Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Against Monopoly

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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A monopoly over numbers?

Are you familiar with the ISBN? A unique identifier issued by the U.S. Government to identify books? Did you know that the U.S. Government has granted a private company Bowker a monopoly over issuing them? They are very proud of it...as if it is a good thing!

Catching Up

Been very busy with other things, so this is a "catching up" post.

1. I was offered the opportunity to syndicate an article. Usually these things are scams, but in this case it seems to be legitimate. The article in question seems to have some interesting stuff about non-practicing entities (i.e. patent trolls).

2. Ruth Lewis has a nice post pointing to yet more example of innovation that thrives without effective IP.

3. Riccardo DiCecio points to a long and detailed article about the original of patent trolling in Wired...

4. and Sylvain Ribault directs us to an article in Nature that the Chinese are headed down our same bad path - but luckily for both us and them, haven't arrived yet.

Too big to fail is too big

Copyright and Laurel L. Russwurm

Read her story on how it has hurt her here:


Support the Protect IP (Consumer Exploitation) Act?

The New York Times ran four letters today criticizing its earlier editorial on the Protect IP Act currently in Congress link here. All four were written by the minions of the copyright industry who railed against the injustice of copying or as they prefer, piracy.

I had intended to write on the original editorial when it appeared link here, but Mike Masnick did such a masterful job that I decided to refrain link here. Take a look, if you haven't already.

We need a better vocabulary. They call us opponents "pirates" and "robbers" and we can only respond, "monopolists." Those monopolists are the real thieves with their government created and enforced monopolies who use an artificial shortage to raise prices and throttle innovation under the guise of protecting private property when it is neither property that you can see and touch nor private but the creation of a long discredited and dead king who extracted rents for his own preservation.

Why does the monopoly of academic publishing go on?

The Economist examines academic publishing link here, "And what a living it is. Academic journals generally get their articles for nothing and may pay little to editors and peer reviewers. They sell to the very universities that provide that cheap labour. As other media falter, academic publishers have soared. Elsevier, the biggest publisher of journals with almost 2,000 titles, cruised through the recession. Last year it made £724m ($1.1 billion) on revenues of £2 billion an operating-profit margin of 36%."

Most of the publishers' revenues came from university libraries which subscribed to bundles of journals at very high prices, according to the article. Now, the universities can no longer afford to do so. This racket is based on the fact that academic promotion comes from peer-reviewed publications in these journals, now for the most part online.

The Economist doesn't mention it, but the solution is to set up their own peer-reviewed journals on line. The saving in subscriptions should be more than enough to pay generously for such a system. Why they haven't remains a mystery.

An Unlawful Monopoly Claim Over Disposable Baby Diapers

Kimberly-Clark executives might need to start using their own products, based on their potential reactions to this news as reported by CourtHouseNews.com -

"Huggies" manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Worldwide must answer an allegation that it knowingly used invalid patents to monopolize the market for disposable baby diapers.

In March 2009, the company sued First Quality Baby Products, a "private label" diaper-seller producing Wal-Mart- and Walgreen's-branded diapers, claiming First Quality's products infringed on Kimberly-Clark's patents.

In April 2009, First Quality fired back with counterclaims, accusing Kimberly-Clark of trying to enforce invalid patents.

"First Quality alleges that KC [Kimberly-Clark Worldwide] uses its patents to disrupt competitors and to maintain a monopoly in the disposable baby diaper and training pants market. KC first threatens a patent lawsuit and then engages in sham litigation to drain the resources of private label manufacturers, thereby reducing the ability of private labelers to compete," U.S. District Judge William Caldwell wrote in a 12-page opinion denying Kimberly-Clark's motion to dismiss the counterclaims.

Read the full story here: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/19/36704.htm

Then read the full [PDF] court ruling here:


In reference to page 2 of the court's opinion: Did you know that 300 patents were apparently needed to manufacture disposable diapers? Neither did I...

Using (and Abusing) Trademarks In An Attempt To Monopolize The English Language

"By definition, intellectual property includes the words, images, and sounds that we use to communicate, and the courts are strongly admonished not to 'indulge in the facile assumption that one can forbid particular words without also running a substantial risk of suppressing ideas in the process'."

Wise words indeed. They come courtesy of the Honorable Paul L. Maloney, a U.S. District Judge in Michigan who wrote the above line (partially quoting previous cases) in conjunction with this trademark dispute here [PDF link]:


Unfortunately, large segments of the IP legal community haven't gotten the message. Witness this recently filed case here [PDF link]:


James Boyle's new book with his congenial IP views free to download

James Boyle has written a new book--The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind--on IP which is notably available for downloading at no cost as well as for purchase in hard copy link here. There is much more to explore at his website, so read the book and visit his website. This is just what is needed to get more people on the side of rational public policy and against the monopolists.

Federal Appeals Court Sanctions Lawyer for Improperly Marking Patent Lawsuit Documents as 'Confidential'.

Among the fastest growing problems within the realm of malignant monopolies is the disturbing frequency of abuse that lawyers now use to try and keep court documents under seal and away from public scrutiny. This results in a monopoly of information that is often abused by corporate powers within the legal system.

It is gratifying to know that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has sanctioned at least one attorney for abusing that process in the course of a patent infringement lawsuit.

There are a few dense legal passages in the opinion, but its worth a read if you have the time.

The full opinion in PDF format can be found here:


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