Suppose there are two researchers, X and Y, who separately study the same thing, say, new energy. X wants a patent right for a financial gain while Y wants to make his results freely accessible to the public. Unfortunately, X comes up with a result one day before Y. Now, people have to pay for X’s patent right. Did X contribute to the welfare of all mankind? If not, why should X be rewarded with monopoly? Can the general public demand to use Y’s technology instead of X’s for free by simply waiting one more day? Before Edison’s development of the bulb, no one had even imagined about such a thing. If it were not for him, mankind might have had to wait for a long time to have a bulb. Things are different in today’s world. Every researcher competes vigorously to win the speed game. This indicates that a new development is simply a matter of time. That is, today’s new finding would have been found by another researcher in the near future.
This leads me to question the current scope of patent right. Should we protect recent innovations with the same patent right as we did before? The reason why we allow monopoly through patent protection is to acknowledge the disclosure of new inventions, and not to simply reward the “first comer.” We can have access to the competitive price, rather than the monopoly price, by waiting for some more time.
There is another point to think about this. Let’s say that we do not allow a patent for the new Intel processor, even though Intel was the first to develop faster data managing technology. Would they give up innovation while AMD is chasing one step behind? To win the market, Intel has to invest continuously. Not only to win but also to survive in the printing market, HP has to invest time and money for innovation regardless of whether we protect their technology through intellectual property rights or not.
Nowadays, intellectual property is abused in biotechnology or information technology field. Many patents are used to press competitors to enrich the first-comers without providing meaningful benefit to the public. In the era where market competition alone can drive participants to advance and innovate, the justification for awarding monopoly in those fields significantly loses strength.