Business Method Patents
Patents are intended to give the owner of an idea exclusive use of it for some time. This protects the owner from people and organizations that may use the idea to make profits without the consent of owner and without paying any royalties. However, patents in business raise more issues than they solve due to the complicated process of proving that the person seeking the patent was the first to develop the idea or model. This implies that patents are important but they might be doing more harm than good in the business environment.
The first major issue with patents is that some of them are already in wide use and allowing one person or organization to own them disadvantages others who have been using them before the patent was issued. This is a common problem since businesses around the world are always working on business methods that enable them overcome their rivals. Therefore, most successful organizations have modified the commonly used models to suit their business and their industry. Consequently, almost all of them have a unique approach and model that they keep on improving on as the market changes. Most of these organizations are not interested in patenting their method because they are more fascinated by its effectiveness rather than protecting it. Problems arise when another organization develops a similar model and patents it claiming its exclusive use. The patent office seeks any complaints which in some cases do not arise. The result is cases arise later when the patent holder realizes another organization is using their idea and claims it was stolen. The result is an expensive case that exposes the weaknesses of patents and how they may end up denying those who came up with the idea first the right to use it on the grounds that they do not own the exclusive rights to it.
Successful organizations prefer to keep their business methods a secret to prevent competitors from copying them. This implies that when another organization comes up with a similar idea and patents it they will not be the only one using it. This is a disadvantage to them since they will have exposed their model to the world while their rival keeps the model a secret and continues to make profits from it. This exposes one of the weaknesses of patents which are forcing people or organizations to expose their idea to their competitors which disadvantages them. Most organizations will not copy the idea but will develop their own disruptive model to nullify the exposed idea. Most organizations that come up with disruptive ideas to overcome their rivals who prefer the blue ocean strategy rarely reveal their idea and are never interested in patenting it. This disadvantages the patent holder since the process of obtaining it requires them to reveal the idea. In addition to that, the patent holder is not protected from organizations that copy ideas and use them as a secret model. These firms are under no obligation to reveal their model to anyone which leaves the patent holder disadvantaged. .
Business organizations rely on different ideas which they keep on changing to meet changing demands in the market. This implies that at any given point, most of them use a mixture of ideas mostly derived from experiences and market trends. Most of them are known to use methods similar to those used by their competitors though developed differently. Some of the ideas they use are the same but are custom made to give different results. Consequently, one idea might be used to develop models that yield different results based on the needs of an organization and the industry in which it operates. As a result, patenting the idea is unethical since an idea in itself does not determine the end result since it can be applied differently. What matters is the end results since the idea on its own cannot be a standalone. It requires other ideas to develop a working model which denies any one individual the right to prevent others from using an idea. Such an act is unethical and against the spirit of sharing ideas to come up with better products for the betterment of the society.