With cutting edge materials, space age concepts and new technologies it makes sense for companies and innovators in these fields to have lots of patents, and yet in the future it’s important that the very best high-tech materials are used to provide the maximum safety for all future space travelers. If one company locks up the patents they will have a monopoly on those materials and therefore other companies may not use those materials, and go with other cheaper materials jeopardizing safety.
It should also be noted that if there are multiple companies providing future space travel, that if one company has an accident where people die, it could turn off and scare all future space travelers to the whole concept, and that would hurt the entire industry. Whereas, patents do provide a worthy consideration and reason to risk capital on ventures due to the profit motive, it should also be noted that we must maximize safety if we are to have successful space programs in the future.
These particular challenges and ethical questions are not new, they have been discussed in the pharmaceutical industry, the transportation industry, the computer industry, and even with military contractors with the government. Still, there needs to be a solution that works for everyone and still allows the original innovator to get paid for putting in the research and development necessary to perfect these concepts.
Competition is a wonderful thing and it is a great way to increase innovation at a very rapid pace, but at the same time sharing information might provide the space industry even more bang for their buck, as well as increase the timetable in bringing these products to market for all to enjoy. Please consider all this.