Written by Gene Quinn (Founder of IPWatchdog.com and Practice Center Contributor)
Emotion and anecdotes unfortunately drive the debate on IP policy, particularly patent policy, because most people are suspicious and predisposed against monopolies. That is certainly understandable, at least in a vacuum. Who among us likes monopolies? Monopolies charge super competitive prices and consumers have no leverage, which leads frequently to inferior goods or services that consumers are forced to accept. This aversion to monopolies has been ingrained in American culture and heritage since the founding of the Nation, and was taken to new extremes during President Theodore Roosevelt’s Administration. Roosevelt stood up for the little guy and became known as a trust buster, what today we might refer to as a monopoly killer.
Unfortunately for those who seek to leverage the appropriate suspicion against monopolies, a patent is not a monopoly. A patent does confer exclusive rights, but as every inventor knows the fact that you have a patent does not guarantee that anyone will be interested in the good or service associated with the patent grant. Without interest there is no market, without a market there can be no monopoly. So patents are not equivalent to creating a monopoly.
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