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THW abolish patents

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/20/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 314 times Debate No: 88508
Debate Rounds (3)
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In many countries, a patent system allows inventors and patent trolls that own, but do not use, patents to prevent others from using their patented methods without permission. While patent supporters may argue that patents encourage innovation and make things better for everyone, patents, in reality, cause corporate monopolies and unfair litigation that actually hamper innovation. Patents can be, and have been, abused by big corporations in ways that go against the original point of patenting.

By "abolishing patents", I mean abolishing the patent system; anybody would be free to make a product that employs methods of working similar to that of someone else. However, copyright law remains in place. This means that, while someone can, say, use Apple"s patented "slide to unlock" feature in their otherwise completely different smartphone, they cannot copy Apple"s iPhone"s exact hardware or software design to make a clone. This house shall be modeled as the entire world.

I believe that, in this debate, I need to prove one thing: that the world is better off without patents. I shall do so with two points: firstly, the harms of patents, and secondly, an evaluation of how the post-patent world would differ from our status quo.

Patents discourage innovation and encourage monopolies, going against their original purpose

In the status quo, patents do not encourage innovation, they discourage it. An innovator who would have otherwise made a novel application of or changes to an existing patent might fear litigation from the owner of the existing patent. Patent laws usually allow using existing innovations if they are changed to be "novel", but big companies with big legal teams can simply threaten litigation against innovators who improve on their patents, and that could scare innovators into not using their novel approach to the existing patent because they cannot pay for legal fees, even if the big companies" cases against them do not stand up. Under our current system, big companies have an incentive to threaten baseless lawsuits against smaller companies or individuals who compete against them, regardless of whether their allegations hold up in court.

Patents could also discourage competition by encouraging monopolies. If technologies essential for making a product are patented, and the original patent holder does not license them to anyone else, then it would be impossible for competitors to exist. With fewer competitors, there is less of an incentive for the original patent holder to improve on their invention, make it cheaper, or make it more accessible by manufacturing it on a larger scale.

Even if no true patent infringement exists, competitors could still end up paying extortionate dues to the patent holder due to a fear of litigation. For instance, Android vendors paid Microsoft dues because Android"s kernel supposedly violated Microsoft patents, despite there being no hard proof of such a violation. [1] This ends up forcing the competitors to sell their products for higher prices to help pay for the dues, causing a quasi-monopoly.

A world without patents

Now that I have told you the problems associated with patents, I shall move on to prove that abolishing patents has more benefits than risks.

Those who oppose abolishing patents often argue that doing so would discourage innovators from inventing things as they fear their inventions being stolen, leading to less innovation. In reality, however, patents actually create more innovation. In a patent-free world, innovators still create the same number of ideas. They might be more likely to turn these ideas into products, as they don"t have to worry about someone before them already having thought of one of the ideas. After the ideas become profitable products, the innovator would get a successful business. Only then would the competitors start making similar products, which would encourage competition from the innovator, who would make his product stand out from the rest. In the beginning, the innovator never needed to fear about their inventions being stolen, as inventions become adopted by others only after they become profitable or potentially profitable products, letting them known to the world. As such, a patent free world has more innovation than a world with patents.


As I have demonstrated above, patents do harm, and the primary objection to them is illogical. Therefore, I believe that I have fulfilled my burden for the motion "this house would abolish patents."



Hello, this is my first debate on this website, so here goes nothing;
Patents and copyrights have strong similarities, so eliminating one without affecting the other one would be an impossibility. I'm going to go on a slight tangent, but trust that it relates to the prompt.
Jim is a coal miner from Eastern Kentucky, his family lives in dire poverty and he struggles to put food on the plates for his family to consume. One day while slaving away in the mine, he finds a new way to extract the coal from the ground, he wants to open up his own coal mine on his own land. He aspires to never have to struggle to feed his family, so he patents his new method. Under the logic you represented in your statement, he would never have been able to do this, and to compete successfully with the business that he left to form his own. This would effectively stifle the capitalist principles of free market. With patents, he could form his own business and compete with the company he left, if he decided not to pursue that option he could sell the idea to a bigger company, raking in the profits to pursue other endeavors.
Debate Round No. 1


Hello, Unimag8nitiv, and welcome to!

Firstly, my opponent has stated that if a poor worker discovers a new method for doing what he did at his coal mine and cannot patent it, he would be unable to compete with the original business. He or she has not explained how that would occur, but I'll assume that it's because the original business would be able to use the poor worker's more efficient method.

In reality, the original business would not start using the poor worker's method, even if it isn't patented, until it has been proven that it is more profitable in terms of yields and risks than the original method--otherwise, the original business would be wasting money on making a downgrade. As such, the original business would have to wait for the poor worker to start an at least moderately successful business before copying his method, as they'd like to ensure that "upgrading" their coal-extraction method would actually work. This is because the original business may fear losing yields at a large scale.

Now, if the original business was as large as, say, Microsoft, it may be able to covert some of it coal mine operations as an experiment, so they wouldn't need to wait for the poor worker to create a business. However, if this were the case, then the patent-less and patent-existing worlds would be nearly the same, since the experimental operations would not change the original business' competitiveness by too much; it's too small, and it has to be too small to make a difference since they'd like to avoid risks.

Now, let's examine another one of my opponent's points, the idea that removing patents would necessarily affect copyright. While, considering that they are connected, this may be the case, my opponent has not shown why its affecting of copyright would be more negative than positive.


Unimag8nitiv forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Since my opponent wasn't here to write an argument for his second round, I shall make a "conclusion speech" akin to one you'd find in formal, real-life debates. That's why I address you, the reader, as "Mr.Speaker".


Mr. Speaker, I believe that there exist two main issues in this debate, and those are "how would abolishing patents affect consumers?" And "how would abolishing patents affect innovators?" While both sides raised valid points in this debate, I say that my side won the upper side on both of the main issues.

I shall start by talking about the first issue. In my first round, I have argued that patents are bad for the consumer because they allow one company to patent technologies essential for making a product and therefore make it hard for competitors to even exist. With a lack of competition comes a lack of an incentive to improve on a product or make it more affordable. This point was not addressed in my opponent's first round. As such, I have proven that abolishing patents would benefit the consumer.

Now, let's delve into the second issue. In my first round, I argued that patents actually encourage the creation of new ideas. Firstly, patents make it hard for innovators to improve existing ideas, since even if they make a "novel" invention, big companies with big legal teams owning the patent to the original invention could still sue them and argue that it is not "novel" enough; even if no actual patent infringement occurs, a threat of litigation could still scare an innovator away from improving an existing ideas. Big companies have an incentive to threaten lawsuits against them, as they are competitors. And secondly, I explained why abolishing patents cannot cause less innovation as a result of a fear of having one's inventions being stolen. My opponent stated otherwise, but his case was unclear, as pointed out in round 2; his case was later refuted. As such, I have successfully shown that abolishing patents would encourage innovation.

Therefore, let it be resolved that this house would abolish patents. (Or whatever you say to end a debate.)


Unimag8nitiv forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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