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Are patents and intellectual property rights being misused?

Patents and intellectual property rights have been pushed into the media spotlight recently due to the rise in technological innovation and the advancement in artificial intelligence. As a result, obtaining intellectual property rights is becoming strategically necessary for businesses who want to launch new products onto the market but do not want other companies to compete on the product.

The importance of patents tends to be underestimated in the process of creating a new product or design. Patents are granted to inventors by governments, giving them exclusivity over their product which stops others from making, using or selling the invention for a limited period of time. Patents facilitate the growth of companies as they stop bigger firms from copying the design and selling it at a lower price, which is damaging to the inventor.

Litigation over patents continues to increase in the tech industry as the industry giants lock horns over design and specifications…

The dispute between Apple and Samsung, which is one of the longest running patent disputes in the tech industry, highlighted the importance of intellectual property for bringing new products onto the market. In 2011, Apple waged a war on IPhone copycats such as the Samsung Captive, Epic and Gem, which have disappeared from the market. Last month, Apple and Samsung ended their seven-year legal dispute over patents which resulted in Apple setting its sights on Qualcomm for its next patent fight over microchips. Litigation over patents continues to increase in the tech industry as the industry giants lock horns over design and specifications, such as with Apple.

On paper, obtaining a patent appears to give start-ups room to grow in the market without fear of copycats from larger producers. However, in the US the pharmaceuticals industry is being distorted by the influence of the political process on the patents protection system. Increasingly, many drug companies are not investing in research and development but are instead buying the rights to drugs developed by others though donations and crowdfunding as a safer financial investment.

In the case of the EpiPen, the price was raised by over 500% due to a long running patent being in place…

As the length of holding a patent has been expanded to around 15-20 years in the US, pharmaceutical companies have obtained monopolistic control over new drugs, enabling them to increase prices significantly. In the case of the EpiPen, the price was raised by over 500% due to a long running patent being in place. Instead of serving people by protecting innovation beneficial for the population, patents now serve drug companies.

The use of patent protection in the pharmaceutical industry indicates that although they were created to protect innovation, they are being used adversely to increase the price of essential drugs. If a person wanted to buy a luxury good they can decide that it is too expensive and not buy it. If your child has an illness, then you have no choice but to purchase the medication regardless of the price. This has brought out the dark side of patents; showing the tension between the exploitative use of pharmaceutical companies and the individual inventor, particularly over the length of patents.

Patents are used as a tool by multinational companies to exploit consumers or launch multi-billion-pound claims against competitors…

The importance of patents on growing industries had been underestimated as the original purpose of patents was to protect inventors for the benefit of the population. Nowadays, patents are used as a tool by multinational companies to exploit consumers or launch multi-billion-pound claims against competitors. For this reason, intellectual property rights are getting their moment in the limelight, instead of rewarding progress in society.

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