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Biotech Patents The Almighty Buck Science

Biotech Report Says IP Spurs Innovation 126

ananyo writes "A report presented at the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston, Massachusetts suggests that patents do not stifle progress when they occur at early phases of research, as some have suggested. Over the past decade, increases in patents have been matched by growth in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors in India, Brazil, Singapore and other countries with emerging economies. The strength of patent rights can be quantified in an index ranging from 0 (no patent rights) to 5 (very strong). Over time, the countries that U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical companies have invested in have moved up the IP barometer, the report (PDF) says."
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Biotech Report Says IP Spurs Innovation

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  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @11:46AM (#40429635) Homepage Journal

    I don't think you could have typed that with a straight face, unless A: you simply don't understand copyright law and/or B: you have your own software patents.

    Software patents should NEVER have been approved. The first one submitted should have been laughed out of the building. All software is covered by one or more copyrights. No software should be covered by patent. End of story.

  • by Sun ( 104778 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @12:22PM (#40429919) Homepage

    Let's keep it to patents that a reasonable engineer from the field cannot read. That is the situation with software. It is not, say, with pharmaceuticals. I don't know how it is with biotech.

    The moment a "patent editor" starts to pile on the claims and to obfuscate the language, that is the point in which you know that patents made the transition from a tool design to protect an inventor to a tool designed to block out competition.


  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @12:30PM (#40430009)

    I guess you don't understand the differences between civil and criminal law very well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:18PM (#40430393)

    Singling out software patents would be selfish -- let's fix this for everyone.

    I disagree. Software is fundamentally different.

    The difference is that in 99.99% of cases, software patents are the result of very little research and development expenditures. When Amazon patented "one click purchase", there was essentially zero R&D expense to develop it -- it was basically one software engineer who made an obvious suggestion.

    In the pharmaceutical industry, they spend millions of dollars in development and testing for each individual drug. There, patents are an essential motivator for them to invest the necessary capital up front.

    The solution has always been obvious:

    The patent protection must be proportional to the investment.

    In other words: If you can prove (to an independent auditor) that you spent $X in relevant R&D expenses to develop a non-obvious innovation, then you should get patent protection up to $X * P in revenues. The day you clear $X * P in revenues from that innovation, the patent protection stops.

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @03:28PM (#40431265)

    Ignoring the monopoly right sleight of hand patents are just another transfer method. Like any tax and spend system, of course they're beneficial for the recepient and if the recipient was the only party to the equation we could just hike taxes and spend on everyone and everything.

    But patents and taxes are not free. They already do harm to everyone else by the funds they transfer to the beneficiaries. So the question becomes, do we gain as a whole by taking from everyone else and giving to the patent holders? Do we gain more by giving monopoly rights than we would by outright state funding?

    There are strong indications that IP rights are far less efficient than even the absolutely worst run government programs in existence. For the money transferred to pharmaceuticals not even 20% are spent on actual R&D, while twice that falls under their marketing budgets. That suggests we'd get far more R&D if we junked patents and created research funds tied to actual research. Basically any system would beat patents. In any and all industries.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors