Patent protection story -2

Time: 2018-02-09
Anymore anyone who gets sued for patent infringement or receives a cease and desist letter complains that patents harm innovation because they can’t sell the product that they want to sell. Thus, products are erroneously being conflated with innovation. But to innovation is to do something new. In fact, the definition of “innovation” is “(1) something new or different introduced; or (2) introduction of new things or methods.” Generally speaking, if one is infringing on a patent then they are not innovating. Instead, what is happening is the very antithesis of innovation.

In fact, what was missing from the aforementioned comment was any real discussion of the innovation that was being stifled.  The commenter concluded that his products are innovative, and offered that his products cost less and are preferred in the market. But costing less and being preferred in the marketplace are hardly evidence of innovation. In fact, it is at least as likely in most cases that a copycat can and does sell infringing products for less because all they have done is copy the innovator. Because the innovator has time and money invested in the innovation they have to charge more than the actor who simply copies and has no sunk costs to recoup. A lower cost point for consumers easily can, and usually does, explain market preference.

Even if this, or any other commenter, were to be able to point to something they are being prevented from doing that is objectively superior to what is covered in a patent that still wouldn’t be any kind of proof that patents stifle innovation. In fact, it would be proof that the patent system is working exactly as it was designed to work and has worked for hundreds of years.

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