David Kappos on patents
Patents play a vital dual role in fostering open innovation: they simultaneously protect, and disclose, the inventor’s contribution to the knowledge pool. As public documents, patents help firms to identify potentially useful technologies, knowledge and partners, facilitating formal and informal collaboration. Such collaboration would not be practical without some assurance of protection for the original innovator, as potential collaborators (particularly competitors) would otherwise have a strong incentive to free-ride off the investments of others.
The patent system provides innovators the opportunity to recoup their often enormous R&D expenses, and reinvest the surplus in still further innovation. Take, for example, Microsoft . In 2014, the company invested $11.4 billion in R&D. This significant figure is protected by its high-quality patents and fuels the ongoing cycle of innovation at the company. Or pharmaceutical company Pfizer , which has an R&D budget of over $7 billion. With estimates ranging from $1.8 to $2.6 billion to bring a new drug to market, patents are indispensable bulwarks that protect ideas during the development phase and beyond.