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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Kinsella Interview on Lew Rockwell Show podcast: Intellectual

A fifteen-minute interview by Lew Rockwell: Podcast #32; MP3 file (8.2MB). As Lew's site describes it, "Stephan Kinsella podcast on phony rights vs. real ones." We discussed mainly the moral, libertarian, propertarian, and state-related aspects of patent and copyright, and why there has been confusion about IP among libertarians.

More detailed discussion of these issues can be found on my libertarian publications page; see also my monograph Against Intellectual Property; and my speech and presentation, The Intellectual Property Quagmire, or, The Perils of Libertarian Creationism.


Comments

Creation confers ownership. Purchase(exchange) confers ownership. Both creation and purchase are mechanisms for introducing property into one's private domain and obtaining ownership thereof.

This applies to intellectual property as much as material property.

If I manufacture new property (an 'original' work or a copy of my property - whether I 'originated' it or not) and sell it to you, you own that property. Your natural rights over your property don't interfere with my property, nor do my natural rights interfere with yours - naturally.

Privileges given to filers of 'novel' mechanisms and fixers of 'original' works, do interfere with everyone's natural property rights. If people insist on using the term 'right' to apply to these privileges then we have to term them unnatural or 'phony' rights, e.g. "Copyright is a phony right".

However, intellectual property remains natural and its creation confers ownership to its creator (which as with any property is transferable). It is only the privileges pertaining to it that are unnatural.

It is possible that some people would go further than the legislated privileges and claim that creation/discovery confers ownership over all likenesses. This is plainly supernatural (only a deity or his church could be so bold), and its enforcement is beyond even the superhuman power of the state to achieve.

So, Stephan, I must pick you up each time you deny that creation can confer ownership. It at least needs qualifying, as otherwise it alienates the layman (not versed in the subtleties of IP) who should quite naturally expect to own that which he creates. Perhaps focus instead on denouncing the preposterous idea that creation confers ownership over all likenesses?

Creation (or more broadly homesteading) only creates or confers ownership of property if the thing created was made of previously unowned material (e.g., land in an unowned wilderness). If Smith breaks into Jones' house, and paints a picture with Jones' artist's materials, Smith has created something, but he doesn't own it. If anyone does, it would be Jones. Smith is a thief, who has illegally expropriated someone else's property. That is what's wrong with the creation theory of ownership.

And a painting is no more "intellectual property" than the scissors on my desk is or the food on my kitchen table is.

Also, you have not persuaded anyone on this board that there is such a thing as intellectual property, which can be distinguished from other, non-intellectual property. "Intellectual property" remains a concept that is alien to liberty and libertarianism, and that necessarily refers to a grant of monopoly by the state.

A burglar owns the IP they create even in someone else's private domain. They may not own the materials, and may in the course of their activities cause material damage, but burglary, material theft/damage, has no bearing upon the burglar's ownership of their IP.

For example, I may burgle into someone's beach villa, and whilst lazing on their veranda sipping a G&T from their fridge, scribble down a wondrous poem upon some of their notepaper. That is my poem. The owners of the villa may rightfully claim invasion of privacy, breaking & entry, damage to notepaper, etc. But, my poem is not forfeit (however valuable).

As for persuading anyone else on this board, how about Kid?

I'm happy to agree that state granted monopolies are alien to liberty and libertarianism. However, intellectual property is natural. It is only the state granted monopolies of copyright and patent that privilege filers/fixers ('creators') of IP that are unnatural.

"Intellectual property" remains a concept that is alien to liberty and libertarianism,

What are you arguing? That "intellectual property" is superfluous, since all intellectual property exists within a container of tangible property, to which tangible property rights may apply (which you have claimed earlier)? Or that intellectual property is in fact alien to liberty? The two positions are incompatible.

To me intellectual property seems the most natural thing in the world. I create something, I own it. I sell it to you, you own it. Copyright (I sell it to you, I still own it) indeed is quite ridiculous, and "intellectual property" is a bad name for copyright as this behavior is not at all analogous to tangible property.

Just the fact that many people call copyright "intellectual property", however, doesn't make everything one might want to call intellectual property ridiculous.

I create intellectual property in the form of a patent. I own the patent (or I have assigned the patent). Someone copies my device and sells my device for their own. They have lied twice. First, they plagiarized by creation by copying it and presenting it as their own creation. Second, they claim they have the capability of selling this plagiarized copy without any hinderance, implying that I have somehow permitted them to plagiarize my creation. Liar, liar pants on fire.
"I create intellectual property in the form of a patent. I own the patent (or I have assigned the patent). Someone copies my device and sells my device for their own."

It goes without saying that the act of creation doesn't magically confer upon you the ownership of all similar creations. Why would it? If I create a chair, I don't own all similar chairs. If I create a shoe, I don't own all similar shoes. Why, then, if I create an idea should I own all similar ideas?

Your creation is your property, but you have no right to tell other people what to do with their property, even if their property happens to look similar to yours.

Kid:

If someone invents the first chair, describing a device with at least three legs positioned to support a platform above the ground, then the definition of that device is quite clear. There is no similarity because chair is a rather broad concept. However, if someone innovates around the chair by creating a rocking chair, the rocking chair is similar to the chair, but is it different in that it does not use four legs. The holder of the patent for the chair does not have any rights over the inventor of the rocking chair.

Later, someone else invents a bean bag chair. This new innovation competes with the first two, and though similar is not covered by the first two.

Mixing ideas with chairs is mixing intellectual property rights with abstract ideas. No one owns ideas. Indeed, how could you? We have been down this path before. A chair is not an idea, it is an invention. A copyright is for a particular assembly of words, not an idea. A trademark is for the use of particular words in a particular application, not an idea. Where do ideas conjoin with intellectual property?

Lonnie: "I create intellectual property in the form of a patent. I own the patent (or I have assigned the patent). Someone copies my device and sells my device for their own. They have lied twice. First, they plagiarized by creation by copying it and presenting it as their own creation. Second, they claim they have the capability of selling this plagiarized copy without any hinderance, implying that I have somehow permitted them to plagiarize my creation. Liar, liar pants on fire."

This is very sloppy reasoning. Why is plagiarism a crime? Why is lying a crime? This is question begging and confused.

"If someone invents the first chair, describing a device with at least three legs positioned to support a platform above the ground, then the definition of that device is quite clear. There is no similarity because chair is a rather broad concept. However, if someone innovates around the chair by creating a rocking chair, the rocking chair is similar to the chair, but is it different in that it does not use four legs. The holder of the patent for the chair does not have any rights over the inventor of the rocking chair."

Do you even know what you are talking about? The inventor of the chair would claim it as "a device for elevated sitting comprising a base portion [or upper sitting support surface" etc.] and support means" or "legs coupling the base portion to the ground." The patentee would of course argue that the rocking chair's legs are covered by the support means or "legs" limitation, or by the doctrine of equivalents.

Of course, the rocking chair inventor could get his own patent for the improvement, but that does not mean he is free to use his chair.

"Later, someone else invents a bean bag chair. This new innovation competes with the first two, and though similar is not covered by the first two."

How do you know? It has an elevated sitting support surface, and a means of support, just like the claims that describe the first chair.

Lonnie:

A patent isn't intellectual property. The invention is the intellectual property. The patent is a monopoly privilege - and it does not behave at all analogous to property.

When you invent a chair, that chair is your property. Suppose you put it on the market and eventually sell me one. I now own a chair. By what right would you prevent me from copying my own chair? It is, after all, now my chair. Why should it matter that it was yours before you sold it to me?

Copyright and patent are transferable privileges that can (to some degree) be bought and sold, so they could be termed 'Legal properties relating to intellectual works'. Unfortunately, this term is grievously contracted from 'Intellectual work related legal property' into simply 'Intellectual property' or IP.

The privileges can also be misnamed as rights, thus "Intellectual property owners' natural rights and unnatural privileges" becomes conflated into 'Intellectual property rights' which also ends up shortened to IPR or just IP.

Ideally the privileges are abolished, and along with them the ridiculously conflated and misleading usages of the term 'intellectual property'.

This leaves us with the remaining natural and clear meaning of the term, i.e. that intellectual property comprises the intellectual works in someone's legitimate possession, just as material property comprises material works.

So, I count three usages of the term IP, only one of which is coherent, the other two being confusing conflations or contractions.

This leaves us with the remaining natural and clear meaning of the term, i.e. that intellectual property comprises the intellectual works in someone's legitimate possession, just as material property comprises material works.

This is a false distinction, because intellectual property has a material dimension, as it must be instantiated in a physical medium. Likewise, material property doesn't come into existence without the human mind creating it, as Rand would have said. A book cannot exist without paper and ink, or, in the case of an e-book, a computer hard drive. Even if you argue that a book can exist only inside someone's head, the brain is a physical object (and in the case of certain politicians that's about all it is).

Stephen:

Re the chair patents: Your arguments are great because they are all in hindsight. We have no idea what the inventor might claim, particularly if the inventor is unable to foresee alternatives. Further, if we hypothesize that the stool came first, and the chair second, then the inventor of the chair would be substantially limited in the scope of his creation, and likely the rocking chair and the bean bag chair would be independently patentable and non-infringing.

Re plagiarism and crime and lying and crime: I re-read my post. I do not see where I said either plagiarism or lying are crimes. However, if I steal someone's words, that seems immoral to me. There are lots of words in the English language. Use your own. As for lying, that is not a crime, merely stupid. I will believe a liar until I catch him or her in a lie, and then I will never believe them again. More of a violation of my morals than a crime.

Kid:

In a world without patents, I would sell you the chair under a contract whereby you forfeit any right to do anything other than use, resell, or destroy your chair. I will require contractually that you do not copy the chair and that you do not permit someone else to copy the chair. If you will not sign the contract, I will not sell you the chair.

On the other hand, I think that it is a natural right of a creator to maintain some control of his creation, at least to the extent that he is able to prevent others from making a copy of his creation unless he give that person permission. It seems like a creator's natural right to me.

Speaking of natural rights, I have yet to see a definitive list. Thus far, my research appears to indicate that there is not set definition of natural rights. The best definition I have seen thus far is that eating and breathing are natural rights. Freedom may not be a natural right because an animal's natural right is to eat, and humans are fair game.

Crosbie:

I would love to see a definitive list of natural and unnatural rights.

Bill:

You are quite correct regarding the physical aspect. Indeed, without a product (an invention, a composition, be it words, art, etc., or a trademark), there is no intellectual property, there are only ideas. Ideas are not intellectual property, though several people here confuse the two frequently.

Bill, I've always agreed that intellectual works must exist in the physical universe (I'm not a spiritualist), and that for works to be regarded as property they must be physically manifest outside the human mind (since the mind is naturally integral to the human body, inseparable, and unknowable). This doesn't prevent one owning the ideas within one's mind, but those ideas can't be considered property (necessarily independent) until they've been physically manifested outside the mind.

However, just as the hands work and utilise clay, so the mind works and utilises information. We have both materially apprehensible works and intellectually apprehensible works.

These two aspects can vary in proportion. Many works can be simultaneously high in both material and intellectual aspect, such as an abacus currently displaying a valuable PIN. Some works are almost entirely lacking in intellectual aspect, such as a polished gemstone. And some almost entirely lacking in material aspect, such as a work encoded within a modulated stream of photons on its way to a satellite.

Property comprises both material and intellectual aspects. Often, one aspect is more valuable than the other, notches carved into tally sticks can be intellectually valuable, but materially valueless.

Incidentally, when one says 'material work', one indicates a work whose primary aspect and/or value is material (despite often having an intellectual aspect), and similarly, when one says 'intellectual work', one indicates a work whose primary aspect and/or value is intellectual (despite often having a material aspect).

What we find in nature is that whilst material property can only be transferred by movement, intellectual property can also be transferred through communication, i.e. copying. This is the distinguishing characteristic of the two aspects and gives rise to the need to consider both those aspects in the results of human labour and recognise them as both able to constitute property. Our intellectual work is just as much property as our material work.

Natural intellectual property arises from the natural private domain of the individual. The private domain is the region in which the individual has the natural ability to control access, use, movement and communication of the material and intellectual works within their possession (whether through creation, purchase, or discovery).

The unnatural corruption begins when kings grant patents or privileges to creators, or monopolies to producers of copies.

Crosbie:

In the end, the creators give, and the copiers take. The few who can, do, those who can't, copy. So, those few people who have the ability to create do so from the beneficience of their heart so that those who do not have the ability can take from the creators. Similarly, since I am terrible at making clothes, I should be permitted to take my clothes from someone who can make them, and they should be happy to make clothes for me since I do not have the ability. This all seems quite natural to me. I so understand natural rights now.

Ludicrous. If you take clothes from someone who can make them, that person is now missing one set of clothes. If you copy a song from someone who can make them, that person is certainly not now missing one song; they still have the original.
"In the end, the creators give, and the copiers take."

Crosbie isn't arguing that we ought to abolish all property rights in ideas. Under a system of natural intellectual property, the only way for me to get my hands on your copy of an idea is for you to sell it to me. All I ask is that if you sell me a copy, I then own that copy, and not still you. Otherwise it wouldn't be much of a sale.

One might argue - on utilitarian grounds - that it's beneficial to society if we grant authors and inventors a monopoly privilege instead of an ordinary property right. As it happens, I don't find the arguments of that kind that have been offered so far very convincing. In any case, the "creators give copiers take" rhetoric is ludicrous.

Crosbie,

You overlook the fact that goods that embody what looks like a small intellectual component have to be commercialized on the market, and this process involves lots of stuff such as advertising, marketing, supply chain management, etc., all of which are driven by software and other stuff normally regarded an intellectual property. The bottom line is that there is no non-arbitrary way to distinguish as you do between intellectual and tangible property. Absent intellectual monopoly (which is the conventional way to distinguish IP), there is no useful distinction between intellectual and tangible property.

Sure, the editorial writers at Forbes will write about software entrepreneurs pioneering intellectual property, but let them try it without tangible stuff like computers and the hard stuff that goes into them, not to mention the chirs, desks and offices they use. Last time I checked, no one has a patent on an office.

Kid:

"Creators give copiers take" is ludicrous? In what way? That seems to be the common theme on this site. Every person against patents is for the unlimited ability to make copies once they have obtained the first copy. So, ultimately a creator will make one copy at great expense, the copiers will then take it and make unlimited copies for free or minimal investment. So, the highly inventive and talented creator will either never be able to make another creative work because of financial constraints, or will hide his inventions and tell the rest of the world to take a hike, he or she will take his universal cure for cancer to the grave.

"So, ultimately a creator will make one copy at great expense, the copiers will then take it and make unlimited copies for free or minimal investment. So, the highly inventive and talented creator will either never be able to make another creative work because of financial constraints, or will hide his inventions and tell the rest of the world to take a hike, he or she will take his universal cure for cancer to the grave."

1) There is a fixed cost to imitating the original innovator, which is not necessarily small.

2) Even if the imitation is successful, the imitator will not take all of the market. He will share the market with the original innovator.

3) The original innovator always has a first mover advantage and can be expected to retain a large market share.

The "copiers take it" part is what is ludicrous. The copiers buy it. Then, they do with their own property as they see fit. Surely you realize that a right to your own property and a monopoly privilege are not quite the same thing.

You might reasonably argue that a monopoly privilege for inventors is a good thing, but you cannot reasonably compare the act of competing to piracy on the high seas.

Kid:

(1) The cost to the first person to create is generally higher than for the first person to plagiarize.

(2) Not necessarily true. Samsung did a great job of taking over the lion's share of markets that it did not innovate or create in (microwaves and fans being a couple of examples) from Japanese companies, several of which were once highly innovative and who have subsequently left the market. Interestingly, Samsung is now an innovator and protects their intellectual property heavily and faces design theft by Chinese companies. The cycle continues.

(3) Absolutely untrue. The Wright brothers were the first to successfully demonstrate powered flight with a man on board, yet they never became significant players in the aviation industry. Motorola demonstrated the first practical cell phone and yet Motorola never operated a cell phone network. Apple may have created the personal computer market, or at least sparked the forces that led to the explosion in desktop and laptop computers, and yet within a few short years Apple was relegated to second place (and then third and then fourth) and eventually came near to bankruptcy. Several American companies demonstrated practical hybrid cars well in advance of Toyota, and yet Toyota is the market leader today. The list of companies that were first movers and yet either never had a significant market share or almost immediately lost market share is so huge that I could be sitting here all night making a list.

"The copiers take it": Okay, just for a moment I will take your position that once you purchase a copy of someone's intellectual property that you have the right to do anything with that intellectual property you see fit. I would like to explore that for a moment.

What could I do with this copy of intellectual property? I could eat it. I could destroy it by various means. I could re-sell it. I could give it away. I could take it apart. I could use it. I could put it into my closet. All of these activities are legitimate and well within the natural rights of someone who owns a piece of property.

Now, your argument is that making a copy is legitimate. Wait just a moment. When you make a copy, you are no longer "doing" something with your purchased copy. Instead, you have made a new copy that is completely separate from the original. I fail to see that you purchased a right to create a child from the parent. You have a natural right to do anything you wish with the copy you purchased, but creating a new copy is not "doing" anything with the original copy.

I was not equating the act of competing with piracy on the high seas. I think competition is a beautiful and marvelous thing. Our technology is what it is because of competition. Typewriters became pin printers became pen printers became inkjet and laser. Competition is inherently innovative when money is involved. When someone demonstrates there is a market, and if they have protected that market with intellectual property, there is immediately a drive to exploit the market with non-infringing technology. We get VHS and Beta and DVD and Blu-Ray and infinite invention because one company creates a market and others follow, doing their best to come up with novel new products that do not infringe on the creations of the person before them. I love competition because it drives us to innovate and to excellence. I have been involved in numerous engineering projects where we started with the competitor's product and figured out how to innovate a competitive product around their patents.

I deplore piracy. I associate piracy with murder, torture, threats and violence. Pirates are sneaks who lurk about in dark alleys because they are unable to think or create for themselves, but they think it is okay to take what someone else created for their own because it is expedient. They think it is okay to not have to pay for the privilege of using someone's creativity. No one forces anyone to read a book, listen to music, watch a movie or buy a new invention. I think piracy is immoral and unnatural. Be moral, don't be a pirate.

Kid:

(1) The cost to the first person to create is generally higher than for the first person to plagiarize.

(2) Not necessarily true. Samsung did a great job of taking over the lion's share of markets that it did not innovate or create in (microwaves and fans being a couple of examples) from Japanese companies, several of which were once highly innovative and who have subsequently left the market. Interestingly, Samsung is now an innovator and protects their intellectual property heavily and faces design theft by Chinese companies. The cycle continues.

(3) Absolutely untrue. The Wright brothers were the first to successfully demonstrate powered flight with a man on board, yet they never became significant players in the aviation industry. Motorola demonstrated the first practical cell phone and yet Motorola never operated a cell phone network. Apple may have created the personal computer market, or at least sparked the forces that led to the explosion in desktop and laptop computers, and yet within a few short years Apple was relegated to second place (and then third and then fourth) and eventually came near to bankruptcy. Several American companies demonstrated practical hybrid cars well in advance of Toyota, and yet Toyota is the market leader today. The list of companies that were first movers and yet either never had a significant market share or almost immediately lost market share is so huge that I could be sitting here all night making a list.

"The copiers take it": Okay, just for a moment I will take your position that once you purchase a copy of someone's intellectual property that you have the right to do anything with that intellectual property you see fit. I would like to explore that for a moment.

What could I do with this copy of intellectual property? I could eat it. I could destroy it by various means. I could re-sell it. I could give it away. I could take it apart. I could use it. I could put it into my closet. All of these activities are legitimate and well within the natural rights of someone who owns a piece of property.

Now, your argument is that making a copy is legitimate. Wait just a moment. When you make a copy, you are no longer "doing" something with your purchased copy. Instead, you have made a new copy that is completely separate from the original. I fail to see that you purchased a right to create a child from the parent. You have a natural right to do anything you wish with the copy you purchased, but creating a new copy is not "doing" anything with the original copy.

I was not equating the act of competing with piracy on the high seas. I think competition is a beautiful and marvelous thing. Our technology is what it is because of competition. Typewriters became pin printers became pen printers became inkjet and laser. Competition is inherently innovative when money is involved. When someone demonstrates there is a market, and if they have protected that market with intellectual property, there is immediately a drive to exploit the market with non-infringing technology. We get VHS and Beta and DVD and Blu-Ray and infinite invention because one company creates a market and others follow, doing their best to come up with novel new products that do not infringe on the creations of the person before them. I love competition because it drives us to innovate and to excellence. I have been involved in numerous engineering projects where we started with the competitor's product and figured out how to innovate a competitive product around their patents.

I deplore piracy. I associate piracy with murder, torture, threats and violence. Pirates are sneaks who lurk about in dark alleys because they are unable to think or create for themselves, but they think it is okay to take what someone else created for their own because it is expedient. They think it is okay to not have to pay for the privilege of using someone's creativity. No one forces anyone to read a book, listen to music, watch a movie or buy a new invention. I think piracy is immoral and unnatural. Be moral, don't be a pirate.

(1) I'm assuming you mean "the cost of imitation is less than the cost of innovation." This is of course almost always true. Plagiarism, however, claiming authorship of work another person did, has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Plagiarism is immoral because it is fraud, not because it is copying.

(2) Competition will eventually force less efficient firms out of the market. Samsung took over the market, not by just copying innovators, but by innovating itself and therefore being able to sell a better product at a lower price. If an imitator always waits for an innovator to come on the market with a good idea, the imitator will always be at a disadvantage in that market.

(3) That doesn't mean that those firms never had a first mover advantage. I'm just saying that the innovator has an advantage over imitators, I'm not saying that an innovator necessarily will turn a profit on every innovation. Many of your examples happened under the patent system and could therefore be offered as evidence that the patent system hasn't improved the situation.

"When you make a copy, you are no longer "doing" something with your purchased copy. Instead, you have made a new copy that is completely separate from the original. I fail to see that you purchased a right to create a child from the parent. You have a natural right to do anything you wish with the copy you purchased, but creating a new copy is not "doing" anything with the original copy."

Why shouldn't I be allowed to create a copy? It's my property, after all. Your answer might be that if I am allowed to enter the market, the innovator will make less money, and if innovators make less money, they are less inclined to innovate. That's an argument to restrict competition (perhaps in the form of copyright and patent). I don't understand your idea of some kind of moral prohibition on copying.

"They think it is okay to not have to pay for the privilege of using someone's creativity."

But who is arguing for communism in the idea market? All I am saying is that if I buy from you, I should be allowed to enter into competition with you too.

Kid:

(1) Yes, the cost of plagiarism (or imitation) is always cheaper than the cost of creation.

As for plagiarism, the definition of plagiarism is:

The unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.

The process of creating involves drawings (designs), various written documents, etc. When someone imitates another's designs, they are using another's thoughts. Since pirates rarely explain that their design is actually someone else's design, they allow others to infer that the design is their own original work. Looks like plagiarism to me, and it is immoral.

(2) Samsung bootstrapped itself in electronics. From the time Samsung electronics was founded in 1969 to the late 1980s (approximately 20 years), Samsung was a copier. In the late 1980's, Samsung began investing heavily in R&D, switching from its copying habits of 20 years to starting to become an innovator. Essentially, after 20 years of copying Samsung thought that it was better to create its own intellectual property. The market need is obvious. Because of intellectual property, Samsung was always relegated to copying old technology. In order to be seen as a market leader, Samsung had to create its own technology and intellectual property and catch up with and hopefully pass its competitors.

(3) I agree that the first creator has the opportunity of being first mover and may have an advantage over everyone else. However, for a variety of reasons being first mover is not always an advantage. Our friendly government actively worked against cell phones for years, and the first mover, Motorola, who also had a patent, was essentially unable to do anything with it until about the time the patent expired. On the other hand, once the government finally got off its behind, the technology innovated by Motorola was available to anyone to use. Motorola eventually made some money (I think - I have not researched this part in detail) from making hand sets, but the profits have been miniscule in comparison to the total profits made from cell phone networks.

While we could go through the list of reasons why the first mover either did not take advantage of first mover position or was unable to, the exercise is pointless. My point was that being first mover does not automatically give that entity a commercial advantage and permit first mover to recoup expenses in becoming the first mover.

Re making a copy: Why should you be allowed to make a copy? The original is your property. You may do whatever you wish with it. Taking the creative thought behind the original and making another is not "doing" whatever you wish with the original, it is reproducing another version of the original design, a design that was never yours. When you are unauthorized in making a copy of something, and you intuited the thoughts of the author or the words of the author in making your copy, which you must whether you copy a book, a song, or make a copy of a product, then by definition you have plagiarized, which I consider immoral.

Why do you say that restricting copying restricts competition? There are tens of thousands of books in publication. The competition for readers is fierce. How does a copyright on a book restrict everyone else's ability to compete with their own, authored book? You know the answer as well as I do. You are free to create your own book and compete in any way you see fit, which includes giving your creative work away. However, when you wrest control from the author, you take away the author's ability to compete and essentially tell the author that he has no rights beyond selling you one copy, after which you will take complete control of his work forever. You are not controlling the copy provided to you, you are controlling his work, and in the theories propounded here, that would include making a movie from the book, audio books, toys, and anything else you see fit. That seems completely immoral to me.

1) "and the representation of them as one's own original work." this is the immoral part of plagiarism. Not the copying. I completely agree that taking credit for work other people did is bad.

3) "I agree that the first creator has the opportunity of being first mover and may have an advantage over everyone else." If you are up against plain copiers - competitors that do not innovate themselves, but only leech from your creativity, - then you do have a significant advantage on the market. It is necessarily an advantage to be the first mover. Are you necessarily going to turn a profit? No. Are you necessarily going to lead the market? No. Especially if your competitors are in fact not ordinary leechers but do innovate themselves.

Does the patent system improve the situation? Debatable. One thing is for sure, the patent system rewards big leaps of innovation and significantly hinders small incremental innovation. It is unclear whether that makes us better off.

"There are tens of thousands of books in publication. The competition for readers is fierce."

If I get a monopoly on bread, you can still eat spaghetti. That doesn't mean competition in the bread market wasn't restricted.

a design that was never yours

It's not mine, until you sell me a copy of it. Then I also own a copy of that design. You might say that you haven't sold me the design, but that's exactly what I find odd. How can you sell me a copy of a book and still keep it for yourself?

Let me ask you again why it is immoral that I make a copy of my own property? How does it hurt anybody?

Kid:

(1) So, you are going to freely admit that you copied someone else's work because you are insufficiently creative to come up with the work yourself? Unfortunately, in the real world the vast majority of people who take the intellectual property of others neglect to point out where they got the intellectual property from, even though in some cases the duplication is nearly exact. Since few people who copy the works of others acknowledge the source (when it comes to patents), then plagiarism has occurred and it is indeed bad.

(3) Your comment:

Does the patent system improve the situation? Debatable. One thing is for sure, the patent system rewards big leaps of innovation and significantly hinders small incremental innovation. It is unclear whether that makes us better off.

I think this comment is extremely well thought out and intelligent. A brief look at your comment:

"Does the patent system improve the situation? Debatable."

I was hoping when I read Boldrin and Levine's book that I would find an objective, comprehensive study of the advantages and disadvantages of the patent system that would answer this question definitively. Unfortunately, while Boldrin and Levine make reference to a few well-known instances where the patent system either failed or was manipulated, their study is woefully adequate. I grant you that the question is debatable. I think you would also agree there are believers on both sides. I also suspect that if there was an objective comprehensive study that conclusively proved that patents, or any other intellectual property, were on the whole a negative to society, a lot of people would change sides on this question.

One thing is for sure, the patent system rewards big leaps of innovation and significantly hinders small incremental innovation.

I am unsure of whether I agree or disagree. One of the tactics developed by the Japanese is called picket fencing. This tactic is where a company, nearly always a competitor, patents small incremental improvements around a big leap of innovation, essentially hindering the original inventor, thus providing the incremental inventor with the opportunity to trade licenses. Though the Japanese were the first (I believe - I have no proof of this) to use picket fencing, in highly competitive industries picket fencing has become a common technique to speed up the transfer of technology to others wishing to enter a market.

If I get a monopoly on bread, you can still eat spaghetti. That doesn't mean competition in the bread market wasn't restricted.

I have several problems with your analogy.

First, bread is a staple that is required in some form or the other. A better analogy would have been that if you can get a monopoly on sourdough rolls, you can still eat regular rolls. However, how many food monopolies are there? I must admit that I am unaware of any - though I am sure some must exist - but I doubt I eat them.

Second, if my monopoly is in the form of a patent, then the item exists only because I invented it. It was never an option until I invented it, and since the item is new, I am the one struggling to compete with a heretofore previously unknown item. How can competition be restricted with something that has never been previously marketed, and for which there may be no market?

Third, humans are driven by reward. It is what they do. To rephrase, people will do what brings the greatest rewards. If innovation brings less rewards than copying, people will copy. This risk aversion is the reason why network television goes through "fads," with the current fad being shows like "Prancing with the Stars" (or whatever it is called) and all its various copiers. Before that, it was reality shows. And this fadism goes back into history. So it is with everything else we do. Copying is always the least risky method of obtaining a reward, and so people copy to the extent they can. Sometimes being first works, other times it does not when a copier does a better job at copying than the original creator. This line of thought can get us back to picket fencing and incremental innovation, so enough of that...

Let me ask you again why it is immoral that I make a copy of my own property? How does it hurt anybody?

I should not answer a question with a question, but I must. My question is this: Have you ever invented something, written something, recorded something or filmed something that became commercially successful? Something that may have taken you weeks, months or even years of sweat and pain? There have been movies made on this subject. Usually, it is some corporation stealing inventions, but artists can have the same feeling when they write a book or record a song and suddenly the song is everywhere and the artist is neither attributed nor paid for his or her effort.

Incidentally, just what kind of work do you do?

Lonnie: you seem to be unaware of the many reasons that the monopolies you are advocating are not just immoral, but also not economically necessary, and, even worse, detrimental. In addition to Stephen Kinsella's Against Intellectual Property (to which he linked in this very post, and which you seem not to have seen), I strongly advise you to read David K. Levine's and Michele Boldrin's Against Intellectual Monopoly. Once you've done that, feel free to come back and try to make some logically valid arguments (not incredibly ignorant ones that confuse plagiarism and copyright). You may also wish to head on to Techdirt, where your comments will generate even more debate. Perhaps you will see the light of Reason then, though I doubt it, as you seem to be too emotionally involved.
So, you are going to freely admit that you copied someone else's work because you are insufficiently creative to come up with the work yourself?

All of us take advantage of the creativity of those who came before us. It is the reason for progress. So no, I'm not ashamed of imitating and I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

I also suspect that if there was an objective comprehensive study that conclusively proved that patents, or any other intellectual property, were on the whole a negative to society, a lot of people would change sides on this question.

It is incredibly difficult to do this as nobody knows what would have happened if there was or wasn't a patent system - you always only have one side of the story. So I don't think we'll find proof any time soon, just indications.

This tactic is where a company, nearly always a competitor, patents small incremental improvements around a big leap of innovation, essentially hindering the original inventor, thus providing the incremental inventor with the opportunity to trade licenses.

The fact that companies are developing techniques just to able to compete unhindered, that is, as if there wasn't a patent system, should send the alarm bells ringing. If the companies are all putting so much effort into disabling the patent system, wouldn't it make everybody's lives easier if we just abolished it?

Usually, it is some corporation stealing inventions, but artists can have the same feeling when they write a book or record a song and suddenly the song is everywhere and the artist is neither attributed nor paid for his or her effort.

How does that corporation get their hands on the idea? I'm strongly against idea theft. The innovator should choose when to sell, to whom, and for how much. I'm just saying that once the innovator does choose to sell, he gives up control over what he sells. That's what a sale entails.

David:

I am about halfway through Against Intellectual Monopoly. I do not find Levine and Boldrin convincing. Their methodologies were highly subjective; they essentially chose examples to support their position rather than making an assumption and proving or disproving their position. I was hopeful to see an objective study of so-called monopolies and see how they proved that such "monopolies" are detrimental.

Part of my difficulty is the use of the term "monopoly." To quote from Wikipedia (though similar phrases appear elsewhere): "Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods." I have yet to see many products (patent or copyright) that meet this characterization. Yes, there are some, but I submit that the number in comparison to the total number of patents and copyrights is few. What disturbs me is that there has been universal lack of response on this web site to my comments regarding the characterization of what makes a monopoly. Apparently ignorance is fairly common when it comes to this subject.

As for plagiarism and copyright, I was actually using plagiarism more in context of designs (patent) rather than copyright.

Of course I am emotionally involved. That is why I asked Kid the question I did. I wondered how many contributors on this site were inventors, writers, filmmakers, or artists. I think most creators have a different perspective on creativity and copying than those whose contribution to mankind is copying because they are unable to create or feel that they would rather copy than investing the time to create.

I am still looking for Reason on this site. I see little bits and pieces, but far too little. I would be unsurprised to learn that noone here is a hardware person. Kid's post was one of the best I have seen. I saw some Reason in his post.

Kid:

The fact that companies are developing techniques just to able to compete unhindered, that is, as if there wasn't a patent system, should send the alarm bells ringing. If the companies are all putting so much effort into disabling the patent system, wouldn't it make everybody's lives easier if we just abolished it?

One of the prime goals of the patent system is for entities to find ways around existing patents. If one of the ways is to develop a strategy, so be it. But one of the key strategies is to invent the better mousetrap, advancing technology.

Failing the better mousetrap, people would be developing techniques to hide their technology as long as possible, creating even better (and possibly longer lived) monopolies through secrecy. I thought it was interesting that Boldrin and Levine even suggested such through a survey they include in their book "Against Intellectual Monopoly" where companies stated that the most effect method of protecting their technology is secrecy. As I have said, again and again, one response of companies to the elimination of intellectual property would be to figure out better methods of keeping things secret, or, as has also been noted on this website, means of making products that required certain codes for operation or are compatible only with the products of that company. As companies will, they will take any measure possible to protect market share, and eliminating intellectual property will merely force companies to use other techniques, which may or may not be as effective or more effective than intellectual property.

In any case, we would likely have blogs advocating the creation of intellectual property and how such a system would be better than having no intellectual property. What a great world we live in!

I'm strongly against idea theft.

As I have said before, you cannot steal an idea; at least, I do not know how you steal an idea. Ideas are free and cannot be contained.

We have built on the ideas of those who came before us. The USPTO exists to expose inventions that embody ideas to the light of day so that others may use these inventions and the ideas behind them for inspiration and to progress the art by thinking of new ideas and new ways to embody those ideas in the physical world. Inventions, books, movies, paintings and other similar creations, can be stolen.

I'm just saying that once the innovator does choose to sell, he gives up control over what he sells.

I agree that the innovator gies up control over one copy of this invention. However, he retains, and should retain, the right to his invention for at least a limited period of time. Under the current laws of at least 149 countries, an inventor is entitled to keep control of his invention for a limited period of time.

I wonder how many people on this site have considered that the vast majority of patented inventions are either unmarketable or never pay for themselves. Approximately 30% of all U.S. patents are abandoned at the four year mark (as noted on Dennis Crouch's blog, Patently-O)(a maintenance fee is due 3.5 years after issuance). Only about 30% of all issued U.S. patents live out their full lives of 20 years from the date of filing (also noted on Dennis Crouch's blog).

Now, let's assume that 50% of all patents never appear in a mechanism (I have seen some estimates claim that the number may be more than 90%, but I find that difficult to believe; I suspect the actual number is probably between 60% and 80%). If patents were totally eliminated, then 50% of all inventions (or more) would never be available for public inspection and improvement. We would automatically eliminate at least 50% of all creativity embodied by inventions disclosed in the USPTO. How much would that affect mankind? I do not know.

What I do know is that many times engineers are inspired by weak ideas to create better ideas. Brainstorming sessions embody this concept. Someone suggests something that is ultimately unworkable, but that suggestion sparks a creative idea that leads to a workable and marketable solution. What do we lose when those ideas are no longer available?

There are pros and cons to every idea. We will lose benefits if patents are eliminated. We will gain things if patents are eliminated.

Question: Which provides the most overall benefit to society, having patents or eliminating them? Someone please answer this question definitively, not with more theories or claims that patents are immoral. Patents have no morality other than what we give them. A patent is merely a limited property right. A limited property right is only moral or immoral based on individual beliefs. Beliefs are great things, quite useful when you are working on projects and you hope for a favorable outcome or when you are a member of a religion. However, they are not proof or disproof of benefits.

"One of the prime goals of the patent system is for entities to find ways around existing patents."

Really? I thought the goal of the patent system was to restrict competition so that an innovator may reap monopoly profits to be better compensated for his effort of innovating. The free market - through competition - already has incentives to keep making better and cheaper products.

"creating even better (and possibly longer lived) monopolies through secrecy."

Companies aren't forced to patent every invention (which is of course a good thing) so if they have the option of keeping a longer-lived monopoly through secrecy, they will still do that, even if they can get a patent. There is no question that the patent system increases the lengths of the monopolies.

As companies will, they will take any measure possible to protect market share, and eliminating intellectual property will merely force companies to use other techniques, which may or may not be as effective or more effective than intellectual property.

If they would be more effective than intellectual monopoly, companies would still prefer it, even under the patent system. In other words, they would already be doing them. So you can be quite sure that the measures used to replace patents would be less effective than patents. Unless, of course, those measures were patented.

"In any case, we would likely have blogs advocating the creation of intellectual property and how such a system would be better than having no intellectual property."

Probably.

"The USPTO exists to expose inventions that embody ideas to the light of day so that others may use these inventions and the ideas behind them for inspiration and to progress the art by thinking of new ideas and new ways to embody those ideas in the physical world."

The USPTO doesn't expose anything. Companies expose them, since they can then get a monopoly. Are we really better off knowing how something works one year earlier and consequently not being able to use it for 20 years? Seems to me that you just delayed progress by 19 years.

As I have said before, you cannot steal an idea; at least, I do not know how you steal an idea. Ideas are free and cannot be contained.

I would say lifting an invention off an inventor without his permission is idea theft. I don't know how else to call it.

However, he retains, and should retain, the right to his invention for at least a limited period of time.

There very same invention that he just sold? I find this odd.

We will lose benefits if patents are eliminated. We will gain things if patents are eliminated. Question: Which provides the most overall benefit to society, having patents or eliminating them? Someone please answer this question definitively

True. Now without conclusive proof that the patent system does what it's supposed to be doing, and with tangible evidence that it's doing damage, aren't we better off without a patent system until somebody answers that question conclusively?

Kid:

Really? I thought the goal of the patent system was to restrict competition so that an innovator may reap monopoly profits to be better compensated for his effort of innovating.

Never has been the purpose. The purpose of the patent system was to expose technology to the world. Period. No other purpose. Indeed, if you think about it, all the USPTO does is register inventions and trademarks. They have no other involvement. They do not enforce, they do not evaluate. The do not care whether the invention is commercially viable. There is a post on Techdirt that reminds us all that the USPTO's purpose is innovation, and not protection.

http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:EwXTxJLYXVwJ:techdirt.com/articles/20080414/194924846.shtml+purpose+of+USPTO&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us

Companies aren't forced to patent every invention (which is of course a good thing) so if they have the option of keeping a longer-lived monopoly through secrecy, they will still do that, even if they can get a patent. There is no question that the patent system increases the lengths of the monopolies.

I disagree. Companies look at the costs of protecting information, and choose the route that gives the best cost/benefit. If secrecy is the best approach, though has a shorter life, then secrecy will be chosen over a patent. The problem with secrecy is keeping the secret. For some inventions, too many people have to know and it is impossible to keep the secret. The greater the risk of loss of secrecy, the more valuable a patent is. Some processes or secrets behind inventions could theoretically be kept for decades (some have been), well beyond the life of any patent.

The best comment is that companies will choose to keep their technology rights by the means most suited to the particular technology, based on the cost of protection and the effective lifetime of the technology. There is no question that an effective secrecy system increases the length of technology protection.

If they would be more effective than intellectual monopoly, companies would still prefer it, even under the patent system. In other words, they would already be doing them. So you can be quite sure that the measures used to replace patents would be less effective than patents. Unless, of course, those measures were patented.

Companies and individuals are already using means other than patents, means that are more effective than patents. However, the cost of those means can be and typically is high, so companies only choose those approaches when absolutely assured of the value.

Again, I refer to Boldrin and Levine. Companies consider secrecy the most effective method of protecting their intellectual property (a survey included in Boldrin & Levine). I agree. I can protect certain technologies for a very long time, if I am willing to take the steps necessary to compartmentalize the technology.

The USPTO doesn't expose anything. Companies expose them, since they can then get a monopoly. Are we really better off knowing how something works one year earlier and consequently not being able to use it for 20 years? Seems to me that you just delayed progress by 19 years.

You missed my point. Let me try again:

At least 50%, and perhaps as many as 80% or 90%, of all inventions are never commercialized. These inventions never go into a product.

If patents did not exist, then the inventions protected by patents that are never commercialized (which amounts to at least 1.75 million patents, but could be as many as 2.8 million patents), will not be revealed to the world because there is no other means to expose these patents to the world.

If you eliminate the patent system, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.75 million to 2.8 million inventions will continue to be "secret," depriving the world of any value they have.

Using your terminology (which I feel is inappropriate), the companies and individuals (since individuals as a group represent the largest single inventing entity), expose their invention to the world in exchange for a "monopoly" that extends for 20 years from the date of filing. However, 1.75 million to 2.8 million of these "monopolies" are never used during the life of the patent. If no one ever has access to these "monopolies" because they never existed in the first place, then the world will never have had the opportunity to use these "monopolies."

I would say lifting an invention off an inventor without his permission is idea theft. I don't know how else to call it.

Invention theft. I am thinking of faster-than-light drive. Steal from me if you will, because theft of my idea means nothing. Stealing the invention by which I accomplish faster-than-light drive means something. However, the technology is so complex that I will keep it a secret and maintain a monopoly on it for 100 years. To heck with your patent system!

There very same invention that he just sold?

He did not sell the invention. He sold a copy of the invention. The inventor retains the rights to the invention, just not that one copy.

True. Now without conclusive proof that the patent system does what it's supposed to be doing, and with tangible evidence that it's doing damage, aren't we better off without a patent system until somebody answers that question conclusively?

Cancer treatments in general do damage, and some people die from the treatments intended to cure them. There are even studies that suggest that certain treatments (such as the highly publicized studies of the treatment of prostate cancer) do more harm than good. Should we eliminate all cancer treatments until someone conclusively answers the question as to whether cancer treatments are even necessary? Well, no. Why not? Because we know that cancer treatments do some good. Well, in the balance, do they do more good than harm? I do not know, but if I have cancer I will certainly seek treatment, even at the risk of dying from the treatment.

I have granted to you that patents can do harm. I am aware of examples that show that patents can do harm. I am also aware of situations where patents have done good, and there are studies showing the good that patents have done (granted, all of the studies of which I am aware are conducted by patenting entities). Can I tell you the good outweighs the harm? No. Can you tell me the harm outweighs the good? No. To eliminate something without understanding the harm it does (or the benefits, for that matter), seems somewhat irresponsible to me. By that token, we should eliminate seatbelts, vaccinations, fluoride, peanuts, Diet Coke, traffic circles, and dozens of other things because it has been proven that each one of these causes harm, though each provides benefits as well. The only difference between these things and patents is that the benefits to each have been quantified, though in some cases it took decades to understand the benefits (fluoride being the best example of which I am aware).

Lonnie: I don't understand your problem with the the usage of ‘monopoly' here at all. The Founding Fathers used precisely that term to refer to copyrights and patents. A monopoly is simply control over all instances of a universal. If only one person sells soap, that person has a monopoly over soap. Even if that soap is affordable, it is still worse for society and more expensive than it would be if there were competition. The same is true for more specific universals, like a monopoly over all instances of a certain computer operating system, or more general ones, such as a monopoly over all instances of the number 2 (imagine only one person allowed to have pairs of things). They are all equally monopolies. A true Free Market generally prevents the formation of monopolies, but government-granted monopolies are impossible to compete against fully.

You seem to think that there haven't been any particularly damaging intellectual monopolies. Millions of people dying all over the world because competition hasn't reduced the price of certain drugs is not good enough for you? What about the fact the Microsoft has made (effectively stolen) billions and billions of dollars due to their monopoly over all instances of Microsoft software, hampering competition so much that the US government noticed? More fundamentally, any monopoly makes things worse then they would be otherwise. You cannot fully know how they would be otherwise without universe-hopping, but the evidence strongly suggests that they would be better, and that fact is fairly obvious to anyone who understands how Free Markets and competition work (and the Founding Fathers themselves already suspected this as well, leading to Jefferson's scepticism regarding what he called ‘Monopolies', and his work to limit them).

The fact that you have read half the book and have yet to see Reason only reinforces my initial suspicion that you are nothing more than a glorified troll. So, let me add an emotional argument. Do you own anything, or are you a property-less monk? If the former, how would you feel if the government told you that you are not free to do with your own property what you wish, that you may not take your property and transform it as you desire? This is exactly what you are claiming that you have a moral right to prevent others from doing. So, let me ask you: who gave you a right to tell me what to do with my own property, with my own pen and paper?! Get the Hell off my property!

Seriously, the fact that you even consider such nonsensical and invasive ideas is disgusting. I look forward to the day when the idea that one can own universals will seem obviously ridiculous and wrong to anyone with a brain, just as the concept of ownership of other people has become reviled in the modern mind.

Thank you.

(Woops. That last anonymous comment was from me.)
David:

I appreciate the time you took in your post, and you pose interesting questions. Which I endeavor to address (though unfortunately not answer, in some cases).

Re the word "monopoly": I am struggling with the definition of monopoly as applied by the people here. From my rather disadvantaged point of view it appears that the posters here are against monopoly, when in fact every person has a plurality of monopolies. Where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable monopolies, and who is going to legislate that difference? Even on this web site, I have seen posters who are fine with secrets (a form of information monopoly), and yet others believe there should be no secrets (an utter impossibility that smacks of a police state to me - are you keeping secrets? YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF ZEE LAW - VE VILL EXECUTE YOU!!!).

So, since I own property (to answer another of your questions), I have a monopoly over that plot of land and no one can take it from me (well, there are acts of God, imminent domain, and assorted other annoyances that I work to prevent from happening). So, my monopoly over my land, my body, the things I own, the dollar bills in my pocket, anything else that I have that obviously no one else has, is a monopoly over that item. It makes no difference that others may have a similar item, they cannot have my exact item unless they obtain it legally. Indeed, I will keep my monopolies hidden so that no one else can copy them or otherwise do something with them that I do not want them to do.

Okay, how is that different from multiple companies making multiple chairs, and while there are thousands of designs, no one is permitted to copy my design? If I sell you a copy of my chair, I may well stipulate that you take possession of that chair, but you promise through a purchase agreement that you will not copy the chair and you promise to make a reasonable effort to prevent others from doing so. In effect, a patent is that contractual agreement.

Re particularly damaging patents: I think I have not made my position clear. I think there have been damaging patents. I do not recall ever having said that all patents are without damage. Flip the statement: Some patents have led to a net public loss of value in one form or another. However, my point has also been that some patents have led to a net public gain in value in one form or another. As you said, correctly, we would be unable to tell the net gain or loss without hopping to another universe.

Let me make a point I made elsewhere: There have been roughly 7.4 million issued patents. There have been various individuals who have attempted to quantify the value (or lack of value) of patents. Several of these bright academics have come the conclusion (based on what, I am unsure), that anywhere from about 50% to 90% of all patents either have no commercial value or have never been commercialized.

Think about that for just a moment. Of all the patents that have ever issued, at least 3.7 million of them, and perhaps as many as 7 million of them, may never have been commercialized (I doubt the number is as high as 7 million, but I think it is safe to assume the number is in the millions). If there was no patent system, then all the non-commercialized inventions, all the knowledge that went into those inventions that may well have formed the basis for the high-priced AIDS drugs of today, may never have been revealed to the world. Then we would not be having an argument about high-priced AIDS drugs, because they would not exist.

As you say, we will never know what the effect of having no patents would be, but there is an immediate downside and that is the loss of vast amounts of knowledge for which there is currently no other repository. I have no doubt that thousands or even hundreds of thousands of those patents were and are worthless, but I would be willing to bet that thousands more formed the basis of other inventions or discoveries.

One of my other points continues to be that it is expensive to develop some inventions. If there is never a payback to these inventions (in spite of the rather blithe assurances by some on this web site that there would be), then I truly believe innovation will slow. There will effectively be an incentive to NOT be the first innovator. It is always cheaper to copy than to create. How many entities and individuals who would otherwise innovate would instead wait until someone else innovates and put their energies into just making that product better? That sort of thinking does not give us iPods and cell phones and personal computers.

Re glorified troll: I am not even sure what a troll is, and certainly I am surprised you would stoop to name-calling, particularly since you made a strong attempt at some logic and reason in your post. There is only one Lonnie E. Holder on the internet, and you can Google my name and find out everything you ever wanted to about me. I am not a regular poster on any blog other than this one, because the concepts the people write here about intrigue me. I have been curious for some time whether there is a net benefit or detriment to society from intellectual property. I am unable to answer the question regarding live-saving drugs. It bothers me that someone is unable to get a life-saving drug because they cannot afford it, but on the other hand, I also think a company that spends billions sorting through thousands of deadends to find a drug of value should have the opportunity to recoup their investment and make a profit that will enable them to develop more drugs, including orphan drugs.

I find it interesting that the people here so frequently talk about free markets, and yet free markets embody the concept of pure profit and temporary imbalance in supply and demand. Yet, with time all imbalances are cured and pure profit is eliminated, unless the entity making the pure profit maintains a competitive advantage, either because they innovate faster, keep secrets, or have some other inherent advantage. Adam Smith encouraged outrageous profits, assuming the market is truly free, because he knew that ultimately the market would develop alternatives, which he thought should be encouraged. Unfortunately, markets have NEVER, EVER, EVER, been free, and probably never, ever, will be.

Re pen and paper and own property: I feel like I have played this argument over and over again, without avail. As far as I am concerned, you may do anything with your property that you like. Knock yourself out. Of course, there are limits to what you can do with your property.

For example, if you own a house, you have an easement around your property that the government can invade without permission at any time. Indeed, if you have a $20,000 fence, and the city decides to run new water lines and your fence is in the way, out it comes and the city need not reimburse you or return the fence to its original condition; too bad, so sad. When you purchase many items, there is fine print that says that you should not do illegal things with your property or it is subject to confiscation. Try printing money on your color printer and spend it. I doubt you will have to worry about your personal property for very long. If you live in a city, trying putting a stack of your personal property in your front yard and burning it. The police will be there, the fire department will be there, you will get a ticket, the fire will be put out, and then the city will issue you a citation to get the mess cleaned up.

I am unsure of what a "universal" is in the context in which you used it. Your usage is the first time I have seen such. In any case, you will be looking forward for a long time before "universals" (assuming I have some vague understanding of what a universal is) are no longer owned. There will probably be ownership if intellectual property in one form or another forever. Hundreds of years of history and the tremendous forces behind intellectual property (businesses, hundreds of thousands of individual inventors, unions, employees, and anyone else who believes they benefit from intellectual property) indicates that intellectual property will be around long after I am go. Indeed, it seems to me that only a small minority are against intellectual property, and many of those people are against it for self-serving reasons.

As for "disgusting," how about these:

- The government using my tax dollars to invade countries that have done us no harm. - Imminent domain used for shopping malls. - People who refuse to vaccinate their children and then wondering why the death rate from measles is the highest is has been in decades. - People who refuse to get medical treatment for their children because of their beliefs. Beliefs are fine, but sometimes God works best through antibiotics. - Child pornography. - People who increase insurance rates because their injuries in an accident are more severe because they did not wear their seat belts. - Sending millions of dollars in AIDS drugs to Africa, only to learn that the local government either resold the drugs or they were not distributed in a timely manner and went bad. - Home invasions by people looking for drug money.

I appreciate the fact that you have chosen intellectual property as your personal crusade, but intellectual property is, in the scheme of things, a relatively minor annoyance. If you really want disgusting, let's go back to the drug issue. Drug companies have been shamed into providing low cost or free drugs to people who cannot afford them. However, many of those drugs are diverted by criminals and never reach the intended audience or because the local government is unable to distribute the drugs to people, they go bad. Lack of intellectual property will not save these people. Before you tell me that if there was no intellectual property then criminals would not divert the drugs, recall that criminals are diverting rice and flour, so why not AIDS drugs, even if their value is low in Africa?

David: Stick with defense of your position and do not take on "troll-like" behavior and name-calling, it does not become you.

Lonnie. You have clearly misunderstood what a monopoly is. A plot of land is an instance of a universal: it is a particular instance of the type ‘plot of land'. If you were the only one who had control over all plots of land, then you would have a monopoly on plots of land. Imagine patenting the idea of owning a piece of land, and then suing anyone who copied your idea by claiming ownership over new plots of land. It may sound ridiculous, but, at some point in history, someone had to come up with the idea of land-ownership. It would have been quite brilliant at the time, and has benefited society in countless way. Were patent system in existence then, it surely would have been patented. Clearly, you don't have a monopoly of plots of land. You have control over one particular token (instance) of that type/universal. But you do not have any power of other people's own property. I strongly recommend you check out the Wikipedia article to which I linked, to get a better idea of the huge difference between a universal and an instance. The type-token distinction is also relevant, and gets the same point across.

So, where do we draw the line? No where. There are no acceptable monopolies. Saying otherwise would be condoning socialism. And there's one thing on which I agree with you: I do not condone the government using taxpayer money ever.

You seem to take the typical ignorant position that capitalism and free markets are about profit. Nothing could be further from the truth! Free markets use Man's greed against him for society's benefit. Competition limits profit and increases the supply of cheap goods and services for everyone. Without competition, you get monopolies, which increase prices, decrease quality, and decrease the standard of living for everyone. It is the best and only proven way to limit profits while simultaneously increasing welfare. It functions on the same principles that have led to our existence, after almost 4 thousand million years of natural selection. It's bloody brilliant. Your complete misunderstanding of this has led you to support socialist whilst support monopolies in ideas at the same time which have led to the biggest profit-making entities of all time. It's mind-boggling that you find this at all acceptable.

You make a lot of other points, but they are quite contrived. Did you sign a contract with any patent holders? I certainly never did, and never would. I value my freedom. The other points are thoroughly discussed in both books I recommended you read. The fact that you continue to bring them up, ignoring what was said about them, leads me to suspect that you have not really read what you claim to have read, at least not while paying attention. And this leads me my ‘troll' comment. I have seen much troll-like behaviour before, especially on Techdirt, where Mike Masnick appears to have the patience of a saint and responds to almost every single one, with depth and insight I can only attempt to achieve. That is why I seriously recommend you go there. (I recommend you start with this post on the economics of free, and this post on the history of "Intellectual Property".) The trolls there all show the same pattern: repeated non-sequiturs in the face of brain-dead obvious logic. It's like a troll refusing to move from the disgusting area under a bridge, while harassing all bridge-crossers. It's not necessarily their fault: they simply haven't seen the world beyond the bridge. So, again, if you want to continue arguing your points, head on there. It's not only a perfect outlet for trolling, it's also a much better place for discussion, with many regular commentators with far more patience than I. I, for one, have run out of mine. I give you the last word.

David:

I will read the link you provided regarding monopoly, because the distinctions used here still puzzle me. Certainly the definition of monopoly on this site do not fit the classical definition as I was taught.

Please, do not use "socialist" and my name in the same sentence. I have been anti-socialist and anti-communist for as long as I have been able to understand the two. "Sharing" and uniform distribution of wealth is anti-capitalist.

Competition limits profit and increases the supply of cheap goods and services for everyone.

In the long term, yes. In the short term, emphatically no. Adam Smith knew there would be short term imbalances that would take time for the market to correct. The only unknown in these imbalances is how long it would take the market to respond when pure profits exist.

I am sure you know this as well as I do, but it is worth restating. When a market is limited to a profit based on the marginal cost of production, entry to a market is prohibitive for a new competitor and the market and prices remain stable and limited to an amount slightly higher than the stable average rate of return for money invested elsewhere. Essentially, as long as you can make more money producing gravel than investing in a savings account, you will keep producing gravel.

When a company is making pure profit, which is a profit greater than should be expected given the costs of production, etc. (there are several definitions of pure profit; regardless of how it is defined, pure profit is more profit would be obtained if there were multiple competitors producing similar products), then the pure profit is an attractor for competitors to enter the market, restoring balance to the market, again, as I noted previously, absent factors that help that company retain a pure profit, such as innovation, control of resources, or other factors. Adam Smith accounted for pure profits being a motivator to increase competition and reduce profits to the minimal amount necessary for producers to stay in a market. A minor point: Adam Smith seemed to believe that overproduction was not possible or could not happen in a free market, and yet there is evidence that in the most free markets overproduction does happen and continues to occur, with significant upheavals in certain economic sectors.

You are absolutely correct that increased competition reduces prices, but some of your other points are erroneous, as has been shown statistically. For example, you state that increased competition increases quality, when in fact increased competition drives the need to minimize design margins, leading to reduced quality for some competitors. Sometimes these competitors are driven out of business (remember the Yugo), but sometimes the decreased quality is accepted because there are no other suitable alternatives in the price range. Consumers who can will move up to the higher quality, higher priced item.

Getting back to profits, you state, "You seem to take the typical ignorant position that capitalism and free markets are about profit." This statement is in itself ignorant. It is true that free markets are driven by demand, and profits frequently have more to do with demand than supply, but, on the supply side when a company is unable to make a suitable profit, they will move their capital to more suitable investments and leave the market for that item (Adam Smith observed this), and leaving a crowded (and in the commercial aerospace industry crowded has now been defined as more than two) market for lack of profits is as much a part of "natural selection" or "evolution" of markets as consumers "voting" with their purchasing dollars. In theory, the lack of profits could eventually eliminate an entire market segment (the decline of the fur industry is one example - I am sure there have been numerous others). You can argue that lack of demand drove the market decline, but markets are more complex than that.

Reduced demand causes responses by producers, with the ultimate goal to make a profit to meet the demands of their shareholders, who otherwise move their money to an industry with a greater opportunity for return. Thus, capital markets do no favor industries with poor profit performance, admittedly an indicator of demand, but not the only indicator. In fact, sometimes it is the inverse. Low demand products can generate substantial profits because the total income from the product limits producers, sometimes creating pseudo or de factor monopolies. However, I am sure that you know all this already.

Contract with patent holders: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Patent laws exist and are as valid as speeding laws (or any other laws, regardless of your personal belief in or support of those laws). When you purchase a patented product, as a citizen of a country that has such laws you are obliged to respect them (and I suspect you live in one of the overwhelming number of countries that have such laws). Violate the law at your own peril. Companies frequently put patent numbers on their products to advise people that there are inherent limitations for copying associated with the purchased products. You can ignore patent law, speed limits, and littering laws, but your ignorance makes you no less culpable for violation.

Bridge Crossing and Trolls: I am always fascinated by different viewpoints and perspectives. I have read about half of Boldrin and Levine's book (really read it, because I have copious notes on the portion I have read), and I have started to delve into Rothbard (another unique character - there are several quite good critical analyses of his works; the first one I started to read in detail likens some of Rothbard's theories to religion in that the basis is belief rather than provable fact; you may find the paper here -> http://mises.org/journals/scholar/RHCritique6.PDF). As always, I am a seeker of knowledge, and there is knowledge to be had on this web site, if I can but see the perspective.

I am unsure of whether their is a "bridge" or not. Obviously, since I am unsure of whether there is a bridge, it is difficult to be the troll hiding under it. It is more like I am a blind man asking people approaching the bridge they believe to be there what it looks like, wondering whether I will ever have the faith to see the dridge or cross it.

My promise: I will make my best effort to stay away from posting on this site until after I have finished Boldrin and Levine, the links you put above, critiques of Rothbard, and other papers I have saved for later review. I think you are correct that I need to read and analyze more before posting further.

I now offer you the opportunity to have the last word.

David:

One issue only: Monopolies and the type-token distinction.

If I understand the Wikipedia article correctly, then if I invent a new token of bicycle, I do not hold a monopoly in bicycles. Thus, while I may have control over a series of tokens of bicycle (because I produce 10,000 unique bicycles every year, and I control that design or token of "bicycle"), then I do not hold a monopoly on bicycles.

By extension, the only holder of a true monopoly, versus a token monopoly, would be those who create the first type. Rare indeed are these types of intellectual property when we discuss patents. Indeed, the number of true monopolies when it comes to patents, if we are discussing types, would be limited to a very small fraction of a percent because the vast majority of patents are tokens of some existing type.

Since you have been so kind to point me to a number of references, I point you to a thesis by Jonathan Trerise, where he argues, quite well, I believe, that a form of intellectual property provides maximum liberty for everyone, including inventors, and further, that no intellectual property and strong type protection (STP, as he calls it) provide less total liberty, particularly, as he calls them, privileged liberties. His thesis is quite long, but well reasoned. The link:

http://edt.missouri.edu/Summer2007/Dissertation/TreriseJ-073007-D8217/research.pdf

David:

I neglected to point out that beginning on page 15 of his thesis (page 19 of the file) is an excellent summary of type-token distinction. His explanation disagrees with my summary, and looking at it from his explanation, I understand how he gets type rather than token. From my way of thinking, the definition appears bizarre because it is always subjective. I invent a chair, and the chair is a type, but each individual unit is a token. I invent a rocking chair, which is a subdivision of chair, and it is also a type, and the individual copies are token. To me, this seems quite bizarre. Effectively, no matter how small the division, the most infinitesmal variation is a type, and only those individual units produced are tokens.

By extension, this definition would imply that every patent represents a type, even if the type is extremely restrictive and even if only one token of that type were ever constructed. Thus, type-token definition is not amenable to a species-genus-family-order relationship, even though the entire construct might well be, when looking at it from a classification viewpoint. Paradigm shift. Makes my brain hurt.

"I point you to a thesis by Jonathan Trerise, where he argues, quite well, I believe, that a form of intellectual property provides maximum liberty for everyone ... His thesis is quite long, but well reasoned."

It obviously is not, since its conclusion is quite absurd.

"I now offer you the opportunity to have the last word."

Oh, really? Then why are there at least 2 subsequent posts by you to this thread?

""Sharing" and uniform distribution of wealth is anti-capitalist."

Nonsense. ENFORCED sharing and uniform distribution of wealth is anti-capitalist. Enforcement AGAINST people sharing (especially information) when they choose to is also anti-capitalist, as well as anti-democratic, anti-free speech, and so forth.

Kid wrote:

"It is incredibly difficult to do this as nobody knows what would have happened if there was or wasn't a patent system - you always only have one side of the story. So I don't think we'll find proof any time soon, just indications."

Lonnie wrote:

"I was hopeful to see an objective study of so-called monopolies and see how they proved that such "monopolies" are detrimental."

It does not matter. The onus is on those that would restrict liberty (e.g. my right to take my raw materials and shape them as I see fit, including into a copy of something "patented") to prove that this restriction is not only in the best interests of society, but outright *necessary*, not on those that would defend liberty to prove otherwise.

Restrictions on liberty are thus guilty until proven innocent in any society that's worthy of being called "free".

Copyright and patent, in particular, are guilty until proven innocent.

The onus is on you, Lonnie, to prove otherwise. Put up or shut up.

""Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods." I have yet to see many products (patent or copyright) that meet this characterization."

They abound. For starters, no song, movie, novel, or similar work is entirely substitutable with another. If your kid insists on seeing the latest Harry Potter movie, can you fob him off with Eragon instead? No.

In the software field, this is a notorious problem. Often, there is no compatible alternative to some piece of copyrighted software. This is how Microsoft makes out like a bandit.

Blocking patents and especially software patents generale similar situations. Drug patents almost always cause this problem, since very few drugs are entirely substitutable with others. Even broad-spectrum antibiotics -- if someone's infection is resistant to all but Brand Y, they need Brand Y or they die, and if Brand Y is patented, they need to pay monopoly rents for Brand Y antibiotics or die. This is not how it should be.

"I wondered how many contributors on this site were inventors, writers, filmmakers, or artists."

I am most of the above (not a filmmaker, though).

"...those whose contribution to mankind is copying because they are unable to create or feel that they would rather copy than investing the time to create."

You seem to look down on such people, but without reason. The fact is that copying is more efficient than reinventing the wheel. To the extent that the inventing IP promotes is actually REinventing, it is causing significant deadweight losses.

"I thought it was interesting that Boldrin and Levine even suggested such through a survey they include in their book "Against Intellectual Monopoly" where companies stated that the most effect method of protecting their technology is secrecy."

And they found it so despite, rather than because of a lack of, the patent system.

The patent system is like Vioxx: efficacy trials show it to be of questionable benefit at best, and safety problems and side effects have developed that are alarming and sometimes deadly, yet it somehow passed FDA muster and got approved. Now we must work to get it recalled, just like Vioxx was.

"Ideas are free and cannot be contained."

What's this? Is Lonnie seeing the light at last?

"I agree that the innovator gies up control over one copy of this invention. However, he retains, and should retain, the right to his invention for at least a limited period of time."

Unfortunately, he apparently still has not seen the light.

"Inventions, books, movies, paintings and other similar creations, can be stolen."

True enough. They can also be copied, which is completely different and not immoral. (Modulo the immorality of plagiarism, if they are used misattributed.)

"Under the current laws of at least 149 countries, an inventor is entitled to keep control of his invention for a limited period of time."

Centuries ago, you'd have been accurate in saying "under the current laws of at least 149 countries, the state is entitled to torture and execute heretics that publish ideas contrary to the teachings of the Church".

Such a statement can therefore hardly be a credible defense of those laws.

"I wonder how many people on this site have considered that the vast majority of patented inventions are either unmarketable or never pay for themselves. Approximately 30% of all U.S. patents are abandoned at the four year mark (as noted on Dennis Crouch's blog, Patently-O)(a maintenance fee is due 3.5 years after issuance). Only about 30% of all issued U.S. patents live out their full lives of 20 years from the date of filing (also noted on Dennis Crouch's blog)."

All of these filed-but-unused patents are further deadweight losses, this time partially tax-subsidized.

"If patents were totally eliminated, then 50% of all inventions (or more) would never be available for public inspection and improvement. We would automatically eliminate at least 50% of all creativity embodied by inventions disclosed in the USPTO. How much would that affect mankind? I do not know."

Fortunately, I'm smarter than you and therefore I *do* know. It would clearly improve our lot by eliminating the above-mentioned deadweight loss and wasting much less energy, materials, and money on publishing and dissemminating the documentation for useless "inventions", leaving more to expend on working with the useful ones or coming up with yet more useful ones.

Obviously, not all inventions are created equal. These never-used, unmarketable ones are clearly unuseful and there is no benefit to society, and considerable cost, in having a state-subsidized maintenance and publication of annals of these useless ones.

Imagine having a marketplace for apples, in which rotten ones don't fetch all that high a price, but the government maintains (at taxpayer expense, natch) a grocery of its own from which it does not exclude the bad apples, but keeps examples of all of them preserved in case anyone wants to make more of them, even the bad ones. Most taxpayers would scream at any suggestion of spending government money on such a pointless endeavor.

"What I do know is that many times engineers are inspired by weak ideas to create better ideas. Brainstorming sessions embody this concept. Someone suggests something that is ultimately unworkable, but that suggestion sparks a creative idea that leads to a workable and marketable solution. What do we lose when those ideas are no longer available?"

This won't happen. Suggestions that are unworkable but point in a promising direction get published in academia and circulate. They're part of basic research. There's no need for an additional, government-supported registry of these.

Can you find documentation for a SINGLE time that someone invented something only because they found something similar, but unworkable, *in a filed patent* (rather than elsewhere, such as water-cooler chat, an academic journal, or wherever) and improved upon it?

"Patents have no morality other than what we give them. A patent is merely a limited property right."

Yeah -- in MY property. It gives you the right to restrict what I can do with my own stuff! This is not the sort of "property right" that is either moral, desirable, or necessary.

"However, they are not proof or disproof of benefits."

The burden of proof is on you, who would restrict my liberty; not on liberty's defenders.

"There is a post on Techdirt that reminds us all that the USPTO's purpose is innovation, and not protection."

You have some nerve citing Techdirt without bothering to actually read and understand what is being said there.

"At least 50%, and perhaps as many as 80% or 90%, of all inventions are never commercialized. These inventions never go into a product.

If patents did not exist, then the inventions protected by patents that are never commercialized (which amounts to at least 1.75 million patents, but could be as many as 2.8 million patents), will not be revealed to the world because there is no other means to expose these patents to the world.

If you eliminate the patent system, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.75 million to 2.8 million inventions will continue to be "secret," depriving the world of any value they have."

That value being zero, to judge by their failure to be commercialized.

"The inventor retains the rights to the invention, just not that one copy."

Seeing the light at last? That one copy becomes mine to do with as I please. Including copy further. Another customer buys another copy, and that one becomes HIS to do with as HE pleases, and so forth.

"Should we eliminate all cancer treatments until someone conclusively answers the question as to whether cancer treatments are even necessary? Well, no. Why not? Because we know that cancer treatments do some good."

Which is more than we know for the patent system. Also, in the case of cancer treatments, the prospects are no worse if the treatment is useless or even actively dangerous than if there is no treatment, as a rule. Proposing we keep the patent system (or copyrights) is like proposing dangerous and unpleasant chemo to treat a hangnail, absent evidence that either a) the chemo will be effective or b) the hangnail actually exists in the first place. Furthermore, it's like imposing that chemo by government fiat on the entire populace. Nay, the entire world, since IP has a way of distorting trade and spreading to trading partners. The "chemo" now seems to be an infectious bacterium with probable nasty side effects, contagious tendencies to spread, and no proven benefit to those "inoculated" with it.

"I am also aware of situations where patents have done good"

For society? Rather than enriching one person or, more commonly, large corporation at everyone else's expense?

"granted, all of the studies of which I am aware are conducted by patenting entities"

Well, there you go, then. With such reputable sources, those studies MUST be correct, just like the drug company funded studies that "proved" Vioxx to be safe and effective, and the tobacco company funded studies that "proved" that tobacco smoking was harmless, and the oil company funded studies that "proved" that global warming was a figment of scientists' imaginations.

"Can I tell you the good outweighs the harm? No. Can you tell me the harm outweighs the good? No."

Then you are either for abolition of patents or against freedom and democracy, since in the absence of evidence either way, a liberty should not be restricted. See above re: where the burden of proof lies in a free and just society. Criminals are innocent until proven guilty for the exact same reasons that proposed restrictions on liberty are guilty until proven innocent.

"To eliminate something without understanding the harm it does (or the benefits, for that matter), seems somewhat irresponsible to me."

No, to keep it, when this has known costs, some of which are externalized, seems irresponsible. Imagine I kept in my home a chunk of radioactive material of unknown value or use but which was definitely making some of my neighbors sick. Surely I should get rid of it?

"By that token, we should eliminate seatbelts, vaccinations, fluoride, peanuts, Diet Coke, traffic circles, and dozens of other things because it has been proven that each one of these causes harm, though each provides benefits as well."

Nonsense. Most of the above are not forced on people by government fiat (and of those, Diet Coke is harmless unless you drown in it). Of the rest, traffic circles and traffic lights each have their pros and cons, vaccinations are of proven benefit vastly outweighing the costs, seatbelts are of proven benefit vastly outweighing the costs, and fluoride is (rightly) controversial.

"Okay, how is that different from multiple companies making multiple chairs, and while there are thousands of designs, no one is permitted to copy my design? If I sell you a copy of my chair, I may well stipulate that you take possession of that chair, but you promise through a purchase agreement that you will not copy the chair and you promise to make a reasonable effort to prevent others from doing so. In effect, a patent is that contractual agreement."

In effect, a patent is that contractual agreement, but made on behalf of sometimes-unwilling people by their supposedly representative government, and with a crazy sort of transitive liability such that if I let someone copy a thing, not only am I in breach of the agreement, but so is that someone, even though they never had any direct dealings with you.

The "transitive liability" alone is chilling in the extreme, let alone the government agreeing to some contract on my behalf, which I then become bound by. We accept government restricting us from killing one another and burgling one another's homes, but agreeing to commercial contracts on our behalf? Where would it end?

"However, my point has also been that some patents have led to a net public gain in value in one form or another."

It would help your cause tremendously if you actually had such a point, backed up by actual evidence of some form or another.

"If there was no patent system, then all the non-commercialized inventions, all the knowledge that went into those inventions that may well have formed the basis for the high-priced AIDS drugs of today, may never have been revealed to the world."

Those non-commercialized inventions apparently led to nothing at all. In particular, in each case, the knowledge of it either led to nothing at all or got published somewhere other than the patent office's list of patents, because AIDS researchers get their information and inspiration from experiment and from academic journal publications, not from viewing records at the patent office.

"As you say, we will never know what the effect of having no patents would be, but there is an immediate downside and that is the loss of vast amounts of knowledge for which there is currently no other repository."

Any knowledge whose sole repository is the patent office is useless. If it weren't, it would be embodied elsewhere -- in academic articles, in working products, in operations manuals, or at least SOMEWHERE else.

"I would be willing to bet that thousands more formed the basis of other inventions or discoveries."

And *I* would be willing to bet that every single one of those was published in other places than the patent office's records.

"One of my other points continues to be that it is expensive to develop some inventions. If there is never a payback to these inventions (in spite of the rather blithe assurances by some on this web site that there would be), then I truly believe innovation will slow. There will effectively be an incentive to NOT be the first innovator. It is always cheaper to copy than to create. How many entities and individuals who would otherwise innovate would instead wait until someone else innovates and put their energies into just making that product better? That sort of thinking does not give us iPods and cell phones and personal computers."

When there's nothing to copy, some would-be copier will eventually step up to the plate and make something new. And this would only affect maybe a handful of industries where a lot of research is needed to produce something that, once produced, is cheap to copy. Basically, that means drugs and blockbuster movies. We can live without the latter and if we're going to have the former subsidized by government at public expense, it can be subsidized DIRECTLY by TAX money, which will avoid the problem of the cost burden falling disproportionately on the poor, and reduce a lot of the administrative cruft currently contributing some of the costs.

"Unfortunately, markets have NEVER, EVER, EVER, been free, and probably never, ever, will be."

People that think like you do are part of the problem.

"As far as I am concerned, you may do anything with your property that you like. Knock yourself out. Of course, there are limits to what you can do with your property."

It doesn't help your case that you frequently contradict yourself.

[Lonnie proceeds to list examples of acts that have negative externalities or intrusions that have exigent circumstances]

My napsterizing your song in the privacy of my own home, unlike burning stuff on my front lawn, does not impose a negative externality on my neighbors or other unwilling participants.

(On the other hand, legislating or continuing to enforce so-called "intellectual property" laws sure as hell does impose a negative externality on me and on other unwilling people!)

"There will probably be ownership if intellectual property in one form or another forever."

This statement is clearly bogus; what you suggest is forbidden by the second law of thermodynamics.

"Hundreds of years of history and the tremendous forces behind intellectual property (businesses, hundreds of thousands of individual inventors, unions, employees, and anyone else who believes they benefit from intellectual property) indicates that intellectual property will be around long after I am go[sic]."

One might well have said, a while back, "hundreds of years of history and the tremendous forces behind the Spanish Inquisition (businesses that sell torture tools, hundreds of thousands of individual priests, inquisitors, government, and anyone else who believes in the Inquisition) indicates that the Spanish Inquisition will be around long after I am gone".

Yet the Spanish Inquisition is long gone.

So shall it be with the abomination formerly known as "intellectual property".

"Indeed, it seems to me that only a small minority are against intellectual property, and many of those people are against it for self-serving reasons."

Many of them are not, and only a minority are emphatically *for* it. The majority is apathetic, but the increasingly intrusive nature of "IP", particularly DRM and the like, and internet-raised consciousness of how much more people are typically paying for things than those things truly cost to make and distribute (if distributed efficiently), are waking up more and more people to the situation, and the majority of those waking up eventually come to believe as I do.

"Home invasions by people looking for drug money."

Aha! Drug patents strike again! Oh, *illegal* drugs? Well, those should be decriminalized, by and large, as well. Using them rarely imposes negative externalities, and when it does, it tends to be in contravention to other laws anyway (e.g. impaired-driving laws; smoking where the smoke bothers other people falls under existing laws limiting where smoking is acceptable, no matter WHAT you are smoking). The so-called drug war, on the other hand, imposes a lot of negative externalities on everyone, including through tax burden and the dangerous and violent environment created by ensuring that drug profits go solely to hardened criminal types (or even terrorists). Legalize them and that opens the door to taxing them, regulating them, and diverting funds from criminal enterprises to government and well-behaved regulated businesses, not to mention lowering their prices. Tax money from drug sales to be used for funding addiction programs and research. Tax money no longer spent on enforcing drug laws to be used for more useful purposes or cut from the general taxes.

"I appreciate the fact that you have chosen intellectual property as your personal crusade, but intellectual property is, in the scheme of things, a relatively minor annoyance."

This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue and its ramifications.

"However, many of those drugs are diverted by criminals and never reach the intended audience or because the local government is unable to distribute the drugs to people, they go bad. Lack of intellectual property will not save these people."

Sure it will, by allowing the middlemen that are misbehaving to be bypassed.

"I was hopeful to see an objective study of so-called monopolies and see how they proved that such "monopolies" are detrimental."

It does not matter. The onus is on those that would restrict liberty (e.g. my right to take my raw materials and shape them as I see fit, including into a copy of something "patented") to prove that this restriction is not only in the best interests of society, but outright *necessary*, not on those that would defend liberty to prove otherwise.

Restrictions on liberty are thus guilty until proven innocent in any society that's worthy of being called "free".

Copyright and patent, in particular, are guilty until proven innocent.

The onus is on you, Lonnie, to prove otherwise. Put up or shut up.

I have the liberty to exploit my creativity until someone takes control of my creation from me. Humans do that which they are most rewarded for. The society you describe would reward copiers and would penalize creators. Since you take from me my liberty to exploit my creativity for profit, then you increase your liberty at my expense. Since you are reducing my liberty and increasing yours by eliminating patents, show me how that will benefit me. The onus is on you to show me that I am better off without patents.

""Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods." I have yet to see many products (patent or copyright) that meet this characterization."

They abound. For starters, no song, movie, novel, or similar work is entirely substitutable with another. If your kid insists on seeing the latest Harry Potter movie, can you fob him off with Eragon instead? No.

However, just because someone has a "monopoly" on one movie, competition with that movie is intense from a huge, HUGE array of sources. Indeed, you can even argue, successfully, I think, that we have more movies and more competition than ever, though our weird distribution systems prevent prices from going down. If you want to complain about monopolies, start with the theater system and DVDs. There is no logical reason for a theater to charge $10 a pop for a movie and $15 for two drinks and popcorn with the amount of competition that exists. However, I have yet to see anyone come up with a viable alternative.

The real monopoly here is the few companies there are in the film distribution business and the stranglehold they have over films. Why else would a garbage movie cost the same to see as a blockbuster?

In the software field, this is a notorious problem. Often, there is no compatible alternative to some piece of copyrighted software. This is how Microsoft makes out like a bandit.

Blocking patents and especially software patents generale similar situations. Drug patents almost always cause this problem, since very few drugs are entirely substitutable with others. Even broad-spectrum antibiotics -- if someone's infection is resistant to all but Brand Y, they need Brand Y or they die, and if Brand Y is patented, they need to pay monopoly rents for Brand Y antibiotics or die. This is not how it should be.

I struggle myself with the justification for software patents, for a variety of reasons.

As for drug patents, I admit (see, my mind is not completely closed) that I struggle with the scenario you described above. I believe a drug company has the right to recoup its investment and there are societal benefits to funding orphan drugs, which most profitable drug companies do, but that does leave situations where people who may really need a drug cannot afford it. some drug companies have started programs where people who truly cannot afford the drugs can get them at substantially reduced prices or free. I know that those programs were only initiated after public pressure, but it is a step in the right direction.

"I wondered how many contributors on this site were inventors, writers, filmmakers, or artists."

I am most of the above (not a filmmaker, though).

Which if your works would I recognize?

"...those whose contribution to mankind is copying because they are unable to create or feel that they would rather copy than investing the time to create."

You seem to look down on such people, but without reason. The fact is that copying is more efficient than reinventing the wheel. To the extent that the inventing IP promotes is actually REinventing, it is causing significant deadweight losses.

When IP REinvents, the system is inefficient. An ideal IP system would prevent such reinvention. Do I look down on copiers? Only in a discussion of elimination of IP. Copiers provide a valuble benefit to society, and help to transition products to an even larger realm when IP has expired. However, someone has to invent, and while ideas may be a (pardon me while I barf) "infinite good," inventive ideas are not. How do I know? If inventive ideas were infinite we would be using something other than gasoline and probably would already have visited other stars. However, we know that the more difficult the problem, the greater the level of knowledge required to address the problem, and the fewer individuals there are capable of inventing a solution. The more difficult the problem, the scarcer the availability of inventive solutions.

Deadweight loss: Someone who has the ability to create but chooses to copy.

"I thought it was interesting that Boldrin and Levine even suggested such through a survey they include in their book "Against Intellectual Monopoly" where companies stated that the most effect method of protecting their technology is secrecy."

And they found it so despite, rather than because of a lack of, the patent system.

The patent system is like Vioxx: efficacy trials show it to be of questionable benefit at best, and safety problems and side effects have developed that are alarming and sometimes deadly, yet it somehow passed FDA muster and got approved. Now we must work to get it recalled, just like Vioxx was.

However, the problem I see with most of these studies is their assumptions. I am still reading Boldrin and Levine and am annoyed that rather than being objective and letting the facts speak for themselves, they basically have chosen limited examples to support their point. Not very scientific, which you, as an inventor, would know. I am reading Kinsella's paper "Against Intellectual Property," which is much better. The only flaw I see so far is that Kinsella assumes ideas are "infinite" (they are), but somehow those infinite ideas translate to infinite inventions (they don't - creativity that leads to invention is a scarce or limited good).

"Ideas are free and cannot be contained."

What's this? Is Lonnie seeing the light at last?

Light smight, as the Moody Blues said, "thinking is the best way to travel."

"I agree that the innovator gies up control over one copy of this invention. However, he retains, and should retain, the right to his invention for at least a limited period of time."

Unfortunately, he apparently still has not seen the light.

Just trying to make sure we make the most of scarce goods.

"Under the current laws of at least 149 countries, an inventor is entitled to keep control of his invention for a limited period of time."

Centuries ago, you'd have been accurate in saying "under the current laws of at least 149 countries, the state is entitled to torture and execute heretics that publish ideas contrary to the teachings of the Church".

Such a statement can therefore hardly be a credible defense of those laws.

Oh my, hyperbole.

"I wonder how many people on this site have considered that the vast majority of patented inventions are either unmarketable or never pay for themselves. Approximately 30% of all U.S. patents are abandoned at the four year mark (as noted on Dennis Crouch's blog, Patently-O)(a maintenance fee is due 3.5 years after issuance). Only about 30% of all issued U.S. patents live out their full lives of 20 years from the date of filing (also noted on Dennis Crouch's blog)."

All of these filed-but-unused patents are further deadweight losses, this time partially tax-subsidized.

Not necessarily. Many of these inventions may have died because they were not commercially significant, but many also live on in later inventions. In some cases, they enabled later inventions.

"If patents were totally eliminated, then 50% of all inventions (or more) would never be available for public inspection and improvement. We would automatically eliminate at least 50% of all creativity embodied by inventions disclosed in the USPTO. How much would that affect mankind? I do not know."

Fortunately, I'm smarter than you and therefore I *do* know. It would clearly improve our lot by eliminating the above-mentioned deadweight loss and wasting much less energy, materials, and money on publishing and dissemminating the documentation for useless "inventions", leaving more to expend on working with the useful ones or coming up with yet more useful ones.

Obviously, not all inventions are created equal. These never-used, unmarketable ones are clearly unuseful and there is no benefit to society, and considerable cost, in having a state-subsidized maintenance and publication of annals of these useless ones.

Imagine having a marketplace for apples, in which rotten ones don't fetch all that high a price, but the government maintains (at taxpayer expense, natch) a grocery of its own from which it does not exclude the bad apples, but keeps examples of all of them preserved in case anyone wants to make more of them, even the bad ones. Most taxpayers would scream at any suggestion of spending government money on such a pointless endeavor.

I have to admit, your last comment is hilarious beyond belief. Under this theory, televisions, lasers, Hall effect sensors and quantum electronic devices would never have been invented.

The theory for the laser was developed in the 19th century, but we could not demonstrate an actual laser until decades later, when materials science caught up. That does not make the theories behind the laser uncommercial, just untimely.

Similarly for television (though you could argue, and I would agree, that television is deadweight - but that's another issue), the theories that would lead to television were available well before we could commercially exploit television. By your theory, television was deadweight, though several decades after its original demonstration it finally did become commercially successful. But it was deadweight!

The Hall effect was discovered in 1879, another one of those dead weight things. In fact, it took us until the 1980's and 1990's to turn deadweight into practical devices that have commercial significance.

Okay, enough examples. There are thousands. My point: Just because something is "deadweight" by your definition (ooh, ooh, I have a really good one - just a moment for that), we should never have had it available for public inspection.

My wonderful example: Motorola demonstrated the cell phone in the mid-1970's. They got at least one patent on the cell phone, but were unable to commercialize the cell phone until the patent almost ran our or did run out (I can't remember which). I guess that patent was also deadweight, even though the patent is the heart of modern cell phone networks. DANG DEADWEIGHT, GET RID OF IT!

"What I do know is that many times engineers are inspired by weak ideas to create better ideas. Brainstorming sessions embody this concept. Someone suggests something that is ultimately unworkable, but that suggestion sparks a creative idea that leads to a workable and marketable solution. What do we lose when those ideas are no longer available?"

This won't happen. Suggestions that are unworkable but point in a promising direction get published in academia and circulate. They're part of basic research. There's no need for an additional, government-supported registry of these.

Academia's resources are relatively limited, and they are more inspired by the theoretical than the practical. I have found few ideas from academia that are all that valuable. Further, since companies will have to become leaner and meaner with the elimination of IP (just pointing out a side effect, not advocating a position), companies that previously funded academia will have to pull the funding since they will have significantly reduced profits, and academia will be reduced in size.

Incidentally, the vast majority of inventions I have been involved in have little to do with "basic research," and were specific solutions to specific problems.

Can you find documentation for a SINGLE time that someone invented something only because they found something similar, but unworkable, *in a filed patent* (rather than elsewhere, such as water-cooler chat, an academic journal, or wherever) and improved upon it?

"Patents have no morality other than what we give them. A patent is merely a limited property right."

Yeah -- in MY property. It gives you the right to restrict what I can do with my own stuff! This is not the sort of "property right" that is either moral, desirable, or necessary.

I never proposed to limit what you do with your "own stuff." However, making a copy of your "own stuff" is making "new stuff," which you did not previously take title to.

I recently read an interesting treatise by Trerise, which I have referred to elsewhere. He has a beautiful proof of the benefit of IP, to which I refer you, though it is nearly 200 pages long. He goes through three scenarios. The first is keeping the current IP system, the second is eliminating all IP, and the third is having a weak IP system where individuals are permitted to make their own personal copy, but not sell it. I have finished about two-thirds of his paper and found it interesting. He certainly presents strong arguments against the extremes (the current strong IP system, and the elimination of IP).

"However, they are not proof or disproof of benefits."

The burden of proof is on you, who would restrict my liberty; not on liberty's defenders.

I offer Trerise's paper as proof.

"There is a post on Techdirt that reminds us all that the USPTO's purpose is innovation, and not protection."

You have some nerve citing Techdirt without bothering to actually read and understand what is being said there.

Tsk, tsk. I understand exactly what is being said there. What I said is that a post, and perhaps I should have said a comment, explained the difference.

"At least 50%, and perhaps as many as 80% or 90%, of all inventions are never commercialized. These inventions never go into a product.

If patents did not exist, then the inventions protected by patents that are never commercialized (which amounts to at least 1.75 million patents, but could be as many as 2.8 million patents), will not be revealed to the world because there is no other means to expose these patents to the world.

If you eliminate the patent system, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.75 million to 2.8 million inventions will continue to be "secret," depriving the world of any value they have."

That value being zero, to judge by their failure to be commercialized.

Just because they came at the wrong time did not make them uncommercial. Many of these inventions were commercialized after their patents expired - often to the chagrin of the inventor.

"I am also aware of situations where patents have done good"

For society? Rather than enriching one person or, more commonly, large corporation at everyone else's expense?

lol...Why should I care about enriching society? The goal of capitalism is not to enrich society. While I may have some actions that benefit society, in true human fashion I am most interested in myself and my family first.

"Can I tell you the good outweighs the harm? No. Can you tell me the harm outweighs the good? No."

Then you are either for abolition of patents or against freedom and democracy, since in the absence of evidence either way, a liberty should not be restricted. See above re: where the burden of proof lies in a free and just society. Criminals are innocent until proven guilty for the exact same reasons that proposed restrictions on liberty are guilty until proven innocent.

Considering the chaos and economic upheaval that would be generated by the elimination of IP, I am not anxious to eliminate them. However, that is not the reason I am against elimination, I am against elimination because the preponderance of evidence I have tells me that patents provide more good than harm. I am unconvinced that patents should be eliminated.

"To eliminate something without understanding the harm it does (or the benefits, for that matter), seems somewhat irresponsible to me."

No, to keep it, when this has known costs, some of which are externalized, seems irresponsible. Imagine I kept in my home a chunk of radioactive material of unknown value or use but which was definitely making some of my neighbors sick. Surely I should get rid of it?

If you could prove for a fact that the radioactive material was the source of the sickness,absolutely. However, what if we removed the radioactive material and the neighbors still got sick? Then we discover the problem was that the water they got from their well was contaminated, but that was more difficult to test and the radioactive material was a convenient target.

"By that token, we should eliminate seatbelts, vaccinations, fluoride, peanuts, Diet Coke, traffic circles, and dozens of other things because it has been proven that each one of these causes harm, though each provides benefits as well."

Nonsense. Most of the above are not forced on people by government fiat (and of those, Diet Coke is harmless unless you drown in it). Of the rest, traffic circles and traffic lights each have their pros and cons, vaccinations are of proven benefit vastly outweighing the costs, seatbelts are of proven benefit vastly outweighing the costs, and fluoride is (rightly) controversial.

Around the [traffic] circle we go. If someone had not created a work of art, or invented a mechanism, then there would have been no "government fiat" to worry about. Since "government fiat's" only protect that which is new and unique, and since you got along fine without it before the "new and unique" came along, I am sure you will continue to do well without it. Thus, you can completely avoid any "government fiat."

"Okay, how is that different from multiple companies making multiple chairs, and while there are thousands of designs, no one is permitted to copy my design? If I sell you a copy of my chair, I may well stipulate that you take possession of that chair, but you promise through a purchase agreement that you will not copy the chair and you promise to make a reasonable effort to prevent others from doing so. In effect, a patent is that contractual agreement."

In effect, a patent is that contractual agreement, but made on behalf of sometimes-unwilling people by their supposedly representative government, and with a crazy sort of transitive liability such that if I let someone copy a thing, not only am I in breach of the agreement, but so is that someone, even though they never had any direct dealings with you.

The "transitive liability" alone is chilling in the extreme, let alone the government agreeing to some contract on my behalf, which I then become bound by. We accept government restricting us from killing one another and burgling one another's homes, but agreeing to commercial contracts on our behalf? Where would it end?

Then don't put yourself in that situation. Don't buy the chair. Vote with your dollars by only buying (or copying) things that are not protected by IP. Do your part for the "cause."

"However, my point has also been that some patents have led to a net public gain in value in one form or another."

It would help your cause tremendously if you actually had such a point, backed up by actual evidence of some form or another.

How are you doing on reading Trerise's thesis?

"I would be willing to bet that thousands more formed the basis of other inventions or discoveries."

And *I* would be willing to bet that every single one of those was published in other places than the patent office's records.

The only place I have seen enough detail on the inventions that I use in the products I work on is at the patent office. SAE papers, while lovely little pieces of academia, fail to tell me important details.

"One of my other points continues to be that it is expensive to develop some inventions. If there is never a payback to these inventions (in spite of the rather blithe assurances by some on this web site that there would be), then I truly believe innovation will slow. There will effectively be an incentive to NOT be the first innovator. It is always cheaper to copy than to create. How many entities and individuals who would otherwise innovate would instead wait until someone else innovates and put their energies into just making that product better? That sort of thinking does not give us iPods and cell phones and personal computers."

When there's nothing to copy, some would-be copier will eventually step up to the plate and make something new. And this would only affect maybe a handful of industries where a lot of research is needed to produce something that, once produced, is cheap to copy. Basically, that means drugs and blockbuster movies. We can live without the latter and if we're going to have the former subsidized by government at public expense, it can be subsidized DIRECTLY by TAX money, which will avoid the problem of the cost burden falling disproportionately on the poor, and reduce a lot of the administrative cruft currently contributing some of the costs.

Please...let's not replace a system that has problems with a system that would be a disaster. The last thing I would want is to have the government determining what deserves development support. Let the market decide.

"Unfortunately, markets have NEVER, EVER, EVER, been free, and probably never, ever, will be."

People that think like you do are part of the problem.

I am still waiting for the Messiah.

"There will probably be ownership if intellectual property in one form or another forever."

This statement is clearly bogus; what you suggest is forbidden by the second law of thermodynamics.

The second law of thermodynamics has never been shown to be predictive of the behavior of humans, to the best of my knowledge.

One might well have said, a while back, "hundreds of years of history and the tremendous forces behind the Spanish Inquisition (businesses that sell torture tools, hundreds of thousands of individual priests, inquisitors, government, and anyone else who believes in the Inquisition) indicates that the Spanish Inquisition will be around long after I am gone".

Yet the Spanish Inquisition is long gone.

So shall it be with the abomination formerly known as "intellectual property".

If I look up hyperbole, will I see your name?

"I point you to a thesis by Jonathan Trerise, where he argues, quite well, I believe, that a form of intellectual property provides maximum liberty for everyone ... His thesis is quite long, but well reasoned."

It obviously is not, since its conclusion is quite absurd.

lol...Well, by golly, I find that response darn convincing. I have seen the light! I change my viewpoint because None of your beeswax says that Trerise's conclusions are absurd.

Okay...now that I got that out of my system...

STOP!

YOUR POST IS TOO LONG, AND IT IS IN REPLY TO A THREAD THAT IS TOO OLD.

LONNIE, YOU MUST LIMIT YOUR COMMENTS TO A) FIFTY WORDS OR LESS AND B) POSTS STILL ON THE SITE'S FRONT PAGE. OTHERWISE, YOU GENERATE TOO MUCH WORK FOR ME IN RESPONDING TO YOUR VOLUMINOUS OUTPOURINGS OF NONSENSE, WHICH IS, AT MINIMUM, EXCEEDINGLY INCONSIDERATE OF YOU. STOP THAT!

"I have the liberty to exploit my creativity until someone takes control of my creation from me. Humans do that which they are most rewarded for. The society you describe would reward copiers and would penalize creators."

No, it does not. It would reward both, but creators might be rewarded more.

It already does, in fact. Check out the world of open source software some time, or the fashion industry, or the food industries.

"However, just because someone has a "monopoly" on one movie, competition with that movie is intense from a huge, HUGE array of sources. Indeed, you can even argue, successfully, I think, that we have more movies and more competition than ever, though our weird distribution systems prevent prices from going down. If you want to complain about monopolies, start with the theater system and DVDs. There is no logical reason for a theater to charge $10 a pop for a movie and $15 for two drinks and popcorn with the amount of competition that exists. However, I have yet to see anyone come up with a viable alternative."

Without copyright, of course, this price-fixing would go away.

"The real monopoly here is the few companies there are in the film distribution business and the stranglehold they have over films. Why else would a garbage movie cost the same to see as a blockbuster?"

Because they cost the same to screen? Actually, the blockbuster should be the cheaper one: more demand leads to economies of scale.

That a few companies have a stranglehold over the industry is, of course, entirely the fault of copyright. Without it, bittorrent would now be the primary LEGAL method of distribution, and nobody "owns" bittorrent.

"I struggle myself with the justification for software patents, for a variety of reasons."

That is odd, considering that there isn't one. Why do you struggle with something that doesn't exist? Are you mad?

"As for drug patents, I admit (see, my mind is not completely closed) that I struggle with the scenario you described above. I believe a drug company has the right to recoup its investment"

No, it does not. It has the right to take its chances in the marketplace and to have a CHANCE to recoup its investment. But it doesn't have a right to guaranteed profits, or even to guaranteed at-least-breaking-even. Most other industries don't, so why should the drug industry be exempted from the laws of free markets?

The answer, of course, being that they shouldn't.

"some drug companies have started programs where people who truly cannot afford the drugs can get them at substantially reduced prices or free. I know that those programs were only initiated after public pressure, but it is a step in the right direction."

That's a bandaid on a gushing neck wound that shouldn't have been inflicted in the first place. Abolishing patents is the only way to actually close that wound.

"Which if your works would I recognize?"

Irrelevant and beyond the scope of the present discussion. Which is over anyway (see above).

"When IP REinvents, the system is inefficient. An ideal IP system would prevent such reinvention."

True. And that "ideal IP system" is the one we'd have if we abolished copyrights and patents.

"However, someone has to invent, and while ideas may be a (pardon me while I barf) "infinite good," inventive ideas are not."

All ideas are.

INVENTORS are not, and so their time and expertise will always be valuable and will always be salable in the marketplace.

It is only large corporations such as those big pharma ones that need to fear IP abolition, not the inventors IP is supposedly meant to "protect".

"The more difficult the problem, the scarcer the availability of inventive solutions."

No, the scarcer the availability of inventors. There's a difference.

"Deadweight loss: Someone who has the ability to create but chooses to copy."

Someone who has the ability to create will always be able to command a higher price for that activity than for the drudgework of copying that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do as well. No "IP" laws necessary.

"I am reading Kinsella's paper "Against Intellectual Property," which is much better. The only flaw I see so far is that Kinsella assumes ideas are "infinite" (they are), but somehow those infinite ideas translate to infinite inventions (they don't - creativity that leads to invention is a scarce or limited good)."

I don't think that INVENTORS being an infinite good is an assumption in anyone's models here. Except yours.

"Light smight, as the Moody Blues said"

More nonsense and non sequiturs.

"Just trying to make sure we make the most of scarce goods."

By artificially limiting the availability of the precise things that make those scarce goods more valuable? You are mad!

"Oh my, hyperbole."

Namecalling doesn't become you, Lonnie. Please stop it. Your behavior is inconsiderate, disrespectful, and rude, both in engaging in namecalling AND in posting such voluminous quantities of dangerously misinformed BS that then require someone else (me) spend a huge amount of time writing a detailed rebuttal of your numerous errors. My time would be better spent if you did not keep posting so much verbal diarrhea here.

""All of these filed-but-unused patents are further deadweight losses, this time partially tax-subsidized."

Not necessarily."

Yes, necessarily.

Do not contradict me again. I am right. You are wrong. And you will learn your role.

"Many of these inventions may have died because they were not commercially significant, but many also live on in later inventions. In some cases, they enabled later inventions."

And those ones still would have. Applying for a patent is not the primary vehicle for publishing useful knowledge; academic journals and other private (as in, not government) publications are.

"I have to admit, your last comment is hilarious beyond belief."

See above re: insulting your betters. Don't do it again!

"Under this theory, televisions, lasers, Hall effect sensors and quantum electronic devices would never have been invented."

Nonsense. All of these things were invented based on published scientific research. When the inventors found prior art to study, it was by mentoring and reading scientific journals, not by paging through volume after volume of dud patents at the patent office.

"The theory for the laser was developed in the 19th century, but we could not demonstrate an actual laser until decades later, when materials science caught up. That does not make the theories behind the laser uncommercial, just untimely."

The problem is your theory that the primary vehicle for the preservation of that knowledge was the patent office and not the scientific journals and other publications that were the vehicle in the real world.

"By your theory, television was deadweight, though several decades after its original demonstration it finally did become commercially successful. But it was deadweight!"

No, any television PATENTS filed way back then were deadweight. There IS a difference, though you're way, way too blinkered to be able to see it of course.

"Okay, enough examples. There are thousands. My point: Just because something is "deadweight" by your definition (ooh, ooh, I have a really good one - just a moment for that), we should never have had it available for public inspection."

You're putting words in my mouth. I never claimed that we should never have had it available for public inspection. I claimed that taxpayers should not foot the bill to have every possibly-valuable-but-possibly-dubious "invention" available for public inspection in a government registry, when we already have perfectly good academic journals and other venues for publication of such information, and ones that do a far better job of sorting out the wheat from the chaff at that. I also claimed that giving out potential monopolies over these inventions is a bad idea.

"My wonderful example: Motorola demonstrated the cell phone in the mid-1970's. They got at least one patent on the cell phone, but were unable to commercialize the cell phone until the patent almost ran our or did run out (I can't remember which)."

Anyone with a brain can guess why: the patent limited innovation and entry into the field, resulting in a Cambrian explosion of innovation that started the instant the f*cking thing *expired*.

Which goes to show that I'm right, and you're wrong.

"Academia's resources are relatively limited"

Whereas us taxpayers can certainly foot the bill to maintain a colossal registry of every single idea anyone ever had, however useless?

Idiot.

Academia's limited resources result in their actually bothering to do a proper job of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

And again I challenge you to name one significant invention that was inspired by someone reading a patent application instead of an academic journal or other such source instead.

"I have found few ideas from academia that are all that valuable."

That's unsurprising, given your rock-bottom IQ. Obviously, people who are actually capable of significant invention, and not merely comment-trolling, are much more likely to get something useful out of reading such high-level materials.

"Further, since companies will have to become leaner and meaner with the elimination of IP (just pointing out a side effect, not advocating a position), companies that previously funded academia will have to pull the funding since they will have significantly reduced profits, and academia will be reduced in size."

Nonsense. You seem to think of companies funding academia as some sort of charity for which they receive nothing in return. But companies also advertise and recruit on campus, and use the ideas generated there. Companies *invest* in academia, and having to actually compete might make them invest more since it will help them to stay ahead of copycats and other competitors.

"Incidentally, the vast majority of inventions I have been involved in have little to do with "basic research," and were specific solutions to specific problems."

There is no such thing as an invention that has "little to do with basic research". If your "specific solution to a specific problem" requires a transistor, for example, then it probably has lots to do with decades-ago basic research in quantum theory.

""Patents have no morality other than what we give them. A patent is merely a limited property right."

Yeah -- in MY property. It gives you the right to restrict what I can do with my own stuff! This is not the sort of "property right" that is either moral, desirable, or necessary.

I never proposed to limit what you do with your "own stuff.""

You are defending a patent system that does exactly that -- infringes on my right to arrange my own machine parts, or 1s and 0s on my own computer's hard drive, in whatever manner my heart desires.

"However, making a copy of your "own stuff" is making "new stuff," which you did not previously take title to."

If I make a thing with parts I already owned and my own labor, I do indeed have title to that "new stuff" by any reasonable (i.e., non-Communist) belief system!

"He has a beautiful proof of the benefit of IP"

Elegant-looking but wrong "proofs" are commonplace and I've already seen more than enough of them for one lifetime.

"He certainly presents strong arguments against the extremes (the current strong IP system, and the elimination of IP)."

His latter arguments are clearly bogus.

"I offer Trerise's paper as proof."

It's faulty.

Try again.

""You have some nerve citing Techdirt without bothering to actually read and understand what is being said there."

Tsk, tsk. I understand exactly what is being said there."

Obviously not, or you would agree with it. Only an idiot, a madman, or a liar can read Masnick's stuff on IP, claim to fully understand it, and also claim to disagree with it.

"Just because they came at the wrong time did not make them uncommercial. Many of these inventions were commercialized after their patents expired - often to the chagrin of the inventor."

Not a ringing endorsement of the patent system, is that?

The point is, if the information is useful, it will be published somewhere other than at the patent office. We don't need it as a repository of knowledge any more than we need it as a source of evil monopolies.

"lol...Why should I care about enriching society? The goal of capitalism"

But we are not discussing capitalism. We are discussing public policy, and indeed, government-granted mercantile privileges that go AGAINST capitalism. And THOSE must certainly be justified on public-good grounds, or else abolished!

""Then you are either for abolition of patents or against freedom and democracy, since in the absence of evidence either way, a liberty should not be restricted. See above re: where the burden of proof lies in a free and just society. Criminals are innocent until proven guilty for the exact same reasons that proposed restrictions on liberty are guilty until proven innocent."

Considering the chaos and economic upheaval that would be generated by the elimination of IP"

This straw man is easily torched: of course IP should be phased out over a period of, oh, say, five years or so, rather than just removed instantaneously. I recommend setting a future date upon which all copyrights and patents will expire, save those already set to expire earlier; until then, new ones will even potentially be granted, but with the same expiry date, say Jan. 1 2013.

This gives companies and markets time to adjust. The evil monopoly rights currently traded on markets will lose value gradually instead of abruptly, and companies whose current revenue depends on royalties or anticompetitive behavior will have time to shift to alternative business models and revenue streams.

"I am against elimination because the preponderance of evidence I have tells me that patents provide more good than harm."

That is because of your willful blindness to the evidence that they do more harm than good.

"I am unconvinced that patents should be eliminated."

Nonetheless, they should be.

""No, to keep it, when this has known costs, some of which are externalized, seems irresponsible. Imagine I kept in my home a chunk of radioactive material of unknown value or use but which was definitely making some of my neighbors sick. Surely I should get rid of it?"

If you could prove for a fact that the radioactive material was the source of the sickness,absolutely."

Well, there you go, then. You only have to look as far as some AIDS victims in Africa to know that the "radioactive material" of pharma patents, in particular, is indeed a source of sickness -- in this instance, quite literally, and lethally.

Now, after reading that last, you MUST come out in favor of abolishing patents or be proven a hypocrite by your failure to do so.

"However, what if we removed the radioactive material and the neighbors still got sick?"

But patents are *provably* responsible for the lion's share of the inflated prices of lifesaving drugs. It is well known from both history and the theory of economics that in the presence of generics the drugs (in generic form) would become available at around marginal cost. The only thing suppressing the generics being the evil patent system.

"Around the [traffic] circle we go. If someone had not created a work of art, or invented a mechanism"

Oh, THAT tired old straw man again?

Get this straight.

PEOPLE WILL INVENT STUFF WITH OR WITHOUT PATENTS.

THEY WILL EVEN INVENT MORE WITHOUT PATENTS, BECAUSE OF THE REMOVAL OF SOME ARTIFICIAL LEGAL AND FINANCIAL BARRIERS TO ENTRY.

""The "transitive liability" alone is chilling in the extreme, let alone the government agreeing to some contract on my behalf, which I then become bound by. We accept government restricting us from killing one another and burgling one another's homes, but agreeing to commercial contracts on our behalf? Where would it end?"

Then don't put yourself in that situation. Don't buy the chair. Vote with your dollars by only buying (or copying) things that are not protected by IP. Do your part for the "cause.""

The problem is that it's impossible to avoid everything patented. Just ask any AIDS patient. If they avoid some patented things they will quickly die.

"How are you doing on reading Trerise's thesis?"

There's no point, since I already know that there is a fatal error in it.

"The only place I have seen enough detail on the inventions that I use in the products I work on is at the patent office."

What the hell are you blithering on about now?

It doesn't matter. You're not discussing inventing something new that's an improvement on something you can only read about in some patent application. You're apparently discussing constructing something with patented *parts*, which is another matter entirely.

And there, if the only published specifications for those parts are in the patent application, that can only be because the patent holder used their monopoly to suppress any other publication of that information!

"Please...let's not replace a system that has problems with a system that would be a disaster."

That's precisely what they did when they created government-granted monopolies and mercantile privileges in the first place, of course.

"The last thing I would want is to have the government determining what deserves development support. Let the market decide."

Another potent argument from Lonnie in favor of patent abolition.

Right now, the government determines (by rejecting or accepting a patent application) what deserves development support. Without patents, the market would decide (by rewarding innovators; non-innovators then get eaten alive by competitors making cheap knock-offs, so not getting eaten alive is the reward).

"I am still waiting for the Messiah."

That's because you're blind.

Willfully.

"The second law of thermodynamics has never been shown to be predictive of the behavior of humans, to the best of my knowledge."

Oh, come off it. First of all, there'll be no patent law in a heat-dead universe. Secondly, have you noticed how much success the RIAA has had with trying to stuff the Napster genie back into the bottle by force of law?

Yeah, that's right: None.

Face it. The era of so-called "IP protection" is already over. The brains in the twitching corpses of the RIAA and similar obsolete organizations just haven't gotten the message that their hearts have quit beating, that's all.

"If I look up hyperbole, will I see your name?"

No.

"lol...Well, by golly, I find that response darn convincing. I have seen the light!"

There's no need for this. See above. You will comport yourself more civilly in the future, and you will refrain from writing comments of more than fifty words, more than one new comment per week to each post, or comments to posts no longer on the front page.

Have I made myself clear?

"Okay...now that I got that out of my system..."

What, you promise to shut up? Oh, goody.

None of your beeswax:

No, it does not. It would reward both, but creators might be rewarded more.

It already does, in fact. Check out the world of open source software some time, or the fashion industry, or the food industries.

Extrapolating from one industry to another requires proof that the model is applicable. You have shown no evidence that the fashion industry model will work for the transmission or engine industries. If you do the math, you will see it will not.

Without copyright, of course, this price-fixing would go away.

It might. Or it might not. I personally think movie tickets are exorbitantly expensive, and I usually wait for the DVD. You would think that theater owners would have used their power to get reduced prices a long time ago. Yet, they have not. Very strange. Theater owners keep wondering why their profits are dropping.

That is odd, considering that there isn't one. Why do you struggle with something that doesn't exist? Are you mad?

You can always tell who the sane people are. They are the ones who question their own sanity rather than the sanity of others.

No, it does not. It has the right to take its chances in the marketplace and to have a CHANCE to recoup its investment. But it doesn't have a right to guaranteed profits, or even to guaranteed at-least-breaking-even. Most other industries don't, so why should the drug industry be exempted from the laws of free markets?

The answer, of course, being that they shouldn't.

Whatever. Again you miss the point. It can take 20 years and $100 million dollars to bring a drug to market. The actual length of time to go from nothing to a production line for a drug is 12 to 18 months. Without patents, the inventor would have competition in 12 to 18 months, and probably less. Since the time to recoup $100 million dollars depends on the number of people actually taking the drug, it can take 10 years to recoup the money spent. I can only see a company being stupid enough to take a $100 million loss once. After that, their new business model will be to copy the other guy's invention as quickly as possible. Invention in the drug industry will fall to zero.

Regardless of your personal belief, a variety of people against patents have admitted that the drug situation needs a solution because of the huge investment required to bring a drug to market that the years that it takes to recoup the cost. If you want drug inventions to halt completely, take away patents and provide for no other option to recoup investment. Good bye to new life saving drugs.

All ideas are.

INVENTORS are not, and so their time and expertise will always be valuable and will always be salable in the marketplace.

Complete bull crap. All ideas are not infinite goods. Easy proof. I have an inventive idea. I have ten thousand non-inventive ideas. The inventive idea cannot be replicated by you. You have no access to it. You cannot take it away from me. Poof. Where is infinity?

It is only large corporations such as those big pharma ones that need to fear IP abolition, not the inventors IP is supposedly meant to "protect".

"Large Corporations?" I must admit to puzzlement. Approximately 60% of all inventions are held by individual inventors, small companies, and medium companies. Indeed, multiple studies indicate that small companies are much more innovative than large companies, and benefit hugely from patents. If anything, I suspect the vast majority of large companies would applaud the elimination of IP because they already have distribution and service networks and market penetration.

No, the scarcer the availability of inventors. There's a difference.

In this case, I grant you are correct.

Someone who has the ability to create will always be able to command a higher price for that activity than for the drudgework of copying that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do as well. No "IP" laws necessary.

This statement is illogical. If I can buy two identical products from two suppliers, and one is higher priced than the other, with the higher priced item from the creator, why would I want to buy from creator? I would not.

And those ones still would have. Applying for a patent is not the primary vehicle for publishing useful knowledge; academic journals and other private (as in, not government) publications are.

Error. Approximately 30% of all inventions are by individual inventors. They do not print in academic journals and other private publications. Further, why would they? No gain for them. It will be the brilliant idea that never went anywhere for lack of an outlet.

See above re: insulting your betters. Don't do it again!

First, I have to meet my better.

No, any television PATENTS filed way back then were deadweight. There IS a difference, though you're way, way too blinkered to be able to see it of course.

Obviously not, because they were referred to in later patents, but you are too blinkered to see that people do use patents, expired and unexpired, to advance technology.

Anyone with a brain can guess why: the patent limited innovation and entry into the field, resulting in a Cambrian explosion of innovation that started the instant the f*cking thing *expired*.

Which goes to show that I'm right, and you're wrong.

You may go read the story for yourself. It is well documented and had nothing to do with Motorola's patents.

"Academia's resources are relatively limited"

Whereas us taxpayers can certainly foot the bill to maintain a colossal registry of every single idea anyone ever had, however useless?

Idiot.

Your ignorance shows. Patents are paid for and maintained through the fees collected by the USPTO. The American people have not paid one dime for the system. In fact, the USPTO has generated tens of millions in profit for the government. You call me an idiot? You neglect to look up the most well-known of facts about the USPTO. Are you an ostrich?

Nonsense. You seem to think of companies funding academia as some sort of charity for which they receive nothing in return. But companies also advertise and recruit on campus, and use the ideas generated there. Companies *invest* in academia, and having to actually compete might make them invest more since it will help them to stay ahead of copycats and other competitors.

Well, that investment has been dropping in the past few years. I guess companies have decided that innovation is just not happening as much in universities as it used to.

There is no such thing as an invention that has "little to do with basic research". If your "specific solution to a specific problem" requires a transistor, for example, then it probably has lots to do with decades-ago basic research in quantum theory.

Do you know how to read? What I said was that specific inventions have little, and indeed probably NOTHING to do with basic research. When I develop a unique transmission, yes, there was basic research done decades or centuries ago, but that research has long ago passed into public knowledge and understanding. The basic research of today will likely not manifest into inventions for decades, if not centuries.

Yeah -- in MY property. It gives you the right to restrict what I can do with my own stuff! This is not the sort of "property right" that is either moral, desirable, or necessary.

At this point, I am glad those restrictions exist, otherwise you might hurt yourself.

Elegant-looking but wrong "proofs" are commonplace and I've already seen more than enough of them for one lifetime.

You can lead a dog to the yard, but you can't make him pee.

It's faulty.

You provided a lot of evidence to back that up.

The point is, if the information is useful, it will be published somewhere other than at the patent office. We don't need it as a repository of knowledge any more than we need it as a source of evil monopolies.

Keep telling yourself that, you might believe in it as much as you believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.

That is because of your willful blindness to the evidence that they do more harm than good.

And you are willfully blind to the good they do.

PEOPLE WILL INVENT STUFF WITH OR WITHOUT PATENTS.

THEY WILL EVEN INVENT MORE WITHOUT PATENTS, BECAUSE OF THE REMOVAL OF SOME ARTIFICIAL LEGAL AND FINANCIAL BARRIERS TO ENTRY.

I believe you. People would continue to invent stuff if patents were eliminated. They would no longer invent drugs, because they could never get payback, and they would no longer go for the breakthrough innovations because they could never recoup investment, but inventions would still happen.

There's no point, since I already know that there is a fatal error in it.

Still waiting for your explanation of that fatal error.

"The only place I have seen enough detail on the inventions that I use in the products I work on is at the patent office."

What the hell are you blithering on about now?

You keep telling me that no one gets anything from patents. My last two companies put a great emphasis on reading patents to see what we could learn. It even has names, it is called by many people "patent mining" or "data mining." But you just keep deluding yourself that no one reads patents and go back to sleep.

Face it. The era of so-called "IP protection" is already over. The brains in the twitching corpses of the RIAA and similar obsolete organizations just haven't gotten the message that their hearts have quit beating, that's all.

Looks pretty alive and well in the patent world to me.

There's no need for this. See above. You will comport yourself more civilly in the future, and you will refrain from writing comments of more than fifty words, more than one new comment per week to each post, or comments to posts no longer on the front page.

Have I made myself clear?

This coming from the person calling people "idiot" and having a reduced "IQ."

I see that Lonnie has both broken yet another promise to shut up AND violated several rules, notably, writing another post that's too long and writing another comment that's on a too-old blog entry.

""It already does, in fact. Check out the world of open source software some time, or the fashion industry, or the food industries."

Extrapolating from one industry to another requires proof that the model is applicable."

It's been demonstrated time and again that "IP" only serves to hinder innovation and foster monopolies/oligopolies in industries that would otherwise tend towards commoditization (i.e. are not natural oligopolies).

"You have shown no evidence that the fashion industry model will work for the transmission or engine industries."

It will. It has done. The same argument applies to the cart-wheels-and-axles industry or, for that matter, to the horse industry, centuries ago.

All of the works of engineering in ancient Rome, including civil engineering as well as ordinary tools and machines, came about without anything resembling patent law.

"It might. Or it might not. I personally think movie tickets are exorbitantly expensive, and I usually wait for the DVD. You would think that theater owners would have used their power to get reduced prices a long time ago. Yet, they have not. Very strange. Theater owners keep wondering why their profits are dropping."

The movie industry forces them to play ball by colluding internally to deny access to movies for theaters that don't toe their line.

Without copyrights, the movie industry would not be able to do so; indeed, instead of a monolithic movie industry composed of a handful of large, static corporations acting as an oligopoly, you'd have a movie industry full of many smaller, agile and innovative firms, figuring out how to make more and better movies more cheaply.

""That is odd, considering that there isn't one. Why do you struggle with something that doesn't exist? Are you mad?"

[insult deleted]"

No. And stop lying about me.

"Whatever. Again you miss the point."

NO. I DO NOT. STOP LYING ABOUT ME.

"It can take 20 years and $100 million dollars to bring a drug to market."

Primarily due to artificial obstacles.

"Without patents, the inventor would have competition in 12 to 18 months, and probably less."

Hooray for the free market!

"I can only see a company being stupid enough to take a $100 million loss once."

Explain why movie studios exist that have produced multiple "Waterworld" style flops, sometimes even consecutively, then?

Risk is a part of the game. When businessmen and government collude to make their business artificially risk-free, everyone ends up losing in the long run, in higher prices and slower innovation.

Risk in the marketplace is a feature, not a bug.

"Invention in the drug industry will fall to zero."

Nonsense. Why does anyone still make and market aspirin, or anything else that's gone generic, if it's impossible to make a profit on a drug without a patent?

"If you want drug inventions to halt completely, take away patents and provide for no other option to recoup investment."

Who said anything about "provide for no other option"?

You did.

Deadly diseases get big bounties on their heads already. You can't take three steps these days without running into a donation box for cancer research.

The problem is, when they eventually come up with a cure, some asshole will patent it and the cure will be priced out of reach of almost everyone it might otherwise benefit.

Unless the patent system dies first.

Fortunately, a little bird told me that the patent system has been diagnosed with cancer...

""INVENTORS are not, and so their time and expertise will always be valuable and will always be salable in the marketplace."

[calls me a liar]"

No, you're the liar, as you demonstrate every time you publicly lie about me.

"All ideas are not infinite goods. Easy proof. I have an inventive idea. I have ten thousand non-inventive ideas. The inventive idea cannot be replicated by you."

Sure it can. I could come up with it independently, or I could see where it got published by you or by whomever.

All information objects can be reproduced at a marginal cost that tends to zero.

Understanding the information may take scarce expertise, mind you, but that is exactly my point -- it is expertise that is scarce, not copies of pieces of information, and so it is expertise that it makes sense to charge for and control access to, not copies of pieces of information.

I predict a fluorishing of consultancies when copyright dies and Windows' source code leaks, among other things. (And a smart Microsoft would provide one of those consultancies so as to continue to capture revenue from Windows.)

""Large Corporations?" I must admit to puzzlement. Approximately 60% of all inventions are held by individual inventors, small companies, and medium companies."

But the big patent royalties/monopoly rents, and the big patent evils, go to the large corporations with large patent portfolios.

"Indeed, multiple studies indicate that small companies are much more innovative than large companies, and benefit hugely from patents."

First part true, second part bogus. The only "benefit" they get from patents is as a deterrence against bigger companies suing them for patent infringement. Mutual assured destruction. Abolition of patent law imposes multilateral disarmament and removes the need for such weapon stockpiles. And then every dime that small company spent on patent attorneys, filing fees, and other unproductive deadweight nonsense can go into R&D, or the savings can be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices, or whatever.

"If anything, I suspect the vast majority of large companies would applaud the elimination of IP because they already have distribution and service networks and market penetration."

Explain, then, why those are the precise companies most heavily involved in lobbying for MORE AND WORSE IP?

""Someone who has the ability to create will always be able to command a higher price for that activity than for the drudgework of copying that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do as well. No "IP" laws necessary."

This statement is illogical."

No, you are illogical, and your untruthful public insults are wearing thin.

"If I can buy two identical products from two suppliers, and one is higher priced than the other, with the higher priced item from the creator, why would I want to buy from creator? I would not."

So the creator needs to lower his price, or differentiate his product somehow. That's market economics 101, though I can't expect you to understand that.

""And those ones still would have. Applying for a patent is not the primary vehicle for publishing useful knowledge; academic journals and other private (as in, not government) publications are."

Error."

Yes, and you made it.

"Approximately 30% of all inventions are by individual inventors."

And these either succeed in the market place, and end up with published information and actual physical instances available for others to examine, or never succeed and were probably not worth pursing.

Those that really were will eventually be reinvented by someone else.

"It will be the brilliant idea that never went anywhere for lack of an outlet."

There are tons of those every day. Patents make no difference to that.

""See above re: insulting your betters. Don't do it again!"

First, I have to meet my better."

That can be arranged. Just don't be surprised if I punch you in the nose for wasting my time and calling me names in public.

""No, any television PATENTS filed way back then were deadweight. There IS a difference, though you're way, way too blinkered to be able to see it of course."

Obviously not, because they were referred to in later patents"

Circular reasoning doesn't become you.

The later patents have to refer to the earlier ones to meet patent filing requirements regarding documenting prior art and searching for similar patents in the space.

Anything important I'm sure was discovered first by reading other publications and THEN doing a patent search to determine what, if anything, they might infringe, and what prior art might affect or limit the scope of their own patents.

Patent applications are not, and never have been, a primary vehicle for disseminating knowledge not otherwise published.

""Anyone with a brain can guess why: the patent limited innovation and entry into the field, resulting in a Cambrian explosion of innovation that started the instant the f*cking thing *expired*."

Which goes to show that I'm right, and [insult deleted]"

It goes to show no such thing, obviously -- it shows that the monopoly granted by the patent limited innovation and delated it by a couple of goddamn decades, you twit.

"Your ignorance shows."

NO. IT DOES NOT. I AM NOT IGNORANT. HOWEVER, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.

STOP YOUR NAMECALLING AT ONCE AND LET THIS MATTER DROP.

"Patents are paid for and maintained through the fees collected by the USPTO. The American people have not paid one dime for the system."

Bullshit. Even if the USPTO receives NO direct tax-based funding, and relies entirely upon user fees, those user fees are paid by the large corporations that patent things and that are forced to do patent searches to avoid infringing. Where do they get the money? They pass their patent-related costs on to the consumer in the form of elevated prices.

So the American people have paid for the system. And so have people all around the world who buy the products of American companies.

An innovation sales tax would have been better; it would only have to be paid by the citizens in the country whose government created the tax, instead of by the whole damn world.

Also, the costs of the patent system extend beyond the USPTO's costs. There are court and justice-system costs, lawyers, and the like. Where those costs appear as user fees, they too get passed on to the consumer in raised prices. Where these are tax-subsidized, the American taxpayer foots the bill in taxes.

An entire circuit court of appeals exists primarily to handle patent litigation. Who's ultimately paying for it?

If you don't think it's you and I, you're deluding yourself.

"In fact, the USPTO has generated tens of millions in profit for the government."

Another tax borne on the backs of the American people. And even non-American people, since these government profits come from corporations that sell worldwide, and those corporations' products prices embed the same amount somewhere.

"[insults deleted]"

No. You're lying about me. Stop doing it. It is a waste of time.

"Well, that investment has been dropping in the past few years. I guess companies have decided that innovation is just not happening as much in universities as it used to."

That's because universities have been increasingly entangled in the sticky webs of patent thickets in recent decades, of course.

""If your "specific solution to a specific problem" requires a transistor, for example, then it probably has lots to do with decades-ago basic research in quantum theory."

Do you know how to read? [rest of insulting and irrelevant aside deleted]"

Yes, I know how to read, asshole. And stop publicly insulting me!

"specific inventions have little, and indeed probably NOTHING to do with basic research"

See above. If that invention uses a transistor, basic research done 50 years ago in quantum theory helped pave the way for it.

Everything builds on previous work, and, ultimately, a lot of it builds on basic research.

"The basic research of today will likely not manifest into inventions for decades, if not centuries."

So it's a long-term investment instead of a short-term one. That does not negate my point.

""Yeah -- in MY property. It gives you the right to restrict what I can do with my own stuff! This is not the sort of "property right" that is either moral, desirable, or necessary."

At this point, I am glad those restrictions exist, otherwise [implied insult deleted]"

No. Those restrictions are bad. You are bad. I am not bad. Stop lying about me to other people.

""Elegant-looking but wrong "proofs" are commonplace and I've already seen more than enough of them for one lifetime."

You can lead a dog to the yard, but you can't make him pee."

That's irrelevant and, I suspect, intended to be insulting.

Go f*#! yourself.

""It's faulty."

You provided a lot of evidence to back that up."

Its conclusion contradicts basic principles of reason. It follows that it's faulty.

It's called "reductio ad absurdum" or "proof by contradiction". Proof by contradiction is considered rigorous enough that mathematicians employ the method daily.

""The point is, if the information is useful, it will be published somewhere other than at the patent office. We don't need it as a repository of knowledge any more than we need it as a source of evil monopolies."

[calls me a liar]"

The only liar here is you.

You've admitted shilling for a patent related firm.

Now you should have realized that you are not going to convince anybody here of any of your nonsense. You should leave. You're only making yourself and other people unhappy by visiting this site.

""That is because of your willful blindness to the evidence that they do more harm than good."

And you are willfully blind to the good they do."

No. I am not. There is no "good they do", certainly none that cannot be achieved in a much better way that does not involve trampling all over other peoples' property rights.

Any system that requires granting you the right to tell me what I can or can not do, alone or with only other consenting adults, inside the privacy of my own home, is obviously a fundamentally broken system.

""PEOPLE WILL INVENT STUFF WITH OR WITHOUT PATENTS.

THEY WILL EVEN INVENT MORE WITHOUT PATENTS, BECAUSE OF THE REMOVAL OF SOME ARTIFICIAL LEGAL AND FINANCIAL BARRIERS TO ENTRY."

I believe you."

Then you've finally seen the light! Now go away.

"They would no longer invent drugs, because they could never get payback, and they would no longer go for the breakthrough innovations because they could never recoup investment"

Not true at all.

(You need to either abandon your theory or else explain why there were any inventions, of drugs or of machines, prior to the first patent laws. Because your theory predicts that history would go from stone age hunter-gatherers to the first patent law and THEN to bronze, iron, etc. ages, with no progress occurring except in times and places that had patent laws!)

""There's no point, since I already know that there is a fatal error in it."

Still waiting for your explanation of that fatal error."

I don't have one. Since I detected it by "proof by contradiction" methods instead of by a constructive proof, I only know that it is there. It's what mathematicians call a "non-constructive existence proof". It proves that there is some object with property X, but doesn't suffice to actually point to an example of an object with property X.

""What the hell are you blithering on about now?"

You keep telling me that no one gets anything from patents."

No, that is NOT what I keep telling you. I know that some big, powerful multinational corporations get billions from patents. It's just that patents are evil and wrong, and funnel those billions to multinationals from consumers by government force, essentially creating a kind of corporate tax, while also inhibiting innovation by artificially raising the barriers to entry in many areas of industry.

"But you just keep deluding yourself"

No. YOU stop insulting me in public. You're the crazy one here.

""Face it. The era of so-called "IP protection" is already over. The brains in the twitching corpses of the RIAA and similar obsolete organizations just haven't gotten the message that their hearts have quit beating, that's all."

Looks pretty alive and well"

So does an oak tree that's just begun its slow and majestic topple. But the leaves will turn brown within a few weeks, left to their own devices.

The RIAA's may take longer. Something that huge with that much inertia doesn't change drastically overnight.

""There's no need for this. See above. You will comport yourself more civilly in the future, and you will refrain from writing comments of more than fifty words, more than one new comment per week to each post, or comments to posts no longer on the front page.

Have I made myself clear?"

[insults deleted]"

I guess I didn't make myself clear enough for someone like you. :P

I see that Lonnie has both broken yet another promise to shut up AND violated several rules, notably, writing another post that's too long and writing another comment that's on a too-old blog entry.

I see you have become the king of the long entries.

All of the works of engineering in ancient Rome, including civil engineering as well as ordinary tools and machines, came about without anything resembling patent law.

Yes, quite true. Over a period of hundreds of years. In fact, many of the ordinary tools and machines used in Rome came from Greece, long after their patents had expired. Of course, those original patents were only one year long, but the investment costs were significantly less too.

"It can take 20 years and $100 million dollars to bring a drug to market."

Primarily due to artificial obstacles.

One artificial obstacle being the thousands of alternatives tested to get the one that works. I wonder how much it costs to reject just one variation?

"Invention in the drug industry will fall to zero."

Nonsense. Why does anyone still make and market aspirin, or anything else that's gone generic, if it's impossible to make a profit on a drug without a patent?

Everyone knows how to make aspirin. Zero development required.

"If you want drug inventions to halt completely, take away patents and provide for no other option to recoup investment."

Who said anything about "provide for no other option"?

You did.

Deadly diseases get big bounties on their heads already. You can't take three steps these days without running into a donation box for cancer research.

And if people quite siphoning money away from fund raising efforts, maybe research could be conducted. Much of that money also goes to helping people with cancer. The actual money that goes into "research" is relatively miniscule.

I predict a fluorishing of consultancies when copyright dies and Windows' source code leaks, among other things. (And a smart Microsoft would provide one of those consultancies so as to continue to capture revenue from Windows.)

I wonder how many decades before copyrights die? It will not happen in your lifetime.

""Large Corporations?" I must admit to puzzlement. Approximately 60% of all inventions are held by individual inventors, small companies, and medium companies."

But the big patent royalties/monopoly rents, and the big patent evils, go to the large corporations with large patent portfolios.

Some of the most egregious "rents" go to little guys who have used their leverage to strong arm large corporations.

"Indeed, multiple studies indicate that small companies are much more innovative than large companies, and benefit hugely from patents."

First part true, second part bogus. The only "benefit" they get from patents is as a deterrence against bigger companies suing them for patent infringement.

Oh please. Many small companies have gone up against big companies and won. Try RIM & NTP and a multi-hundred million dollar settlement. But they are not the only ones. In the manufacturing and electronic world, big companies have more to fear from small, innovative companies than the other way around. However, the software world seems a mixed bag. Pharm is generally the other way around.

"If anything, I suspect the vast majority of large companies would applaud the elimination of IP because they already have distribution and service networks and market penetration."

Explain, then, why those are the precise companies most heavily involved in lobbying for MORE AND WORSE IP?

You will have to explain the "lobbying for MORE AND WORSE IP," because I am momentarily at a loss for what you mean.

""Someone who has the ability to create will always be able to command a higher price for that activity than for the drudgework of copying that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do as well. No "IP" laws necessary."

This statement is illogical."

No, you are illogical, and your untruthful public insults are wearing thin.

I see no insult, and I was not illogical. To the extent that there are any insults here, you are making them.

"Approximately 30% of all inventions are by individual inventors."

And these either succeed in the market place, and end up with published information and actual physical instances available for others to examine, or never succeed and were probably not worth pursing.

Those that really were will eventually be reinvented by someone else.

Yes, you are probably correct. How fortunate we are though, that Motorola invented the cell phone when they did, or we might still not have them since everyone else has used Motorola's basic design.

""See above re: insulting your betters. Don't do it again!"

First, I have to meet my better."

That can be arranged. Just don't be surprised if I punch you in the nose for wasting my time and calling me names in public.

You are the one with the name-calling. I see you also enjoy violence. Sad.

""No, any television PATENTS filed way back then were deadweight. There IS a difference, though you're way, way too blinkered to be able to see it of course."

Obviously not, because they were referred to in later patents"

Circular reasoning doesn't become you.

The later patents have to refer to the earlier ones to meet patent filing requirements regarding documenting prior art and searching for similar patents in the space.

There is no requirement for searching for similar patents "in the space," whatever that means, by the people who write the patents that refer to prior art patents. The USPTO does a search, and that search is listed by the USPTO as prior art, but I was referring to people who specifically detail prior art patents in the body of their specification, which is done often.

[Insult deleted] -- [insult deleted][expletive deleted], [insult deleted].

And you tell me about insults?

HOWEVER, YOU ARE AN [expletive deleted]

Very eloquent.

So the American people have paid for the system. And so have people all around the world who buy the products of American companies.

Ultimately, regardless of whether it is the toilet paper used in a company that manufactured the computer you are making to the trash they through into the dumpster, consumers somewhere paid for it. However, everyone is on equal footing.

Anyway, why pick on American companies? All but a few countries have patent systems, and I would guess that any product that you have ever purchased in your life comes from a country with a patent system. So using your logic you are paying for the patent systems of Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Canada and many others.

An innovation sales tax would have been better; it would only have to be paid by the citizens in the country whose government created the tax, instead of by the whole damn world.

Then work toward this and stop complaining.

[Remainder deleted because the remaining comments were rehashes of previous comments and added nothing to progress and were full of additional insults and name calling.]

Hello

I just noticed this looking for something of mine through Google. I appreciate that some of you have looked at and considered my work.

I hesitate to get involved here, as there is some obvious tension that I'd rather not support or be involved in. So, please, I'd like to learn from you, but find it difficult when people are belligerent.

So, a couple things:

-I do not argue that people can't sell their innovations. I think that would be bad for liberty and bad for consequences.

-I do not know what is being referred to when one (or two) people have said my conclusions are absurd. I would ask whoever thinks this to clarify what conclusion(s) is (are) absurd, and why (as this is an ongoing project).

-I *think* this is David Levine's website; if so, thanks so much for your work! I have found it very useful and informative.

Jon Trerise

Perhaps the hosts of this website would be so good as to confirm that Jon Trerise and Lonnie E Holder have the same IP address?

Sock puppetry can be so tiresome.

Oh, I hadn't considered that someone might think that. I hesitate to give my real email address, again given the nasty words exchanged in this thread. (Not only that, but a real email address, it seems to me, doesn't necessarily confirm anything.)

Don't know how to prove to you I'm me, and that, until today, I've never heard of Lonnie E Holder, except to say I was a graduate student at University of Missouri-Columbia, and am now teaching at a school in south Florida. Of course, I can't prove to you I'm not Lonnie E Holder (it's always difficult to prove negatives). IP address would help, I suppose; but that isn't certain either.

However, I can submit this; I believe Mr. Holder said that I thought people couldn't sell their innovations. In my first post, I pointed out that this is not my view.

Thanks for your time; really not trying to get an argument going (I don't enjoy them much). I'm only hoping if someone has criticisms of my work that they will share. (Of course, I always prefer constructive criticisms. :) )

Jon

Jon Trerise:

Hey Jon! I read your paper! Neat thesis. I do not recall saying that you said people could not sell their innovations. Be careful that what you read was from me and not from someone responding to me. I thought you had an interesting idea with the weak and strong IP theories. However, the majority of people here are rabidly anti-patent (and anti-IP in general), so anyone backing any sort of IP at all will be attacked without question, and without reason and logic. But, what the hey, you should join in!

Oh, and I went to Mizzou too, class of '82, BS physics. I recently moved to Indiana.

Jon:

I should also point out, after having reviewed the string, that many of the posters here (like sock puppets Anonymous and None of your business) typically offer little in the way of reasoned thought. When they say "absurd," they mean, "Gee, I am sure he is wrong, but I am unable to explain logically why." When they say your logic is "faulty," they mean "Because you got an answer I disagree with, you must be wrong, though I am completely unable to prove so logically."

The lack of logic on this site is rampant. Enjoy!

"I see you have become the king of the long entries."

I see you still have not shut up despite having promised to do so several times.

""All of the works of engineering in ancient Rome, including civil engineering as well as ordinary tools and machines, came about without anything resembling patent law."

Yes, quite true."

Well, there you go, then. Now f*ck off.

""Primarily due to artificial obstacles."

One artificial obstacle being the thousands of alternatives tested to get the one that works. I wonder how much it costs to reject just one variation?"

About one penny. That, at least, is how much I estimate the electricity costs to power the computer over the time it takes for it to do one run through Think, LigandFit, or a similar molecule docking simulator.

""Nonsense. Why does anyone still make and market aspirin, or anything else that's gone generic, if it's impossible to make a profit on a drug without a patent?"

Everyone knows how to make aspirin. Zero development required."

But by your theory you can't turn a profit selling something unless you don't have competition!

Is your theory wrong, Lonnie, and are you finally coming around to admitting it?

Wow!

""Who said anything about "provide for no other option"?"

You did."

No, I did not, you liar.

""Deadly diseases get big bounties on their heads already. You can't take three steps these days without running into a donation box for cancer research."

And if ..."

And if nothing. You can't take three steps these days without running into a donation box for cancer research. There's also big government research grants.

"I wonder how many decades before copyrights die? It will not happen in your lifetime."

One or two. Possibly zero. They're already defacto unenforceable against noncommercial "infringers", and large commercial operations are appearing offshore.

"Some of the most egregious "rents" go to little guys who have used their leverage to strong arm large corporations."

Some, but not most, and this sort of strongarming is just as wrong as large corporations strongarming millions of consumers, plus small businesses, plus other corporations.

"Oh please. Many small companies have gone up against big companies and won. Try RIM & NTP"

NTP is a patent troll, a parasite upon the system. A pimple on the arse of the free market.

Your system, in fact, is to blame for the new generation of white-collar thugs, like NTP, and their various depredations.

Truly innovative and successful small companies use patents primarily for one single thing: deterrence against large corporations like Microsoft. Hence small, non-innovative, parasitical companies like NTP -- having no products of their own gives them a very small cross-section of attack.

If patents are like nukes, and big companies with patents are like the US and Russia, and small companies with patents are like Israel, all locked in mutually assured destruction, then companies like NTP are like some terrorist who gets hold of a backpack nuke, blows up Washington, and is too small and mobile a target to nuke back. So the deterrent proves to be ineffective after all.

It's time for multilateral patent-portfolio disarmament, if you ask me.

"Pharm is generally the other way around."

And pharm is the one where lives are most visibly at stake.

Thanks for helping make my point for me.

"You will have to explain the "lobbying for MORE AND WORSE IP," because I am momentarily at a loss for what you mean."

Disney, Microsoft, the RIAA's members, the MPAA's members; the list goes on.

""No, you are illogical, and your untruthful public insults are wearing thin.

I see no insult"

Then please at least try to see an optometrist.

"and I was not illogical."

Sure you were.

""And these either succeed in the market place, and end up with published information and actual physical instances available for others to examine, or never succeed and were probably not worth pursing.

Those that really were will eventually be reinvented by someone else."

Yes, you are probably correct."

I'm glad you're coming around and beginning to see the light.

""That can be arranged. Just don't be surprised if I punch you in the nose for wasting my time and calling me names in public."

[insults deleted]"

Keep insulting me and that punch in the nose becomes increasingly likely.

""The later patents have to refer to the earlier ones to meet patent filing requirements regarding documenting prior art and searching for similar patents in the space."

[calls me a liar]"

No. I am not a liar. You are the liar here, and you lied again when you called me a liar just now.

Stop that, or else.

"[Insult deleted]"

No. Do not misquote me again.

"Very eloquent."

Why, thank you.

"Ultimately, regardless of whether it is the toilet paper used in a company that manufactured the computer you are making to the trash they through into the dumpster, consumers somewhere paid for it. However, everyone is on equal footing."

The problem is that the US is imposing a defacto corporate-welfare tax on the entire world. And the corporations, rather than duly elected representatives of the people, get to decide the size of the tax.

"Anyway, why pick on American companies? All but a few countries have patent systems"

Modeled after the American one, forced on them by American trade representatives, and meant to protect the monopolies of primarily American-headquartered multinationals. A big part of the expoitation patterns that have led to criticism of globalization are not a result of globalization at all, per se, but rather of the export of US "IP laws" worldwide.

"and I would guess that any product that you have ever purchased in your life comes from a country with a patent system. So using your logic you are paying for the patent systems of Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Canada and many others"

All of which serve companies primarily headquartered in the good old US of A. Why should a Japanese man, say, pay a Japanese tax imposed by US trade representatives that provides US corporate welfare any more than he should pay a US tax?

""An innovation sales tax would have been better; it would only have to be paid by the citizens in the country whose government created the tax, instead of by the whole damn world."

Then work toward this"

By speaking out, I am working toward this, which is more than anyone can say about you.

"and stop complaining."

No. You stop attacking me, insulting me, and wasting my time in an effort to slow down needed reforms. Your motives are quite transparent now that you've admitted to having a personal financial sake in keeping the old system tottering on for a few extra years. But trying to muzzle me won't achieve your goals anyway. You and your kind are doomed; the day widespread "fab it in your garage" systems exist, physical tools will be Napsterized and patents will go the way of copyrights, already increasingly irrelevant except to lawyers and big organizations whose names end with "AA" and are four-letter words.

"[Remainder deleted]"

No. You will stop being disrespectful towards me, and you will stop posting erroneous nonsense and wasting everyone's time here. You seem to be insisting upon having the last word, but that cannot be allowed because you are wrong. Only whoever is right gets to have the last word.

[false accusations deleted]

Stop lying about me in public or face the consequences.

"However, the majority of people here are rabid"

No, and any more borderline-libelous insults like this will get you calls from our lawyers.

"anyone backing any sort of IP at all will be attacked without question, and without reason and logic"

This has some misspellings. Here is the corrected version:

Anyone backing any sort of IP at all will be attacked without question, with lots of reason and logic.

There, aren't I helpful!

"many of the posters here (like sock puppets Anonymous and None of your business) typically offer little in the way of reasoned thought"

No. You are lying. I have offered plenty of reasoned thought and I am not a "sock puppet". Your insults have grown very tiresome. If you will not stop on your own, then someone will eventually have to stop you.

"When they say "absurd," they mean, "Gee, I am sure he is wrong, but I am unable to explain logically why." When they say your logic is "faulty," they mean "Because you got an answer I disagree with, you must be wrong, though I am completely unable to prove so logically.""

No. Do not put words in our mouths again. That is incorrect. Stop being dishonest.

When we say you are absurd it is because you are absurd. When we say your logic is faulty, it is because your logic is faulty.

"The lack of logic on this site is rampant."

Perhaps it appears so to one such as you, whose capabilities in the area of recognizing and appreciating logic are apparently somewhat, er, limited.

But it is emphatically not the case.

Lack of logic will only have become rampant on this site if you someday succeed in having the last word. :P

"I do not argue that people can't sell their innovations. I think that would be bad for liberty and bad for consequences."

Me either.

I do argue, though, that people stopping other people from selling their innovations is also bad for liberty and bad for consequences.

What A and B do, consentingly, behind closed doors is not up to C to allow or disallow.

P.S. what's with the site? As of about 1:30 it has developed a quirk or bug of sorts. All comments have to be submitted twice. First time, the result is incorrect -- a blank page is served and the comment has not been posted. Then when the back button is hit, the first three fields of the form have been erased (fortunately not the fourth!) and need to be filled in again. Then a second submission works normally.

This was not the case at around 1, but it was by around 1:30.

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

About one penny. That, at least, is how much I estimate the electricity costs to power the computer over the time it takes for it to do one run through Think, LigandFit, or a similar molecule docking simulator.

It takes far more time to synthesize the drug, test the drug, and then move on to the next one. Now, I am not going to say that $800 million to develop one drug is either correct or incorrect, since I am not in the pharm industry, but the numbers are what they are.

Insult deleted."

Some, but not most, and this sort of strongarming is just as wrong as large corporations strongarming millions of consumers, plus small businesses, plus other corporations.

I believe you have an industry paradigm. In the manufacturing industries, the big guys rarely sue. The small guys and individual inventors sue a lot.

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Modeled after the American one, forced on them by American trade representatives, and meant to protect the monopolies of primarily American-headquartered multinationals.

Now, that is not precisely true, is it? The U.S. has had to repeatedly modify their patent system to conform to the rest of the world, and is still in the process of doing so. The U.S. has the only "first to invent" system remaining in the world, and continues to drag their feet on changing to the system the rest of the world uses.

"and I would guess that any product that you have ever purchased in your life comes from a country with a patent system. So using your logic you are paying for the patent systems of Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Canada and many others"

All of which serve companies primarily headquartered in the good old US of A. Why should a Japanese man, say, pay a Japanese tax imposed by US trade representatives that provides US corporate welfare any more than he should pay a US tax?

I am a bit puzzled here. Let's think of products from countries with patent systems that are extremely powerful in the IP world. Nokia, BMW, Toyota, Lego, Airbus and Samsung. There are thousands more. How many of these are primarily headquarterd in the good olf US of A?

By speaking out, I am working toward this, which is more than anyone can say about you.

Error. I am working toward keeping IP.

No. You stop attacking me

I have not attacked you.

insulting me

The only insults are those that you imagine. I see that you manage to insult more than your imaginary insults.

and wasting my time in an effort to slow down needed reforms.

I do not waste your time. You choose to respond.

I applaud efforts to reform the system. However, the proposed reforms from Congress thus far are steps back rather than forward.

Your motives are quite transparent now that you've admitted to having a personal financial sake in keeping the old system tottering on for a few extra years. But trying to muzzle me won't achieve your goals anyway. You and your kind are doomed; the day widespread "fab it in your garage" systems exist, physical tools will be Napsterized and patents will go the way of copyrights, already increasingly irrelevant except to lawyers and big organizations whose names end with "AA" and are four-letter words.

I am sure this will happen any day now. In the mean time, I am not very worried.

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Sarcams deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

Insult deleted."

"Insult deleted."

NO. POST TOO OLD. INSULTING ME AND FALSELY ACCUSING ME IS INCORRECT NOT TO MENTION MORALLY WRONG. SUBJECT IS CLOSED. YOU ARE WRONG. GO AWAY.

""About one penny. That, at least, is how much I estimate the electricity costs to power the computer over the time it takes for it to do one run through Think, LigandFit, or a similar molecule docking simulator."

It takes far more time to synthesize the drug, test the drug, and then"

It takes only that much to discover the drug, weeding out the vast majority of candidate molecules that won't work, leaving a relatively small number (compared to in decades gone by, without ubiquitous cheap computing power) to test in more-expensive ways.

""Some, but not most, and this sort of strongarming is just as wrong as large corporations strongarming millions of consumers, plus small businesses, plus other corporations."

I believe you"

Fine, will you stop arguing now and leave me in peace?

"The big guys rarely sue."

That's a joke, right? Read Techdirt and educate yourself. Rarely does a week go by without news of some lawsuit involving large corporations and "IP". Heck, just scan the left hand side of the page for the gavel icon and you can spot them a mile away!

""Modeled after the American one, forced on them by American trade representatives, and meant to protect the monopolies of primarily American-headquartered multinationals."

[calls me a liar]"

No, you're the liar. Stop falsely accusing me in public or else.

"The U.S. has had to repeatedly modify their patent system to conform to"

treaty obligations created by treaties negotiated by US trade representatives strongly influenced by the domestic "IP" lobby.

Go read Techdirt, and don't post to this blog again until you've read it. All of it. Every last article and comment there.

Particularly pay attention to the bits about ACTA. Also research how the DMCA was created in smoky back rooms by US industry reps negotiating "technological protection measures" protection into an international treaty; then Hollywood lobbyists started reminding Congresscritters that they had to enact a DMCA-type law to "harmonize" with "international treaty obligations". And thus the DMCA was born.

When the US has to strengthen "IP" laws to abide by international treaties, it's inevitably international treaties that were ghost-written by the US's own home-grown entertainment and pharma lobbies.

I don't know which is more appalling, that disingenuous pricks like you say with a straight face that the US has to be evil to "abide by international treaties" the US had forced on the world, or the short-circuiting of the democratic process that is occurring when the entertainment lobby and the pharma lobby have defacto legislative power, despite being unelected AND being vested interests, through their ability to have treaties negotiated in a star chamber somewhere that the US Legislature is then bound by!

If you ask me, the treaty formation process must be reformed such that the legislature must approve treaty clauses that would, if they took effect, require action on the part of the legislature. That would put the decision back in the hands of elected representatives -- albeit ones that presently seem to be equally beholden to industry lobbyists. At least there would then be lip service paid to democracy, and campaign finance reform might then address the problem fully.

""All of which serve companies primarily headquartered in the good old US of A. Why should a Japanese man, say, pay a Japanese tax imposed by US trade representatives that provides US corporate welfare any more than he should pay a US tax?"

I am a bit puzzled here."

Perhaps you should see if Pfizer has an IQ-boosting drug out. Oh, wait, you probably wouldn't be able to afford it.

""By speaking out, I am working toward this, which is more than anyone can say about you."

Error."

No. The only "error" here is you.

"I am working toward keeping IP."

In other words you are explicitly and unapologetically a part of the problem.

Your admission of guilt has been noted for the record.

Now shoo!

"I have not attacked you."

A lie. You have repeatedly made public insinuations that I'm in some way deficient, and lately you have been adding accusations of various sorts to the mix. That is unacceptable. Stop it.

"The only insults are those that you imagine."

Like you publicly calling me crazy just now? Did I just imagine that?

No, you're the crazy one, and none of your nasty insults have any truth at all in them.

""and wasting my time in an effort to slow down needed reforms."

I do not waste your time. You choose to respond."

I have little choice. I can't let idiocy, serious errors, and frank nonsense like what you write stand unopposed, and few other people are stepping up to the plate to warn the public about your dangerously wrong (and ulterior-motivated) crud.

Someone has to warn people, lest you actually convince some members of an unsuspecting public.

""Your motives are quite transparent now that you've admitted to having a personal financial sake in keeping the old system tottering on for a few extra years. But trying to muzzle me won't achieve your goals anyway. You and your kind are doomed; the day widespread "fab it in your garage" systems exist, physical tools will be Napsterized and patents will go the way of copyrights, already increasingly irrelevant except to lawyers and big organizations whose names end with "AA" and are four-letter words."

I am sure this will happen"

Lonnie sees the light at last?

"Insult deleted." (x9 or so)

No, apparently not. *sigh*


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