Is This True?: The Most Innovative Products are Not Being Patented

By Dennis Crouch

Mike Masnick at techdirt highlights an interesting new academic study by article by a group of international economists. The paper examines winners of the R&D 100 award published annually by R&D Magazine. The interesting finding is that only 10% of award winning & breakthrough innovations from 1977-2004 were actually patented. If these results are accurate then they potentially offer a major indictment of the patent system & its failure to be the driving force in encouraging breakthrough innovation.

Read the paper here:

[Update] I suspect that the authors did not do a great job of searching for the relevant patents. For a sanity-check, I just looked up the first three innovations in the 2004 awards and then found pre-2004 patents owned by the innovative company that seemingly relate directly to the innovation being championed.

84 thoughts on “Is This True?: The Most Innovative Products are Not Being Patented

  1. Anyone who actually works in the technology industry (not the patent prosecutors who control this blog) will tell you that Mike Masnick’s conclusion is correct with respect to software-related inventions, even if his analysis is incomplete or flawed. You can take the truly innovative technology companies and map their trajectory from founding to success — Apple, Cisco, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Novell, GroupOn, eBay, Twtitter, the list goes on and on and on, you will find a recurring pattern; almost no attention to patents whatsoever until years after the company is successful and it needs defensive tools for counterclaims. (The one exception to this is IBM, but one could argue that they haven’t been truly innovative since the 1970s.)

    Most of the truly great tech companies did not even have a patent attorney or agent working in-house until many years after they were already established and their days of true innovation and “disruptive” technologies were behind them. You can check the assignment databases yourself, and you will find the same thing — by the time these companies got their very first patents assigned to them (organic and non-acquired patents), they were already giants in their respective spaces, and their patents tended to be small after-the-fact incremental inventions atop the innovation they did in their earlier days, which was not patented.

    Anyone in the tech space will tell you that the utility of patents in promoting innovation in a particular space is proportional to the amount of R&D it takes to come up with inventions in that space. The R&D in software is somewhat minimal with some exceptions like encryption or compression (which have serious mathematical and scientific underpinning). The execution and delivery of products is much more important in this space.

  2. You’re in favor of big companies stealing inventors’ ideas without compensation?

    I think that says all we need to know about you.

  3. “And no matter how great the idea, or innovative the product, if it can’t be protected in the marketplace, the Sharks always say, what will stop a big company from stealing your idea and crushing you like a bug?”

    I would rather think that’s an example of how a patent system is getting in the way of innovation and competition.

    I.e., you don’t get funding unless you have patents (at least pending).

    What? VC’s don’t know about trade secrets? Of course they do. They just ask about patents, because they like to use patents as collaterals, to minimize risk to their investments.

    Bottomline: patent is now part of the investment game, not part of the innovation game.

    But if you have a REALLY good idea, even if it’s not patentable, you can still protect it with other means, and VC’s will still invest in your idea.

    On the other hand, there are TONS of startups with lots of patents that go bankrupt in less than 1 year, even with funding.

    So, is the patent system really “stimulating” innovation? Or just putting in more red tape?

  4. The promise of compensation of the patent system in the time period of 1977 to 2004 did craete all the economic advancement including jobs revenues and exports. R+D breakthroughs wasent the primary economic driver of the economy the profit to investment ration was dismal in many cases because they wont hire me as a invention consultant so they loose tons of R+D funds on not having the breakthroughs that could have saved billions and gotten the profitable products to market years sooner

  5. “You can’t know that. ”

    That’s why I didn’t say “I know that they’ll come up with some decent numbers when they do it right”.

    And they did do a search, they just did a piss poor one.

    ” And the people here who searched debunked their position in minutes.”

    Based on a sample of what? 3? 4? 10? Out of 3000? You need to take a stat class brosensky. Because I know a bit of basic math I stand less than convinced of their debunking efforts. But I am also not above being convinced however should they expand their sample to say, 50-100 and show at least some rudimentary results. It would make a fine project for one of D’s more capable students seeking a fine diploma.

  6. Debunked? I don’t think so.

    That’s not a pile of sand you just slammed your head into in order not to see the reality about you.

  7. Sorry, Malcolm – I cannot hear you because the agendas you pursue are screaming too loudly.

    (I think he is mumbling something about “not in my backyard”)

  8. I’m sorry Malcolm, I cannot hear what you are trying to say through all the various blatant lies you keep on saying.

  9. bad, it does depend on what the patent is covering.  As I said, if the patent is covering non essential or alternative technology, describing how to make and use that is actually part of the deception.

     
    Sent from Windows Mail
     

  10. because without those details, the patent is invalid as not enabling?

    You’re trying too hard.

  11. The most inovative things are not being patented because they are not valuable enough to draw investment and dont produce a marketable product is more like it.Since 2004 the disincentives in the legislation to create have been shuttering the system Then the AIA added more disencentives to the original and they actually think that will create jobs jobs jobs wrong! wrong! wrong!

  12. .the people here who searched debunked their position in minutes

    Debunked? I don’t think so. If there is a more accurate number than approximately 10%, it hasn’t been provided by anyone, at least to my knowledge.

    Also, it took way less time than that for you to “debunk” “Actual Inventor’s” position. Oh wait … that was me. You’ve never disagreed with any of the nutty g-b-age spewed by your fellow Patent Patriot, AI.

  13. Meanwhile, on Planet Bizarro:

    he simply doesn’t get that he is playing the clown.

    Right. Because you and are your honest, thoughtful friends know that “every patent creates a job” and “academics serve no purpose except to distort reality.”

  14. Meanwhile, on Planet Bizarro:

    You want consequences for getting caught in lies and spin? That’s what happens at Gene Quinn’s blog

    “Why, thank you, Trollboy!”

    (pats Trollboy on head)

  15. Yes thats true the most innovative products are not being patented but not by the situation that the article portrays.The R+D field involves the predictable results of experiments that are subinvention of parent conceptions I created and dident recieve credit or compensation for.The primaty problem is not the availability of the system that drives conceptions but the defectiveness of the incentive to create associated with the 40 methods of cheating the inventor within the system

  16. While working at the USPTO, you would hear rumors about the Classified Patents. We all know how military and defense advancements have shaped technology of the past few decades. I think it would be hard to quantify the effect of the patent system without this information.

  17. you spend so much energy trying to ‘dis’ patents and those that believe in them

    LOL. I believe in patents, Trollboy. I just don’t believe in granting sh-tty ones whose only real purpose is to give rich people something to gamble with.

  18. Yes being squashed like a bug by lack of a patent is a large scale concern for fledgling independant inventors. One of the forty other methods inventors are cheated is not enough money to pay for the patent due to no investors and subsequently loosing it to the office giving away your intellectual property by calling indegency an abandonment then at 3 years granting patents to the ones who dident want to invest in the first place because they can wait and get it for nothing

  19. No, it’s perfectly clear. You don’t understand

    The projection of your own ignorance does not work for Malcolm either.

    LOL – no relationship – do you even understand what a patent means?

    It’s comical. Downright comical the way you set yourself up for Calvinball face sp1kes.

  20. Translation: Freedom to infringe.

    That’s a very odd translation of “cross license … for their own freedom of action”.

    Can I make it any more clear what is really going on?

    No, it’s perfectly clear. You don’t understand that there’s no relationship between having a patent and being free to market one’s product.

    Neither does AI, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

  21. Freedom of action.

    Translation: Freedom to infringe.

    Can I make it any more clear what is really going on?

  22. Bad, not really.  One cannot tell from most high tech products how to make them from examples.  Nor can one tell how to operated them simply by having examples.  Reversing engineer may find clues, and a lot of reverse engineering may get you real close, but you really need the full specification of every detail of the manufacturing process to make one.
     
    So, why put those details into patents?  it makes no sense, and most high tech companies know that and do not patent their most essential know how.

     
    Of course, none of this really applies if all you are doing is assembling a bunch of components publicly available from vendors.  How the vendors parts are made are irrelevant. One just has to know that they are available.
     
     

  23. Even assuming that’s true, the fraction of small businesses that require patents is vanishingly small.

    Let’s see… 85% of new jobs are created by small businesses, right?

    I wonder what percentage of patents are created by small businesses. I bet it’s way less than 85%. Pretty clear that the vast majority of them are creating plenty of jobs just fine without any patents at all.

    But perhaps, like Humpty Dumpty, when you say “creates at least one new job” you have a “special” definition in mind for that phrase.

    We went through all that about a year ago. It turned out that it had to be a first patent issued to someone who was going to start his own business but was waiting for a patent grant before he did so. A very neatly packaged tautology, with no assurance that the “job” created would actually result in any income.

  24. Even assuming that’s true, the fraction of small businesses that require patents is vanishingly small.

    Glorious Self-Defeat.

    For if this were in fact true, then you simply protest too much and patents won’t be any big thang.

    The FACT that you spend so much energy trying to ‘dis’ patents and those that believe in them actually says the opposite – that they are important and that they get in the way of your agenda.

    It’s like the Wizard of Oz, with you trying to say “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

  25. You want consequences for getting caught in lies and spin?

    That’s what happens at Gene Quinn’s blog, and look at the ‘reputation’ that has earned him here. Oh wait, that’s only Malcolm h@ ting on him.

    Nevermind (said in the best Emily Littela tones)

    C’est la vie.

  26. Barred from publishing?

    No.

    Vigilance maintained and identification of what they are publishing?

    Most definitely.

    Taken seriously?

    Most definitely not.

    Rather much like Malcolm and his vacuous posts here – lots of fluff and sound bytes, but when was the last time Malcolm posted anything close to something legally substantive without torching one of his agendas?

    Look at his multitude of posts on this chum thread – all glee and no go. And the best part is that he simply doesn’t get that he is playing the clown.

  27. Why the h311 would you include university professors?

    (no snark intended)

    Also – what your criteria will miss will be the basic non-linearity of innovation. Your ‘model’ appears to be a stepping stone ‘model’ with one step leading directly to the next.

    That is not how the real world works.

  28. You’re getting closer 6. Everything you said is right, except for “Still, I would say they’ll come up with some decent numbers even doing it right.”

    You can’t know that. They didn’t search. You didn’t search. And the people here who searched debunked their position in minutes. I’ll err on the side of them being incompetent or dishonest given the evidence, and because of that, all of their “information” is false as is their conclusion. They’re free to rebut that, but they chose to put themselves in that position.

  29. So there it is… They tried to avoid finding the relevant patents.

    “Academics” really serve no purpose these days other than to distort reality.

  30. Yes, if your market position and product/service allows for trade secrets, then they are powerful. However, for a new product? Isn’t it pretty much no longer secret when you sell it to someone?

  31. Nice write up. These days, I tend to ask people new to the process if they’ve ever seen that show. After the pitch, the first question (for a product pitch) is “Do you have a patent?” I think that pretty much covers what anyone with half a brain needs to know about patents and building a new business.

  32. Great question. Perhaps you could do it with “a jury composed of university professors, industrial researchers and consultants with a certified level of competence in the specific areas they are called to assess.” You could also set up the evaluation so that the “main criteria for assessment are two: i) technological significance (i.e., whether the product can be considered a major breakthrough from a technical point of view); ii) competitive significance (i.e., how the performance of the product compares to rival solutions available on the market).”

    Just an idea.

  33. when it comes to the actual innovations that “matter” the most?

    Exactly how is that defined?

    Are you defining it as those that are hawked and pitched and sold as “must have’s” for the consuming mass market?

    Just curiou$.

  34. The question is: are these authors intentional liars that should be barred from ever publishing?

  35. “who has the funds to obtain one, is educated on the benefits of obtaining a patent, ”

    But the question at the heart of the topic remains, is that a perfect storm that rarely occurs irl when it comes to the actual innovations that “matter” the most?

  36. The data does not include any “pharmaceutics” innovations. The Hatch-Waxman context is an important area where patent protection provides an incentive for innovation.

  37. Just do your own spot-check, like Dennis did. It’s not too hard. Go to R&D Magazine’s R&D100 Awards:
    link to rd100awards.com
    Pick a year and pick some random products. For specifically-named instruments and devices you can locate product literature on the web, replete with patent markings or statements about applying patented or patent-pending technology. Just 30 minutes convinced me that patents associated with these award-winning products are common – definitely nowhere near as rare as the authors report.

  38. MM writes “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”

    God … do you just cut and paste this stuff? Do you ever have any original thoughts? I stick with my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. You’ve got all the traits.

  39. The new startups I’m familiar with are all patent illiterate, swamped with money, and release their first products (which are innovative) and thus 102b themselves for their first line(s).

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut. The authors gave three “explanations” for patents not being obtained. (1) the inventor thinks the subject matter is not patentable; (2) the inventor thinks the invention is not patentable; and (3) the inventor believes that alternative strategies to patenting exist.

    This list of three explanations is woefully inadequate. As 6 has discovered, many startup companies are intellectual property ignorant. They’ll create their own prior art before they realize they need to get a patent. This happens ALL the time.

    Another problem involves “explanations” (1) and (2), which is that the inventor is not a good subject of what is patentable subject matter or what is not anticipated/obvious. Many inventions look simple and/or obvious in hindsight. However, the temptation to look at an invention in hindsight is something that many inventors (and examiners) fail to overcome. Anyway, this goes back to the whole intellectual property ignorant issue.

    Yet another unstated explanation is that patent protection is EXPENSIVE. Many inventions go unpatented because the inventor cannot justify (or even afford) the cost of getting a patent.

    Yet another explanation is that a patent was attempted to be obtained and was either abandoned or is still in prosecution.

    As already discussed, the numbers presented by the paper are flawed. Only looking 3 years (before and after) the year of the award excludes many patents. These days, getting a patent within 3 years of filing is doing good. Additionally, unless professional patent searchers were used (i.e., not a single one but multiple patent searchers with different expertise), it is very likely that many patents were missed because simple keyword searches won’t cut it.

    In my experience, when an inventor, who has the funds to obtain one, is educated on the benefits of obtaining a patent, only a small percentage of the time does the inventor choose not to proceed to make an attempt to obtain a patent.

  40. Belief in the mission is extremely important for morale. It is important for the people when a nation goes to war, in the military where the objective must be clear, and for the employees in a business to understand the importance of their job.

    Just as an example, the Air Force has had to fire 17 missile officers because their mission, controlling ICBMs, had become an irrelevant backwater in the Air Force and as a result their morale had plumetted.

    link to washingtonpost.com

  41. “I suspect that the authors did not do a great job of searching for the relevant patents. ”

    They did their search based on title and abstract.

    They did not pay someone at least half competent in reading claims to see what was going on, and did not look for patents back beyond 3 years prior to the award.

    Still, I would say they’ll come up with some decent numbers even doing it right.

    The new startups I’m familiar with are all patent illiterate, swamped with money, and release their first products (which are innovative) and thus 102b themselves for their first line(s). When made patent literate they all seem rather open to getting patents. Although I certainly do not have extensive experience with this.

  42. Meanwhile, on the planet Bizarro:

    The anti-patent little circle get their @$$es kicked on several threads in a row

    Too funny.

  43. Coke is still another example. Coke is on the market, but does anyone reliably know how to make Coke other that the Coca Cola Company?

    Uh … yes.

    At the very least, please recognize that the difference between US Coca-Cola and Mexican Coca-Cola is far greater than the difference between US Coca-Cola and generic colas trying to emulate Coca-Cola’s taste. I mean, what possible combination of ingredients are in Coke that would make it impossible or even difficult to duplicate? Do you really think that the “unique” taste of Coca-Cola in the market today has anything to do with how many cans are consumed annually?

  44. when claimed as a process or method, receives a patent, and thus enables the entrepreneur to raise money to go into business to compete

    ROTFLMAO

  45. Well if the “update” is true, then I don’t get how any part of the paper can have any credibility.

    I just don’t get people. If Lemley lies once, he will lie again. If the paper is wrong on a few test cases, the chances are pretty strong the authors are intentionally deceptive. At this point the person or people should be put into the category of no credibility. And, if after years of hard labor they make up for it, then maybe we can listen to them again.

    This is how it used to be. Now it is lie today, get caught, try again tomorrow with no consequences.

  46. MM, regarding low pay, etc., I think the military relies a lot on medals and commendations to keep up the morale. But, as Vietnam showed us where the Army literally went to pot, having a mission that makes sense is also important.

  47. That article is clearly wrong. There can be no innovation without patents. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not have patents, so they never invented anything. Patents are the incentive for inventing and innovation. Modern advanced industry and technological innovation would collapse without patents.

  48. Fish, to some extent yes. To some extent no. People can reverse engineer products, but to get the precise specifications, at times thousands of such products might have to be reversed engineered.

    For example, the Apple iPhone 5 has been out for awhile. It uses, we understand, a proprietary microprocessor that uniquely changes speed depending. While we might have an idea how this could be done, how Apple actually did it is not easily known.

    Another example would be the SD card. It specs were and are kept confidential. As a result, people cannot make a fully compatible card/controller to compete, but must take out licenses from the owners of the specification.

    Coke is still another example. Coke is on the market, but does anyone reliably know how to make Coke other that the Coca Cola Company?

  49. “There must be a clever solution! If only we made it easier to get super strong patents then mickeydee’s could solve this particularly difficult conundrum.”

    No, but if an entrepreneur invents a new and useful, novel, non obvious “application” of an innovative business concept, that when claimed as a process or method, receives a patent, and thus enables the entrepreneur to raise money to go into business to compete and out perform McDonld’s, that entrepreneur can pay his or her employees a living wage.

    On the other hand, if you MM are allowed to kill off business method patents then McDonald’s can steal the entrepreneurs idea, increase it’s profits, and still go on paying low wages to it’s employee’s with impunity.

    Thus the very people you claims to support with your anti patent, anti business method and capitalism crusade are the ones your harm.

  50. The anti-patent little circle get their @$$es kicked on several threads in a row and a chum article (from Mike Masnick – gee it’s anti-patent) is posted.

    Now are any regular readers surprised by this (obvious) trend?

    btw – love the ‘update’ always nice to through a token at what may pass as journalism.

    C’est la vie.

  51. Just an observation…

    I note with ever increasing frequency that the word “innovation” is being used in lieu of “invention”.

    I mention this only because those most critical of patents use “innovation” in the context of taking something to market, even if that something was invented by an unrelated party. The use of “innovation” in this manner many times makes their work quite difficult to understand.

  52. This is an interesting article by Dani Rodrik which includes an especially interesting package:

    link to rodrik.typepad.com

    If you want to be successful as a scholar, you have one of two paths. Either you come up with a new technique or piece of evidence to shore up conventional wisdom. Or you challenge the conventional wisdom. The latter is a high risk, high return strategy. It is high risk for all the reasons I have mentioned previously. But it is high return because anything that has turned into conventional wisdom is almost by definition wrong, or at least, overstated. So done right, challenging conventional wisdom is a successful research strategy that is bound to pay off.

    In my own case, every piece of conventional wisdom I challenged had already become a caricature of what sounds economics teaches us. I wasn’t doing anything more than reminding my colleagues about standard economic theory and empirics. It was like pushing on an open door. I wasn’t challenging the economics, but the sociology of the profession.

    [W]hen I wrote my monograph Has Globalization Gone Too Far? I had been surprised at some of the reaction along similar lines. I expected of course that many policy advocates would be hostile. But my arguments were, or so I thought, based solidly on economic theory and reasoning. A distinguished economist wrote back saying “you are giving ammunition to the barbarians.” In other words, I had to exercise self-censorship lest my arguments were used by protectionists! The immediate qestion I had was why this economist thought barbarians were only on one side of the debate. Was he unaware of how, for example, multinational firms hijacked pro-free trade arguments to lobby for agreements – such as intellectual property – that had nothing to do with free trade? Why was it that the “barbarians” on one side of the issue were inherently more dangerous than the “barbarians” on the other side?

  53. But seriously, though, just what IS the price of tea in China?

  54. There are many pundits out there who state that the purpose of the patent system is to serve as the “driving force”. Of course, most say this only so that they can then wax poetic about a broken system of government granted monopolies that stifle others from doing what they wish independent of patent infringement worries.

    Quite some time ago I happened to come across some articles by Petra Moser, who shockingly discovered that most “important stuff” on display at some international world fairs were never patented (or at least this seemed to be the case). The article here is little more than a regurgitation of her shocking discovery.

    I find it nothing short of amazing that some academics feel the need to engage in extensive research searching for answers that could easily be provided in minutes, if not seconds, by virtually all who practice patent law.

  55. Hey Milksem Moonpies, just what IS the price of tea in China? said in reply to MM…

    First, you are really super funny with the witty nym. Please keep that up! You belong on a stage.

    Second, the story is a good example of the sort of day-to-day busoiness problems that “innovation” is not necessary to fix and is almost certainly counter-productive. It’s also typical of the business-method g-rb-age that the patent t–b-ggers like to pretend makes a difference to anybody except the troll who owns the patent. “Create shared emotion around delivering a great customer experience”. Sounds great! Maybe use a POWERFUL COMPUTER BRAIN to “keep track of employee scores” and offer “rewards” that are announced by text messaging employees who satisfy “a plurality of customer satisfaction rank/sort criteria”! Maybe the “reward” can be money that is (omigob sit down if you tend to faint when technology develops before your eyes) directly deposited in the employee’s credit card account on payday!!! Employees could store their “reward wish lists” in a database that is accessed for the purpose of determining which entry on the wish list scores highest according to predetermined reward-matching criteria. If the wish list is a vacation in a geographic area other than the employee’s residence, a robot car can be programmed to drive the employee to the designated destination! So awesome. So “innovative.” Can I has patent now? Who among us does not crave a McNugget?

  56. “Failing at customer service…”

    This is a morale issue, clearly. Rewarding better service with bonuses and better salaries might indeed be helpful.

    I have never understood why some unions insist on the same pay for everyone regardless of effort and regardless of production.

  57. The LBS has stated many times that something like 85% of all new jobs are created by small businesses.

    Even assuming that’s true, the fraction of small businesses that require patents is vanishingly small.

    every patent issued to a new entrepreneur creates at least one new job. That’s a fact no one has ever been able to refute on this blog.

    Pretty sure that’s been “refuted”, at least in the commonsense interpretation. Like any patent attorney who has practiced for at least five to ten years, I’m aware of many individuals and companies who obtained multiple patents and, in the same year those patents issued, either did not grow or shrank or simply folded.

    But perhaps, like Humpty Dumpty, when you say “creates at least one new job” you have a “special” definition in mind for that phrase. Why don’t you share that definition with us. Make sure it encompasses the circumstance where I file and obtain a patent on a method of selling green plums and black paper towels (and no other products) over the Internet. Let everyone know: what is the awesome “new job” that was created upon issuance of the patent that you are so fond of cheering about.

  58. Here’s some of that awesome “business concept” innovation, put to work on improving the Greatest Company Evah!!!

    link to slog.thestranger.com

    Chris DeRose published an article at Business Insider addressing the fact that McDonald’s is failing at customer service…. Here are DeRose’s suggestions:

    1. Create shared emotion around delivering a great customer experience.
    2. Keep simplifying work processes and rules
    3. Invest more in tools and training.
    4. Reward and recognize great service.

    What DeRose doesn’t suggest? Paying the employees a living wage. … McDonald’s sh–y pay doesn’t even get a mention in DeRose’s article, but a program where “employees nominate each other for a series of pins” is suggested as a fix.

    There must be a clever solution! If only we made it easier to get super strong patents then mickeydee’s could solve this particularly difficult conundrum.

  59. Just as a corollary, many firms are in the same position as is IBM. IBM cannot rely on patents to protect its products for a number of reasons. First, it freely licenses its patents for named royalties and engages proactive cross licensing for the purpose of maintaining its own freedom of action. Second, because its patents are licensed, it effectively cannot mark and cannot collect past damages. Actual notice of infringement is required.

    With such firms, secrecy is more important than patenting for product protection.

    Thus, any patent that discloses critical technology simply hands its competitors that technology on a silver platter.

    For a patent to truly matter in product protection, a firm must not freely license its patents and must not engage in systematic cross licensing. But most major industrial firms it seems, other than perhaps chemical and pharmaceuticals, do cross license and they do so for their own freedom of action.

    Freedom of action. Then is what really matters in some industries when patents are concerned. When there are rivals, each investing in R&D, it can almost be guaranteed that each firm are using the patented technology of its rivals in producing products. Without cross licensing, the firms can only engage in what is known as a Mexican standoff. But that kind of truce can quickly evolve into a major patent war as soon as one CEO gets it in his head that he can win such a war.

  60. “If we just give a super strong patent to everybody who innovates a business “concept”, money will flow into everybody’s hands”

    No, but if every entrepreneur that innovates a new and useful, novel, and non obvious, “application” of a business concept, would be allowed the patent the law clearly and specifically affords them to have, we would have more jobs. The LBS has stated many times that something like 85% of all new jobs are created by small businesses. After all, every patent issued to a new entrepreneur creates at least one new job. That’s a fact no one has ever been able to refute on this blog.

  61. What is also often true is that many products winning “Innovation Awards” are slicked up and repackaged oldies, with a nice marketing boost finally getting them attention and “awards” for “innovation”, but are not patentable.

  62. It would be nice to get a look at the spreadsheet showing which innovations were not patented and see how many patents they failed to locate. The paper does not suggest a patent attorney/agent was involved in the research, which may have been useful considering the linguistic peculiarities of patents.

  63. inventions like “HDTV”, which is probably covered by dozens if not hundreds of patents.

    And thank gob for every one of them else we’d be watching TV on tiny blurry screens forevah.

  64. Perhaps if they were Actual Inventors, and came up with innovative patented processes and products they would have no time to waste on such anti patent, anti capitalism research such as this.

    Or perhaps they would make so much money that they would have tons of extra time. Maybe they’d use their money and time to start a prestigious “think tank” and pay a bunch of “distinguished scholars” and “successful businessmen” to promote their nefarious agenda in Washington DC and other areas susceptible to pandering.

    Hey, that’s a great idea! I’m surprised the moneyed elites haven’t already figured that out. Or maybe they are waiting for a pending patent on that concept to expire.

  65. would be entrepreneurs and start ups are more likely to get funding for an innovative new business concept, or product, when they have a patent, or a strong patent pending.

    Holy cr-p. If we just give a super strong patent to everybody who innovates a business “concept”, money will flow into everybody’s hands like a magnificent golden river! YOU JUST SAVED THE FUTURE!!!!!!

  66. They only searched three years on either side of the year the winners were announced.

    I also doubt they searched all too well for inventions like “HDTV”, which is probably covered by dozens if not hundreds of patents.

    They go on to say their methodology used keywords they think would have been included in the invention. Not sure how much overlap there is between marketing, press releases, R&D, and terms that show up in a disclosure.

  67. There used to be a “joke” that went like this:

    IBM keeps its critical technology secret. So if one want to know what technology is not important, read IBM’s patents.

    The paper makes this point. Secrecy, to the extent it can be maintained, is more important to some industries than patents.

  68. Dennis: If these results are accurate then they potentially offer a major indictment of the patent system & its failure to be the driving force in encouraging breakthrough innovation.

    Just curious: are there any papers, academics, patent lobbyists or other “pundits” out there who have stated that the patent system is the “driving force” in encouraging “breakthough innovation”, or even explaining why the patent system should ever be expected to be the “driving force”? What assumptions, I wonder, would statements be based upon?

  69. Dennis, what I find telling is the absence of any mention about the fact that would be entrepreneurs and start ups are more likely to get funding for an innovative new business concept, or product, when they have a patent, or a strong patent pending.

    For practical evidence one need only look to the TV show “Shark Tank” which was once a subject of an article of yours on this forum. In that show the entrepreneurs are more likely to get the money they need to start or expand their business if the business has one or more patents built around it. The Sharks ( investors) almost always ask, do you have a patent? And no matter how great the idea, or innovative the product, if it can’t be protected in the marketplace, the Sharks always say, what will stop a big company from stealing your idea and crushing you like a bug?

    On the flip side, those entrepreneurs that have a patent, or at least a patent pending, even provisional, are more likely to get funding and go on to be successful. The many follow ups by the show from entrepreneurs from years past prove this point. They show how these businesses, with their patented processes, methods, and products have grown, made millions, and employed many people.

    And that is the true benefit of our patent system when it is allowed to work as it was designed. People invent, get rewarded, created jobs, and grow our economy. How many jobs has tech dirt created in the last quarter?

    How much have they or the researchers affiliated with the studies contributed to our economy?

    Perhaps if they were Actual Inventors, and came up with innovative patented processes and products they would have no time to waste on such anti patent, anti capitalism research such as this.

  70. You’ll have to excuse my skepticism until I look into the “international economists” and “academics” involved

    Please take a close look and let us know what horrors you find. It’s difficult to continue with my day-to-day business knowing that this earth-shattering news is floating out there, as yet debunked by the fair-minded princes (and princesses!) of reason who know that the exact opposite is true.

  71. Wonder why they were not patented?

    Like 99.999% of all human innovation, these innovations weren’t patented. Why? WHY???!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  72. Yeah, and the paper doesn’t identify a single advanced country that has abolished all IP protection, either.

  73. You’ll have to excuse my skepticism until I look into the “international economists” and “academics” involved, the methodology they used to determine whether or not patents were applied for for each invention, and the nature of this R&D 100 list (i.e., is this a university dominated list).

    For now, I’ll just note that they don’t address whether any of the R&D 100 inventions made any money or employed anyone.

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