Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Southj Korean Army applies for a patent on ithe pattern of its uniform material

Screwball uses of the patent and copyright system are occurring with increasing frequency both at home and abroad. Here is today's link here. The South Korean Army has applied for a patent on "the camouflage pattern on its newly developed combat fatigue, which would ban unauthorized use and sales of the same-patterned civilian attires and accessories. The military has been developing the new combat uniform since 2008. It will be distributed from next July to replace the current uniform within three years." The army with its political clout in the South has every reason to believe the patent will be granted.

The article suggests the reason for a patent is national security, that is to prevent "unauthorized use", say by North Koreans dressing attacking forces to confuse the southerners. I didn't think a southern law would restrain the northerners copying, if they really wanted to try to confuse an enemy, even at the risk of confusing their own side. Miracles will never cease.


I have a few legal and practical concerns about the possibility of patents on clothing patterns, even for combat fatigues. This kind of patent would likely raise numerous questions and difficulties. For instance, if you can patent Army clothing patterns, then you can easily make an argument for patenting costumes, and potentially other kinds of clothing. Since clothes don't even receive copyright protection, this doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. Looks like a slippery slope, i.e., more trouble down the road.

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