Pascal Attali is the author of the book, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE PATENT: Understanding the past, present and future of protecting inventions. He graduated as an engineer 20 years ago and specialized in the field of Intellectual Property. He holds several university and professional degrees in patent law, as well as a Master’s degree in patent economics and strategy. He has worked both in a patent firm and in-house.
Despite its longevity, the patent system is often criticized. During the pandemic, accusing eyes quickly turned to patents and voices were raised demanding that patents related to COVID-19 be “waived”. This is not an isolated event: some have argued that we would be better off without patents for various reasons in other crises of the past as well. This raises the question of what a world without patents – as we know them today – would be like. As is often the case, history gives us some valuable insight. In this article, we will look specifically at three risks posed by a world without patents in light of real examples from the past.