All of us will encounter patents in one way or another throughout our careers and our lives. Patents can guide and affect many aspects of your life, regardless of where you are in your career or what you do. Here are just a few examples:
- If you are a researcher or a student, patents can be one of the broadest (and most publicly available) sources of technical information. The European Patent Office estimates that up to 30% of all expenditure in research and development is wasted on redeveloping existing inventions. Being aware of patents can help you avoid reinventing the wheel.
- If you are in industry, patents can aid you in gathering business intelligence. Patents provide information on the state of the art in a technology area. This information can enable you to monitor how competitors may be innovating in your technology area or aid in determining what improvements may be made to the technology.
- Outside of where you work or what you do, almost all of us at some point in our lives will need prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices can sometimes be affected by the existence of patents, and patents can affect when generic drugs can hit the market. If these are issues that affect you, understanding the interplay between patents and pharmaceuticals may be helpful in advocacy efforts or even just for confirming when generic drugs may be available.
- Further, innovation is a key indicator of economic progress, and patent protection can help ensure that inventors and innovators continue to have fair and appropriate incentives to innovate.