Challenging patents

This week’s issue of The Economist has a couple of articles and an editorial on patents.

Patents are currently  a motherhood thing in economics.  To challenge them is to commit treason.  Well, here goes.

One of the features of a competitive market is that it be easy for participants to get in (and out)  To do that the technology must be known to all.  Patents work to protect the interests of those already in the market.  If we really wanted a competitive market economy we would retract all patent legislation.

Progress comes from building upon what others have done.  I have read that during the Industrial Revolution the inventors and designers frequently helped each other. Patent legislation was apparently loosely enforced, if at all.  Some of the major inventors never got rich and many died poor.

Not only does the current obsession with patents restrict competition, the large sums of money involved add to costs and eventually come out of the pockets of customers.  And in any case, do we really need all these gadgets?

Probably we would all be better off if there was no patent legislation.


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