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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
March 12, 2009
(202) 289-8928
Patents Not Responsible for "Knowledge Gap"
Rosenzweig Offers Rebuttal to Critiques of U.S. Patent System

WASHINGTON D.C. - Strong patent rights are not responsible for a so-called knowledge gap between developed and developing countries, explains Sidney Rosenzweig in "The False Connection Between Strong Patent Rights and Global Inequity," released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation.  In the paper, Rosenzweig, PFF Visiting Fellow, refutes certain critiques of the U.S. patent system, which he describes as anecdotal and misrepresentative.

Rosenzweig focuses in particular on the anti-patent writings and speeches of Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-Prize winning economist at Columbia University.  Contrary to assertions that patents restrict the dissemination of information and contribute to a "knowledge gap," Rosenzweig explains that knowledge is disseminated through patent disclosure.  The author counters claims that researchers principally seek status, as opposed to profits, from their work.  In addition, Rosenzweig denies that patent strong patent rights breed anti-competitive conduct, stating that anti-competitive concerns should be addressed through antitrust and consumer protection law, not through reform of intellectual property rights.

Rosenzweig questions proposed alternatives to the U.S. patent system.  While increased government spending and use of "prizes" may have their place, there is no reason why they cannot coexist with strong patent rights.  The author also takes issue with the suggestion that developing countries should impose compulsory licenses that enable them to produce technologies without payment to patent holders.  Past justification of such licenses have relied on misrepresentations of U.S. practice.  Moreover, such compulsory licensing proposals are not limited in scope and could be used to justify condemnation of intellectual property "at-will."

"The False Connection Between Strong Patent Rights and Global Inequity," is available on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation