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A Case for Weakening Patent Rights

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Abstract[edit]

This Article provocatively asserts that lawmakers should weaken patents significantly—by between 25% and 50%. The primary impetus for this conclusion is the under-appreciated effects of new and emerging technologies, including three-dimensional printing, synthetic biology, and cloud computing. These and other technologies are rapidly decreasing the costs of each stage of the innovation cycle: from basic research, through inventing and prototyping, to marketing and distribution. The primary economic theories supporting patent law hold that inventors and innovators need patents to recoup the costs associated with research, inventing, and commercializing. Because new technologies have begun—and will continue—to dramatically decrease these costs, the case for weakening patents is ripe for analysis.

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