What are patents for

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Initial ideas, ramifications not fully explored. Laws in the US and the EU are different and thus require further specification

Before I started building Dispertech , a project of technology transfer , I regarded patents as a roadblock to innovation. An example was the patent on 3D printing, which halted further development of the associated techniques. A monopolistic situation raised prices and prevented printers from reaching the consumer market until patents expired:

For example, when the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printing process patent expired in 2009, prices for FDM printers dropped from over $10,000 to less than $1,000, and a new crop of consumer-friendly 3D printer manufacturers, like MakerBot and Ultimaker, paved the way for accessible 3D printing.

On the other hand, patents are open. Anyone can see them, learn from them, and in principle build on them. It is likely that industrial processes regarded as trade secrets are not patented. The laser in Philips' last DVD/CD-writer needed to be precisely aligned for it to work. The tool they developed was not patented and was jealously guarded in their own manufacturing plant. Without this tool, even if you copied the design of the drives, you would have never managed to replicate the product, and without a patent, this tool would never be public.

Patents can be used to block third parties from competing in a market. Big corporations with large portfolios used this technique to prevent others from innovating in markets where they have a dominant position. The interaction of patents and research can lead to contradictory terms between individual goals and the mission of publicly funded science.

I also see as a problem that patents can be awarded to ideas without empiric verification . Which effectively can push the races to the bottom , forcing companies to increase their portfolios either by buying or filing new patents in key sectors.


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Aquiles Carattino
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