Two IP presentations at the “Science, Knowledge, and Democracy” conference:
Justin Biddle, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Intellectual Property and the Public Benefits of Biomedical Research” (Session 2)
In a much-discussed essay in the journal Science, Michael Heller and Rebecca Eisenberg argue that the proliferation of patenting and licensing in biomedical research is leading to a “tragedy of the anticommons” that is both epistemically and socially detrimental because it inhibits the sharing of information. Their paper has generated much discussion, and there are many who argue that the worries expressed in it are highly exaggerated. This paper examines this debate and concludes that we still have strong reasons to worry about a tragedy of the anticommons.
Jonathan Trerise, Coastal Carolina University
“Patents and the Openness of Science” (Session 2)
I argue for a prima facie case against patents because of their uncertain benefits and the possible harms they may cause to science. The case is only prima facie as we lack sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate one way or another whether patents, on the whole, positively or negatively influence scientific research. However, the burden of proof lies with the defender of patents because of the various concerns I raise, including, importantly, evidence which shows their lackluster effectiveness as incentives to innovate. Assuming our democratic society values relatively open science, there is prima facie reason to be against patents.
(h/t Koen Swinkels)