Dolin: U.S. patent system helped defeat USSR in Cold War

Professor Greg Dolin

Professor Greg Dolin

Professor Greg Dolin published an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Times about the importance of America’s patent regime – a regime that he says played a key role in helping America win the Cold War against the Soviet Union, where he was born.

Writing 25 years after the communist superpower’s dissolution, Dolin says that although the Soviet Union had more nuclear weapons and a larger army and was sitting on a much bigger store of natural resources, it was destined to lose the Cold War to the United States.

Why? Because the U.S. “outinnovated” the USSR, he says.

In the United States, Dolin writes, inventions are treated as any other property, subject to the full protection of the law. In contrast, he says, “the Soviet legal system essentially made sure that the inventors’ creative capacities would not be directed towards improving the lives of their fellow citizens. What made America win the Cold War, in large part, was our strong patent regime.”

The lessons from the Cold War should be remembered, Dolin says, when some today call for weakening or even abolishing the patent system and replacing it with “prizes.”

“Innovation doesn’t just happen, and education and smarts are not enough,” he writes. “What is needed is a system that will entice people to innovate and reward those whose innovations improve the lives of their fellow citizens. And while we may debate the exact contours of such a system, there is no better system to encourage innovation than that which protects creators’ property rights in their inventions while letting the invisible hand of the free market judge the value of those innovations.”

Concludes Dolin: “A strong patent system is vital to ensuring continued economic flourishing.”

Read the story, “Why a strong patent system is vital: The patent system must not repeat Soviet mistakes” (Jan. 8, 2017).

Learn more about Professor Dolin.

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