Abolishing Patents Can Supercharge Innovation; Just Look at Fashion

vogue 1 Abolishing Patents Can Supercharge Innovation; Just Look at FashionReading Fred Wilson’s post this morning about lawsuits filed by Lodsys against app developers over software patents–“the iconic patent troll, taxing innovation and innovators for their own selfish gain”–I was reminded of this TED talk by Johanna Blakley. The thrust is that fashion designs can’t really be patented in the U.S.–the only thing that can’t be copied is the trademarked logo, which is why you see Gucci and Prada logos plastered all over purses and t-shirts. There are plenty of designers who believe they should be able to patent their designs. But the result of the current system, Ms. Blakley says, is that the top designers have to be hyperinnovative to stay ahead of the “fast fashion” houses like H&M.

“Because theres no copyright protection in this industry, there’s a very creative and open ecology of creativity,” she says, because fashion designers can “sample” their peers’ designs–an analogy being the current ecosystem of APIs and data exchange between different services.