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Patents can also work against the public good. The Wright Brothers patented the first airplane with a patent so broad that the entire technology moved to Europe until the patents expired. Marconi, of radio fame, was so appalled by this that he put together one of the first patent pools and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). If I remember, there was an aluminum patent that was so effective as to create a situation that was remedied by a "must license" decision under anti-trust law. If you actually look at who makes the money from a new technology, it is usually the second round of folks who bring in the resources once all the innovation has been done for them. There were no textile millionaires in the industrial revolution. In fact, most of the innovators made modest livings, and a good number of them died broke. (Check out Farewell to Alms for some good numbers on this).