You probably already know that patents are monopolies granted by the government that prohibit anyone but the patent holder from making, using, or selling the patented invention for some period of time (twenty years in the United States). Generally, the law frowns on monopolies because they are bad for competition, which usually means bad news for consumers in the form of higher prices and limited supplies, but patents are an exception to the general rule.
Why’s that? Good question. The theory is that patents provide incentives for people and companies to invent new things and the general public is better off getting access to these innovations, even if it means they have to pay monopoly prices for a couple of decades.
But patents have their critics. Mainly the critics argue that patents don’t generate that many new products or services that wouldn’t have been created even without the government-granted monopoly, and instead nowadays patents are very often wielded as weapons that stifle innovation by threatening lawsuits against companies that are providing valuable services to the public.
Whether patents are good or bad is a complicated question, but PolyMatter has a great video on YouTube that explains the case against patents in a way that’s easy to understand. Whatever your opinion is on patents, the video is worth watching to stimulate your thinking on an important topic.
Link to video: The Case Against Patents - Amazon’s 1-Click “Invention”
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