Patents: Capitalism versus Technological advance

The technological dynamism of capitalism is undeniable.But the functioning of capitalism also mean the shelving of many useful inventions.

Capitalism has been widely celebrated for its capacity for rapid technological advance. Thus Marx in the Communist Manifesto of 1848: “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production.” A century later Joseph Schumpeter declared that “creative destruction” is “the essential fact about capitalism” (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, 1942).  And surely this fact has never been truer than it is today, in the age of microelectronics and bioengineering?