I have been a vociferous opponent of patents since a parent troll sued my company 7 years ago. My opinion has been that patents are mostly used by low life’s to limit competition or seek unfair rents. I have written many blog posts calling for the abolishment of the patent system and talked about it with a wide variety of people.
I’ve been trying to learn more about how engines work and I bought a book called “The most powerful idea in the world” about the history of steam engines and the industrial revolution. The author makes a great argument in this book that the reason we had all the innovation in the industrial revolution was because patents allowed inventors to commit 10 years of their life to working on perfecting a project, and then to own a patent on it to become very rich. The author asks the important question of why the industrial revolution happened in the UK and in America, but not in China, or other parts of Europe, or Africa, or South America. The author believed one of the primary reasons is the ability to privately own your innovation for a period of time and collect monopoly profits from it.
Over the last couple of weeks, the persuasive argument above has changed me from being 99% sure that we should abolish the patent system to maybe being 30% sure that we should abolish the patent system. I think instead patents may have a place as long as they can be prevented from being extended or from going longer than maybe 7 or 10 years.
One of the key factors to my success in business and that other business owners have told me has been important to them is seeking to find out where you are wrong. Your opinions on business or politics do not define who you are. Someone who attacks an opinion is not hurting you, they are helping you. None of us really likes to be wrong, but being willing to actively question your beliefs and invite others to help and then to acknowledge when you are wrong is a superpower in life.
When was the last time you changed your mind on a topic of political importance to you?