Colin Barry

Charles Goodyear (CMC, Friday, Week 2)


How to think about intellectual property:

Goodyear and vulcanized rubber: high net benefit to society (rubber was a $1B industry by 1918), low private returns

U.S. Patent Law:
-- Underlying principles are bit strange and undemocratic => granting a monopoly on an idea?
-- Filing is really cheap (1/10 of the cost to file in the UK in the 19th century)
-- "First to invent" not "first to file," extensions allowed => encourages lone-inventor (like Goodyear)
-- Set up to protect inventors from exploitation and encourage innovation in a young country.
-- US (developing) vs. UK (developed) conflicts over IP => startlingly similar to US vs. China now.

Constant tension/problem: profits from innovation accrue to agents/intermediaries rather than to the inventor