Brevets / Logiciels


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by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine

Chapter 1: Introduction

page 5
In the specific case of Watt, the granting of the 1769 and especially of the 1775 patents likely delayed the mass adoption of the steam engine: innovation was stifled until his patents expired; and few steam engines were built during the period of Watts legal monopoly.

page 17

Chapter 2: Creation Under Competition

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At the end of the Second World War sixty years ago digital computers did not exist nor of course did the software that makes them work. In few industries has there been such extensive innovation as in the software industry and few technologies have changed our way of life as much. Will it surprise you to learn that virtually none of the innovations in this industry took place with the protection of intellectual monopoly? Our tour of the hidden world where innovation flourishes under competition starts here, in the software industry.

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According to Bill Gates hardly your radical communist or utopist If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.

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The software industry is a leading illustration of one of the sub-themes of this book. Intellectual monopoly is not a cause of innovation, but it is rather an unwelcome consequence of it. In a young dynamic industry full of ideas and creativity, intellectual monopoly does not play a useful role. It is when ideas run out and new competitors come in with fresher ideas, that those bereft of them turn to government intervention and intellectual property to protect their lucrative old ways of doing business.

However, if we compare releases of their operating systems or word processors over the last five or even ten years, it would be difficult to detect much innovation. What was Microsofts greatest innovation since 1994? No doubt, the web browser, the Internet Explorer. But who invented the web browser? Not Microsoft, but a small group of creative competitors from whom, later on, Microsoft took the idea and then acquired most of the basic code: The first popular version of a browser, NCSA Mosaic, appeared in March 1993, while it was only in August of 1995 that Microsoft released Internet Explorer 1.0.3

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