The Business of Science and Technology: Protecting Intellectual Property Rights

Judge Michel on the Importance of Patents to Innovation

Judge Michel, the former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit  had interesting things to say about the importance of patents to innovation:

“I think there are many, in particular, in the academic world, who seem to assume that nearly all useful innovation would occur anyway, in the absence of the patent system. Certainly some individual inventors don’t need big labs, big staffs, big budgets and years and years of R&D effort. They might create a particular new invention without the incentive of a patent. And there may be individual scientists who likewise might invent without the incentive of a patent. But for most inventions, it seems clear that signifi cant investment of money up front is needed, and it can only come from two sources – either from government grants or from private finance. And it seems clear that, in the current environment, our national budget is in disastrous shape. The defi cits and total indebtedness of the country are enormous. So I don’t see how we can look to public funds being invested in R&D to save the country’s economy from steady decline that I think it otherwise will experience. It will have to be private money. And it seems absolutely clear that you often can’t get significant private money to finance R&D, except by the prospect of powerful patents. So I think the economic future of the country really is going to turn out to rest primarily on the strength of the patent system.”

From Pete Zura’s excellent blog.

I completely agree with Chief Judge Michel.


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