Simulation Suggests Commons May Foster Innovation Better than Patents

James Boyle tweeted a link to this research.

Data generated from this simulation suggest that the current system combining patent and open source protection for inventions generates significantly lower rates of innovation (p<0.05), productivity (p<0.001), and societal utility (p<0.002) than does a commons system. Further, the empirical data generated using PatentSim suggests that commons systems can generate significantly greater amounts of innovation, productivity, and social utility than currently predominating patent systems that combine both patent and open source protection for inventions.

The research was published in The Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. The study was conducted by Dr. Andrew W. Torrance, Associate Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law and a Research Associate at the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Bill Tomlinson, Assistant Professor in the Informatics Department of the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California-Irvine

Essentially, they built side by side simulations of systems utilizing only patents, patents plus open source, and pure commons. They then measured success on a few different dimensions, reaching the conclusions quoted above.

I am kind of curious what a hybrid between patens and commons might yield, assuming that such an incremental stage is even possible. I am just thinking of the huge inertia behind patents and massive amount of lobbying cash invested in maintaining the status quo. I suspect a simulation alone is just a feather blow in trying to change the course of patent reliant industries.

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