The tech world has become a patent war with innovation taking a back seat. Eduardo Porter writes in today’s New York Times business section,
High-tech behemoths in a range of businesses like mobile computing and search and social networking have been suing one another to protect their intellectual property from what they see as the blatant copying and cloning by their rivals. Regardless of the legitimacy of their claims, the aggressive litigation could have a devastating effect on society as a whole, short-circuiting innovation.
Patents are supposed to encourage innovation, writes Porter, but, “The belief that stronger intellectual property protection inevitably leads to more innovation appears to be broadly wrong.”
Porter goes on to write that IP hinders innovation.
One study found that the number of new rose varieties registered by American nurseries fell after the passage of the Plant Patent Act of 1930, which allowed for the patenting of new rose hybrids. Another study concluded that copyrighting new gene sequences sharply reduced scientists’ subsequent experimentation with the decoded genes, even if they were later placed in the public domain. Surveys have found that the risk of patent litigation deters firms from pursuing innovations.
Porter stops way short of calling for an end to Intellectual Property laws. But he does seem at least a bit skeptical of the purported benefits of IP laws, concluding,
Intellectual property, meanwhile, keeps growing. The United States patent office awarded 248,000 patents last year, 35 percent more than a decade ago. Some will spur innovation. But others are more likely to stop it in its tracks.
Hume recognized that Locke’s use of “labor” in his homesteading argument was really just figurative and that no assumption of labor-ownership is needed for Locke’s homesteading argument to work. Without the Lockean labor confusion, much of the intellectual case for IP evaporates (and we might have avoided the spread of the labor theory of value that infects Smithian economics and Marxism). (See my post Hume on Intellectual Property and the Problematic “Labor” Metaphor.)
His recognition of the is-ought gap. Writes Hans-Hermann Hoppe: “one can readily subscribe to the almost generally accepted view that the gulf between ‘ought’ and ‘is’ is logically unbridgeable.” (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, p. 163.)
This book contains a very useful, well-organized, and carefully selected set of essays centered around the idea of human liberty, what Hazlitt called “cooperatism” [Foundations of Morality, p. xii] and what the editor calls “voluntaryism.” In addition to covering the basics of politics and economics, the book contains a large number of essays devoted to education and parenting. This decision makes pertect sense, when we realize that our children and the ideas they are exposed to are the greatest hope for liberty in generations to come. I highly recommend this excellent volume, for beginners, activists, and seasoned libertarians.
I was interviewed yesterday by Redmond Weissenberger, Director of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada. We had a long-ranging discussion of the issue of corporations and limited liability, and we touched on other issues as well including causation and responsibility and the praxeological structure of human action; intellectual property; gay marriage and language; human rights as property rights, and free speech; corporate size and international trade in a free society, vs. left-libertarian claims to the contrary; nuclear power, energy, and environmentalists; eminent domain and the Keystone pipeline; Peter Klein and Murray Rothbard on the calculation problem and the upper limit to the firm; state monopolies versus the market; and practical and moral aspects of tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Faculty, Students, Independent Scholars and Observers Register Here
In order to help fulfill it’s mission, the Mises Institute of Canada is launching the Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference. The conference is designed to combine the opportunities of a professional meeting, with the added attraction of hearing and presenting new and innovative research, engaging in vigorous debate, and interacting with likeminded scholars who share research interests.
Papers and panels cover a wide range of fields that impact on the Austrian paradigm, including: monetary theory; international trade; money and banking; methodology; history of thought; economic history; business cycles; geography; interventionism; literature; political philosophy; philosophy of science; society, culture, and religion; business regulation; environmental political economy; and history and theory of war.
Participants who wish to present their papers must send an abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 24th, 2012. Submissions will be accepted until all the time slots are taken. Abstracts should be two pages or less with double spacing, one-inch margins and 12 point font. Authors should indicate in the body of the e-mail if they would be willing to volunteer as discussants and/or session moderators.