For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

ANOTHER ANTI-PATENT RANT: WHAT GOOD DOES IT SERVE?

The Daily Telegraph has published an anti-patent rant by Terence Kealey. The author states: “The myth is that intellectual property provides the incentive to invent; in fact, inventors use patents to block others from inventing. If Wilbur and Orville had had their way, aviators today would still lie over the lower wing of biplanes, open to the elements and lacking in-flight entertainment”. Later he adds “The grotesque consequence of the Uruguay Round was to price modern medicines - especially anti-Aids treatments - so expensively that, in the words of James Orbinski of Medecins Sans Frontieres, "millions of people are dying and will die because trade is privileged over the dignity of human beings". Kealey later concludes: “When they are threatened by war or disease, Western governments are quick to recognise patents as a manufacturers' conspiracy against the public, so it is tragic that the West is loath to give the Third World and the WTO a break”.

The IPKat reminds readers that there is another side to the story. 90 per cent of the drugs on the WHO’s most-wanted list are not even the subject of patent protection but people still can’t afford them. Also, both Article 5 of the Paris Convention and Article 31 of TRIPs contain surprisingly generous compulsory licence provisions to enable a patented invention to be used where its proprietor is unwilling to use or license it. And what but the patent system has resulted in the disclosure of literally millions of technical documents into the public arena where they can be studied and consulted by everyone, including a patent owner’s competitors. The patent system may not be perfect (no system can be better than the people who operate it), but it’s got a lot going for it too. The IPKat wonders therefore what sort of constructive benefit is derived from writing tirades like this.

Why are patents good? Click here, here , here and here
Why are patents bad? Click here, here, here and here

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