Kappos/Hoffman on patents
The exclusivity provided by a patent enables those taking on enormous risks by investing in R&D the opportunity to recoup their investment. Studies have shown that an exclusivity period of at least 12.9 years is required just to recoup the development costs of the average biotech drug. Furthermore, the patent system provides a built-in mechanism for encouraging follow-on innovation -- disclosure. A key feature of patents is that they are published; no inventor is granted exclusivity over his or her invention without first teaching the world how it works. This is particularly critical in biotechnology, where innovation occurs mainly by accretion, with each succeeding breakthrough building on the previous one.