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Because even if removing the patent system meant that the invention was kept secret from the public, it would most likely be reinvented many times in that 15 year time. The worst part of patents is that they extend even to others who do the legwork themselves, and frequently stifle an entire area (for example, 3D printing exploded in popularity and accessability right after some key patents held by stratasys expired, and this was in the best case of a company actually developing the technology they had patented).

We are talking about an exceptional case here. The patent owner is a wealthy and extentric agent who disregarts potential profit from selling/licensing/using the patent. And even in such rare and unexpected cases the public eventually gains access to inventions - which is not neccessarely the case for inventions kept secret. Basically, the society trades speed of technological development for certaininity of achieving its goals.

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