Compulsory Behavior

The bottom line

Patents are in some ways like taxes: governments manipulate their terms to achieve specific ends, in this case by trying to balance the incentive to invent with the period of monopoly granted. And, like taxes, when the ends change, the outcomes are hard to predict.

Proposals in the U.S. Senate last week to break Bayer AG's patent on Cipro ciprofloxacin in response to the anthrax scare - and Canada's actual breaking of the patent - reflect that tension, potentially undermining the balance of risk