Inventors receive too much credit for Breakthrough Innovations, says best-selling author

A provocative new book by an award-winning author, entrepreneur and politician disputes the contribution of tens of thousands of individual inventors to major innovations, like the light bulb and smartphone.

The author believes that patents and government interference are an unnecessary drag on innovation and that litigation – far from identifying true ownership and establishing legal precedent –  are a waste of time and money.

‘How innovation Works – And Why it Flourishes in Freedom’ by Matt Ridley, a best-selling author of nine books and member of the House of Lords, provides a context for how a range of major innovations came into existence, including the period in which they are set. Ridley’s conclusion is that history and timing are inevitable and more relevant than individual contributions, which has perpetuated a “great man” myth. 

This controversial book, which despite false conclusions about intellectual property and questionable sources, should be read for its strange and potentially dangerous perspective. Ridley is a national book award-winner from National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and was a senior editor at The Economist. 

The full review, Myth-Buster or Meme Maker? Reflections Upon Reading How Innovation Works, can be found on IP Watchdog.

‘Freed from Shackles’

How Innovation Works “suggests that innovation is an iterative process of trial-and-error that should be attributed to groups of inventors, not individuals, and that patents impede.

Ridley believes that policy and investment can do little to influence innovation and that “Innovators need to be freed from the shackles that hold them back.”

Background about Ridley’s ownership of a UK coal mine, support of fracking and his involvement in the 2007-2008 UK banking crisis are included in the review. 

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