Patent-Free Zone

Use What You Need

Use what you need, not what you have

In the patent free zone (PFZ), unlike in the rest of the world, almost no one owns any patents, but they don't really need to. They can use almost any patented technology they want, for free.

In patent-rich countries such as the US, companies mostly use the patents they own to make their products. If they used someone else's patent, they would usually have to pay for it. Companies focus on what they own and often ignore the rest.

In an active technology area, a single company usually doesn't own all the patents. For example, as of early 2010, there are 12,070 US patents related to diabetes treatment. All major pharmaceutical companies own some of them, but no one owns more than about 660. That's a lot of patents, but it's only 5.5%, or about one out of twenty available patents. So a US drug maker that wants to make a diabetes product using their own patents has only this much to work with (at most):

Their part (the blue slice) is what they own and can use. The rest (red) is off-limits, because it's owned by competitors. The part you own may be plenty (660 is a lot of patents), but what if it's not what you need?

It's different in the patent free zone. Almost none of those 12,070 patents are registered anywhere but the US. For example, only 38 of them are registered in Jordan— that's less than 0.3%. Almost no one holds any patents in the PFZ (patent free zone). But it's not what you have, it's what you can use. A PFZ drug maker might not own any diabetes patents, but here's what they have to work with, on average:

Where would you rather be working on diabetes treatments?