No. Worthless. I can't afford to pay $100m doing research which someone else can copy for $5m.
If there were no such thing as patents, Microsoft would have ploughed tons of cash into Kinect, but both the PS3 and the Wii would have a Kin3ct and a Wiinect. Customers won't be giving Microsoft any money for the Kin3ct or the Wiinect. Microsoft would have just spent a crap ton of money inventing awesome peripherals for their competitors, and would no longer have a competitive advantage over them.
Now when people want to buy Kinect Animals for their kids, they might buy a PS3 and Kin3ct animals, or a Wii and Wiinect Animals instead. After all, the Wiinect is cheaper because they didn't have to hire, train or trial the invention. They just had to copy Microsoft.
Inventing new things is much more expensive and time-consuming than reverse-engineering something else. That's why it took Microsoft decades and thousands of staff to build Windows XP, but why it took six guys in their basement to make Reactos.
I disagree. Microsoft would fire the lawyers and hire more inventors. Small companies would be able to compete, because the protection large companies have would go away.
Nope. They fire inventors and hire reverse engineers. Who wants some expensive inventors who give you hardly any competitive advantage when you can hire reverse engineers to push down per-unit costs?
InnovativeTech PLC and ReverseEngineers Inc both have a budget of $100m for a new phone.
IT spend $50m researching the phone, $40m building it and $10m on marketing.
RE spend $20m reverse-engineering IT's phone, $30m building it, $30m on marketing and $20m into dropping the price of the phone 20%.
Now do customers buy the phone that few people know about that costs $200, or do they buy the one that is functionally identical three months later that everyone knows about costing $160?
Here's a hint: customers buy the cheapest phone and are heavily influenced by marketing (i.e. the one from RE Inc).
What happens next? Well, IT fire all of their innovators and close up shop. RE laugh whilst taking the proceeds of InnovateTech's research all the way to the bank.