We have talked about freedom and patents earlier. There is a growing debate in our society on whether we should allow a few people to bind the world down with patents or let the creativity flow by keeping everything free. This is a crucial juncture in our civilization. A lot depends on what we decide. There are two things that can happen now:
Let us first look at the scenario where everything is patented:
There are very few ideas being generated because the source of ideas are not free to be used. For example, you could not read my blog and then build on some of the points I raise here because I would have patented those points. And I would choose to charge anyone who wants to discuss those points. So, slowly, the world could come to a complete standstill. There would be no competition in our markets. (to take a very simplistic example: there would be only one tea seller in the entire of Mumbai because he/she would patent the business model of selling tea on the roadside). To take a most pessimistic viewpoint, Humanity would stutter to its end.
Let us now look at the other scenario where we are free to use and build on other’s ideas/products:
At first, there would be anarchy. People would steal others’ ideas and pass them off as their own. There would be no way to make out who created what. But slowly, the dust would settle. People would start coming up with creative ideas (mostly because the market does not like repetition or repackaging: take hindi movies for examples). More importantly, people would start building on each others’ ideas. They would start customizing everything: software, appliances, designer clothes. There would be a million versions of every new design as soon as some one created it — and each version would be unique in its own way..improving over the original, building on it.
Where would that lead us as a society ? We would be more tolerant of each other (as no one would really own anything and there would be no lack of trust). We would have goods custom-built for us. There would be more individuality.
Also, the creative freedom would mean faster development.
I want to write more…but I want to take a pause and let all this sink in. Am I taking this too far ? Am I making the “society without patents” thing look more endearing than it really is ? Are patents really that bad ? Can a “free society” really be that good ?
Your comments are requested…