News & Analysis
Do Elites Intend to Do Away With Patents?
Yet, in view of the populist skepticism about patents which has penetrated deep in the zeitgeist, the Supreme Court sharply cut back on patenting in the emerging field of personalized medicine. The Court in its recent Mayo decision cited academics and other critics to conclude that in this area patenting will actually impede innovation. – Thomson Reuters/Westlaw
Dominant Social Theme: Patents are unnecessary, impede innovation and are costly, too. Let's get rid of them and substitute stronger copyright law.
Free-Market Analysis: Anyone following the Kim Dotcom saga must be aware that copyright has suddenly been criminalized. The US government sent a posse of FBI agents over to New Zealand to arrest Dotcom.
The charge was that Dotcom's Megaupload cloud-based Internet storage company was allowing people to evade copyright protections and thus costing producers (especially of movies and songs) hundreds of millions.
The penalty – even though Dotcom had not been convicted of any crime – was to shut down Megaupload, confiscate its servers, put Dotcom in jail and freeze his assets.
While this draconian effort did have the immediate intended effect of ending Megaupload as a going concern, Dotcom has fought back. He's been freed, some of his assets have been returned and he's even founded a new version of Megaupload with stronger encryption and various additional facilities to directly promote songs and songwriters.
Dotcom is doing his best to survive in a much changed copyright environment where suddenly certain transgressions have been criminalized.
Is it possible that those behind the Dotcom attacks have decided that the 21st century is to be one featuring this sort of nuclear-strength copyright approach?
We've pointed out many times now that after the invention of the Gutenberg press, the top elites of the day used copyright law (at the time, just invented) to slow the dispersal of knowledge that was undermining their authority.
It was no surprise to us that copyright law is again being applied aggressively and has expanded in this era of the Internet Reformation.
What did not occur to us is that the top elites who want to run the world and are actively opposing the "Internet Reformation" might simply wish to do away with patents entirely.
In the past year patents have come under attack from Supreme Court decisions in the US (see above) and also – incredibly – by various articles written and published by extremely prestigious outlets, including a branch of the US Federal Reserve.
When top elite mouthpieces begin to promote certain ideas, we try to pay attention. There is always the possibility of a new promotion – a new dominant social theme that will change governance, or economic policy or the law itself.
Such changes obviously have investment ramifications, as well.
Why would the elites be interested in jettisoning patent law?
Here is a lucid, compressed explanation of the differences that we found on Yahoo, written apparently by someone who acts in a professional capacity as a "copyright advisor."
Copyright protects original 'literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works', without need of registration, as copyright protection is automatic upon creation (although registration is recommended to prove originality to either defend against or pursue an infringement claim). Protection is for the lifetime of the author and an additional 50 or 70 years (depending on the country) after the author's death. Copyright prevents others from reproducing, adapting, distributing, publicly displaying or performing a copyrighted work without permission or license from the copyright owner. Your work can be copyrighted as long as it is original. Copyrights are protected in most countries of the world.
Patents protect inventions (methods/processes or products/composition of matter, or machines). Patents require a patent application, which goes through a costly, lengthy and laborious patent examination, during which the patent application is published. Patent duration is shorter than copyrights (around 20 years, depending on the country and other factors). Patents prevent others from using, manufacturing, selling or importing the method or product without a license from the patent owner. In order for an invention to be patented, the inventor must prove that the invention is novel, inventive and useful. Jurisprudence (i.e. previous court decisions) define these requirements. The patent office determines whether an application meets these criteria. Patents are jurisdictional; your invention is protected only in the countries where you have a patent in effect. It is costly to patent in many countries.
We can see from the above (though we will not vouch for its accuracy in every measure) that in many ways patent protection is WEAKER than emergent copyright facilities. Copyright is automatic, lengthy, quite comprehensive and recognized in many countries.
Patent law is often parochial, the duration may not be long, the standards are high and the process can be intricate.
As a way of impeding information, patent law is a good deal less effective than copyright might be – were copyright strengthened by generally criminalizing it.
We weren't aware of the gravity of the attacks on patent law until recently. But a friend of ours sent us an article published last year by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve of St. Louis entitled "The Case Against Patents."
The article states in part that "there is no empirical evidence that patents serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless you use as a metric the number of patents awarded. However, the number of patents awarded, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity."
This is an absolutely true statement, so far as we are concerned, and could be applied to almost any part of government generally, certainly the US government.
What Austrian economics shows us clearly is that human action always outpaces government force. Laws, in fact, are prices fixes, mandating certain social costs and redistributing them as well – also via force.
The US government spends well over US$3 trillion a year in aggregate in such forced redistributions. In the process, civil society has been drained, comity lost, prosperity devalued and a series of rolling recessions and depressions instigated.
The more laws you have, the less wealth people will generate and retain. Getting rid of patent law would be a good first step to reigniting people's creativity and prosperity.
It is simply a myth – a dominant social theme – that people will not invent or create unless government protects their right to a certain amount of profit.
The profit will come anyway from a good invention. And almost all small inventors are actually put at a disadvantage by the patent system.
And that goes for copyright, too. If people want to enforce copyright let them do it themselves, at their own cost. There's no reason for government to be involved.
Creativity did not spring to life in human society because of copyright. And certainly not because of patent.
We are heartened by attacks on patent law. But we are suspicious of the motives. All our observations of the elite lead us to believe that they never remove one form of social or economic control without trying to substitute another one.
Conclusion: We'll continue to observe this unfolding meme, if that is what it is. The ramifications would be significant from both a sociopolitical and economic standpoint.
Posted by taxesbyanyothername on 02/11/13 11:23 PM
Thank you Mava
Parhaps we need a new fiction classic to warn of evolving reality.
The Little New Unsisterly Worldisland of Dr. McStrange Mengele.
Posted by mava on 02/10/13 03:24 PM
good point, taxesbyanyothername!
Let me just align it, a bit.
The copyright, or the patent, whatever the system used, is supposedly there to insure that the inventors go ahead with their research. Supposedly, if not for patents and copyrights, then the research would just STOP. Right?
Any ideas, ladies and gentlemen?
If you don't want to become mutant half-humans in Monsanto lab "the world", then just get rid of the patents and copyrights! I certainly would.
One piece of bad news is, that you will never ever know how much were you lied to. Because you will never doubt anything enough to stop it to see what happens. You will never stop patents or copyright, and because you wouldn't, you will never have a chance to see the world for it really is, - the true matrix.
You will not know that the research will never stop. That you were lied to all your life. That the purpose of patents and copyrights was to enslave you, not to help the inventors. That you were enslaved because you never had guts to check your doubts. Or that you had never had brains to conceive of doubts in the first place.
I hate what these gene manipulating corporations are about to do to us all. Don't you? Have balls, let's outlaw patents and copyrights and see if these evil corporations JUST STOP THEIR world domination RESEARCH and go away. I would be so happy if I was wrong and they did go away and died in some dusty corner. But will I?
Posted by taxesbyanyothername on 02/10/13 07:30 AM
I believe TPTB do intend to do away with patents in favor of copyright. Media content may play a part in this but it seems to me that genes are a more important part. The rate at which existing genes are patented is increasing quickly. The rate at which genes are sequenced, partially understood, manipulated, changed, recombined by modern genetic techiniques is growing exponentially. An automatic copyright on what is presently millions of genes, and what may eventually be numbers we don't even have names for, would be far more convenient, far less expensive, and far easier for large corporations to basically exclude everyone else from, than individual patents for every sequence that they may want to own and use.
The use of copyright along with compliant courts and legislatures might eventualy result in the "ownership" of nearly all forms of life, including humans, by a few of the largest corporations. These would, of course, be among the most ruthless and dastardly organizations ever to exist, such as Monsanto, and Mitsubishi.
Posted by mava on 02/09/13 01:23 PM
Patent law is not only unnecessary, but it is fraudulent. Thus, it needs to be removed. This, however, does not mean that there needs to be another fraudulent law in place of the one just removed. Copyright is just as fraudulent as patents.
Posted by Glenne1949 on 02/08/13 12:59 AM
Correct the Email address on bottom of my response to "Do Elites Intend to Do Away With Patents" should be:
glenne1949@Click to view link
Posted by Glenne1949 on 02/08/13 12:48 AM
ORNL/CON-429, written 30 years ago, the final report from a small $5
million/yr nationwide program, The Eneergy Relted Inventions Program
(ERIP) mandated by Congress directing the U.S. Department of Energy ---
to provide grant support to promising energy-related inventions,
involved only private sector inventors. This report disproves the
basic assumptions in the report, "Do Elites Intend to Do Away With
1) no empirical evidence exists that patents increase innovation and
2) as you seem to imply, people will not invent or produce unless they
have exclusive rights to the invention for a certain number of years.
Quoting from ORNL/CON-429, available on the internet for downloading:
As of September 1993 a total of 609 inventions were recommended for
grant support to DOE. By the end of 1944, at least 144 ERIP inventions
had entered the market. Selected inventors from this program received
an average grant of $78,000 to build and test prototypes of their
invention. For every $1 spent in this program inventors generated $8
in sales revenue. In 1944 inventors earned royalties of $2.3 million.
Over the lifetime of the program, royalties total $28.2 million. With
$47.5 million in grants awarded awarded from, 1975 throgh 1944, and
$124 million in program appropriations over the same period, ERIP has
generated a 20;1 return in terms of sales values to grants and an 8:1
ratio of sales to program appropriations. The program's total
cumulative sales exceed $1 billion(1944--$) when the sales of ERIP's
spinofs are included. Despite its success the program was essentially
terminated in 1983.
AT LEAST 757JOB YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT were diredtly supported by ERIP in
1994 and 6,646 were directly supported over the laest 10 year period
(at the time ORNL/CON-429 -- was written.
Besides this grant support no further support was supplied, nor
supplied, since after building a prototype and demonstrating proof of
concept, the invention has value on its own. It is at the earlier
stage where the inventor has only an untested idea, though it be
patented, and no engineering prototype to demonstrate the concept with
the invention having little value where the inventor is dead in the
water. Large companies having need for a new product are rarely
interest where proof of concept has not been demonstrated (which
generally requires an engineering prototype), their interest being in
production not product development. Hence the need for programs like
ERIP, and the potential for job creation if tried in the private sector
But to provide the credibility needed to start the evaluation process
the invention first needs to be surfaced -- some prestigious party
must attest that the invention has promise, and an engineering
prototype must be built and tested. I maintain this could be done by
almost any prestigious organization in cooperation with high technology
industries in its region. And is the first step in developing a jobs
Further whoever trying to reach the market must have a proprietary
interest, which happens if the inventor has a patent. If he doesn't
own the technology he has nothing to sell. Lacking this he lacks the
ability to interest an investor. Hence a difficulty marketing Federal
technology; what belongs to everyone usually belongs to nobody. And it
generally costs tenfold more to produce the invention than to patent
it. Thus the elites, to accomplish their interests by defeating
marketing strategies might want to deny the validity for and necessity
of patents as being part of the historical process that has been
primarily responsible for bringing new technology into the
marketplace and creating the high standard of living enjoyed today.
Your elves might find it interesting to review ORNL/CON-429, written 30
years ago, from which some salient points have been included here.
Relevant questions somebody should raise.
Why the veiled language in which the report was written? As if someone
did not want to see the idea publicized. How did this come about?
Why was the program "retired" in 1983 after its notable successes?
(Google "Energy Related Inventions Program to confirm this.)
With ability of the program to be replicated in the private sector, and
the Nation's number one need increasingly being heard being to create
jobs, why has not this ERIP program been openly considered? And the
Why isn't the concept of supporting promising inventors, with patents,
at the front end instead of waiting until the invention has been
developed and failed? And, can some technologies be better surfaced
and developed in the private sector than they can under Federal
auspices? Some Agency program managers I knew preferred supporting
initiatives at the National Labs rather than in the private sector.
The undersigned was active in the ERIP program throughout its
existence, and in addition as a process development engineer at the Oak
Ridge National Laboratory.
glenne1949@Click to view link
Reply from The Daily Bell
OK, Glenne, thanks for writing. We're not big fans of patent law.
Posted by jdwheeler42 on 02/07/13 06:49 PM
Of course, patents are more powerful in that the cover everything that has the same function, whereas copyrights only cover exact duplicates.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Copyright law is already fairly broad and seems to be expanding all the time. Consider Monsanto claims ...
Posted by dkmeller1 on 02/07/13 04:18 PM
The entire realm of "intellectual property" law is obviously a colossal mess today! There are enormous problems with attempts at the homesteadingof individual "rights" to ownership of ideas, opinion,or impressions!
Firstly, the originator's use of them is in no way interfered with, still less hampered or endangered, when other people freely adopt them. Suppose I "copyright" a better calendar, how will other peoples' adoption of it interfere with MY first use?
Unlike material property, ideas can be shared and understood by countless other people without diminishing the use or the value of the ideas in the slightest. It may even be,unlike stolen material property, that so-called intellectual property INCREASES in utility and value for everyone, the more that people "steal" it for their own use.
I am NOT an expert in this area, but Professor Stephen Kinsella of the Mises Click to view link-has written many papers on this topic, from an impeccably pro-free market, pro-private property perspective, and it can only be helpful to us to understand, promote, and refine his work to the broadest possible audience.
As it stands now, Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and "intellectual property" itself, with its statist and monopolistic features, are creating a dreadful mess in the arts and sciences upon which we all depend!
Prof. Kinsella and the Mises Institute may have some good ideas on how to extricate ourselves, for the benefit of both creative discoverers and inventors, and the rest of us!
PEACE AND FREEDOM!!
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks, we've interviewed Mr. Kinsella and written a good deal about copyright and patents.
Click to view link