February 07, 2008

Patenting - Is this good or bad?

This question has kept repeating itself within the walls of my think tank for almost 4 years now (Prior to that, I probably didn't care to even think about it). Everytime I think of an idea that convinces me, pop comes this thought!

An average human gets about 64,000 ideas and thoughts in a day. We never realize this fact, but a little bit of training will help us tap into our brain's thinking patterns and make more out of it. Intellectual property has been a big focus for many of the companies of the world for the very sake of proving themselves and also to make money out of.

Well, thats good. I would not want to get into "why a company should get into patenting?". My question has been "does patenting and protection of IP (intellectual property) do good for the human creativity or do they hamper creativity?".

Again, this is not for the genuinely good ideas that are patented. I'm referring to some of those basic and sometimes silly ideas, so to say, that get successfully patented. A look into the USPTO website can reveal some really ridiculous patents...trust me...you might bump into ideas like "shortest way (path) to go to the loo" (there does exist a patent that is similar to this!) to "easiest method to open a chocolate box".

Here are a few negative effects of such patents-
  1. De-motivates aspiring inventors to submit patents - By ridiculing the very essence of a brilliant idea
  2. Prevents people from improvising on an existing patent - Some patents are framed in such a way that it does not easily allow people to build on top of that
  3. Encourages people and companies to find out ways to get trivial ideas to be patented (just to tell the world that they have "N" number of patents)
In my opinion, companies should make it a point to have a dedicated Invention Disclosure team that would help in thoroughly scrutinizing patent applications before filing it to the USPTO or any other country's patent office.
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