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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6055/patent-attorney-admission/

Patent Attorney Admission

December 22, 2006 by

I pointed out in There’s No Such Thing as a Free Patent that “The conventional defense of the patent system is that it is essential in order to stimulate creativity.” And here, on the widely-read Patently-O Patent Law blog, we have patent attorney Dennis Crouch casually admitting:

Patents are intended to lure potential inventors into the business of innovation. The truth is, however, that very little is known about how patents really drive innovation.

See also:


Scott D January 4, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Nice summation, Cosmin. You have my endorsement.

Fred Mann January 4, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Sorry about the slight delay, Sasha.
Anyway, you write:

“I told you, opening a book under those circumstances is not a tort and that’s what matters. ”

If you reread my post, you will see I never even mentioned tort.
I am just trying to establish if you think opening a book is GROUNDS for a tort. Remember a tort has two components — damage AND wrongdoing — i.e violation of some statute, law, duty, responsiblity, etc..
Anyway, it appears that the answer is “yes”.
Now on to idea ownership …
Ideas are NEVER ownable. Period. Ideas only exist in the mind. We can attempt to convey the ideas through spoken words/written symbols or create physical objects which resemble the things in our mind’s eye, but these physical things are not the ideas themselves. They are not ideas which have been “turned into physical objects”, as you say. Any sentence which begins “Ideas can be owned when …” (or some variation) is incorrect.
Your confusion here may be leading you to believe that book ownership means something more than the ownership of paper and ink. But it does not. But if you believe it does, then you might be justified in saying that I was guilty of some wrongdoing by opening and/or reading the book. But I am not.
To illustrate, imagine that the book was just comprised of bound pieces of blank paper (for writing or whatever). I could not conceivably be accused of violating any duty/law/civic responsibility/etc. by opening the book left on MY property (an “unauthorized use” of my property, no less — ha ha.). But, according to you, as soon as we put some writing on these pages, things change. We now have, as a society, a duty to not open a lost or mislaid book. But why? How can you justify this without referring to some general IP standard which applies to the society as a whole?
Since you are trying to create some special new duty/law/standard as grounds for a tort, you would need to provide justification for that. Remember, MY standard — return the item to the owner in the condition it was when it was found — works for EVERYTHING … except your scheme. So to put it another way, you would have to show why my standard is not reasonable/consistent with private property rights.

Sasha Radeta January 4, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Cosmin had a change of heart. Cool with me, but bear in mind the following:

1. “Sale” does not have to imply change of ownership title over goods. You forget that services are also sold – and they are not alienable. The copyright contract can state that the owner sells his services, by allowing you to use your book in limited fashion.
2. YOU GOT IT! Copyright ABSOLUTELY has no place in a transaction where ownership is transferred (sale). That’s what I was telling you all along. These kind of (expensive) transactions are usually reserved for publishers, not regular users.
3. YOU GOT IT FINALLY! Copyright is perfectly valid in any rental transaction (sale : ).
4. Copyright proponents are free to advertise their services – and if their contract explains exactly what’s been advertised, there is no fraud.
5. Market is free to abandon copyright right now, but, in most cases, it chooses not to do it. I explained the reasons already.



I insist on talking about tort – because that’s all it matters when it comes to lawsuits that unauthorized copies (fruit of the trespass). Opening the book to find an owner, or entering someone’s property to save life… that’s not what we talk about here.

I don’t care about metaphysics of “idea ownership.” It is irrelevant. Idea is content of cognition that can be stored on something that we own (either our brain or our hardware). When written down, this content (idea) becomes something ownable.


I’m not introducing any new standards of tort. You’re just not good with that concept. Whether some book is blank or full – mislaid property is someone else’s and unauthorized use is an unauthorized use. Of course that things change when book has some content – the “finder” can use his unauthorized use to produce copies and cause tort to the rightful owner (in loss of earnings). That’s how it is. Give it up.

Sione Vatu January 5, 2007 at 12:21 pm


You have now proved that you are unable to answer direct questions put to you (for example, you can’t explain what you mean by “legally owned”). That’s a shame as it means that your ideas and system of thought are baseless- floating abstractions. A system built on nothing (such as yours) is all very well but it can’t be considered valid in dealing with reality. It may seem to you a nice proposition or suposition but in the end it isn’t anything more than that and can’t be taken as truth (that is, as correct), hence it is invalid, worthless. In this regard it is you, Sasha the slav, who share aspects of thinking with communist intellectuals.

What you have is a tower of ideas based on your own assertion. It all looks very twee and nooice. And in isolation or as an abstract theory it may seem to be very tidy and clever but attempts to practice such nonsense inevitably and consistently result in catastophe, ruin and disaster. Tragic. Bad in practice, bad in theory. Your nonsense would be terrible when reduced to practice. What a mess. As bad as the present patent system, maybe worse.

You do have to provide the fundational derivations for YOUR ideas and you do have to answer directly the questions put to you. That’s because it is you who assert the positive. In the absence of your ability to answer, your ideas can’t be shown to be valid. You are the one making the claims and assertions remember.

Now go back, re-read the questions and make an honest attempt to answer. How hard can it be?


PS you could always concede that you can’t do the derivation. In that case go as far as you can and show where the problem lies. That way that problem could be considered.

greg January 5, 2007 at 5:54 pm

SR> I am not treating them like criminals… You obviously don’t even know what tort is.

Actually, you finally said something right. You aren’t treating them like criminals, you are treating them like your victims. The person intentionally doing harm is you.

SR> …ideas can be turned into physical object or a part of it. Don’t busy yourself with “non-physical ideas,…”

Ideas are always non-physical, that is exactly the characteristic that makes them infinitely replicable. Ideas are non-scarce in the manner that they don’t have the rivalry problem. That’s why people who have ideas (which they believe are unique) want the state to impose scarcity upon actual physical goods via copyright/patent. The very act of people seeking to have the state impose copyrights and patents upon actual physical goods should tell even the most clouded intelligence that ideas are not rivalrous scarce and thus they are not property. The “infinitely replicable” characteristic is exactly why ideas are nothing like property. The fact that people act on an idea and thus manifest an idea in a physical object is irrelevent to the nature of ideas themselves.

SR> And sorry about lapses like than=then… I write too fast.

That is the least of your problems.

FM> Any sentence which begins “Ideas can be owned when …” (or some variation) is incorrect.

Exactly. It immediately self-contradicts; Not that such a rudimentary logical problem will pose any barrier to the stubborn.

SR> When written down, this content (idea) becomes something ownable.

You need to establish ideas as property. It is rudimentary to your task. You have not done so. And according to you, why not make all speech copyrightable? After all, speech is physical: compressions and rarefactions of the air. Just because spoken speech doesn’t have the same lifetime as a piece of paper, so what (speech is undeniably physical)? Where does the arbitrary lifetime rule kick in?

Your idea about ideas is ludicrous. But I’ll grant you “ownership” of it. I sure want nothing to do with it.

Sasha Radeta January 9, 2007 at 12:22 am


Don’t be so retarded. Everyone knows that “legally owned” means. It’s a shame you don’t – so you have to blab about nothing…. I mean – what did you try to say with all that gibberish about ideas? You say: “attempts to practice such nonsense inevitably and consistently result in catastophe, ruin and disaster.”

You’re probably high on drugs, or just ill.



Learn difference between a crime and a tort. If you cause a car-accident, it is not a crime, but you will still have to pay for the results of your actions.

As far as ideas go, they can be witten down or turn into physical and ownable. Of course that you can own a piece of paper or some othe hardware that is scarce when it contains some valuable idea (whose demand exceeds supply if price was set to zero). On the other hand, air is not ownable (it’s not scarce). Your economic ignorance prevents you from understanding why common speech is not copyrightable.

Sasha Radeta January 9, 2007 at 12:36 am

When I say that something is “owned” – I refer to the definition of ownership that was provided by Ludwig von Mises (the standard definition). From that point – we can conclude that the owner has the right to allow and restrict certain uses of his property. That’s where the copyright (the restriction of reproduction and other commercial uses) comes from. And you can’t do anything about it Sione, except talk some gibberish abour “premise, fundational derivations, isolation or as an abstract theory”

: )

Sasha Radeta January 9, 2007 at 12:37 am

When I say that something is “owned” – I refer to the definition of ownership that was provided by Ludwig von Mises (the standard definition). From that point – we can conclude that the owner has the right to allow and restrict certain uses of his property. That’s where the copyright (the restriction of reproduction and other commercial uses) comes from. And you can’t do anything about it Sione, except talk some gibberish about “premise, fundational derivations, isolation or as an abstract theory”

: )

Sione Vatu January 9, 2007 at 8:48 pm


Drugs or illness! What a choice. You are getting to be quite the hysteric. You must be speaking from personal experience! Still, what you have provided is sufficient to come to some conclusions about your approach to the argument.

You write: “When I say that something is “owned” – I refer to the definition of ownership that was provided by Ludwig von Mises (the standard definition).”

& yet you wrote: “Property is that which is legally owned by an individual or entity.”

Then you proceeded to assert your copyright on the basis of “legal ownership.” [your post of December 28]

You also claimed: “Everyone knows that (sic) “legally owned” means.”

Well, von Mises certainly did.

Prof Mises warns (in Human Action) not to confuse the source of or reason for ownership of property with a legal definition. That is, he made a clear distinction between the concept “legally owned” (ownership determined and subject to some government’s legislation) and real or actual ownership of property. He teaches that the law is not the source of property or its ownership. He goes further and demonstrates that the notion of “legal ownership” is used for socialist ends. It is a socialist construct designed to collectivise private property. [Sasha, you dirty pinko commie you!]

Were you aware of Mises position it is likely you would not have relied on the concept of “legal ownership” in deriving your copyright. You certainly wouldn’t have written about “legal ownership” in the way you did (hence resulting in my pulling you up and asking you questions about it). Therefore it is reasonable to suspect you do not know how Mises treated the definition and derivation of property or how he established ownership thereof. Further, you appear to be using socialist premise and argument to establish your copyright idea. Grave errors, indeed to be avoided.

It is vitally important to understand the first principle derivations of ideas such as copyright. You should by now have started to realise why. In this case it is likely you have not studied the source of the idea you promoted- merely accepted something and elaborated on it, building a tower of rationalisations founded on…. unexamined premise. In other words, your copyright argument was invalid at source (and you never checked).

I sense your frustration at being asked to go back to step one and work on derivation and validation. How tiresome it all must seem, at least until the terrible realisation dawns that it just may be that you can’t successfully undertake the task. Your intellectual honesty and personal integrity is measured on what you do as the result of that realisation.

To evaluate your idea and its legitimacy it is important to examine all those details that you were so determined to evade addressing. It is important to strip away the compartmentalisation, leave the isolated concretes aside for the moment and work directly with the core principles & premise supporting or refuting the proposal (the idea or system you are interested in). Deal with the fundamentals, they are extremely important.

And so where does that leave matters now? Well, for a start it is to be recommended you read some of von Mises’ work and think about it really, really carefully. Secondly, the take home message is that you have not been able to demonstrate a watertight chain of logic from reality to your copyright assertion. You can’t derive it properly as the chain is broken at source (you accepted faulty premise). I suspect there are several other failures of logic inherent in the promotion of your copyright idea but we have not yet examined them in any detail as yet. For example, it is necessary to address and identify what attributes must be exhibited for an entity to be properly regarded as property. And so on.

Lastly. There is that old saying, “Bad in practice. Bad in theory.” You should consider the practical implications and applications of your theory. A number of serious problems present themselves to undermine it.


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