Because There is a Cause

Social Patents

Not everybody is interested in money (Did you read the word 'not?'). There are some people who have different motivations. Here is an example.

Hidden from the world, working secretly and steadily for a long time, just a few weeks ago, Jim Brown discovered a medicine that completely cures cancer. Because of the advancement of science and technology, he was quite sure that there would be other persons (and companies) very close to the same discovery. He did not want this new drug to be a block-buster, money-spinner drug for a mega-bucks multi-national company. He did not like the idea that someone would patent such a drug and deprive the society of easy access to the medicine. He was in an anti-patent state of mind for this particular drug. It may sound paradoxical, but now he intends to file for a patent.


A patent acquired to stop others from patenting the invention with the intention to serve social cause is termed as 'social patenting.' The idea is catching on because several big companies want to take visible actions that showcase their social responsibility. In fact, a company which obtains several patents to make profits, would also acquire 'social patents' to win over (or at least, confuse) the anti-patent lobby.

The process to obtain such patents is almost the same, but the implementation phase is different. As for Mr. Jim Brown, that's not his real name and he is not even a real person. However, we hope there are several Jim Browns working on their inventions on this day and at this hour, so that society would benefit sooner or later. In fact, everyone should patent their inventions. Because inventions are inventions, regardless of the intentions.


A copyleft is to copyright, what a social patent is to a patent. If you apply the principles and motivations of the social patents to a copyright, it will be termed as copyleft. In other words, the copyright material is developed and used for social benefit, but the rules of copyrights are used against profiteers. This can also be used by companies to highlight their actions on social responsibility. The process for obtaining a copyright is the same, but the different implementation will make it a copyleft.

Again, everyone's creative output, and fruit of labor must be protected by a copyright, regardless of the 'direction' he would choose to go subsequently.


More by :  P. Mohan Chandran

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