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A recent discussion on a major television network business program addressed the purported deficiencies of the U.S. patent system. The commentators and panelists expressed some dislike for patents in general, espousing a “you didn’t invent that” philosophy which argues that many inventions only build on prior research, most of it by other inventors, and so patents constitute an unreasonable reward for the inventors’ efforts. The bioscience community is acutely aware that this is only partly true—every inventor builds on the prior work of others; however, improvements in the field can require monumental achievement in the laboratory and in the development process to bring such inventions to the market. This should remind the bioscience community that the business community sometimes needs to remind politicians and the public of the importance and value of patents.

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