defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.
As you may know I am much more favorably inclined towards trademarks than other forms of intellectual property. (Michele is less favorably inclined.) It seems to me a good thing that it is possible to tell who you are doing business with, and no downside monopoly. That may be the purpose of trademark law...but there is another part of creeping IP: the apparent right under trademark law to protect the image of your product. Daniel Monchuk directs us to an article in the WSJ about what seems to me to be trademark abuse. The article is about costume companies that are being sued by trademark holders for providing costumes based on trademarked characters. For the life of me I don't see what this has to do with identity: there is no claim that these costumes are authorized by the trademark holder, nor can a costume based on a comic book be confused for a comic book. Perhaps Justin or someone else who knows more about the law than I do can comment on whether this is a proper use of trademark law as it exists. Certainly if the law allows it, then there is a big problem with trademark law.
Deriving from the natural right to truth (against falsehood) there is a natural right against misrepresentation and misattribution, whether by implication through omission or context, or explicitly.
Whether this right is protected by the means of a national registry or through ad hoc arbitration (as and when ambiguity is recognised, and remains unremedied or wilful) is another matter. The latter would be fairer albeit possibly more expensive, whereas a registry of trademarks and tradenames, might be tolerable and cheaper.
The problem is 'overreaching'. This results from a confusion between the natural monopoly of identity and the unnatural monopoly over use of a name/appearance.
Even twins don't get to sue each other for using each other's likeness (though they should get a remedy for any misrepresentation if they did so exploit their similarity).
However, if copyright and patent are abolished, there might be less judicial confusion over the difference between the justifiable need for identity disambiguation and an unjustifiable, albeit commercially valuable, iconographic monopoly.
Trademark is a lesser problem than copyright or patent, but it is an increasing one, as it becomes infected by the idea that it concerns a state granted, transferable monopoly for the commercial benefit of the trading entity rather than the natural, non-transferable monopoly of a trading identity in the public's interest.
With respect to the example you give, if a costumed character represents the iconographic symbol for a trader, and its use risks confusing onlookers into believing that the costumed character is representing the trader, or the trader's endorsement, then the trader would have a right to require the confusing use to be remedied such that it was no longer confusing. So, it might be upheld that a Michelin man appearing in a play might indicate sponsorship, unless through context or explanation this was clearly not the case.
However, characters originating in cultural works do not represent traders/publishers (much as they'd like it otherwise), so Mickey Mouse may well be part of Disney's iconography, but it does not represent Disney. It could be used to mislead an audience into believing a work was authored by Disney, but this is misattribution, not misrepresentation aka trademark infringement. And simply creating a shell company called Mickey Mouse Productions in order to claim the character as a trademark is putting the cart (cultural icon) before the horse (trader in need of trademark). In this case, no-one who sees Mickey Mouse (apart from Disney branding executives) will ever recognise the character as the trademark of the shell company.
A trademark or brand is accepted as a means of identifying the manufacturer of a vase or the owner of cattle. It is not a right to exclude others from using the registered symbol or name. This means that it can't already be in similar use, such as Budweiser, if it is to be acceptable as a name. Only after one has registered a unique association of identifier with identity can one have cause to exclude others from a subsequent confusing use.
Again, there is no right to a trademark registry, but it is a viable means of arbitrating over identifiers as means to avoid misrepresentation. I would agree that it is in need of reform, and could be persuaded that it is too prone to monopolistic abuse to be legislated.
[Comment at 07/23/2008 01:36 PM by Crosbie Fitch]
In a free market, a trademark wouldn't give anyone a monopoly over the thing (name, mark, etc.) trademarked. Anyone could use it as long as such use didn't violate anyone else's natural rights. An example of an invasive use of a thing trademarked would be Smith picking up a Coca-Cola sign and bashing Jones over the head with it. However, Smith would have the right to use a Coca-Cola sign in any way that didn't violate anyone else's property rights, such as in an advertisment or other commercial or noncommercial use. The Coca-Cola company owns its own copies of Coca-Cola signs, but doesn't own anyone else's copies. You can see the parellels with copyright. An author owns copies of his book, but doesn't own either the expression of the book, which is the thing copyrighted and allegedly "propertized" (ugh), or anyone else's copies.
Following Rothbard (and Walter Block, among others), I disagree with Crosbie that anyone has a natural right against misrepresentation and misattribution. No one owns anyone else's opinion of himself. Jones can't have a property right in Smith's opinion of anyone, including himself. That's why in a libertarian world, there would be no laws against libel, slander, and defamation. If Smith spreads falsehoods about Jones, the latter has a right to defend himself by countering the former's calumnies. What he would not have a right to is a legal claim aginst Smith.
If a costumed character confused onlookers into thinking that they were representing a trader, then the trader has a right to set the record straight.
Murray Rothbard has a good discussion of knowledge issues in his book The Ethics of Liberty. See chap. 16 for "Knowledge, True and False." Ironically, Rothbard defended copyright, but opposed patent. His discussion of patent was good as far as it went, but didn't go all that far. He is good on libel and slander, and shows why libertarians oppose laws against these actions.
[Comment at 07/23/2008 06:18 PM by Bill Stepp]
If you excuse me...Where does natural rights come from?
I am more of a consequentist..myself..I like to justify things based on outcome of act X, in this case economics. Though it seem inadequate for moral reasoning. Natural right may be problematic in that it may lead to absorb situation.
What if I have steal a nuke to save the world from aliens or something?
So I tend to relies on weighing on what make most sense to me in a situation. Taking values into consideration, as well as the possible consequences, and real world experience/knowledge are what I would use to judge the moral situation at hand.
Thinking about moral is a rather difficult exercise because our theory of morality is too nontrival and complex to not have holes.
Now if you excuse me....I am going to read his work, because I am interested in anarcho-capitalism.
[Comment at 07/23/2008 08:36 PM by kiba]
I agree with you Bill that "No one owns anyone else's opinion of himself. Jones can't have a property right in Smith's opinion of anyone, including himself."
However, when there is the intention to mislead, deceive, defraud, or otherwise impair the truth, then I believe this should be legally remedied.
Of course, the truth is unknowable, but falsehood is knowable, and we may obtain evidence that falsehood is intentional.
It's very sensible to allow those who cause and suffer from confusion to remedy the situation, but legal arbitration should be available, with penalty in the case of malice.
[Comment at 07/24/2008 02:09 AM by Crosbie Fitch]
Kiba, you can read a fair bit on natural law and natural rights via Wikipedia and Google, but here's something I knocked up when William Patry asked me a similar question: Natural Law Protects Natural Rights.
As to 'steal' and 'save the world', I think it is self-evident that the right to life (its protection when in jeopardy) supersedes the right to privacy (and property).
[Comment at 07/24/2008 02:47 AM by Crosbie Fitch]
Crosbie, when you write that, "... when there is the intention to mislead, deceive, defraud, or otherwise impair the truth, then I believe this should be legally remedied," you are painting with too broad a brush. Libertarians distinguish between speech and commercial activities, such as buying a box of cereal. Speech can be deceptive, but cannot be fraudulent. In order for fraud to occur, there has to be some kind of conveyance (I think). For example, if Smith buys what he thinks is a box of oatmeal from Jones, but it turns out to be Cheerios, he has been defrauded by Jones and has a right to a legal remedy. He has exchanged money for a specific type of cereal, but didn't get what he thought he paid for.
You can't defraud someone by uttering words. There has to be an economic exchange for fraud to occur, and the defrauded party must get something other than what it bargained for. Merely uttering words, even intentionally false and defamatory ones, is not a crime. Sleazy and unethical yes, but criminal and legally actionable no. Otherwise every politician would be in the hoosegaw for something other than theft. Hey, maybe it's time for a radical rethink....
[Comment at 07/24/2008 04:44 AM by Bill Stepp]
Well, principle precedes legislation. However, given self-interest is prone to end up being put before principle you also have to be careful not to create legislation than can be easily abused. So, I'm not really intending to pronounce upon what precise form it should take.
Exchanges are just one of those things that may result from false information. Non-exchanges may also result. One can avoid partaking in an exchange because of malicious falsehood, e.g. "Don't buy from him, he sells stolen goods".
People can also engage in violence upon each other based upon false information, e.g. someone convincing the police that a neighbour is a terrorist (or other shoot-first pariah of your choice).
Lesser than violence is a deleterious effect upon someone's livelihood. Stigma may attach to someone due to malicious falsehood, and this may not be in the affected individual's power to remedy alone (even if they figure out who's culpable).
People have no need in their liberty to impair the truth. The truth is vital for justice, and the public have a natural power and right to protect it against attack or damage. I am not implying that truth is absolute here, just that deliberate attempts to attack and damage it are not in an individual's liberty. In the pursuit of truth an individual may well radically change an existing consensus of it, but that is fine if in the pursuit of truth, but not if in the pursuit of falsehood.
I would have a legal remedy against intentional plagiarism, the deliberate attempt to claim authorship of another's work. Copying and building upon another's work is fine, so there's no need to falsely claim something is entirely original if it has actually involved copying from another. Naturally, the default expectation is that no work is entirely original.
[Comment at 07/24/2008 06:53 AM by Crosbie Fitch]
"No one owns anyone else's opinion of himself. Jones can't have a property right in Smith's opinion of anyone, including himself. That's why in a libertarian world, there would be no laws against libel, slander, and defamation."
Like many libertarian ideals, this runs aground on the shoals of reality, and as usual particularly that of economic inequity.
Public figures like presidents and CEOs and famous actors and so forth have the means to fund their own PR operation to put a positive spin on events concerning them and to reply to any attacks with counterclaims and rebuttals.
Joe Random does not.
In your world, Joe Random essentially has no recourse if, say, several people decide (for whatever reason) they don't like him and maliciously gang up to spread lies about him.
Formerly, his attackers would probably have had to go through a publisher of some sort to get a large enough audience to include almost everyone important to Joe -- family, friends, potential future lovers or employers, present boss and coworkers, and so forth.
That publisher then makes a single, high-profile target whose own reputation may be diminished. It could also be bought off, though probably not by Joe, or in the real world be sued for libel. You'd remove that last remedy.
On the other hand, it's looking increasingly moot because of a new publishing engine. Joe's attackers can defame him on the Internet, and Google and other search engines will index their vicious lies and direct anyone searching on Joe's name directly to their crap. It may not reach a particularly large number of people, but it is likely to reach everyone important to Joe, to the extent that everyone who wants to check up on Joe does a Google search on his name.
Ultimately, Joe is in for a world of hurt if he cannot also go after his attackers themselves for libel, say because you got your wish and that law was struck down. For they can just keep repeating their nasty claims, and we all know (from the example set by the advertising industry) that repetition makes a message stick in peoples' minds, and that when a message sticks in someone's mind they tend to default to behaving as if it were true. If that message is "Joe is a nasty person", then people who have seen it repeated often enough will start to be wary around or not want to associate with Joe, without even thinking about it. The subconscious mind just forms associations, and in this case, a negative one; it doesn't really think and it can't generally reject anything it keeps seeing repeated.
Repetition will also pump up the Google rankings of the attack-o-grams.
There are only four ways that Joe can deal with this situation. 1. He can take legal action, but not in your world. 2. He can simply ignore the attackers, but before long those present for the repeated accusations and those Googling him as part of things like background checks will want nothing more to do with him. Even those who would claim to be open-minded or not prone to believe just anything they hear will, in the presence of an oft-repeated claim and in the absence of any counterclaim, tend to drift toward having a negative opinion of Joe. Eventually Joe becomes unemployed and largely ostracized from society. In some countries, this may mean he starves. The more likely eventual outcome is suicide. But really, his attackers have murdered him. 3. He can convince the attackers to stop somehow. If the attackers are cold-blooded malefactors, that will mean paying them off or submitting to some demand or other. Joe becomes the victim of blackmail and extortion. 4. He can put out a countermessage, equal and opposite to his attackers' message, but that may well turn into a full-time job. For his countermessage to be effective, it will have to exploit the same repetition effects that his attackers' message exploits. In particular, to rank up there with the attack message on Google it will have to be repeated at least as often, and to make the people reading the attack messages maximally likely to see the countermessage whenever they do so, every occurrence of an attack will need a separate reply. Joe's attackers, given they outnumber him, will be able to generate as a part-time hobby more attack messages than Joe can generate countermessages working 24/7 at doing so, unless Joe resorts to automation, whereupon Joe has been forced to become a spammer in self-defense! Joe's attackers will simply respond by automating their attacks, and/or complaining to Joe's Internet provider. Eventually everyone is forced onto abuse-friendly providers and then the attackers force Joe to spend as much on bandwidth as the attackers' combined budgets for same, in order to equal or exceed their output.
Things look pretty dismal for Joe, unless he has recourse to legal action in response to false and damaging claims published about him, or he is fortunate enough never to get this kind of negative attention from even a handful of people. (All it takes to outgun Joe is *two* people that hate his guts and decide to gang up on him. Even Gandhi probably had at least that many people hate his guts. Most of us probably have more.)
Barring an alteration to human nature that renders this kind of repetition-based "advertising effect" to influence people moot, it is clear that a world without enforced anti-defamation laws is not a world anyone but the deep-pocketed will find livable for very long. (The deep-pocketed can have their own PR agency representing them and defending them in public, and often have public visibility that, if they behave themselves, can be used to maintain a solid reputation despite any mudslinging and rumormongering.)
Indeed, enforcement seems to need to become stronger, so that it's easy for someone without a lot of money to get damages and injunctions from defamers (perhaps by allowing people to sue defamers in small claims court and get injunctions), and so that they can go after overseas defamers. A "notice and takedown" system to get service providers to pull down defamatory material would also come in handy. If Joe's attackers start a blog called "Why Joe Sucks", for example, and then delete any comments by Joe trying to defend himself, Joe's current only recourse if he can't afford lawyers or the blog's hosted overseas is to start his own blog about what a great guy he is and try to get it to rank higher in Google than the enemy blog, which may cost Joe quite a lot in hosting fees and fees for SEO and other services. A "notice and takedown" system with international scope would let Joe pull the plug on the "Why Joe Sucks" blog if it was caught saying anything untrue and nasty about Joe. (Allowing "sucks" sites targeting corporations, and perhaps also certain categories of public figures, seems necessary in the interests of consumer protection and freedom of political speech, but there is no public interest in allowing any random private individual to be publicly vilified in front of a worldwide audience of billions!)
On the other hand, your libertarian ideals will, as usual, leave the less well-off stuck between a rock and a hard place. Currently they lack economic power, but don't lack political power; indeed, the majority are non-rich more or less by definition of "rich", so the strata of society tend to gain in political power as they lose in economic power (or would, with the right campaign finance reforms, in the case of the US). They also don't have individually strong voices, while the rich do, but what the rich can say is constrained by libel law and the rich make a high-visibility target, which helps prevent this disproportionate speech power from too disadvantaging the poor (and even the middle classes).
The rise of the Internet has been a mixed blessing here; everyone may potentially reach a large audience now, but this doesn't stop ordinary Joes being outgunned; all that has to happen is for Joe to be outnumbered now. And his opponents may not be especially high-profile targets, nor easily located to serve legal documents to. Indeed, his opponents may be essentially anonymous and of unknown precise number, or be a single malefactor with a bot masquerading as a lynch mob of thousands of screaming enemies.
What recourse would you suggest for Joe against this kind of crap, if not legal remedies? In your society market power is everything and Joe has next to none; Joe's political power is useless and, in fact, diminishes as the attacks wear on. Joe hasn't the means or expertise to fight fire with fire (attack his attacker) and may not even know the attacker's identity, and hasn't the means or expertise to fight it with water either (rebut every nasty claim made, and outshout his opponent(s) or out-SEO them).
As near as I can tell, the only think going for Joe is your wishful thinking that people will actually be the rational actors in ideal market theory, and will completely discount the nonsense being said about Joe by his detractor(s).
With that and a dollar, Joe can buy a cuppa.
"Merely uttering words, even intentionally false and defamatory ones, is not a crime. Sleazy and unethical yes, but criminal and legally actionable no. Otherwise every politician would be in the hoosegaw for something other than theft."
And this would be a BAD thing? :P
"People have no need in their liberty to impair the truth."
Right on -- at least in principle. In practise, the option should remain to conceal elements of one's lifestyle or similarly, and even to lie to do so, and this should remain so for as long as the majority is prone to tyrannize some minority or another.
Right now, for example, all hell would break loose if all gays currently in the closet were outed, perhaps because they were suddenly prevented legally from alibiing themselves for time spent on gay activities, or similarly. A fair number of them would be exposed to violence, and a larger number to job loss or other economic or social hardships, in various backwards places.
Ideally, mistreatment of minorities defined by some non-harmful common factor in their appearance, nature, or behavior should not occur. In the real world, some kind of counterweight has to exist, and that counterweight is called "privacy" and it sometimes must be defended with white lies.
"What if I have steal a nuke to save the world from aliens or something?"
What happens if any nut who *believes* he has to steal a nuke to save the world from aliens is given access to nukes? :P
[Comment at 07/25/2008 06:58 AM by None of your business]
@None of your business
Changing times means changing people. Of course, the internet makes it easier for people to anonymously spread lies about someone. Sensible people, therefore, do not put much faith into such anonymous messages of hate. Sensible people base their opinions on the evidence, wherever available. Using the internet, one might solicit Joe Random's website or Joe Random himself for evidence if it is deemed necessary. I think you are grossly overestimating the power of defamation. Even if you're right, people will adapt their behavior (put less faith into people claiming bad things about other people without providing evidence) to remedy the situation.
You say "Barring an alteration to human nature that renders this kind of repetition-based 'advertising effect' to influence people moot, it is clear that a world without enforced anti-defamation laws is not a world anyone but the deep-pocketed will find livable for very long."
You make this type of argument very often, each time asserting that government intervention in some particular case is absolutely necessary because poor people otherwise will suffer terribly. Forgive me for not giving you much credit for it, especially since it is again provided without any evidence at all.
You say "Right on -- at least in principle [people have no need in their liberty to impair the truth]. In practise, the option should remain to conceal elements of one's lifestyle or similarly, and even to lie to do so, and this should remain so for as long as the majority is prone to tyrannize some minority or another."
In practice, I have never found it necessary to lie and I'm very fond of privacy. One could also say, instead of lying, "none of your business" - an approach of which I'm sure you are aware. People who value privacy might make it a habit of saying "none of your business" when they cannot verify a need to know in the inquirer, to camouflage the times when they have something to hide with the times that they don't.
However, I agree that lies are not necessarily fraud, and fraud is what we should be most angry about. I don't think I would want to live in a society where lying is a crime, even if I think lying is hardly ever necessary.
[Comment at 07/26/2008 12:53 AM by Kid]
'The Truth' in a natural rights sense is not 'truth' in the boolean sense, nor truth in the absolute (unknowable, all seeing god) sense, but an inference of the truth as we, the public, should know it. It is truth as consensus, a socially apprehensible construct of knowledge of the facts. It is society's grasp of what the truth is as far as it can and should be aware. Such a 'public' truth, far from exhaustive, is vital to a society in order that its citizens' rights can be protected.
So, whilst people have no need in their liberty to impair the truth, this does not preclude the use of falsehood to avoid compromising one's privacy (if that is all the falsehood does). This is because one's private domain, one's repository of secrets, is not part of the truth.
However, an invasion of privacy in pursuit of truth may be warranted in the protection of life or arbitration of privacy (note the use of 'warranted' rather than 'worth a try on the off-chance the astrologist was right'). In this case those critical facts that may be found within someone's private domain rightfully become part of the public truth and the private citizen then has no right to impairment through falsehood.
So, Bill Clinton should not have been questioned about Lewinsky and had a right to protect his privacy through falsehood ("I did not have sex with that woman"), given the details of his private affairs were unnecessary to the protection of anyone else's right to life or privacy. His falsehood did not therefore impair the truth.
[Comment at 07/28/2008 02:52 AM by Crosbie Fitch]
"Of course, the internet makes it easier for people to anonymously spread lies about someone. Sensible people, therefore, do not put much faith into such anonymous messages of hate."
Conscious decisions of what to believe are not at issue.
"Sensible people base their opinions on the evidence, wherever available."
Malefactors can often fake "evidence" that's convincing enough to the general populace. Ever heard of Piltdown Man?
Furthermore, conscious decisions of what to believe are not at issue.
People can be persuaded, UNconsciously, by sheer repetition. The entire advertising industry's business model is predicated on this, and it seems to be successful enough. (It's actually doomed, but for unrelated reasons, to wit the loss of a captive audience and the rise of video-on-demand and similar technologies. All future media are increasingly user-controllable, and there will always be things like AdBlock Plus.)
Repeating something often enough makes it stick in someone's memory. Whether it's true or false, and even if they KNOW it's false, once this has occurred it will tend to influence them whenever they are not consciously making an effort to discount it.
For your world to work, people must become much less susceptible to indoctrination and subconscious manipulation. I don't foresee that happening until there's advanced genetic engineering or nanotechnology, and it's unlikely that the first to obtain such methods will use it for anything like so desirable a purpose. They may, on the other hand, use their new capabilities to establish a permanent monopoly, so that there will be no SECOND to obtain such methods...
"You make this type of argument very often, each time asserting that government intervention in some particular case is absolutely necessary because poor people otherwise will suffer terribly. Forgive me for not giving you much credit for it, especially since it is again provided without any evidence at all."
That's a vicious lie -- I have provided plenty of evidence and reasoning to support my arguments.
The basic reasoning is that your ideal world seems to have only two types of power -- economic, or market power, and physical force. The poor have, BY DEFINITION, little market power; there are no market incentives to provide for them, because they can't afford to pay the going rate. POSSIBLY if the marginal cost of all basic necessities went to zero (nanotechnology?) the poor could get by in a capitalist anarchy. Otherwise, they just starve, or else they try to violently overthrow things.
The desperate poor of your world will be the source of quite a high crime rate. Lots of robberies and muggings will occur, and of course with only private security and no real police, your world breaks down into streets full of poor people fighting over scraps, plus a few heavily guarded gated communities of the well-off, along with their tank-like armored limos to convey them around.
We already have places sort of like that. They're the Third World countries that lack rule of law and have some strong business interests located in them. Mexico resembles the projected structure of your "ideal" world; though it legally has a normal government, that government is even more bought and paid for than the US government, and is effectively the private security firm of the rich (while also guarding tourists, a significant source of income).
Your "ideal" world ends up looking very similar, save that the legal fiction of a legitimate government is avoided and the defacto private security firm for the rich is also legally and politically up front about being so.
And there is the empirical evidence for the things I say. Countries with no functioning government, or where the government is bought and might as well therefore be a private corporation, exhibit a whole lot of negative traits and tend to be a) tax shelters for the rich and b) places where lots of poor people are dying, frequently violently, and lots more keep fleeing as refugees. Only if you had your way there'd be noplace different for the refugees to go.
"In practice, I have never found it necessary to lie and I'm very fond of privacy. One could also say, instead of lying, "none of your business""
Unfortunately, there have been many places and times where "none of your business" is regarded as incriminating. When someone pleads the Fifth, you generally suspect that they're guilty of something, right? And isn't the credo of at least one world leader "if you aren't with us you're against us"? In lots of places, there is no "right to remain silent" or there is a "presumed guilty until proven innocent" attitude, even in legal situations, and in those cases remaining silent may not suffice; no, you'll have to vehemently deny any truth in the accusations.
Even in countries where the legal rule is "innocent until proven guilty", that only affects criminal prosecution by the government. When people privately decide who to dislike and who to avoid doing business with, their attitude is, quite usually, "guilty until proven innocent". After all, it's a business risk that's avoidable -- you can generally always find someone to do business with that DOESN'T have whatever nasty rumor circulating about them.
When it comes to issues where some people have strong negative feelings, it gets even worse. A *suspicion* that someone is, say, homosexual can result in viciousness. If they don't engage in deception and manufacture the appearance of being hetero, they will generally continue to be mistreated. In some places, staying in the closet is both essential and impossible without deliberate disguise, because to the hate-mongers someone is presumed gay until proven straight!
The same applies to other areas of, generally, religious repression. During the Spanish Inquisition, it wasn't enough not to be openly Muslim or pagan; one had to be seen to be practising Christianity, or one would be tortured and killed. If one was not a genuine believer, one was either lying or a dead man walking.
Of course, you might argue that inquisitions like that require the kinds of government you'd abolish, but that simply isn't true. Any bunch of rabble can form into a lynch mob. And in your world, no police would restrain them from acting against members of the lower socio-economic classes.
There are places in the Deep South where they'd still lynch blacks more or less at random if they could get away with it. There are places all over the country where they'll lynch gays. There are pockets of antisemitism and other forms of hate here and there, too. In your world, it might be very bad to be one of whatever the target-of-hate-du-jour might be unless you were also fairly wealthy, wealthy enough to pay for private security and to have enough freedom of movement and transaction to be able to avoid the haters. The poor will be stuck dealing with whoever can supply basic necessities within a walking distance of their hovel, and if none of them will serve a black man, or a gay one, or whatever, then they starve. That's assuming they don't starve anyway for lack of money.
Ultimately, government is needed to do two things. One is to provide something of a level playing field for the economic activities, and to referee these; in the absence of such, the wealthy have an advantage in every transaction and will maintain their position at everyone else's expense, i.e. you'll have an aristocracy.
Another is to provide a safety net for those who fall off the playing field. Poor that at least are guaranteed a roof over their heads, three square meals a day, and some amount of freedom so long as they behave are poor that will not rise up in arms, or go out mugging and burglarizing, as a general rule. Poor that can look forward only to slow starvation quite literally have nothing to lose by trying to obtain basic necessities through violence. And without government, who will charitably give food to these poor? Certainly not private business, except maybe as part of the occasional PR stunt. Charities of some sort? Chronically underfunded in the real world. Probably even more so in a world run by ruthless corporations where anyone but the rich needs to be a penny-pincher or risk joining those masses of poor.
I suppose you'd suggest that they all just get jobs, but as a rule there won't be enough jobs to go around, and there's the whole defamation thing, too -- who will employ someone that's a minority they don't like, or who has rumors swirling about them, when there are plenty of qualified applicants that don't have these traits? Remember, with no strong government there's no affirmative action, no legal restrictions against hiring discrimination, none of that; and for most jobs there will be plenty of qualified applicants. The rest are top-skilled professions, where one can generally write one's own ticket, and won't be available to the poor, since they won't be able to pay for an education and your government (if there even is one) sure as hell won't provide them one for free!
That's ignoring the plight of those unable to work anyway. In your world, if you have a career-ending injury, it's a life-ending injury, because no job = no money, no money = no medical care, and no medical care = you can't get it fixed and go back to work, and maybe the injury kills you outright where it might not have done with proper treatment. Regardless, being permanently benched in your world means you starve, unless you resort to robbing grocery stores or something to keep fed.
Moreover, robots will replace more and more unskilled work soon. In doing so, they may lower the prices of basic goods, including food, but they won't lower it to zero straight away, and meanwhile there will be no work available for those without a university degree level education or above. And in your world, no university degrees available for those who don't have a few tens of thousands of dollars lying around someplace or else a job. Catch-22. How many would starve between then and the marginal cost of food bottoming out near zero?
I don't expect the poor would be able to get by hunting and gathering, either. Those methods cannot sustain large or dense populations, and there will be six billion people below the poverty line by that point. There are five NOW.
[Comment at 07/28/2008 05:46 AM by None of your business]
Special Needs Company Super Duper Fights Mattel to Use Trademark SAY in Product Titles
Fourth Circuit Judges Let Mattel Take ''SAY'' Away from Special Needs Company Super Duper Publications and Give Mattel $3.6 Million Greenville, South Carolina (MMD Newswire) July 5, 2010 -- In a decision that turns trademark law on its head, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Dennis Shedd, G. Stephen Agee, and Clyde Hamilton, have upheld a trial court verdict ordering special needs educational company Super Duper Publications www.superduperinc.com to pay $3.6 million to Mattel Toy Company (of which $2.6 million is attorney's fees) and to stop using the word SAY in seven of its product titles. According to these judges (and trial court Judge Henry Floyd), the use of the word SAY by Super Duper in titles of speech and language therapy materials it makes for children with autism and other communication disorders, infringes on the trademark of a Mattel toy called SEE 'N SAY and dilutes this Mattel trademark. http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/091397.U.pdf The court reached this conclusion even though there was no evidence at trial that for more than 17 years of Super Duper's existence anyone had ever been confused between a Super Duper SAY educational product and the Mattel toy. The court reached this conclusion even though there was no evidence that people think that the Mattel toy named SEE 'N SAY is "famous" similar to the names BARBIE or KODAK. The court reached this conclusion even though there was no evidence that anyone ever thought of the Mattel toy when they heard the names of Super Duper's SAY educational materials like FISH AND SAY, SORT AND SAY, or SEE IT SAY IT. Significantly, instead of issuing a published opinion in which they would have had to analyze the evidence according to established trademark law, the three judges chose to issue an "unpublished" opinion, which the court emphasized is "not binding precedent in this circuit." The result was Judges Shedd, Agee, and Hamilton rubber stamped Judge Floyd's trail court decision even though the evidence did not support this incredibly unfair result. The trial record indicates in 1987 Super Duper began using the word SAY in titles of books, games, card decks, and other materials it created for special needs children. www.superduperinc.com For 17 years Super Duper produced SAY materials and obtained registered trademarks on its SAY products without objection from Mattel or any person and with the approval of the US Patent and Trademark Office. In 2004, Mattel opposed Super Duper's application to register the name SORT AND SAY on a series of educational magnetic games, claiming consumers were likely to confuse these educational products with Mattel's SEE 'N SAY electronic toy. Mattel later sought to cancel three other registered SAY trademarks owned by Super Duper. The dispute ended up in federal court, where Super Duper sought protection of the court, Mattel sued Super Duper for $10 million of Super Duper's profits, claiming Super Duper had engaged in trademark infringement and trademark dilution. For those of you who are not familiar with this toy by its name, SEE 'N SAY is an electronic toy that plays a sound when you pull a lever. ("The cow says...moooo.") Super Duper's highly specialized materials are used by professionals in therapy to help children with autism and other communication disorders improve their speech and language skills. Mattel's toy is used as a plaything by children. The only professionals to testify at trial, two speech pathologists, stated they had used many Super Duper SAY products in therapy and had never confused them with the Mattel toy. According to the trial testimony of Super Duper owners Thomas and Sharon Webber, "these products completely different, and the chances of anyone ever confusing them are nearly impossible". Mattel sells its toys to the general consumer market through large retail outlets like Wal-Mart and Target, while Super Duper sells its educational materials primarily to speech pathologists and special educators only through its own mail order catalog and website. The two companies never attend the same trade shows, have completely different packaging designs and logos, advertise in entirely different media outlets, and have no overlap in distributing their products. In its appeal before Judges Shedd, Agee, and Hamilton, Super Duper argued that a proper application of the Fourth Circuit's seven-step trademark infringement analysis would lead the court to conclude that there was no likelihood of confusion between the Super Duper SAY products and the Mattel toy. In their opinion, the judges chose not to apply this seven step analysis, and instead summarily ruled that the "likelihood of confusion" issue was a matter for the jury to decide. And that is not all. The court went even further by upholding the jury's finding that Super Duper's use of SAY diluted the Mattel SEE 'N SAY mark. In order to reach this conclusion, the jury had to find that: (1) the term SEE N' SAY was a "famous" mark on a level similar with marks such as BARBIE and KODAK; (2) consumers "associate" the Super Duper SAY names with the name of the Mattel toy (even though Mattel did not present ANY evidence of this association at trial.) In other words, the judges upheld the jury finding that when average people hear the name of these seven Super Duper SAY therapy products, like its "FISH AND SAY" game or SEE IT SAY IT flip book, they immediately think of the SEE 'N SAY Mattel toy and believe that Mattel has made FISH AND SAY or SEE IT SAY IT educational materials; and (3) Mattel was entitled to $1 million in profits that Super Duper had made on these SAY products since 1987, even though Mattel admitted the sale of Super Duper's items did not impact Mattel's sales at all.
Super Duper is appealing this decision. Media Contact: Name Nancy Wolfe Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 864-243-9000
[Comment at 07/06/2010 04:17 AM by Nancy Wolfe]
Interesting, and clearly an outrageous decision by that appellate court.
But next time, please use these nifty things called "paragraphs" to organize your text. It would make it much easier to read.
[Comment at 07/07/2010 02:29 AM by Nobody Nowhere]
Super Duper is finally getting what it deserves. There are so many people out there that they have screwed (ex-employees) that are provding Mattel with the REAL story about Super Duper. It is not just about "SAY", it is about a company that takes advantage of everyone they meet to market their cheap chinese junk and all the little people they have stolen ideas from!
[Comment at 07/22/2010 09:50 AM by ByteMe]
Most Recent Comments
at 04/19/2017 08:09 AM by Anonymous
Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime Subject Very controversial Gráfica em
at 01/30/2017 05:03 AM by fernando
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry
at 05/08/2015 08:35 AM by Dan Dobkin
Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace
at 04/10/2015 10:44 AM by Stephan Kinsella
The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default
at 04/10/2015 10:34 AM by Stephan Kinsella
Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without
at 01/08/2015 08:58 PM by Sheogorath
Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do
at 11/17/2014 04:48 AM by David K. Levine
Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous
at 10/29/2014 10:49 AM by Alexander Baker
Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.
at 09/20/2014 03:19 PM by Alexander Baker
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:
at 06/28/2014 10:03 AM by Doris
WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,
at 06/28/2014 10:00 AM by Doris
What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic
at 05/05/2014 01:03 PM by Sheogorath
Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the
at 04/07/2014 04:47 AM by Dan McCracken
Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples
at 01/13/2014 06:13 AM by Anonymous
Music without copyright Hundreds of businessmen are looking for premium quality article distribution services that can be
at 11/28/2013 05:03 PM by Stephanie Smith
at 11/28/2013 09:23 AM by Anonymous
at 11/28/2013 09:22 AM by Anonymous
Patent Lawyers Who Don't Toe the Line Should Be Punished! Moreover "the single most destructive force to innovation is patents". We'd like to unite with you
at 11/24/2013 10:48 AM by SpaceCorp Technologies
at 11/20/2013 03:18 PM by Anonymous
Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? So, if our patent system was "broken," TFP of durable goods should have dropped. Conversely, since
at 11/02/2013 08:09 PM by Anonymous