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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Bessen & Meurer: Patents Do Not Increase Innovation

In Bessen & Meurer latest patent study ("Do patents perform like property?," Academy of Management Perspectives, pp. 8-20 (August 2008)), the authors conclude: "intellectual property rights have at best only a weak and indirect effect on economic growth" and "The direct comparison of estimated net incentives suggests that for public firms in most industries today, patents may actually discourage investment in innovation."

The entire conclusion is below. See also Keith Sawyer's post, Do Patents Increase Innovation?, who note: "In 1999, for example, the total profits from patents in all U.S. public firms (excluding pharma) was about $3 billion, but their litigation costs associated with those patents were a whopping $12 billion!"

The historical evidence, the cross-country evidence, the evidence from economic experiments and estimates of the net benefits of patents all point to a marked difference between the economic importance of general property rights and the economic importance of patents or intellectual property rights more generally. With the cross-country studies in particular, the quality of general property rights institutions has a substantial direct effect on economic growth. Using the *same* methodology and in the *same* studies, intellectual property rights have at best only a weak and indirect effect on economic growth.

The research also suggests a reason why patents differ from general property rights in motivating economic growth overall: the positive effects of patents appear to be highly contingent. Differences in technology and industry seem to matter a lot for twentieth century R&D managers and also for the innovative performance of nineteenth century world's fair exhibitors. Some results from the cross-country studies suggest that less developed countries have a harder time realizing benefits from patents or that countries that participate actively in international trade may benefit more.

Some of these differences arise because of differences in the relative costs and effectiveness of alternatives to patents. Patents may contribute more to economic growth in the pharmaceutical industry than they contribute in electronics industries because the latter can more effectively earn returns on innovation through lead time advantage, sales of complementary products and services, etc. Other differences may arise because of subtle differences in patent institutions. During the nineteenth century, the US patent institutions performed differently (and perhaps better) than their British counterparts. Patents are likely to work better in the pharmaceutical industry because patents on chemical entities have much sharper boundaries than, for example, patents on software.

Of course, the economic effectiveness of all forms of property depends on details of the supporting institutions this is evident from the disparate growth paths of Soviet Bloc economies. But the economic effectiveness of patents may be much more sensitive to the details of the relevant institutions than are general property rights. Perhaps this is because patent law may be much more specialized, complex and sophisticated than, say, real property law and, so, effective institutions may be more difficult to develop and maintain.

In any case, the empirical economic evidence strongly rejects simplistic arguments that patents universally spur innovation and economic growth. The direct comparison of estimated net incentives suggests that for public firms in most industries today, patents may actually discourage investment in innovation.


Comments

This post is just absolutely awesome. Proof, at long last, that patents hinder innovation rather than help it. Wait a moment. There are several small problems.

First, the same study indicates that litigation costs did not exceed patent profits until the 1990's. Before that, patent profits and litigation costs appeared to be roughly equal.

Wait, there is a worse problem. Bessen and Meurer did not calculate the actual cost of litigation. What they did was to measure stock value after announcement of the litigation and use that number as a "cost of litigation." What Bessen and Meurer did not consider was the ultimate result of the lawsuit and the reaction of the market to the result of the lawsuit. Further, while their guesstimate is clever and interesting, using patent litigation costs in comparison to profits is virtually irrelevant. A better measure would have been litigation costs in comparison to total revenue.

There is yet another problem. In several places, Bessen and Meurer note that there are situations where patents in fact have been useful. Now, as with most anti-patent papers, they do a little hand waving and magically dismiss the positive benefits their own paper shows for intellectual property, explaining that there are various reasons you should not accept these results. However, those same reasons also admit to the possibility that the error is in the other direction, and that the correlation between patent benefits and innovation is even higher than their "weak correlation," which, incidentally, means a positive correlation between patents and innovation.

I could point out other limitations in the Bessen and Meurer paper, but I end with one final anamolous piece of information.

Bessen and Meurer allege that mature industries file for increased patent protection when they become less innovative. Yet, there is huge support in the United States from companies (approximately 60% of the comments for these reforms have been from companies supporting the reforms; the remaining 20% come from various organizations, many of them business and manufacturing organizations) for increasing quality of examination by hiring more examiners, peer review, a post-issuance review period, and other reforms that would effectively weaken patents. I can only draw one of two conclusions from the fact that the majority of companies are supporting reforms that would weaken patent protection. Either these companies are highly innovative and see stronger patents as harmful, or Bessen and Meurer are wrong.

I think there is some confusion here. I don't know of any economist who thinks that there are no circumstances under which an innovation might occur more quickly if there is a possibility of patenting it. That doesn't answer the question of whether on balance patent systems help or hurt innovation. The evidence suggest that the positive and negative effects of patents are basically a wash. I'm not sure why you focus on one piece of their evidence, that about patent litigation costs, which is about two pages in a 25 page paper. Nobody would suggest that this single piece of evidence is especially decisive.

It doesn't seem very sensible to argue we should have a patent system because occasionally it speeds innovation. In fact a patent system has many downsides, which from various posts, I think you agree with Lonnie. The only reason I can see to put up with these downsides is because the system leads to substantially more innovation than we would have without it. If the government is going to intervene in private markets, enforcing private exclusivity rights (if you prefer that to monopoly), don't we want strong evidence that this accomplishes the desired goal? If you believe in small government, then surely you want strong evidence that a policy accomplishes the desired goal before supporting it. Picking nits with Bessen and Meurer misses the point. If the system works at all well, it shouldn't be hard to find evidence that it does that. There are plenty of economists who think patent systems are a good idea - including Bessen and Meurer who would like to see patents rolled back but not eliminated - but we haven't found any study by any economist of any persuasion that has evidence for anything beyond the assertion that "weak patents may have a mildly positive effect on innovation."

Finally, I can't parse your last paragraph, maybe something got left out? What is the inconsistency between the proposal that mature industries file for increased patent protection - a fact that jumps out of the data - and the fact that large numbers of firms favor weaker patents? Firms can be found in large numbers on both sides of the patent divide. Indeed, one reason patents haven't flown out of control the way copyrights have is because there are interests well represented on both sides.

David:

The principal point of your post appeared to be that patents have at most only a weak and indirect effect on economic growth. However, Bessen and Meurer's paper provides only anecdotal evidence and circumstantial evidence that is inconclusive, at best. So, given that your post appears to indicate that Bessen and Meurer have established a kind of breakthrough with their study, when much of it appears duplicative of your previous efforts, and when much of it is dubious in value, the paper appears to only have marginal value.

As for my final paragraph, I was merely pointing out that when Congress asked for comments regarding patent reform, an overwhelming number of companies were in favor of reforms that effectively would weaken patents, and a smaller percentage were in favor of reforms that would strengthen patents.

Considering companies only, I believe the ratio was about 75% for weaker patent protection and about 25% for stronger patent protection. A substantial number of companies provided comment regarding potential proposals.

Now, one of Bessen and Meurer's points was that mature companies should favor stronger patent protection. In fact, most of the 75% were mature companies. Ergo, either these mature companies saw themselves as innovative, or Bessen and Meurer's conclusion was wrong. Now, it may well be that mature industries have switched sides because patent protection is seen as less beneficial then in the time frame the previous studies were conducted, or previous studies were conducted in a way that led to that conclusion. Regardless, most companies are currently for weaker patent protection, based on comments solicited by Congress and the USPTO with respect to patent reform.

If most companies are now in favor of weakened patent protection, it seems that they're damning patents with faint praise.

As for the harms done by patents, the visible costs in litigation and similarly are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. What of the costs to consumers in artificially inflated prices, being forced to buy "from the company store" with the attendant poor service and quality, and other destruction wrought upon consumer rights? Not to mention the trampling of *real* property rights in the effort to enforce these and similar phony ones. Government telling me what sequences of ones and zeros I can and can't have on my own hard drive platters behind closed doors! Next they'll be dictating in what positions and combinations and with the aid of what devices consenting adults behind closed doors may have sex. Oh, wait, some US state governments do also do that. :P

It's baffling that some "libertarians" profess to favor patents (and copyrights). I can buy the stupidest 5% on the IQ bell curve being bamboozled by the use of the word "property" to describe these, but the smarter ones ought not to be fooled quite that easily, and ought to realize that "intellectual property" actually erodes badly the two pillars of libertarianism:

* Big property rights -- eroded by other people getting to forbid you from arranging your machine parts or your hard drive magnetic domains in certain ways, instead of you being able to arrange your own privately-owned widgets and bits in any manner of your choosing.

* Small government -- eroded by whatever marginal increase in government and bureaucracy is needed to administer an "IP" regime. The USPTO, an entire circuit court of appeals, and several other sizable organs of government in the US are more or less dedicated to "IP" in one manner or another.

If most companies are now in favor of weakened patent protection, it seems that they're damning patents with faint praise.

I do not understand your comment. What these companies are doing is trying to figure out how to eliminate the burden of litigation over patents that, had the USPTO had greater knowledge, should never have been allowed. The benefit of permitting public submission of relevant information with respect to patent applications and allowing a period of post-grant challenge in combination with the elimination of inequitable conduct (particularly since inequitable conduct is rarely proven) would encourage more reading of patents, further enhancing the distribution of technology. There are other reforms that have been proposed and supported as well, all with the goal of improving patent quality and doing a better job of defining the bounds of any particular patent.

What of the costs to consumers in artificially inflated prices, being forced to buy "from the company store" with the attendant poor service and quality, and other destruction wrought upon consumer rights?

Conversely, what of the cost reductions that many inventions yield, permitting one competitor to give price reductions to its customers, forcing other competitors to become inventive or innovative and reduce prices as well? As for "attendant poor service" and "quality," I have had poor service and quality from organizations that have no patents. I have had great service and quality from companies that have patents. Patents are not an indicator of service; that is typically corporate emphasis.

As for "other destruction wrought upon consumer rights," if a consumer has a legal right, a patent will have no affect on that right.

Not to mention the trampling of *real* property rights in the effort to enforce these and similar phony ones.

As I have discussed before, property rights are a relatively new right. The modern definition of property rights dates back about 400 years, which is about the time that intellectual property rights began to be defined. The only reason we have property rights of any kind is because of law. Take away the rule of law and we have no property rights. Indeed, what is ownership? It is a legal fiction that you cannot touch, see or feel except as a collection of documents that define that ownership. What is an intellectual property right? It is a document that defines that ownership.

Government telling me what sequences of ones and zeros I can and can't have on my own hard drive platters behind closed doors!

The government also tells you what you can and cannot do on your own "property," which you believe you own. If you live in a city you have easements and restrictions. You may not be able to shoot a gun on your property. You may be unable to burn trash on your property. You cannot place your property alongside the road somewhere. The government has been telling you what to do with your property for as long as you have had property. I am not saying that this is right or wrong, I am just pointing out that your hard drive platters are hardly different than any other piece of property that you think you "own" and which is regulated by the government.

It's baffling that some "libertarians" profess to favor patents (and copyrights). I can buy the stupidest 5% on the IQ bell curve being bamboozled by the use of the word "property" to describe these, but the smarter ones ought not to be fooled quite that easily, and ought to realize that "intellectual property" actually erodes badly the two pillars of libertarianism:

* Big property rights -- eroded by other people getting to forbid you from arranging your machine parts or your hard drive magnetic domains in certain ways, instead of you being able to arrange your own privately-owned widgets and bits in any manner of your choosing.

* Small government -- eroded by whatever marginal increase in government and bureaucracy is needed to administer an "IP" regime. The USPTO, an entire circuit court of appeals, and several other sizable organs of government in the US are more or less dedicated to "IP" in one manner or another.

I have already discussed "big property rights" above. Your property rights, regardless of what property you think you own, are severely limited by law, as well as being defined by law.

As for small government, I discuss the "entire circuit court of appeals" below. The USPTO is a sizable organization, paid for entirely by patent and trademark fees. You need to explain to me the "several other sizable organs of government" that are "more or less dedicated to 'IP' in one manner or another."

As I have discovered, "some" Libertarians is actually a lot of Libertarians. I have been unable to figure out how many Libertarians fall on either side of this argument, but I do admit to a bit of humor that Libertarians are so willing to chew each other up over something that should be a relatively minor aspect of their political agenda.

Incidentally, the "entire circuit court of appeals" is twelve judges. They have jurisdiction over far more than intellectual property, covering international trade, government contracts, and appeals from all the federal district courts. This court was a merger between two previously existing courts and was thus not specifically created to handle IP cases.

""If most companies are now in favor of weakened patent protection, it seems that they're damning patents with faint praise."

I do not understand your comment."

That's ok. You weren't really expected to. :)

""What of the costs to consumers in artificially inflated prices, being forced to buy "from the company store" with the attendant poor service and quality, and other destruction wrought upon consumer rights?"

Conversely, what of the cost reductions that many inventions yield, permitting one competitor to give price reductions to its customers, forcing other competitors to become inventive or innovative and reduce prices as well?"

But patents don't cause the above -- indeed, they tend to prevent or delay it.

"As for "attendant poor service" and "quality,""

when a company doesn't have to compete, it doesn't in particular have to compete on quality. You need look no farther than Microsoft for evidence of this.

"As for "other destruction wrought upon consumer rights," if a consumer has a legal right"

I said consumer rights, without qualification. That includes rights not presently enshrined in law.

Further, consumer legal rights that are protected by market forces have much more effect than ones protected only by the customer being legally able to pay through the nose to hire a lawyer to sue somebody and have a chance of winning. Particularly when the customer is not financially able to pay that lawyer.

""Not to mention the trampling of *real* property rights in the effort to enforce these and similar phony ones."

As I have discussed before, property rights are a relatively new right."

The notion of property ownership goes back thousands of years. It is the notion of ownership of an idea, or of every sufficiently-similar expression of an idea, that is relatively new, dating back only as few hundred years to the Statute of Anne.

"Take away the rule of law and we have no property rights."

Take away the rule of law and property rights revert to "what you can defend with a gun". As a rule, you can fortify and defend your land, and your physical property by keeping it on your land or on your person, but you would not then be able to defend "intellectual property"; someone halfway around the world could make a copy of your lawnmower and you and your gun wouldn't be able to do a thing about it, save if you actually went over there and tried to murder the poor fella. Which nobody would consider remotely equivalent to defending your own land and house with a gun.

Not that I am advocating a return to wild-west anarchy, unlike some who post here regularly.

""Government telling me what sequences of ones and zeros I can and can't have on my own hard drive platters behind closed doors!"

The government also tells you what you can and cannot do on your own "property,""

To the extent that it does so, it is illegitimate. What goes on behind my closed door involving only consenting adults is nobody else's business.

"You may not be able to shoot a gun on your property."

That might affect others (what goes up, must come down) off my property.

"You may be unable to burn trash on your property."

That might affect others (fires may spread) off my property.

"I am just pointing out that your hard drive platters are hardly different"

Sure they are. What I do with my hard drive platters is nobody else's business. What I do with my gun is, to the extent that someone else on nearby land might spring a leak because I fired it carelessly, and what I do with fire is, to the extent that someone else on nearby land might lose their house because I used it carelessly. But if I use my hard drive platters carelessly, nobody gets hurt except myself, through, say, data loss.

"I have already discussed "big property rights" above."

And I have adequately rebutted your "points" on that score.

"You need to explain to me the "several other sizable organs of government" that are "more or less dedicated to 'IP' in one manner or another.""

I wouldn't need to, to anyone with an IQ above 99 and an education, but I'll spell it out for you. First there's the copyright office. Then there's the House Committee on IP. And on it goes...

"As I have discovered, "some" Libertarians is actually a lot of Libertarians. I have been unable to figure out how many Libertarians fall on either side of this argument, but I do admit to a bit of humor that Libertarians are so willing to chew each other up over something that should be a relatively minor aspect of their political agenda."

Minor? Information freedom issues are emerging as a paramount concern in the 21st century.

"Incidentally, the "entire circuit court of appeals" is twelve judges. They have jurisdiction over far more than intellectual property, covering international trade, government contracts, and appeals from all the federal district courts. This court was a merger between two previously existing courts and was thus not specifically created to handle IP cases."

I talk of the so-called patent court, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, not the general, wider system of appeals courts.

That's ok. You weren't really expected to. :)

I see. You were deliberately obfuscating your arguments, perhaps because you really didn't have one anyway.

Conversely, what of the cost reductions that many inventions yield, permitting one competitor to give price reductions to its customers, forcing other competitors to become inventive or innovative and reduce prices as well?"

But patents don't cause the above -- indeed, they tend to prevent or delay it.

There are numerous examples of where patents have been a part of speeding up and enhancing cost reductions and choice for customers. Perhaps one of the best examples is hydrostatic transmissions for the lawn and garden industry. For decades the technology had stagnated and prices for a hydrostatic mower ran $3,000 to $4,000. Then, two companies began competing and patenting their technology, each trying to compete around the other and outdo the other, all the while driving down prices. Two other competitors have entered the market with their own technology. The end result is that twenty years later hydrostatically propelled lawn tractors can be purchased for $1,200 or $1,300, and there are probably 600 patents from four competitors covering different variations of the technology, whereas there was essentially one competitor (Eaton - who was unable to compete with the explosion of new technology, and has been relegated to a minor role in the industry).

However, this example is but one. There are thousands of patents covering hybrid technology, propelling ever more variations and inventions, and yet there are dozens of companies either with hybrids or planning on making them. These inventions and innovations have driven the average premium for a hybrid from more than $10,000 to less than $2,500 for some models.

There are many more areas where patents have caused competitors to innovate, invent and frequently to reduce prices at the same time to stay ahead of each other.

"As for "attendant poor service" and "quality,""

when a company doesn't have to compete, it doesn't in particular have to compete on quality. You need look no farther than Microsoft for evidence of this.

K-Mart never had patents or any intellectual property. They also never had to compete on quality in their market until Wal-Mart came along and changed the game. Just because a company has intellectual property does not necessarily mean that it will either have good quality or bad quality.

I am not particularly a fan of Microsoft, but I recognize the risks they took and the huge rewards they reaped. Eventually, their patents will expire and others will build on what they did. In the meantime, Microsoft may discover that In re Bilski has made many of their software patents worthless.

"As for "other destruction wrought upon consumer rights," if a consumer has a legal right"

I said consumer rights, without qualification. That includes rights not presently enshrined in law.

Further, consumer legal rights that are protected by market forces have much more effect than ones protected only by the customer being legally able to pay through the nose to hire a lawyer to sue somebody and have a chance of winning. Particularly when the customer is not financially able to pay that lawyer.

There is almost always a lawyer available on a contingency fee basis if someone's suit appears to have real merit. Otherwise, those people are just complainers.

I would also suggest that you can effectively take on one issue at a time. If you take on multiple issues, because "consumer legal rights," which are probably greater in the United States than any other country on earth, are completely separate from patents and trademarks, then you will quickly find that your efforts are in fact too diluted to have any effect.

""Not to mention the trampling of *real* property rights in the effort to enforce these and similar phony ones."

As I have discussed before, property rights are a relatively new right."

The notion of property ownership goes back thousands of years. It is the notion of ownership of an idea, or of every sufficiently-similar expression of an idea, that is relatively new, dating back only as few hundred years to the Statute of Anne.

That is incorrect. The city of Sybarus in what is now southern Italy in 500 B.C. recognized that an inventor should have exclusive rights to his invention for a period of time. Modern patents originated in 1474, when the Republic of Venice required the registration of new and inventive devices so that others might be prevented from using them. The Statute of Monopolies followed in England in 1623. The Statute of Queen Anne was way late to the party, and I believe only covers copyrights.

Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) advocated private property in Politics, which is one of the first known discussions of tragedy of the commons, wherein because everyone has access, noone has responsibity or takes care. Thus, publicly owned property is abused and falls into disarray (as we see along our highways and in many public parks). So, we have patent rights dating to 500 BC and discussion of whether private property should exist in 384 BC to 322 BC. I believe intellectual property has existed as long as property rights.

"Take away the rule of law and we have no property rights."

Take away the rule of law and property rights revert to "what you can defend with a gun". As a rule, you can fortify and defend your land, and your physical property by keeping it on your land or on your person, but you would not then be able to defend "intellectual property"; someone halfway around the world could make a copy of your lawnmower and you and your gun wouldn't be able to do a thing about it, save if you actually went over there and tried to murder the poor fella. Which nobody would consider remotely equivalent to defending your own land and house with a gun.

Not that I am advocating a return to wild-west anarchy, unlike some who post here regularly.

I believe you see my point. However, "what you can defend with a gun" is actually, "he who has the might is right." Your gun will be unable to fend off an attack by someone who has bigger forces than you and who can take it away. Someone halfway around the world can easily coordinate an attack on your property and deprive you of it.

"I have already discussed "big property rights" above."

And I have adequately rebutted your "points" on that score.

Except your rebuttals are anecodotes, and some (such as the history of property rights and intellectual property) are incomplete or in error.

"You need to explain to me the "several other sizable organs of government" that are "more or less dedicated to 'IP' in one manner or another.""

I wouldn't need to, to anyone with an IQ above 99 and an education, but I'll spell it out for you. First there's the copyright office. Then there's the House Committee on IP. And on it goes...

The Copyright Office was implemented in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America to record documents. The House Committee on IP employees members of Congress. They would be there regardless of whether the committee existed.

Minor? Information freedom issues are emerging as a paramount concern in the 21st century.

"Information" is more free now than it has ever been. We are awash in information, and the amount of that information is doubling approximately every two years. Within a few years we are generating more information than all the information that has existed in the history of man. How much more information do you want?

"Incidentally, the "entire circuit court of appeals" is twelve judges. They have jurisdiction over far more than intellectual property, covering international trade, government contracts, and appeals from all the federal district courts. This court was a merger between two previously existing courts and was thus not specifically created to handle IP cases."

I talk of the so-called patent court, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, not the general, wider system of appeals courts.

The CAFC, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the court that, in addition to other duties, hears patent and trademark cases, is twelve judges.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/about.html

"I see. You were deliberately obfuscating your arguments"

No, I was not.

"perhaps because you really didn't have one anyway."

Yes, I did.

You are simply not apparently intellectually capable of grasping them. Ask someone you know (preferably one who has a three-digit IQ) to try doing so on your behalf, if you can't do it yourself.

"There are numerous examples of where patents have been a part of speeding up and enhancing cost reductions and choice for customers."

Apparently, your definition of "numerous" allows numbers as small as zero. Funny, that.

"Perhaps one of the best examples is hydrostatic transmissions for the lawn and garden industry. For decades the technology had stagnated and prices for a hydrostatic mower ran $3,000 to $4,000. Then, two companies began competing and patenting their technology, each trying to compete around the other and outdo the other, all the while driving down prices."

The competing, rather than the patenting, is the explanation here.

"However, this example is but one. There are thousands of patents covering hybrid technology, propelling ever more variations and inventions, and yet there are dozens of companies either with hybrids or planning on making them. These inventions and innovations have driven the average premium for a hybrid from more than $10,000 to less than $2,500 for some models."

Patents are sitting on the sidelines here, too. If one company had managed to patent something that really couldn't be worked around, the whole field would be stagnating. We're fortunate that that didn't happen. However, if the patent system were abolished it couldn't happen.

"There are many more areas where patents have caused competitors to innovate"

You have furnished no evidence of patents having done anything of the sort. In the above examples, the patents clearly were ineffective at doing anything -- if they had been effective, it would have been in restricting competition. Instead they had no effect, sidelined by being (in that instance) easily dodged.

Patents are at their most harmless when they also aren't producing any of the monopoly rents intended to reward invention.

When they actually perform as advertised they are at their worst: the equivalent has happened of someone patenting the round wheel, creating a market with very expensive round wheels and possibly also cheap square wheels, but no cheap wheels of decent quality, though low-marginal-cost round wheels were theoretically possible.

"K-Mart never had patents or any intellectual property. They also never had to compete on quality in their market until Wal-Mart came along and changed the game."

Just because patents aren't the only route to an abusable monopoly doesn't mean that they aren't one, or that they have upsides big enough to (collectively) outweigh the downsides.

"Just because a company has intellectual property does not necessarily mean that it will either have good quality or bad quality."

No; it's possible that the IP will avail it of nothing and it will be forced, against its wishes, to have to actually compete. IP reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of having to compete. That does not make IP harmless though. It just makes it less harmful than if it were always 100% effective at stifling all possible competition.

"I am not particularly a fan of Microsoft, but I recognize the risks they took and the huge rewards they reaped."

The risks they took mainly being legal -- being found guilty of ripping off CP/M or of deliberately sabotaging DR-DOS might have been devastating.

They took risks in much the same manner that a band of armed robbers takes risks. Well, not quite. The armed robbers take the risk of actually getting shot by guards or cops! Microsoft was too cowardly for that.

"Microsoft may discover that In re Bilski has made many of their software patents worthless."

A small step in the right direction. Today, software patents; tomorrow, the rest of the blasted things!

"There is almost always a lawyer available on a contingency fee basis if someone's suit appears to have real merit. Otherwise, those people are just complainers."

Don't be insulting. All too often there's no such lawyer that is readily findable to a particular wronged person that doesn't have extraordinary means.

"because "consumer legal rights," which are probably greater in the United States than any other country on earth"

Whoa, Lonnie, let's not jump the gun here. April 1 is still over four months away.

"your efforts are in fact too diluted to have any effect."

I'll be the judge of that, thank you.

""The notion of property ownership goes back thousands of years. It is the notion of ownership of an idea, or of every sufficiently-similar expression of an idea, that is relatively new, dating back only as few hundred years to the Statute of Anne."

That is incorrect."

No. YOU are incorrect. And I will thank you to stop publicly insulting me to my face.

Read a history book or three. And don't bother posting here again until you are qualified to actually discuss the subject material.

(Lonnie goes on to list statutes granting monopolies to the state, not to individual inventors and authors.)

Irrelevant.

"Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) advocated private property in Politics"

Well, there you go. The concept of private property clearly dates back over two thousand years. So much for your "around 400 years" figure.

"I believe intellectual property has existed as long as property rights."

Nonsense, not counting governments sometimes holding state monopolies on particular technologies.

""Not that I am advocating a return to wild-west anarchy, unlike some who post here regularly."

I believe you see my point."

No. I do not agree with you. Do not put words in my mouth again.

"However, "what you can defend with a gun" is actually, "he who has the might is right." Your gun will be unable to fend off an attack by someone who has bigger forces than you and who can take it away. Someone halfway around the world can easily coordinate an attack on your property and deprive you of it."

That is one of the problems with "wild west anarchy", yes. I've never claimed otherwise. I merely pointed out that anarchy allows for normal property rights but not for "intellectual property". (That it also makes theft possible by anyone with sufficient forces is irrelevant; that is true right now. Ask the victim of any burglary.)

""And I have adequately rebutted your "points" on that score."

Except"

Except nothing. I have adequately rebutted your "points" on that score.

"are incomplete or in error."

No. The only one who is incomplete or in error in this debate is you. Stop the public namecalling, or eat further tastes of your own medicine.

"The Copyright Office was implemented in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America to record documents. The House Committee on IP employees members of Congress. They would be there regardless of whether the committee existed."

Irrelevant. Money and employee time is spent on IP issues that could be spent more productively if IP were abolished; thus IP costs all taxpayers.

""Minor? Information freedom issues are emerging as a paramount concern in the 21st century."

"Information" is more free now than it has ever been."

Hence why big businesses are so desperate now to legislate the genie back into the bottle. If they manage to ram through any form of "trusted computing", we're in deep doo-doo. Indeed, if they do, we will find the economies of the Far East and even the developing world leapfrogging ours.

"We are awash in information, and the amount of that information is doubling approximately every two years. Within a few years we are generating more information than all the information that has existed in the history of man. How much more information do you want?"

I want it to be free. No more paywalls or other access barriers that perpetuate inequalities of various types around the world. No more artificial barriers in general. No more nonsense or willful obstruction to ordinary people trying to do things that ultimately enrich us all, such as educate themselves or make transformative uses of data.

""I talk of the so-called patent court, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, not the general, wider system of appeals courts."

The CAFC ... is twelve judges."

The CAFC is greater than zero judges. Furthermore, the CAFC presumably involves physical courtrooms (even if it owns none and only loans/rents them to use, it still consumes time in courtrooms, a scarce resource, on patent cases).

Judge time and courtroom time are scarce resources that are taxpayer-subsidized, and you cannot deny that a fraction of both are consumed with "IP" litigation of various forms. The CAFC is just where you can find an especially high concentration of such, and a specialized body that hears all appeals for a particular type of "IP" litigation.

Nobody Nowhere:

Each time I read one of your pointless posts, I spend several hours finding facts to counter your assertions. You then turn around and misdirect the arguments using emotion, or you put in non sequiturs, or you take my statements out of context. Your posts add nothing to the progression of the discussion and you behave as a troll. Further, in your hyberbolic outrage at being "insulted," you act as a buffoon. I believe I have attempted to speak to you reasonably long enough. I will no longer speak to you, either directly or indirectly.

"Each time I read one of your pointless posts"

NO. None of my posts is "pointless".

"I spend several hours finding facts to counter your assertions."

You haven't spent any time finding any "facts" at all!

(Lonnie proceeds to personally attack me some more, with all kinds of vicious namecalling and false accusations.)

NO. Everything you have written about me is a lie. In particular, you're the troll and the buffoon.

Your latest attempt to prove the case for keeping the patent system by way of ad hominem argument has been noted and logged.

It has not, however, been effective in the least.


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