Chapter 5: Making a Return on R & D: A Business Perspective
5. Making a return on R&D: a business perspective Sharon Oriel This chapter focuses on the business perspective for making a return on investments in biotechnology. Patents will be used as the primary example of intangibles. Most comments and data specific to patents are germane to the other types of intellectual property: trademarks, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights and semi-conductor masks. A brief summary of patent trends and history is used to set the context for the discussion of a model for managing business intangibles. The corporate intangibles perspective will be presented from two positions: a large multi-national firm and a biotechnology start-up. The hypothesis underdevelopment is that the business perspective provides balance to the current conversations about access to the intangibles created by biotechnology research. The word patent derives from the Latin litterae patentes or open letters. The first modern patent law was introduced in Venice in 1474 to attract skilled merchants to the city-state. Anyone who came up with a technique deemed novel was given a 10-year right to its exclusive use. Infringers were fined 100 ducats. Thomas Jefferson said patents should draw ‘a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not’. In 1851, The Economist wrote, ‘The granting [of] patents “inflames cupidity”, excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits . . . The principle of...
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