Discover more from BIG by Matt Stoller
The Subversion of Patents
Patents used to promote innovation. Now it's a tool to stop it.
From a reader.
See what happened with the clever, safer, medicine bottles that Target pharmacies use to have. Easy to read the label, they would stay up in place, color rings to differentiate among the users in a household. CVS bought Target pharmacies, along with the patent for medicine bottles that Target had bought from its inventor. And the first thing they did was to discontinue its use.
I thought about several inventions while I was working for Nielsen and I submitted then to the company’s invention bank. Nielsen had a whole teams of highly experienced lawyers that would make rounds around their offices harvesting ideas from its employees. We would get medals, inventors awards, gift cards, just for them to shelf most of the ideas, spend the money in patenting the ones they thought could either be sold or prevent other companies from using it. And the employees in exchange had to sign draconian NDAs that would refrain them from ever using their own ideas, even if Nielsen hadn’t file a patent for them.
And the patent system has absurd things like paying extra to file it privately, so the public querying the patent database cannot see what is pending until the patent is awarded. All the fees and hurdles one has to go to file for patents put the system beyond the rich of the actual inventors and being held hostage of big companies that have no intention in investing in innovation.