. Who would have thought that is possible? 😀