1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11837/apples-suit-against-htc-pits-patents-against-innovation/

Apple’s suit against HTC pits patents against innovation

March 3, 2010 by

Eric Von Hippel, professor of technological innovation at MIT comments in The New York Times on yesterday’s announcement that Apple is suing HTC and other mobile device makers for “[stealing their] patented inventions”

“It’s a bad scene right now. The social value of patents was supposed to be to encourage innovation — that’s what society gets out of it. The net effect is that they decrease innovation, and in the end, the public loses out.”

It’s interesting that the justifications of patents I’ve seen (even from Objectivists) is on utilitarian premises – a justification of the “social” benefits of the patent system. But the evidence suggests the opposite – that patents are a net cost, not a benefit to both innovators and consumers. It seems like every day we hear about patent lawsuits being used to get monopolistic privileges from the government as a substitute for innovation.

The premises the patent system is based on are utterly out of touch with the modern world. The old notion of a new invention being state of the art for a decade is an outdated (not that it was ever accurate to begin with) way of thinking about the pace of innovation. Today’s latest innovations are taken for granted in next year’s products. Steve Jobs is well aware of this.

Inventions are increasingly becoming algorithms to solve common problems and shape the next technological paradigm rather than detailed technical specifications.  Patent portfolios are becoming nuclear arsenals.  Full-out patent war against an equally matched competitor means mutually assured destruction (because it risks having one’s patents invalidated or having to pay huge damages and pull products from market), so large companies inevitably settle and use their patents to keep new innovators out.  This is why HTC is a safer target than Google, which created the software over which Apple is suing.

Update: I have been told that the Objectivist position on patents is not based on utilitarian premises. Judge for yourself.

More: 1 2 3 4 5

{ 73 comments }

Jeffrey Tucker March 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

This is so tragic. I’m completely devoted to Apple’s products, and more so every day. And yet few companies are at using government to hobble competition. Too bad Apple didn’t adopt Google’s slogan.

Vanmind March 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Indeed, and too bad as well that Google didn’t adopt Google’s slogan.

bob March 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

David, Stephan Kinsella already has a monopoly on anti-IP blog posts at Mises.org. Please respect his rights. ;-)

Mark Hubbard March 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm

It’s interesting that the justifications of patents I’ve seen (even from Objectivists) is on utilitarian premises – a justification of the “social” benefits of the patent system.

And yet this is in the context of a utilitarian argument you are using, again, as an objection to IP? That Apple is using IP to stop innovation (ergo, the majority/society is worse off). This post is a further demonstration of the contradictions within the IP’less camp.

For me, I don’t care whether IP holds up or promotes innovation: that is irrelevant. IP is simply about property rights, about private property. If IP holds back innovation, well, that’s the cost of a free society where I have the rights to profit from the products of my mind. I’m comfortable with that.

But the evidence suggests the opposite – that patents are a net cost, not a benefit to both innovators and consumers. It seems like every day we hear about patent lawsuits being used to get monopolistic privileges from the government as a substitute for innovation.

No. Extreme cases only, but I put it to you 99% of IP issues never make the media because the law operates smoothly to protect creators rights. The last time I have seen an IP issue raised in New Zealand’s business press was … never. I can’t remember the last time, yet the business press covers thousands of pages daily. There will be articles, no doubt, but they are infinitesimally small in number.

And returning to your utilitarian argument that ‘patents are a net cost, not a benefit to both innovators and consumers’, you can’t prove that for you don’t know where the state of technology would be without IP.

Look at this stunning Apple product:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdExukJVUGI&feature=player_embedded

I put it to you that wouldn’t exist if Apple could not protect their investment of money in this technology via IP. And there is no way for you to prove otherwise.

Anthony March 3, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Whether a specific product would or would not exist has no relevance to the argument, given that both sides have supposedly rejected utilitarian arguments… also, because I can’t resist, there is no way for you to prove that apple would not have made the product without IP. so there.

Scott D March 3, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Mark,

“It’s interesting that the justifications of patents I’ve seen (even from Objectivists) is on utilitarian premises – a justification of the “social” benefits of the patent system.”

And yet this is in the context of a utilitarian argument you are using, again, as an objection to IP? That Apple is using IP to stop innovation (ergo, the majority/society is worse off). This post is a further demonstration of the contradictions within the IP’less camp.

Now you’re simply putting words in David Veskler’s mouth. He said that Objectivists argue the utilitarian case, when the evidence is against them, then went on to talk about the inherent injustice of the patent system. Never once did he praise the benefits to society of increased innovation from abandoning IP outside of that passage. Instead, he talks about the absudity of the system. Very sloppy, Mark.

For me, I don’t care whether IP holds up or promotes innovation: that is irrelevant. IP is simply about property rights, about private property.

No, IP is about power. It is the power to control another’s actions purely by virtue of having influenced their thoughts, directly or indirectly, with your own thinking. In practice, it is truly an abomination. Real property protects people form harm, enables the market to function and offers solutions to conflict. IP only persecutes action, hampers the market and breeds conflict.

No. Extreme cases only, but I put it to you 99% of IP issues never make the media because the law operates smoothly to protect creators rights.

And I put it to you that the reason for the lack of problems is due to two factors:

1. Most artists feel motivated to produce at least marginally original works.
2. Most consumers feel motivated to support artists whose work they enjoy.

IP enforcement in copyright is exceedingly poor, mainly because technology is firmly against it. And yet, most people feel obligated to pay money when they buy a book or a movie. The one place with perhaps the worst impact from copyright infringement is the recording industry, and I feel that they largely did it to themselves by suing teenagers and creating phenomenally bad ad campaigns. I, for one, do not buy record-label music at all (nor do I download it illegally) because I despise how the recording industry acted and wish for them to continue failing.

Mark Hubbard March 3, 2010 at 11:44 pm

No, IP is about power.

No, IP is about property. My property. Your property. Freedom, based on private property.

And yet, most people feel obligated to pay money when they buy a book or a movie.

Yes, that’s the only way a capitalist system can work, don’t you think? There’s no free lunch in a free society.

Scott D March 4, 2010 at 12:34 am

There’s no free lunch in a free society.

I have no problem with artists or engineers seeking to profit from their work through whatever non-aggressive means is available to them. I have no problem with other people entering into voluntary contracts with them. I do have a problem with treating something that is clearly not property as property because it is convenient for the artist or engineer.

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 1:08 am

The product of my mind is my property. If I choose to put a unique product of my mind on the market, I expect payment for it. A free society cannot operate without this being so.

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 3:40 am

You have yet to explain how to differentiate between externality and IP. Other than that you are just like a broken record. A lie thousand times repeated becomes …. a religion!

Nick March 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Every you put a “unique product of your mind” on the market and sell it, you get paid for it.

My creating and attempting to sell the same product doesn’t prevent this from happening.

Vanmind March 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm

So boycott Apple already. It’s not as if you’d be losing out on much.

Stephan Kinsella March 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm

The problem is: given the system it’s hard to expect any company not to participate in this. Consider: shareholders want higher share value, which comes from revenues and profits. This means the directors have a fidicuiary obligation to the shareholders to take legal actions that do this. If they choose not to acquire or assert patents when it could make money, out of squeamishness or personal morals, they could be liable to shareholders in a derivative action, or breach of contract. So it has to happen, unless the shareholders adopt a policy that permits the directors and executives and managers to indulge their pet preferences at the expense of shareholder money. If you were a shareholder in Apple, how much of a stock hit would you take to have them act “morally” by refusing to do legal things that could make money? 30%? How well do these various ‘ideological” funds and companies do, e.g. environemtal or green companies, if they are too inefficient?

My point is that if you institutionalize IP rights, you will necessarily have entities employ these rights–if you have a welfare system, people will apply for it, too. Same thing.

The only way to stop this is to abolish IP law. The only way. Blaming Apple for playing by the rules is blaming them for existing.

Mason March 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Inthe pharmaceutical industry, the cost of developing a new drug or treatment (primarily composed of complying with a littany of FDA red tape) is extraordinarily high. This entry barrier makes it far more difficult for newer, small firms to enter the market. Without the prospect of enjoying a temporary monopoly through which one could recoup these costs and turn a profit, there is very little incentive for new, smaller companies to enter the market. I would argue that this entry barrier reduces the level of competition in the long run and that patents are a means of increasing it. The pharmaceutical industry is primarily dominated by large firms because they can absorb these startup costs. Smaller firms are not likely to have such a large amounts of capital in reserve and thus the risk of entering such a capital-intensive industry is quite high relative to one of the larger firms.

averros March 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Mark: “For me, I don’t care whether IP holds up or promotes innovation: that is irrelevant. IP is simply about property rights, about private property.”

The so-called “Intellectual Property” (which is more descriptively called “Temporary transferable government-granted monopoly privilege”) is NOT private property[*] itself, it is the grant from the government of a limited right to persecute people who dare to use _their_ physical private property in a ways resembling your’s. In the process of such persecution third parties who have nothing to do with you, your “intellectual property”, and are simply unlucky to share the same landmass with you are forced to pay for the apparatus of this persecution – courts, cops, government clerks, etc.

So, yes, “IP” is about propety rights… about grossly and unjustly violating them. Private property in physical objects is NOT logically compatible with “intellectual property”, period. No amount of wiggling and hair splitting is going to change this fundamental fact – because property rights is nothing more or less than the only known conflict-free method of allocating scarce resources. Information (as in “IP”) is not scarce since sharing it doesn’t reduce its availability to the source, thus there is no need for exclusive control of it.

The reality is, the whole moral idea behind “IP” is just a form of Marxist labor theory of value – if the inventor worked, he must be compensated. Well… it’s just a bunch of nonsense. Nobody is entitled to compensation when nothing was taken from him. The support for this nonsense is one of the reason I consider objectivists to be irrational cultists rather than genuine individualists.

[*] Private property isn’t temporary, for starters. Secondly, it does not depend on anybody’s grants of priveleges – and, specifically, does not need government (which is, by definition, is a criminal enterprise exising only to violate property rights of its citizens victims).

Gil March 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I.P. hog nothing! There are times in which emiment domain aids progress because someone’s wants to stay on land that can be used way more productively. There are probably cases in Libertopia where some people could legitimately buy up land for the sole sake of making other people trespassers (i.e. a lang hog) or screwing others over (using fertile farm land for sake of going organic or land for ethanol which makes food more expensive).

Israel Curtis March 4, 2010 at 12:05 am

“can be used way more productively”? By whom? Who decides? Oh right – the guy with the guns or the guys in bed with the guys with the guns…

You can’t make a judgment about the best use of the land unless you ask “for whom?”.

Just ask the citizens of New London how much more productive their town is lately…

Jake March 3, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Seems it needs to be pointed out “again” that NOBODY has a “right to profit”, any more than they have a “right to healthcare”, “right to a living wage”, “right to work” or any of the many other psuedo-rights that so undermind REAL rights. What we have the right to is the liberty to profit, seek medical treatment, work, and earn a wage on any voluntary basis free from coercive interference.

When Mark says he has the “right to profit from the product of his mind” he’s on no better ground than the tariff seeker who claims a “right to profit from the product of his factory”. In both cases what’s really sought after is not a right to interact freely on a voluntary basis, but the POWER to force others NOT to engage in the same interactions themselves. It is fitting that we call “intellectual property” a state-granted monopoly privilege. It really is no different at all than the many other forms of monopoly privilege, be they tariffs, licensing, quotas, regulations, etc…

Mark Hubbard March 3, 2010 at 11:36 pm

When Mark says he has the “right to profit from the product of his mind” he’s on no better ground than the tariff seeker who claims a “right to profit from the product of his factory”

No, I mean I have right to the ‘products of my mind’, as I have a right to have a monopoly use of my car, my house, my boat, my IP.

Austin March 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

But what if you show me an idea? Then it is in my head. Do I now have monopoly use over the idea in my head too? If not, why not?

I am assuming that if I agreed to some sort of contract that would be one thing, but if you just show me something without a contract or I observe you doing something what then?

Scott D March 4, 2010 at 1:43 am

Here’s a little (fictional) story for you to demonstrate the difference between stealing and copying:

Back when we were kids, Mark and I would mow people’s lawns during the summer for extra money. Mark and I lived on the same block, so I tried very hard to reach customers before Mark did, and then worked to retain them by doing the very best job possible. We had quite a rivalry going, Mark and I, and even engaged in a few price wars in an attempt to woo each other’s business.

One morning, I was out at my first house of the day when my lawn mower broke down. Afraid that I might lose some of my customers while the mower was getting fixed, I hurried over to Mark’s house. I saw that he had packed his gear, but must have gone back inside to get something, because there was his lawnmower, sitting out in the driveway by itself. Heart pounding, I raced up to the machine, grabbed the handle and pushed it off down the street.

I returned to the house where my mower still sat, broken down, and finished the job. I then went on to mow the rest of the yards on my usual route. Suddenly, it occurred to me that Mark’s customers were going to start wondering why he hadn’t shown up to mow their lawns. Feeling slightly guilty, I went to a house with a yard that I knew Mark normally mowed. Sure enough, the owner of the house expressed his frustration that Mark hadn’t shown up but was grateful to accept my offer and paid me for my work. I went on to finish up every house that Mark normally visited, and most of the people were only too glad to pay me for my work. Feeling tired and a little guilty, but happy, I returned to Mark’s house and left his lawnmower right where I found it.

The next day, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to a very angry-looking Mark. “You stole my lawnmower!” he shouted at me.

I looked at him in horror. How had he found out? Quickly, I recovered my composure enough to answer. “But I gave it back.”

“You still took it from me!” he yelled. “And then you went around to all my customers and got paid to mow their lawns with my mower! You stole my mower and you stole my customers!”

“Now, Mark. You can’t steal customers,” I said defensively.

“You deprived me of my property and used it for personal gain at my expense. I demand that you pay me everything you earned with my mower, plus punitive damages. Right now!”

“Son,” my father said, walking up behind me. “What you did was wrong. You can’t just go around violating people’s property rights. Now, you pay Mark what he asked for.”

“Here,” I said grudgingly, handing over the money I had earned the day before, then adding some more bills to it.

“You stay off my property from now on,” Mark said, with a hint of menace.

I got my mower fixed and quickly returned to my usual route. One day, a few weeks later, it happened that Mark and I were mowing lawns on opposite sides of the street. I glanced over a few times as I worked and noticed that Mark followed a path around the yard that ensured a minimum of backtracking. In fact, even though he had started some time after me on a yard of equal size, Mark finished and was on his way before my yard was done.

“Interesting,” I said to myself. At the next house, I tried out Mark’s mowing technique. I found that it very nearly cut my time on the job in half. For the rest of the day, I continued mowing lawns in the same pattern and was able to finish early, giving me time to visit new houses and win over some new customers.

The next morning, there was again a pounding at the door. Just as I expected, Mark was there, looking even more furious than before. “You stole my lawnmowing technique!” he shouted.

I laughed a little at this. “Stole it? I just watched you and copied what you did.”

“You stole it from me!” he insisted. “It was mine. I came up with it. I am the cre-a-tor of it.” He emphasized each syllable. “It is the product of my mind. Now you have to hand over all the money you made using my technique.”

It was rapidly dawning on my that Mark was serious. “Listen, Mark, be reasonable. Yes, I did use your technique, and it worked great. But it’s not like I stole anything. You can go right on doing lawns that way too. It just means that I can do my job more efficiently.”

“And steal my customers,” Mark shot back.

“Steal your…what?”

“Yeah, I saw what you did. You went down the block and mowed four more lawns. If you hadn’t been using my technique, you never could have had time to go down there. It’s my technique, so those customers are mine.”

“Mark,” Dad said, coming around through the side gate. “What Scott did a couple weeks back was wrong of him. I’m proud that he went ahead and made things right, but I wish he’d thought things through and done the right thing to begin with. But this…this is just crazy. You can’t own something like that just because you thought of it. It’s unreasonable. Now run along home.”

Mark looked bitterly between us and then stormed off, muttering under his breath something about “thieves.”

Michael A. Clem March 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Unlike your car, house or boat, when IP is copied (and not actually “stolen”), you are not deprived of the products of your mind. You still have them. Enforcing monopoly rights over them, simply because they are products of your mind, is depriving others of the products of their mind, simply because their products aren’t as original (derivative). If you don’t like the scarcity argument, perhaps you can explain this “originality” argument in greater detail..

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 1:15 am

But what if you show me an idea?

In the of case my bringing an original product of my mind to market, I would not be ‘showing’ you my idea, I would be selling it to you. It’s just that anarchists – and they have this in common with thieves and welfare beneficiaries – think they have entitlement to the products of my mind, without having to pay me for them. They seem to think I am somehow their slave, working for their benefit, with no remuneration for my effort and risk taking. I’m not. A free society cannot operate without trade. A free society cannot operate on a platform of theft, and the non-recognition of private property rightes, including IP.

Seattle March 4, 2010 at 1:20 am

You seem to be very confused as to what “property” is.

Tell me, exactly how do you define “property?”

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 3:44 am

You might be showing it and selling it to him, but not to a third party. IP only concerns third parties (read the law). There is no contractual recourse to a third party. Explanation fail.

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 5:03 am

You seem to be very confused as to what “property” is.

More worryingly, you seem to be confused about what theft is.

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 6:45 am

On the contrary, both from my anarcho-capitalists and IP-opposing point of view, I am able to define both property and theft in a consistent, wertfrei manner. I would expect a serious opponent to attempt the same with their system of thought. Does not seem to be happening though.

Seattle March 4, 2010 at 1:40 pm

You can’t define “theft” without first defining “property.” And as for property you seem to keep switching definitions, even mid-sentence. It’s impossible to have an intelligent discussions when both sides don’t even understand each others’ language.

Peter March 4, 2010 at 5:05 am

And slaves are property, so….

John March 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

[by the way, I submitted this post before, but it seems not to have worked; I hope it doesn't post it twice]

Take a look at this edited version of what you said. I replaced references to the idea with references to a toaster.

But what if you give me your toaster?

In the case of my bringing an original product of my labor to market, I would not be ’giving’ you my toaster, I would be selling it to you. It’s just that anarchists – and they have this in common with thieves and welfare beneficiaries – think they have entitlement to the products of my labor, without having to pay me for them. They seem to think I am somehow their slave, working for their benefit, with no remuneration for my effort and risk taking. I’m not. A free society cannot operate without trade. A free society cannot operate on a platform of theft, and the non-recognition of private property rights, including rights to own toasters.

Here, your response is obviously a non sequitur: you gave me the toaster, and everything you said about “theft” and “entitlement to the products of my labor, without having to pay me for them” and your being “their slave” and so on is irrelevant, because the toaster was a gift.

It seems to me that showing someone your idea–without first getting him to agree to not use that idea in whatever ways you wish to prohibit, and perhaps to forfeit some amount of money to you if he does use your idea in one of those ways–is a way of giving him your idea; i.e., with no strings attached. It seems to me that showing someone an idea of yours, and then telling him “Ha, now you can’t use this idea for yourself!”, is like handing someone a pen and then saying, “Ha, now you have to give me $2! [or however much you want to charge for the pen]“. In other words, it seems to be a gift, not a sale, and treating it as the latter is ridiculous. The next time you want to show people something cool but want to maintain all “rights to copy” and stuff, try to spell out for them exactly what you want to forbid them to do with the idea, and make them agree to those conditions before you show them. I’d be interested to know just how many people would knowingly agree to such a thing.

This describes cases where you go and actively say to someone, “Hey, look at this…” and show your idea to them. Here, the whole point of your action is to show them your idea, and if they don’t agree to the conditions you require, you don’t have to show them. But now, let’s look at cases where you’re doing something, and all they have to do to pick up your idea is to be there and observe you. These cases are roughly analogous to this: You have a garden of roses (corresponding to your idea), and all other people have to do to enjoy the scent they produce is to stand close enough to them and smell.

Suppose someone comes and smells your rose garden. Now you tell him, “Hey! That’ll be $5!” Because you’re not giving away the lovely smell of your roses for free. He says, “What? No, I’m not paying that!” You say, “Then you had no right to be here smelling my roses in the first place!” Are you correct? The answer is, it depends. If your garden is behind a fence and the guy had to walk onto your property to smell the roses, then, yes, he is trespassing, and you can work out some punishment. But if your garden is in the front of your lawn and the guy is just standing on the sidewalk bending down, then (presumably) he does have the right to stand there, and he can stand there smelling your roses all day. The smell of your roses is a free good to him; you have no right to demand that he give you something in return for it.

Well, then, if you’re demonstrating your invention in a public space (where, by definition, anyone has the right to be), and you haven’t gotten everyone around you to voluntarily agree to not use your idea (which, remember, they could reject), and someone goes home and uses your idea, and that makes you mad, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Because what did you just do? You demonstrated your invention in a place where people could see it who had the right to be there and hadn’t agreed not to use your idea; in other words, in a place where you could expect that someone might legally learn your idea and use it. Getting mad at that is like putting your rose garden where anyone in the street can smell it and getting mad that they don’t all leave $5 on your doorstep after smelling them: the problem is your expectations.

Even if you put up a sign in your rose garden saying, “Pay $5 to smell these roses”, if people have the right to stand in the street where they can smell it, then they have the right to smell the roses and not pay $5, no matter what your sign says. Whether they pay is dictated entirely by their generosity. (And note, by the way, that people are more likely to say, “Heh, that’s cute; yeah, sure, I’d like to contribute some money here” if the sign says “Please pay $5 to smell these roses.”) Likewise, if you announce to everyone, “You may not do xyz with this idea”, if they don’t voluntarily agree to that and if they still have the right to stand there and watch you, then they can freely use your idea, and if you don’t like that, then that’s your problem.

Suppose, now, that you find an old bicycle in a dump somewhere; you decide that it’s really not very broken, and once you’ve fixed it up a little bit, it’ll work perfectly well. So you take the bicycle home and start scrubbing the dirt off of it. You’re about to replace the chain when you notice words painted onto the bike: “Property of [name and address]. This bicycle may not be ridden.” You say, “What the hell? Fuck him.”, and you wash the paint off, finish fixing up the bike, and start riding it. Is this right? I think so. By placing it in the dump (ignore the possibility that someone else stole the bike and then dumped it), the guy abandoned the bicycle; it is no longer his property, and he may not make any demands on you for using it.

Suppose, now, that you find a piece of paper on the ground; someone must have dropped it, but no one’s there who might be looking for it. You pick it up; it’s yours now. The paper describes some idea; it also says, “Copyright Bob, year 2000: Whoever reads this may not do xyz with the idea described here.” Well, Bob can go jump in a lake, because this here paper is yours now, and you’ve made no contract with him; he’s got no right to tell you what you can or can’t do with what you’ve learned from reading this paper. You don’t know how this paper found its way here, but if Bob didn’t want people to learn his idea who hadn’t agreed not to use it for xyz, then he shouldn’t have allowed this paper to fall freely into your hands; if he expected to be able to publish many copies of this paper and distribute them, yet also make sure everyone who reads a copy of it has agreed not to do xyz with it, then he should have given all the intended recipients specific instructions to make sure they don’t let anyone else read it (unless they agree to a similar contract), perhaps by burning the paper once they’ve read it, instead of throwing it on the ground; if this is an impractical proposal, then he should have found a more practical goal. Like traveling to Mars. You read the paper and throw it away. Maybe you learned something useful from it, maybe not; in any case you did not acquire any contractual obligations.

I think I’m on pretty solid ethical ground so far. I have examined several situations, treating ideas as “goods” that can be bought, sold, given away, found, and so on, and compared them to similar situations involving relatively simple rights to property that we can probably all agree on. Ideas are goods that can be derived from various things–a piece of paper with writing on it, someone demonstrating it in your field of vision, an object designed with the idea in mind.

Ideas, like the feeling of pleasure one gets from smelling roses, are intangible and impossible to transfer in themselves; one cannot sell the idea or the smell itself, but one can possibly control, sell, buy, or give away means to getting the idea or the smell. One can sell roses; one can sell pieces of paper with writing that expresses one’s idea written on them; one can sell, or else refuse to supply, the privilege to walk into one’s garden and smell the roses; one can sell, or else refuse to supply, the privilege to walk into one’s workshop and look at one’s invention.

But sometimes the means of obtaining the idea or the pleasure finds its way legally into someone’s hands before you can get them to give you something in return. They have the right to bend down and smell the roses in the front of your lawn as they walk along the sidewalk; they have the right to look at your invention that you’ve displayed where they can see it from the street. In this case (and there are many, many more like it), they may learn your idea using means they legally obtained, and may freely proceed to use as they wish what they have learned. You cannot stop them. Well, today, you might be able to get the government to send thugs after them, but ethically you cannot stop them.

It’s probably impossible to distribute any medium containing an idea (a book, a piece of software, some kind of product) to a large number of people from the general public for very long before someone legally acquires a copy without agreeing to not do xyz (note that if, for example, A buys a copy of some secret formula under certain conditions and then, breaking contract, makes a bunch of copies and mails them to B, C, and D, then, while A has broken contract, B, C, and D have not, and are perfectly free to spread the secret all around the world), and then that person has the right to do xyz (assuming xyz are things he would have the right to do in the first place, such as print arbitrary documents on his printer), and the idea is likely to be spread freely and rightfully around the world.

It is still possible to make enforceable non-disclosure agreements with people, and it’s possible to write software that is hard to copy, but I doubt if it’s possible to ethically get anything close to what today’s copyright and patent laws give you.

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 2:54 am

Tell me, exactly how do you define “property?

My ebook novel.

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

… which is a bunch of bits on your harddrive, and is distinct from a bunch of bits on a third parties’ hard drive. Definition fail.

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 4:51 am

… which is a bunch of bits on your harddrive, and is distinct from a bunch of bits on a third parties’ hard drive. Definition fail.

Bunch of bits? Mozart, Strauss, Shakespeare? A bunch of bits? I don’t think so.

No, it’s the original thought from my mind: unique, discrete, expression from the imagination of an individual human. But you’ll never understand the value of individuality, Peter, because you’ve allied your hive mind with the Borg collective. You have obliterated the individual completely, and therefore, any notion of freedom. It’s ugly, and chained. And that’s anarchism. And that’s you. The anti-life, anti-culture, of theft and living second hand.

Peter March 4, 2010 at 5:06 am

Hahaha…Randroid talking about hive mind!

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 6:42 am

On the contrary. I understand the individuality and uniqueness so thoroughly that I also see them where you see none. However, unless you learn to separate your value judgements from logical reasoning and stop elevating your value judgements above logic, regrettably, I don’t think a reational discourse with you is possible.

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 6:45 am

And trade with you is impossible, Peter, as is a free economy, and free society.

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 6:50 am

On the contrary, having been a software engineer my whole career I find no difficulty conducting business without the use of IP.

Is there any hope for a rational thought on your part are you going to keep mumbling mantras?

Mark Hubbard March 4, 2010 at 6:47 am

On the contrary. I understand the individuality and uniqueness so thoroughly that I also see them where you see none.

And from your keyboard, that has no meaning. None at all.

Peter Surda March 4, 2010 at 6:51 am

On the contrary, it is your dogmas that bear no meaning. But cognitive dissonance prevents you from being able to rationally discuss them.

jeffrey March 4, 2010 at 8:14 am
Jake March 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

Your cars, house, and boat, are all scarce goods. The crime of someone else using them is that they deprive you of the ability to use your property.

IP is not scarce. I can use your idea without depriving you in anyway of the ability to use your idea. IP, interestingly enough, deprives others of the ability to use their own (scarce) property. It tells them they may not take their own steel, rubber, glass, etc and build a car like yours. As If their building a car like yours somehow deprives you of your own car.

I suppose you could imagine a world where IP is sacrosanct, but you can not imagine a world where both IP rights and scarce property rights are protected. The two are at odds. IP precludes rights to scarce property, it says “you may not use your property in a manner too similar to someone else, or to produce something out of it too similar to someone else”.

steve March 4, 2010 at 10:04 am

Mason makes a valid point but further to it. IP is an extension of one’s self as is my other personal property. No one has the right to use my property without permission or an exchange of like value. I have invented and developed a new, broad spectrum, virtually non-toxic chemical entity to prevent surgical site infection which does not select for resistant organisms. It is currently in Phase II human clinical trials. It would not exist without my capital (both financial and intellectual), my sweat and 20 years of research…. or my defined IP rights to it.

Andras March 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

@Mason & Steve,
Welcome! Drug discoverers, medicinal chemists are much needed in this debate to counterbalance the disgruntled patent agents and software geeks who clearly got lost in their archives and see abolishing patents as the only solution to their frustration.
These IP socialists have never invented anything so they assume noone can.

mpolzkill March 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Andras [edited to eliminate his silly, offensive piece of propaganda]:

“These [individuals who do not believe in "IP"] have never invented anything so they assume noone can.”

Of course I believe you can invent something. I also believe you can invent a business plan for its profitable use that doesn’t involve your fascist scheme.

Andras March 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

mpolzkill,
I can invent a lot of thing but a business plan under your scheme. There is no drug discovery without IP.
As I voiced before, homesteading of every and all property, including IP is arbitrary. I can only conform with the particular norm. If your scheme go live, I will be the first marginal inventor to go on strike and keep my inventions to myself. I guess I will not be the only one.

mpolzkill March 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I can hardly make heads or tails of what you’re saying, but it sounds like: because you haven’t invented a business plan without recourse to your scheme, you think it can’t be done.

Peter Surda March 5, 2010 at 7:58 am

As I voiced before, homesteading of every and all property, including IP is arbitrary.
This is a misrepresentation of the issue. While the practical implementations of all homesteading contain aspects of subjectivity, the theory is not subjective. That is, for material goods. The theory is based on measurable phenomena and does not depend on subjective human evaluation. On the other hand, the theory of ownership of immaterial goods is arbitrary at its base. It is based on imagination rather than empiricism. It divides the immaterial goods into those that can be owned and those that cannot. Moreover, none of the IP theorists I know attempt to even explain how to make this distinction. Typically, they limit their reaction to asserting that the distinction is “evident” and call other distinctions “absurd”. Often they change the dividing line on the fly to fit other theoretical goals.

The theory of IP is an attempt to mask utilitarianism and protectionism under the guise of natural rights and capitalism. It is a fraud.

Andras March 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Peter,
Homesteading of a structure of an organic compound is much more objective than anything in the “material goods”. It is unambiguous and unequivocal. Every compound is referenced in Chemical Abstract, a private reference system. If you do not want to build a parallel independent system from scratch just to claim your independent invention (and to avoid rediscovering the wheel) you will use this system so nothing will be independent. If we want to use the content of a valid patent we buy the rights or wait for expiration. No instant gratification here. We know that this is the price for a workable system.
For the rest, I can not argue with your prejudices and that that even you say you are not aware of. Evidently, you don’t know how drug discovery works. It is simpler for you to throw out everything as IP.

Peter Surda March 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Evidently, you miss the whole point. You mistake the ability to describe immaterial goods (which may very well be based on empirical data and very accurate) with the ability to homestead them (which is based on imagination). The ability to describe something does not mix one’s labour with objects that match that description. In fact, it does absolutely nothing with them. If it did, that would be, in its full meaning, magic. Uttering an incatation is not homesteading. It is ridiculous to assert that describing something accurately gives one the right to limit other people’s actions.

To put this on the most abstract level I can think of, homesteading of material goods is based on their location, whereas homesteading of immaterial goods is based on their meaning.

You seem to be under the delusion that your background in drug development takes precedence over logic.

Jake March 4, 2010 at 7:44 pm

“These IP socialists have never invented anything so they assume noone can.”

Baloney on several counts. Pretty weak for one to claim only people who “have never invented anything” would oppose IP. A bit like suggesting only addicts would support legalizing drugs. If that’s the best you can do I’d say you’re hurting your position. I have invented plenty of things, I am listed as an inventor on several patents (though I’ve never applied for one myself). I’m actually meeting with a patent attorney next week on behalf on one of my clients. My experiences with patent system made me very receptive to the anti-IP position when I first encountered it here about a year ago. It’s ridiculous and anti-competitive.

And assuming noone can? No I think you have it backwards there. The anti-IP position is that innovation can be had WITHOUT the promise of a state-enforced monopoly. Really, it’s you who assumes noone can invent anything (without the help of government).

“IP socialists” Ha! I suppose you should label as “Air socialists” anyone who opposes the idea that the government tax us based on metabolism for the consumption of oxygen hm?

Andras March 4, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Jake, you are obsessed with the state. IP is not about enforcement but acknowledging it as property. Marxists failed to acknowledge property, the reason they are socialists. If you fail to acknowledge IP, you are an IP socialist.
Why patents can not be catalogued in a private title system similarly to real estate. If you honor the latter you can honor the former as well. State is not necessary.
By the way, Composition of Matter patents are already referenced through Chemical Abstract, a private system.
And my “IP socialists never invented anything” rant was about drug discovery. I have never seen a drug inventor who was against IP. It just does not work without IP.

Jake March 5, 2010 at 11:28 am

If air is not property then how are ideas property? neither is scarce. Air is more scarce than an ideas, it’s supply is (at least theoretically) limited.

Obsessed with the state? well it’s obsessed with destroying my freedom and prosperity, why shouldn’t I be?

“Why patents can not be catalogued in a private title system similarly to real estate. If you honor the latter you can honor the former as well. State is not necessary.”

Because patents impose on 3rd parties. Security of information/ideas isn’t a problem between 2 contracting parties. You have non-disclosure agreements, licensing restrictions, etc. IP means compelling 3rd parties who have no relationship with the “inventor” and likely have never even heard of him or his invention to refrain from using their property in a way too similar to the him. You can’t do that without a state.

“By the way, Composition of Matter patents are already referenced through Chemical Abstract, a private system.”

And if I, having no contractual relationship with this abstract, discover and start producing chemical already referenced there what happens? Does this “private system” throw me in jail or sue me?

“And my “IP socialists never invented anything” rant was about drug discovery. I have never seen a drug inventor who was against IP. It just does not work without IP.”

That’s because the state has driven the cost of drug development so astronomically high that only with the promise of a 20 year monopoly is the investment worth it. This is not an argument for monopoly, but against other state interference. In other words this doesn’t fly because only those treatments which can be patented have any chance of coming into use. Millions of dollars and years are wasted while people suffer and die in efforts to “synthesize” naturally occurring compounds because you can patent the synthetic compound but not the natural one and there’s no money to be made in spending millions upon millions of dollars to satisfy the FDA that a $0.05 berry or fruit seed or fungi or wahtever can cure some dreadful ailment.

Andras March 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Jake,
About scarcity.
I guess you see no a dichotomy that the solutions to the biggest problems spread the fastest. But look at the process of creating an invention. Before you invent something it is not existent, when you invent it it is unique and with use it start its multiplication to reach the potential infinite. If it is a big idea it is so scarce everyone wants it. Would you agree that there is a point where it is still scarce? First it is totally external to all economies and at the end it becomes internal. With these type of phenomena homesteading is the right process to generate property rights. However, it is absolutely subjective, at the “whims” of conventions. Patents are such a formulation of conventions. They are not just ideas but strictly defined ideas. They have to be novel, progressive and practical. In summary, they are the BEST solution to an existing problem. So they stay unique as the best. And, their time monopoly, in an ideal case, fades parallel with internalization, on their way to non-scarcity.
On independent drug discovery:
Homesteading of a structure of an organic compound is much more objective than anything in the “material goods”. It is unambiguous and unequivocal. Every compound is referenced in Chemical Abstract, a private reference system. If you do not want to build a parallel independent system from scratch just to claim your independent invention (and to avoid rediscovering the wheel) you will use this system so nothing will be independent. If we want to use the content of a valid patent we buy the rights or wait for expiration. No instant gratification here. We know that this is the price for a workable system.
On drug discovery strategies:
We just want to find solutions to existing medical needs. The simpler and cheaper the better. Little berries and fungus may cost a nickel for you but the research behind it might be more expensive.
And nature won’t offer solutions to our problems. It usually want kill to defend its host. To turn its toxins into medicine we need huge knowledge and intensive mind work.
I hope it helps.

averros March 4, 2010 at 9:03 pm

“These IP socialists have never invented anything so they assume noone can.”

And you’re just a little demagogue who, when unable to offer any reasonable refutation to opponents’ arguments, resorts to ad hominem.

I am anti-”IP”. I also make my living by inventing things. And I share Phil Karn’s sentiments that dealing with patent crapola is killing most of the joy or my profession.

Andras March 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

@mpolzkill,
The fact that you can not comprehend does not mean it is un-understandable. It makes it clear that you, at least should be more aware of your arrogance when you embark on social engineering.

mpolzkill March 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Yeah, Andras, your last post was a model of clear thought and was not grammatically atrocious.

What social engineering? Is not giving a bum a quarter social engineering? How about refusing to buy GM products, or refusing to pay someone a “living wage”?

Please consult a dictionary for the terms “socialism”, “scheme” and “engineering”. When I got to the age of 9 or so did I develope an anti-Santa Claus scheme?

Your conflating “IP” with, say, a person buying a house and making it a home, does not have any effect on anyone. Why don’t you try some other line of attack so as to propagandize for your scheme, so at the least you won’t be so boring?

Andras March 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I suppose you are over the age of nine so you should be able to understand that just because you see or hear things it does not mean that they are yours to take. It is not just for the candy and the big fire engine but for IP as well. Please, develop(e)!
When you monkey with arbitrary things in social settings that is social engineering, no more, no less.

mpolzkill March 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Wow, what a couple of zingers. I stuck an “e” on “develop” for some reason, and, yes, thank you, I will never tell anyone I wrote someone else’s book. Prat. Nothing is “monkeyed with” becuase I don’t believe in your assertion that ideas can be property.

mpolzkill March 4, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Oh, and be sure (as the author of, “If your scheme go live”), to mock how I flipped the “a” and “u” in “because”.

Like Israel Curtis, I was on the fence on this too (at least from a utilitarian standpont and assuming “IP” could be enforced without the State’s theft and and uneven enforcement. Like every other State-run boondoggle, it always has and always will mainly benefit the State’s cronies), until I started seeing how you and the other “IP” fascists have the weakest arguments and how you all seem to ignore or run from anyone who has you nailed. *You* have to sell your scheme. *You* have the scheme, get it through you thick head, and you are failing to sell it.

Instead of spewing your false propaganda and giving spelling lessons, why don’t you answer Averros’s post here?:

http://blog.mises.org/2010/03/apples-suit-against-htc-pits-patents-against-innovation/comment-page-1/#comment-677648

Andras March 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm

We do not need the state if you do not steal our property. It is true for all type of property.
Why can’t property be temporary? Because the high priest says so? If homesteading rules declare it so then that is the rule. They are as good as any arbitrary rules at the beginning, then the marginal inventors vote with their foot (brain) and society benefits (or suffers) accordingly and change it. Time will settle it!

copterdriver March 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Intellectual property is property, our country is founded on the belief if we own it it is ours until we agree to let someone else purchase or give it away. IBM’s biggest profit are from patents. Intellectual property. I suppose they would be OK with everyone stealing their income from things they have innovated and manufactured. The biggest difference for the average person is the ability to prosecute or negotiate with the offender.

Photographers make their money from the images they create, to copy it and use it for profit is against the law. I can go out and shoot a similar image and profit from it and not be prosecuted. If I copy the same exact Idea and implement it using the exact same programming or mechanical techniques I have violated the patent if it is patented. If I figure out the same way of doing something using different techniques then I have *created something new* and the Patent office has to decide if it is different enough to not violate some else’s patent.

Lots of thing are very similar but different enough to be patentable. A very gray area, but to assume it stifles innovation is ridiculous. Microsoft copied the GUI that Macintosh used that was borrowed from Xerox’s ideas. Xerox was OK with it, they asked to use it and were given permission. Microsoft paid millions eventually because of it.

Most software on your computer has a licensing agreement that you agree to when you install it and all prohibit reverse engineering. It’s the same with the software on your phones. Use it but don’t steal it and expect us to look the other way when you try to compete in the market.

Innovation is crucial to setting competitors apart in the marketplace. *Me too* is not innovation, it’s the lazy man’s way of asking for forgiveness after the fact. Forgiveness comes with a price, Apple expects them to pay. Rightfully so.

Israel Curtis March 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm

@copterdriver – “IBM’s biggest profit are from patents”

… and the Mafia’s biggest profits are in neighborhoods where they are the only racket on the block…

This describes the result of the monopoly, it doesn’t serve as an argument to justify it.

I’m actually a bit undecided in this whole matter, but observations posing as arguments don’t help…

copterdriver March 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm

@Israel Curtis – … and the Mafia’s biggest profits are in neighborhoods where they are the only racket on the block…

Is that a logical comparison for a business model? We are talking business not thievery. If I come in your neighborhood and sell phones I designed and patented, that is the same as the Mafia telling you to pay us a fee or we will burn your business down? Hardly.

Free will allows you to buy from anyone you want. I don’t own anything IBM makes. We don’t have a Mafia here either. Maybe in *The City* that makes sense to you. That is not a monopoly that is an illegal strong arm activity, not intellectual property rights enforcement.

HTC is participating in an illegal activity according to patent law. I’m sure they will settle this after the dust clears and pay royalties or redesign what they have now. Good luck on coming up with what Apple has successfully created from scratch. Again, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, especially after you have made several million dollars in the process. The lawyers are already salivating at the fees they are going to make on this whole deal, which by the way, a computer could decide in a few milliseconds. I’m sure HTC set aside a war chest just for this whole scenario.

Apple comes along and creates a marketable working GUI. Microsoft stole it and called it their own and through their monopoly with IBM made billions of dollars, but for some reason that is OK with everyone including IBM. No one makes you buy Apple phones, iPods, computers or iTunes downloads. You participate at your will solely. Microsoft is a monopoly, Apple is not.

Now the Mafia may make you buy fish from Guido or they burn you down. How does that have anything to do with IP Rights according to the letter of the law? The law is there for those that choose to innovate at whatever expense they feel they can recoup. Why bother if the day you release it everybody can just do the same thing without fear of reprisal?

@Nick – Taking a picture of a statue and selling that picture is illegal. It is his creation and he has the rights to it by Copyright law. I can take a picture of it and put it on the front of the New York Times and legally do so if it is relevant to a story published and can do it in any publication. I can’t photograph it and sell prints of it. It’s not mine.

That is not intellectual property that is the artists personal creation that he owns. Let’s talk IP Rights and not copyrights here. Whole different animal protecting my right to create and control what I create by a different set of rules. A copyright lasts 78 years, a patent expires in 16 years. During those years I am allowed to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It’s the law. If not we would still be driving just Fords and everyone would have an *Original Warhol* hanging in the living room. You are talking derivatives, copying someones creative work, manipulating it a bit in hopes no one will notice. They got caught and busted in court.

I worked for Owens Corning and invented a few things that were patentable but was denied it because they don’t patent a lot of things to keep it proprietary. I was working for them and they controlled everything I did for them. They *owned* those ideas, not me. I had no choice. And since we weren’t a Union shop I didn’t even get compensated for it. Had I been working in a Union shop I would have been compensated based on the savings or a percentage of potential profits. The Unions negotiated that through their deep pocketed labor monopoly. I agreed to that when they hired me or I couldn’t get the job. Same for Shakespeare when I worked there in Research and Development.

There are a lot of well published photographers that make more money suing violators, than actually creating new works. Originality has a reward, IP and copyright laws ensure it.

Back to IP rights please….

Israel Curtis March 5, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Is that a logical comparison for a business model?

No, I was not comparing business models. If you’d read the next line you’d notice I’m criticizing your use of IBM’s profit as a justification for the business model – and thus you missed the point that the existence of the Mafia’s profit does not justify their business model…

Then you proceed in your assumption, lecturing me about the inherent freedom in free-market exchange vs. the inherent force of thuggery. I’m on your team, here ;-) Remember, I’m not a fan of the Mafia method.

You participate at your will solely. Microsoft is a monopoly, Apple is not.

Um, Microsoft can force me to buy their products but Apple can’t? This statement makes no sense. Monopoly cannot exist without force (legal [govt] or illegal [mafia]). Absent force (including “legal” restrictive regulations and sweetheart corporate legislation… and patent law), there’s no way to prevent me from doing business with someone else who would offer an alternative service or product.

Ironically, I’m not decidedly opposed to IP, but if your arguments in favor of IP are not sound, you do not help your case. My goal is to refine these arguments, helping myself and others to reach a conclusion.

Nick March 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I can go out and shoot a similar image and profit from it and not be prosecuted.

Consider the case of Gaylord v. US where an artist, working for the USPS, photographed the Korean War Memorial in DC (a sculpture called “The Column”) after a snowfall, then photo-shopped the hell out of it before turning it over to his employer, who photo-shopped it even more and then used it as a postage stamp image only to find themselves sued by the sculptor and eventually losing on appeal due to the sculptor’s “copyright”…

Explain to me how anyone could believe that taking a picture of a sculpture deprives the original artist of any sort of “property right”

That’s rhetorical by the way – It can’t be done so don’t try…

markmarks March 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Authorities say Apple has sued HTC, accusing their biggest rival of violating patents relating to the iphone. Apparently many features loved about the HTC (or android) were originally taken from iphone software. Actually Samsung is in turn suing Apple for other technologies. I think these companies are abusing the way we are supposed to use patent laws. Such a “dog eat dog world”. In the end they will all lose, either money or reputation. But I guess I would also be pretty upset if a company stole my inventions and said they were theirs. I got some facts here. http://ketiva.com/Computers_and_Internet/apple_fights_htc.html

Chano March 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

Was Jesus a Christian? No. He was born a Jew and died within that faith.
I doubt that he would approve of the franchise begun after his death using the IP of his name, but hey, who was there to complain? Who would sue?
What does Christianity teach us about charlatans, the dishonest and thieves?
Should we simply hand them our assets, without complaint, as a variant of turning the other cheek?
Do those Christian teachings have merit in life and in commerce and industry? They truly do. Punish wrongdoing, every time. Forgiveness comes with repentance and reparations.
You agonise about lawsuits stifling innovation.
Hoo Ahhh!
That may have merit as an academic’s generalising truism, while contemplating his navel, but it has little merit in the real world where value is created at real cost and investment of time, and stolen daily, with ease and, too often, with impunity. The thefts that take place daily in IP are specific, not general. Ask any newspaper. Ask Apple. Ask Intel. Ask the many Pharmas who are busy stealing Nature’s IP and selling it back to us as their own creation, which short-changes every living person, and God too. Interestingly, I believe Jesus would know what to in that last example. Sue the bastards, no hesitation. Chuck them out like the charlatan moneylenders.
Should we dismantle trademarks, servicemarks and copyright too? If not, why not?
Innovation will not be stifled by this specific action because the only innovation taking place in that arena is being done by Apple. This action cherishes and protects innovation, because honest value serves us all. The action seeks to punish theft. It is just. It is a very Christian action in my view. HTC and its hidden co-defendants are mere serial copyists on UI and UX matters. Without stealing they have no modern franchise at all. Then again, if they ever had an original thought in their collective heads, it would die, unrecognised and of loneliness.
If CSM is the intellectual wing of the Church, and this display of wonkiness is an exemplar of its typical thinking, may I humbly say: God Help the Church?

Andras March 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

@Peter Surda,
If you want to understand my point please read my response to Jake at March 5, 2010 1:13pm.
Your issues are addressed there.

Peter Surda March 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm

My issues are not addressed at all. You continue with the same fallacy. You mistake the ability to describe something with the ability to homestead objects that match that description. Describing something does not homestead anything that matches the description. That’s not how it works. You can’t homestead land by describing it. You can’t homestead an apple by describing it. Why should you homestead drugs by describing them? That makes no sense.

Andras March 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

It does not make sense to you. How do you homestead a land? Isn’t that as subjective as this? When you take your claim of your land to the title office does not you do the same?

Peter Surda March 6, 2010 at 2:00 am

In your example, the act of visiting the land must precede (or at least happen parallel with), the act of declaring it your property. The second one is not homesteading.

Homesteading land or apple is based on observable, empirical phenomena (e.g. the act of visiting the land, the act of taking the apple into your hand). The act of describing something is not based on physical phenomena, although the description itself might be. You mistake the two. What you are doing is more like calling dibs and claiming that it applies to all people in the world. That, dear Andras, is the arbitrary part. Not the accuracy of the description. There might be, for example, less accuracy in determining the relation between the scope of the land and a person visiting it, than the relation between a recipe and a drug. But the act of visiting is a more accurate way of homesteading than the act of describing. Why should calling dibs be of any relevance? I call dibs on the computer you are using to type. According to your logic, that should take precedence over your act of physically operating the computer.

Andras March 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Dear Peter,
You desribe homesteading in your own subjective way. You declared those the rules.
When I claim a compound I have to show that I “visited” i.e., made it. I agree I claim more than just my physical instantiation but that is counterbalanced by the expiration date of my property. Anyone is entitled to use my recipe after that. Otherwise they may never get even close to reproduction of my invention. It is a compromise for both sides. It works wonderfully. You can even finetune with the time scale. I can’t see why would anyone want to “fix” it, Unless they have something bigger to achive, to prove that their scheme is for all IP.
With the current system of allocating ownership to “ideas” the possibility of a market for ideas and knowledge is also generated. This is the starting point of co-operation. All these are missing without ownership. I know you say “do it yourself” but I rather invent and co-operate instead of going to sales. And isn’t co-operation the foundation of capitalism?

Peter Surda March 7, 2010 at 6:20 am

You accuse me of being subjective, and then talk about counterbalance and finetuning. That alone should discredit your claims. Furthermore, you are claiming that dibs is somehow less arbitrary than holding an apple or visiting a place. Why? No reason, just your imagination. The rest of your argument are just fallacies as has been shown many times before, e.g. confusing cause and effect, mixing positive and normative claims. Cooperation is based on contracts, not on the ability to restrict market entry. And so on. Your argument lacks any sort of coherence, you jump from one fallacy to the other

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: