The big idea: ban patents to get a better world?

By in general, products, strategy on 17 September 2010

This has worried me – so I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot recently. IP and patents. Just how many great things never get off the design paper?

Far too many ideas get patented and never delivered as products. Maybe the inventor can’t deliver, or the idea is bought to keep it hidden.

Perhaps patents should be granted only to bring product to market.

OK, that may sound unfair. If I think of something, it should belong to me. But wait. Imagine the motor car had been patented. Would there have been a race to refine and improve it? Would you be happy buying only one version, having no choice of model or colour?

For people to get the maximum benefit, any great idea should be given the best chance. And that means the fullest exposure. So if you can’t deliver, you lose, not society.

Imagine a a very different world

This sounds like some socialist or Marxist doctrine. But its not, its about advancing society. Let me take you to a world that might have been.

Take the example of the motor car, the automobile. Imagine the inventor had patented the idea, but a big owner of horse-drawn carriages had bought it. They could have chosen to protect their market by not building cars. Would that have been a good thing?

What if a gas company bought out the patent on electric light bulbs and then not delivered? Our lives would be a lot poorer – and a lot darker!

Making everything more competitive – for the good of all

I hope that title takes me away from any Marxist labelling! What I’m talking about here is encouraging inventors to get product to market, protecting them while they do, but only allowing them the right to licence an idea, never to own it outright.

Only when products are put under competitive pressure is their true potential realised. Patent squabbles just restrict development and ultimately society, you, me and our children are the real losers.

Society provides the environment for ideas – let’s all get the benefit of them

We should provide support for idea delivery and credit the inventor with the ideas they come up with. Reward them with lifetime licenses, but never allow the choice to not deliver. That’s just morally unacceptable.

Ultimately, a new product is only successful because it out-performs what was before it. We deserve everything to be better. We all deserve a better world!