I’ve learned from reliable sources connected with various free market think tanks around the world that various important companies, in particular pharmaceutical, have become “supporters” of such think tanks–provided, of course, that the think tank supports intellectual property rights. Could this be one reason many free market think tanks are supportive of IP despite a mounting case against it?
I wonder if this is one reason for some of Cato’s pro-patent positions. Just wondering, not accusing–but see, e.g., Cato Tugs Stray Back Onto Reservation; Jude Blanchette’s The Reimportation Controversy; Protectionist Cato?; Drug Patents and Welfare (see also Epstein and Patents and Richard Epstein on “The Structural Unity of Real and Intellectual Property”). One Cato “scholar” formerly very critical of patents seems also to have “evolved” in his view of pharmaceutical patents.
And note that Cato’s pharmaceutical donors include Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Company and Pfizer, Inc., at least according to SourceWatch (admittedly, though, the site does not provide a source for their claim, and none of these companies are listed in Cato’s 2005 annual report).
Update: Another thought: The lead funder of the old Nafta Network, which roped in every single libertarian think tank except you-know-who, under the leadership of Cato, to propagandize for Nafta–was Eli Lilly. Hmm, I wonder if Nafta had an intellectual property component? Well, see here and here.