Tag Archives: monopoly

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U.S. Transhumanist Party Support for H.R. 1868, the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 – Post by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
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The United States Transhumanist Party and Nevada Transhumanist Party support H.R. 1868, the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017, proposed by Rep. Jacky Rosen of Henderson, Nevada.

This bill, if enacted into law, would undo the power recently granted by S.J. Res. 34 for regional-monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell individuals’ private data – including browsing histories – without those individuals’ consent. For more details, read Caleb Chen’s article on Privacy News Online, “Congresswoman Rosen introduces Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 to reverse S.J. Res. 34”.

Section I of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform states, “The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports individual privacy and liberty over how to apply technology to one’s personal life. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that each individual should remain completely sovereign in the choice to disclose or not disclose personal activities, preferences, and beliefs within the public sphere. As such, the United States Transhumanist Party opposes all forms of mass surveillance and any intrusion by governmental or private institutions upon non-coercive activities that an individual has chosen to retain within his, her, or its private sphere. However, the United States Transhumanist Party also recognizes that no individuals should be protected from peaceful criticism of any matters that those individuals have chosen to disclose within the sphere of public knowledge and discourse.”

Neither governmental nor private institutions – especially private institutions with coercive monopoly powers granted to them by laws barring or limiting competition – should be permitted to deprive individuals of the choice over whether or not to disclose their personal information.

Individuals’ ownership over their own data and sovereignty over whether or not to disclose any browsing history or other history of online visitation to external entities are essential components of privacy, and we applaud Representative Rosen for her efforts to restore these concepts within United States federal law.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free  by filling out the membership application form here

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Horror: Pirate Contacts Lenses! – Article by Andrew Quinlan

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Categories: Economics, Politics, Science, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Andrew Quinlan
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This Halloween, scores of consumers have purchased nearly 100,000 pairs of “counterfeit, illegal, and unapproved” colored contacts for costumes, all of which have been seized by “Double Vision,” an FDA-led consumer safety campaign.

Not surprisingly, optometrists and their favored lens manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson are using this news hook as a means of inciting fear. They are now stepping on the gas of their congressional lobbying efforts so that their bill, The Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA), is passed into law.

The CLCHPA’s objective is to rid the country of the free market reforms brought about by The Fairness in Contact Lens Consumer Act (FCLCA), a 2003 bill that opened the contacts lens industry to free market competition for the first time.

Before the passage of this bill, eye patients had virtually no rights, while optometrists had almost total control over the sale of contact lenses. Doctors were not obligated to give patients copies of their prescriptions. As a result, they could mandate specifically where patients were allowed to purchase lenses. This usually meant that consumers had no choice but to purchase Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue lenses—eye doctors’ favored brand—directly from optometrists at inflated retail costs.

The Republican-controlled Congress’ 2003 FCLCA legislation stopped this government-created monopoly by enforcing consumer rights. It forced doctors to give patients copies of their prescriptions and gave them only an 8-hour window to file complaints regarding third-party sale requests, halting the process of “pocket vetoing” valid sales.

As a result, consumers were left with far more buying options. With barriers to entry significantly curtailed, third-party lens sellers like Walmart, Costco, and 1-800 Contacts had a much easier time selling contacts. This, in turn, led prices for contact lenses to spiral downward, allowing over 41 million Americans to purchase more than $7 billion worth of contact lenses every year.

Eye Safety?

Enraged, optometrist associations and contact lens vendors like Johnson & Johnson immediately began lobbying Congress to change the law. For the past decade, they have been claiming that these third-party vendors are jeopardizing the eye safety of millions of Americans. Specifically, they have expressed concern that these lenses pose a risk of developing keratitis, an eye infection affecting the cornea.

For these reasons, members of the medical lobby drafted the CLCHPA, a new bill that will greatly increase regulations in the contact lens industry, making it extremely difficult for third-party lens vendors to stay in business.

The bill is a solution in search of a problem. It will re-capture the contact lens industry and propel prices upwards, all while failing to increase safety even the slightest degree.

It is ridiculous that some doctors are correlating buying contact lenses from reputable third-party companies like Costco, Walmart, and 1-800 Contacts with purchasing them illegally from a Halloween street vendor.

For one, the lenses sold by third-party sellers are federally regulated. You still need a prescription to purchase contact lenses from online sellers (although numerous studies, as well as practices in other nations, have shown that even prescriptions are not necessary), and doctors still have the ability to strike down each sale if there is a legitimate health concern.  

In a letter written to the CLCHPA’s authors, Dr. Paul B. Donzis, a professor of ophthalmology at UCLA, made clear that buying contacts from online sellers poses no danger.  “Based on…authoritative scientific articles, it appears that online sales of contact lenses have not contributed to any increase in the incidence of contact lens related injury,” he said.

Moreover, the medical studies match the doctor’s rhetoric. A 20-year epidemiologic study conducted by Doctors  Schein, Stapleton, and Keay, published in 2007 by the medical journal Eye & Contact Lens, found that there has not been any increase in microbial keratitis since the online contact industry sprouted up and began providing more and better affordable choices for consumers.

The empirical data is as clear as day: no one is at risk from purchasing lenses from third-party contact lens vendors. The only risk that third-party vendors pose is to the market share of the crony medical lobby.

This Halloween, Congress should not be duped by the false claims coming from the mouths of the medical lobby. Congress is tricked often enough. This time, they should give American families a treat by reading through these prominent medical studies and striking down the anti-consumer Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA) once and for all.

quinlan

Andrew Quinlan

Andrew F. Quinlan is co-founder and president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (@CFandP).

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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The Bad Economics Behind “Monopoly” – Article by Chris Calton

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Categories: Culture, Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Chris Calton
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In 1868, a young Henry George wrote an editorial on the nearly completed Pacific Railroad that was soon to connect his state of California with the rest of the country. This editorial, “What the Railroad Will Bring Us,” acknowledged the progress that railroads would signify in the industrializing economy of the Gilded Age, but George saw this as a boon only for the privileged few. Like many thinkers of his time, he was concerned with the “labor question,” which he referred to as one of “the riddles of a Sphinx, which not to answer is death.” Why was there poverty in an age of economic expansion?

Henry George believed that he figured out the riddle after a horseback ride in Oakland Hills, California. While stopping to give his horse a drink of water, George engaged in polite conversation with a farmer, casually asking the value of the land around him. The farmer told him of some land for sale nearby for $1,000 per acre. With this thought in mind, George concluded that land values would inevitably rise as the population grew, and speculators — that economic specter historians love to fear — could own land unproductively to profit merely off its natural increase in value. This, George decided, was the reason why there was poverty in a progressing economy.

In 1879, George published the book Progress and Poverty, formally laying out this conundrum and his answer to it. In it, he detailed for the first time his “Single Tax Plan” that proposed to tax land in proportion to its increase in value, which he believed would lead to the end of property rights in land entirely.

Apparently, George’s idea hit home with a lot of people at the time. His book outsold every book the year it was published except for the Bible, and a movement to form “Single Tax Clubs” spread throughout the country and beyond. Henry George became a Gilded Age rockstar.monopoly1

Among his followers was a woman named Elizabeth Magie. She believed that George’s land value tax plan was the solution to economic woes, and she wanted to bring this idea to as many people as she could. To do this, she developed The Landlord’s Game. This board game intended to demonstrate the horrors of land accumulation and rent, and to illustrate the benefit of George’s Single Tax Plan.

The original game, patented in 1904, closely resembles the modern game of Monopoly, that would later evolve out of it. Players started in a square that said “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” As the original rules state, “Each time a player goes around the board he is supposed to have performed so much labor upon Mother Earth, for which after passing the beginning-point he receives his wages, one hundred dollars, and is checked upon the tally-sheet as having been around once.”

Most of the squares look at least somewhat familiar. Many gave sale prices and rent costs, not unlike modern monopoly. This was explicitly meant to illustrate the belief that land rent transactions were involuntary, a notion that Benjamin Powell has already addressed. The railroads are also present, representing “transportation, and when a player stops upon one of these spaces he must pay five dollars to the ‘R.R.’” Less familiar squares demonstrated the horrors of private property rights by saying “No Trespassing. Go to Jail” from which the more ambiguous “Go Directly to Jail” corner would evolve in the modern game.

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In 1913, a version of the game was picked up in Britain called Brer Fox an’ Brer Rabbit, taking the name from the African fables of Brother Fox and Brother Rabbit (the native language of African slaves lacked the diphthong syllable, so the word “brother” was pronounced “br’er” when told in English). In this, the clever Br’er Rabbit represented the wily landowner earning his immoral rents. The pesky Br’er Fox was meant to represent British reform leader David Lloyd George, who was of no relation to Henry George but was a strong supporter of his land value tax. In 1909, Lloyd George came up with the “People’s Budget” which instituted a version of Henry George’s land tax and planted the seeds for the British welfare state. His face is imposed on the figure of Br’er Fox on the original cover for the British game.

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This version of the game was actually used to educate students about Henry George’s ideas in places like the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. The Landlord’s Game and its British variant attempted to teach people the socialistic concepts that wages come from land, private property in land was immoral and destructive, and the economy is a zero-sum environment. The game evolved over time into the modern version Monopoly, whose invention is falsely credited to Charles Darrow.

Today, of course, the specifically Georgist elements have been removed from the game. There are no longer any “No Trespassing” squares, and what once was known as “The Poor House” where bankrupt players were forced to go upon running out of money is now the “Free Parking” square. The several “Absolute Necessity Taxes” across the board (perhaps the one aspect of the game’s educational commentary that libertarians could agree with) have been reduced to the Luxury and Income Tax squares. And of course, the unambiguously socialistic “Mother Earth” starting square became simply “Go.” Nonetheless, the modern variant retains the zero-sum myths of monopoly land accumulation, and in this, the legacy of Henry George is retained. If you’ve ever finished a game of monopoly with a frustrated player overturning the board and scattering the pieces, then it’s possible that Lizzie Magie accomplished her original goal.

Chris Calton is a Mises University alumnus and an economic historian. See his YouTube channel here.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Star Wars: Intellectual Property Strikes Back – Article by Matthew McCaffrey

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The New Renaissance HatMatthew McCaffrey
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IP Deflates the Expanded Universe

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already one of the most successful films of all time, and the Star Wars franchise is poised to grow at .5 past light speed for the foreseeable future. Yet, while Disney rapidly develops new chapters for the saga, it’s also quietly deleting some old ones: in 2014, Lucasfilm announced that to make way for the new films, the Star Wars Expanded Universe (or EU) would no longer be considered canon, a decision that disappointed many longtime fans.

The EU refers to the vast number of novels, short stories, comics, and games that explore the Star Wars universe outside the major films. These works enjoy an enormous following but are now consigned to a kind of alternate universe called Star Wars Legends. In other words, they will be disregarded by Lucasfilm’s officially licensed material, and any new Star Wars stories will have to fit the new canon. The original EU is discontinued, which understandably has fans feeling abandoned.

Why should the EU pose a problem, though? Why can’t artists and fans simply continue developing the canon they love, while Lucasfilm does the same? The answer is simple: intellectual property law.

Disney’s ownership of Lucasfilm allows it to license the Star Wars brand and all related intellectual property rights, especially its copyrights and trademarks. Anyone adding to the universe can only do so with permission, giving Lucasfilm power over any content within the universe or even similar to it.

In fact, Lucasfilm has a long history of aggressively litigating its IP, suing everyone from small businesses to major corporations. One of the most infamous cases was brought against the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, which was accused of copying at least 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. These included such astonishingly original concepts as a friendly robot, an imprisoned heroine, and a movie ending with an awards ceremony.

Returning to the EU, it does make some artistic and financial sense for Disney to steer the franchise in a new direction by discontinuing older content. At the same time, artists and fans want to enjoy the EU they already know and love, something Lucasfilm legally prohibits by enforcing its IP.

My point is not that one stream of content is objectively better, but that it’s vital for all involved to freely choose the kind of content they want to create and sell. By increasing costs to both consumers and innovators, IP has already played a role in the decline of art forms like classical music, and copyrights and trademarks have similar effects in the world of pop art.

For Star Wars, original content mainly revolves around trademark rights, of which Lucasfilm owns many. Its usual defense of these properties is that unlicensed content causes confusion: without legally enforceable restrictions, consumers might think they’re buying “genuine” products when they’re actually getting cheap imitations. Furthermore, products similar to those created by Lucasfilm might be used to earn profits for noncreators who capitalize on confusion. A licensing deal from the original source ensures people won’t be taken in by unskilled or unscrupulous artists.

Assuming this is the real motivation for trademark protection, the argument is still weak. Like many consumer-oriented regulations, trademark law is patronizing: its basic assumption is that people are too dim to distinguish between official products and knockoffs or other free riders on the brand. But consumers, especially the kind of devoted fans Star Wars inspires, are perfectly capable of figuring out for themselves which content they prefer. The real issue boils down to revenue: Lucasfilm doesn’t want other businesses profiting from ideas it “owns,” and it’s perfectly happy to use monopoly privileges to protect its bottom line.

But Lucasfilm doesn’t need to litigate its trademarks to preserve profits or brand identity, which would likely be stronger in the long run without IP. For example, without trademarks, Lucasfilm would continue to officially sanction content it approves of and let consumers know which works are not “official.” If fans respect its judgment, the official Star Wars brand would thrive as people adopted Lucasfilm’s endorsement as a benchmark for quality and narrative continuity.

Competition for fan loyalty would drive official and unofficial creators alike to produce high-quality content. Different groups of creators would specialize in their own alternate universes that would succeed or fail based on their ability to satisfy fans. This would also eliminate the uncertainty surrounding fan fiction, which exists in the complex gray area of “fair use” laws. Most importantly, we’d all be able to decide for ourselves which works we treat as canon and which we abandon to the garbage masher of history.

The only truly expanded universe — one that’s creative, innovative, and prosperous — is one without IP protectionism. When we embrace genuine competition in ideas instead of competition through legal privilege, then, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, we’ve “taken a first step into a larger world.”

Matthew McCaffrey is assistant professor of enterprise at the University of Manchester and editor of Libertarian Papers.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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The Hoverboard’s Patent Problem – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

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The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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Who has the right to make a “hoverboard”?

Shane Chen of Portland, Oregon, owns the patent to one of the hottest holiday gifts this season. It is a kind of hoverboard, a small item that keeps its user upright using infrared sensors, gyroscopes, and motors. You have probably seen them all over your city. You might even have been approached by a street seller.

The authorized version — licensed by Chen himself — is being made and distributed by Razor USA. Prices started at $1,000 and up, but competition from cheap knockoffs, selling for as low as $200, has brought the price for the authorized version to $600. Still, there are places online where you can get them for $200. If experience in new products in a guide to the future, in a year, they will be available for less than $100.

And truly, these knockoffs are everywhere. Small entrepreneurs are importing them from small manufacturers by the thousands and selling them on the streets. They are making and selling so fast that quality control has been… lax. There are anecdotal reports of explosions and sudden acceleration (parodies on this Saturday night live skit). Amazon has refused to sell many brands.

The patent has proven difficult to enforce. Razor is spending up to $1 million per week to sue unauthorized manufactures. It’s a reminder: it’s never enough just own the government-granted monopoly rights to produce something. It always costs money to enforce it. You have to investigate. You have to litigate. You have to win. And by the time that day comes, you might have lost vast market share.

If the product is popular enough, the task is essentially hopeless. The resources and time expended on patent enforcement might instead of gone to innovation and marketing toward actually making profits. Enforcing a monopoly isn’t necessarily the same as making money. Indeed, it is the opposite.

The Case of Eli Whitney
The hoverboard saga brings to mind the history of one of the 19th-century’s most famous inventions: the cotton gin. The holder of the patent was Eli Whitney. A year after his graduation from Yale, he designed and constructed an improvement in the cotton gin — a technology that had existed since the ancient world. He obtained the patent on a single feature, a brush-like extension that improved the way the seeds were extracted from the cotton.

According to Boldrin and Levine, Eli and his partner Phineas Miller has dreams of getting rich with a monopoly pricing scheme. They would install their machines throughout the South and ask a royalty of two fifths, payable in ginned cotton. This prospect seriously annoyed farmers throughout the region, understandably.

So it became a common practice for farmers to reverse engineer the innovation — not a difficult thing to do. Rather than lease the Whitney machine, they would just make their own. Does this violate anyone’s rights? Of course not. A design of a contraption is made scarce and “owned” only by legislation. To forcibly prevent farmers from making their own machines is actually an invasion of their rights.

Still, with the prospect of riches dancing in his head, Eli and Phineas set out to sue every farmer who reverse engineered their design. “Whitney and Miller spent a lot of time and money trying to enforce their patent on the cotton gin, but with little success,” write Boldrin and Levine. “Between 1794 and 1807 they went around the South bringing to court everyone in sight, yet received little compensation for their strenuous efforts.”

Meanwhile, the gin led to vast increases in productivity. The cotton industry boomed. But the holders of the patent became ever poorer.

Fortunately, the story ends well. Whitney learned that suing people is less profitable than actually marketing products. His next project was to invent a machine that created interchangeable parts for muskets. Having learned his lesson, he did not seek a patent for his innovation. He just got busy right away and began selling. (His main customer, as it turns out, became the US Army.)

He finally did strike it big. As Boldrin and Levine summarize the lesson: “It was not as a monopolist of the cotton gin, but rather as the competitive manufacturer of muskets that Whitney finally became rich.”

Will Shane Chen Learn the Lesson?
The hoverboard, like the cotton gin, is in enormous demand. All the government power is the world will not prevent hundreds of manufacturers from making them, driving the price down and down until everyone can afford one. That one million per week that Razor is spending on trying to stop copycats is probably better spent on marketing and innovation — actually selling stuff rather than trying to prevent others from selling stuff.

Absent the government regulation, how can innovators make money? They have the first-mover advantage. This is what provides a period of high profitability before others get in on the act. This is the competitive market at work, inspiring everyone to serve the customer ever more faithfully through lower prices and better products.

Another factor that gives advantage to the innovators is trust. Even now, you can go to the drug store and see name-brand products living alongside store-branded products. Both make money. Both appeal to certain market segments. One producer’s gain does not necessarily come at the expense of other producers, unless the government intervenes.

It is common wisdom to say that the patent system is broken. But what is broken about it? It’s not that the system is abused. It is that it is used at all. Industrial monopolies achieved through government grants of special privileges create waste — and the ongoing lawsuits concerning the hoverboard are a case in point.

Whether it is ginning cotton or zipping around on city sidewalks, a true innovative society encourages as much production and innovation as possible, in service of the masses who love the newest and coolest thing.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. 

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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The Poison Apple Called TPP – Article by Jeffrey Tucker

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Categories: Economics, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
October 14, 2015
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Let’s say you have a trade deal that completely eliminates 18,000 existing tariffs between 12 countries that are otherwise hectoring each other with punishing trade barriers. To a person with a brain, this sounds amazing. Unless you are a luddite, a nativist, or a unionist, there seems to be every reason to support it. Trade is good. Global commerce is good. Fewer trade barriers are a good thing.

But let’s say that this same treaty binds all 12 signatory nations to an egregious imposition of government privileges for reactionary corporations who are paying to keep their cartels in place. I’m speaking here of big media, big music, and big pharma. They all live and breath to keep their “intellectual property” and to crush and destroy what they call “piracy,” which is actually the same thing as free-market competition.

What if this wonderful trade treaty was just a stalking horse for the dramatic expansion of these corporate monopolies? What if the whole point of the treaty were to use the language of growth and globalism to fight and crush the pressures toward universal information sharing that are inherent in the digital age?

I’m speaking here of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Like the Nafta and WTO battles before it, the TPP is being marketed as a free-trade agreement. The partisans have lined up for and against it on that basis. But this is all so much distraction. The true core of the treaty is protectionist in the extreme. It protects a handful of powerful industry players against genuine market competition.

The rumors about the Intellectual Property provisions have been flying for years. But no one had seen the results of the endless and secretive negotiations. Then Wikileaks got involved. It released the full draft text of the IP sections. It turns out to be far more than the usual prattle and the expected sop to a few deep-pocketed industries.

The IP sections of the TPP attempt to impose — by force of blackmail  — the worst of American law as it applies to copyright, patent, and trademark, and do so in industries where there is otherwise some freedom left in the system.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for example, puts the burden of proof on websites and internet service providers to make sure their content does not violate copyright. The book could be 75 years old and completely out of print but if a web bot discovers a PDF on the site, the government can force its immediate shutdown. This system pertains in the US right now but the TPP guarantees its enforcement in 12 countries in the Pacific Rim — some of whom host sites that are major sources of free information on the planet today.

The biggest revelation from the leaked document concerns big pharma. Their dream is pretty simple: they want to end generic drugs and the manner in which they distribute copies of named-brand products at much lower prices. In foreign countries, generics are a key to life. They are the way that people benefit from improved medical technology without paying exorbitant US prices.

The TPP would go a long way toward illegalizing generics for a whole class of pharmaceuticals. It all comes down to the rules that are used to decide whether generics can be produced at all. In the US, there is a practice called “linkage” that makes it impossible to produce drugs if there are any unresolved patent disputes. Linkage does not apply in most nations party to the TPP.

Politico explains:

Some of the most contentious provisions involve “patent linkage,” which would prevent regulators in TPP nations from approving generic drugs whenever there are any unresolved patent issues. The TPP draft would make this linkage mandatory, which could help drug companies fend off generics just by claiming an infringement…. In an April 15 letter to Froman, Heather Bresch, the CEO of the generic drug company Mylan, warned that mandatory patent linkage would be “a recipe for indefinite evergreening of pharmaceutical monopolies,” leading to the automatic rejection of generic applications. The U.S. already has mandatory linkage, but most other TPP countries do not, and Bresch argued that U.S. law includes a number of safeguards and incentives for generic companies that have not made it into TPP.

What’s even more remarkable is how the TPP would actually expand linkage to cover new classes of drugs in the US.

Politico explains again:

The opponents are also worried about the treaty’s effect on the U.S. market, because its draft language would extend mandatory patent linkage to biologics, the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world. Biologics can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for patients with illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis B and cancer, and the first knockoffs have not yet reached pharmacies. The critics say that extending linkage to biologics—which can have hundreds of patents—would help insulate them from competition forever.

The costs of this treaty, then, will not just be felt abroad. The costs will further institutionalize the pharmaceutical monopoly in the US, making people pay far more for drugs than they currently do, and even curbing research and development beyond what the major industry players are willing to endure to bring a product to market.

And it’s not just about the US. It’s about the countries party to this agreement. They are being blackmailed by the American ruling class, badgered and bribed to accept bad law in exchange for market access. This is not how trade is supposed to work.

But from the ruling-class point of view, this is the whole point of trade treaties. Any country can have free trade anytime it wants. It only needs to stop punishing imports and start making good stuff that others want to buy. You have to ask yourself: what is the real point of these thousand-page documents, the years of negotiations, and all this secrecy? Why did the first public appearance of any aspect of the TPP have to be released on Wikileaks?

What is it that they don’t want us to know?

Patent attorney Stephan Kinsella explains: “What is happening here is that the US, at the behest of the American RIAA (music industry), MPAA (Hollywood), and Big Pharma industry, is using its hegemonic/superpower status to foist American-style IP law onto other countries, for the benefit of these special interests. This has been going on for decades now… Once TPP is ratified, as I expect it will be, US-style draconian IP law will be put into force in countries that comprise about 40% of world GDP.”

Adam Smith nailed it: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Those who have watched these negotiations say that the American negotiators have basically operated as lobbyists from the American pharmaceutical industry. This is why Doctors without Borders has come out so strongly against TPP. And this is also why the Electronic Freedom Foundation has come out so strongly against it as well.

The best case for the TPP is that many bad guys are against it. But that doesn’t mean that true liberals should be for it. In politics, what looks like a shiny red delicious apple can be poisoned to the very core.

Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based, action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty-minded. He is also distinguished fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow of the Acton Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, and author of six books. He is available for speaking and interviews via tucker@liberty.me.

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Ludd vs. Schumpeter: Fear of Robot Labor is Fear of the Free Market – Article by Wendy McElroy

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The New Renaissance Hat
Wendy McElroy
September 18, 2014
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Report Suggests Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Vulnerable to Computerization,” screams a headline. The cry of “robots are coming to take our jobs!” is ringing across North America. But the concern reveals nothing so much as a fear—and misunderstanding—of the free market.

In the short term, robotics will cause some job dislocation; in the long term, labor patterns will simply shift. The use of robotics to increase productivity while decreasing costs works basically the same way as past technological advances, like the production line, have worked. Those advances improved the quality of life of billions of people and created new forms of employment that were unimaginable at the time.

Given that reality, the cry that should be heard is, “Beware of monopolies controlling technology through restrictive patents or other government-granted privilege.”

The robots are coming!

Actually, they are here already. Technological advance is an inherent aspect of a free market in which innovators seeks to produce more value at a lower cost. Entrepreneurs want a market edge. Computerization, industrial control systems, and robotics have become an integral part of that quest. Many manual jobs, such as factory-line assembly, have been phased out and replaced by others, such jobs related to technology, the Internet, and games. For a number of reasons, however, robots are poised to become villains of unemployment. Two reasons come to mind:

1. Robots are now highly developed and less expensive. Such traits make them an increasingly popular option. The Banque de Luxembourg News offered a snapshot:

The currently-estimated average unit cost of around $50,000 should certainly decrease further with the arrival of “low-cost” robots on the market. This is particularly the case for “Baxter,” the humanoid robot with evolving artificial intelligence from the US company Rethink Robotics, or “Universal 5” from the Danish company Universal Robots, priced at just $22,000 and $34,000 respectively.

Better, faster, and cheaper are the bases of increased productivity.

2. Robots will be interacting more directly with the general public. The fast-food industry is a good example. People may be accustomed to ATMs, but a robotic kiosk that asks, “Do you want fries with that?” will occasion widespread public comment, albeit temporarily.

Comment from displaced fast-food restaurant workers may not be so transient. NBC News recently described a strike by workers in an estimated 150 cities. The workers’ main demand was a $15 minimum wage, but they also called for better working conditions. The protesters, ironically, are speeding up their own unemployment by making themselves expensive and difficult to manage.

Labor costs

Compared to humans, robots are cheaper to employ—partly for natural reasons and partly because of government intervention.

Among the natural costs are training, safety needs, overtime, and personnel problems such as hiring, firing and on-the-job theft. Now, according to Singularity Hub, robots can also be more productive in certain roles. They  “can make a burger in 10 seconds (360/hr). Fast yes, but also superior quality. Because the restaurant is free to spend its savings on better ingredients, it can make gourmet burgers at fast food prices.”

Government-imposed costs include minimum-wage laws and mandated benefits, as well as discrimination, liability, and other employment lawsuits. The employment advisory Workforce explained, “Defending a case through discovery and a ruling on a motion for summary judgment can cost an employer between $75,000 and $125,000. If an employer loses summary judgment—which, much more often than not, is the case—the employer can expect to spend a total of $175,000 to $250,000 to take a case to a jury verdict at trial.”

At some point, human labor will make sense only to restaurants that wish to preserve the “personal touch” or to fill a niche.

The underlying message of robotechnophobia

The tech site Motherboard aptly commented, “The coming age of robot workers chiefly reflects a tension that’s been around since the first common lands were enclosed by landowners who declared them private property: that between labour and the owners of capital. The future of labour in the robot age has everything to do with capitalism.”

Ironically, Motherboard points to one critic of capitalism who defended technological advances in production: none other than Karl Marx. He called machines “fixed capital.” The defense occurs in a segment called “The Fragment on Machines”  in the unfinished but published manuscript Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie (Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy).

Marx believed the “variable capital” (workers) dislocated by machines would be freed from the exploitation of their “surplus labor,” the difference between their wages and the selling price of a product, which the capitalist pockets as profit. Machines would benefit “emancipated labour” because capitalists would “employ people upon something not directly and immediately productive, e.g. in the erection of machinery.” The relationship change would revolutionize society and hasten the end of capitalism itself.

Never mind that the idea of “surplus labor” is intellectually bankrupt, technology ended up strengthening capitalism. But Marx was right about one thing: Many workers have been emancipated from soul-deadening, repetitive labor. Many who feared technology did so because they viewed society as static. The free market is the opposite. It is a dynamic, quick-response ecosystem of value. Internet pioneer Vint Cerf argues, “Historically, technology has created more jobs than it destroys and there is no reason to think otherwise in this case.”

Forbes pointed out that U.S. unemployment rates have changed little over the past 120 years (1890 to 2014) despite massive advances in workplace technology:

There have been three major spikes in unemployment, all caused by financiers, not by engineers: the railroad and bank failures of the Panic of 1893, the bank failures of the Great Depression, and finally the Great Recession of our era, also stemming from bank failures. And each time, once the bankers and policymakers got their houses in order, businesses, engineers, and entrepreneurs restored growth and employment.

The drive to make society static is powerful obstacle to that restored employment. How does society become static? A key word in the answer is “monopoly.” But we should not equivocate on two forms of monopoly.

A monopoly established by aggressive innovation and excellence will dominate only as long as it produces better or less expensive goods than others can. Monopolies created by crony capitalism are entrenched expressions of privilege that serve elite interests. Crony capitalism is the economic arrangement by which business success depends upon having a close relationship with government, including legal privileges.

Restrictive patents are a basic building block of crony capitalism because they grant a business the “right” to exclude competition. Many libertarians deny the legitimacy of any patents. The nineteenth century classical liberal Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk rejected patents on classically Austrian grounds. He called them “legally compulsive relationships of patronage which are based on a vendor’s exclusive right of sale”: in short, a government-granted privilege that violated every man’s right to compete freely. Modern critics of patents include the Austrian economist Murray Rothbard and intellectual property attorney Stephan Kinsella.

Pharmaceuticals and technology are particularly patent-hungry. The extent of the hunger can be gauged by how much money companies spend to protect their intellectual property rights. In 2011, Apple and Google reportedly spent more on patent lawsuits and purchases than on research and development. A New York Times article addressed the costs imposed on tech companies by “patent trolls”—people who do not produce or supply services based on patents they own but use them only to collect licensing fees and legal settlements. “Litigation costs in the United States related to patent assertion entities [trolls],” the article claimed, “totaled nearly $30 billion in 2011, more than four times the costs in 2005.” These costs and associated ones, like patent infringement insurance, harm a society’s productivity by creating stasis and  preventing competition.

Dean Baker, co-director of the progressive Center for Economic Policy Research, described the difference between robots produced on the marketplace and robots produced by monopoly. Private producers “won’t directly get rich” because “robots will presumably be relatively cheap to make. After all, we can have robots make them. If the owners of robots get really rich it will be because the government has given them patent monopolies so that they can collect lots of money from anyone who wants to buy or build a robot.”  The monopoly “tax” will be passed on to impoverish both consumers and employees.

Conclusion

Ultimately, we should return again to the wisdom of Joseph Schumpeter, who reminds us that technological progress, while it can change the patterns of production, tends to free up resources for new uses, making life better over the long term. In other words, the displacement of workers by robots is just creative destruction in action. Just as the car starter replaced the buggy whip, the robot might replace the burger-flipper. Perhaps the burger-flipper will migrate to a new profession, such as caring for an elderly person or cleaning homes for busy professionals. But there are always new ways to create value.

An increased use of robots will cause labor dislocation, which will be painful for many workers in the near term. But if market forces are allowed to function, the dislocation will be temporary. And if history is a guide, the replacement jobs will require skills that better express what it means to be human: communication, problem-solving, creation, and caregiving.

Wendy McElroy (wendy@wendymcelroy.com) is an author, editor of ifeminists.com, and Research Fellow at The Independent Institute (independent.org).

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education.

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Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions on Road Privatization (2009) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Economics, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
Originally Published September 12, 2009
as Part of Issue CCVII of The Rational Argumentator
Republished July 24, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally published as part of Issue CCVII of The Rational Argumentator on September 12, 2009, using the Yahoo! Voices publishing platform. Because of the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices, the essay is now being made directly available on The Rational Argumentator.
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 24, 2014
***

I recently received a series of questions pertaining to my articles, “The Necessity of Road Privatization” and “How to Privatize the Roads.” I make my answers available to the public, as I have heard the same questions frequently posed to advocates of turning roads over to free-market competition.

Issue: Unavailability of Electronic Technology

Question: “You suggested that electronic tolling can be used for private roads, but what if this technology is not available for some countries? If the technology were not in place, would privatization still be desirable?”

Answer: Road privatization is desirable no matter what the technological level of the society adopting it. There are several justifications for this:

1) In a private, competitive road market, the requisite technologies for providing easy, convenient access to roads for customers will develop quickly, as entrepreneurs will be motivated by profit to invest in them. After all, if customers must spend a lot of time waiting at toll booths to get on the road, they will take their business elsewhere.

2) At any level of initial technology, it is possible to have superior organizational and logistical methods that maximize user convenience. For instance, if we assume no electronic technology whatsoever and physical cash collection as the only feasible means of obtaining payment, we can still conceive of entrepreneurs having large numbers of toll booths at each checkpoint to ensure that customers can pay quickly and be on their way. Alternatively, entrepreneurs can always charge road users regular membership fees and issue members identification papers that would be checked anytime the user enters the road. It is not always possible, of course, to predict the specific form an organizational innovation will take. However, tens of competing producers, each working under the hard budget constraint of a private enterprise, are much more likely to come up with innovative, efficient solutions than a monopoly producer with a soft budget constraint.

3) Historically, some of the first major roads in the United States – the turnpikes of the late 18th and early 19th centuries – were privately built and operated, in an era long before today’s advanced technology. The roads functioned quite well for their time, facilitating inter-state commerce and the westward migration of large numbers of settlers. Private roads have existed with much more primitive technology than is available anywhere today, and so there is no reason to suppose that a given technological level is required for them to be viable. Technology certainly improves quality in this area, as in virtually all others, but the laws of economics function in a society of any level of advancement.

Issue: Different Ownership and Different Rules

Question: “If every road is owned by different people and different rules are imposed, would it not be too confusing?”

Answer: Standardization of rules often happens to a significant extent in private markets. For instance, railroads standardized many of their practices in the 19th century by mutual agreement of private railroad companies. In any business, it is useful and profitable to enable the customers to rely on some common and well-known elements and practices, and it is quite likely that many rules of the road will be extremely similar. On the other hand, this similarity will not be of the rigid, ossified sort that currently exists on government roads – where the rules are uniform and immutable, irrespective of how well they actually work in facilitating safe and efficient roadway use. Entrepreneurs would be free to experiment with new rules and arrangements, and if consumers do not like a particular arrangement, they would always be free to use a competing road. Entrepreneurs will be aware of this and so will hesitate to adopt measures that would be difficult for users to understand and to follow. Roads that do things differently and continue to attract traffic will likely need to prominently advertise the aspects that make them unique, so that potential users are well aware of the peculiarities in advance and in a concise, easy-to-understand manner. The best road innovations will take hold among other entrepreneurs and will eventually become part of a new set of evolving standards.

Issue: Private Road Monopolies

Question: “Can a road monopoly be allowed to charge exorbitantly if there’s no alternative to a place?”

Answer: It is extremely unlikely that any individual business would be able to purchase all possible access routes to a given place, as this would be extraordinarily expensive. If any alternative route exists, and a non-coercive monopoly currently charges exorbitant prices, this will be a strong signal for competitors to enter the market, buy up land on the alternative route, build their own roads, and charge lower prices than the former monopolist. If there is a single provider of a road to a particular place, even the potential of this kind of competition would keep such a provider charging reasonable prices.

In the odd event that competition does not enter the field, people might simply choose not to go to the place for which the only road requires an exorbitant fee for its use. In this case, many individuals will come to see the benefits of going to the place in question as being outweighed by the costs, and so the place will cease to become popular, and the road provider’s revenue will diminish greatly. At that point, the road provider will either need to lower its prices to attract more business or go out of business entirely.

It is important to recognize that a road monopoly is precisely what exists virtually everywhere in many countries today. This monopoly, unlike to transitory monopolies that may sometimes occur on the free market, is supported by law. The consequences of a coercive monopoly in the provision of any good are easy to foresee and identify: lower quality at a higher price. It is reasonable to believe that taxpayers are already being charged exorbitantly for the use of government roads today.

Click here to read more articles in Issue CCVII of The Rational Argumentator.

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The FDA: A Pain From the Neck to the Big Toe – Article by Mark Thornton

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Categories: Economics, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Mark Thornton
October 25, 2013
Recommend this page.
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I recently experienced severe pain in my feet, particularly in the big toes. In my imagination it felt like my feet had been run over by a truck and that several of my toes had been broken. But I knew that was not the case, and that the pain came on slowly at first, and then spread to other parts of my feet until I could barely walk.

My first approach was to take some ibuprofen to relieve the pain and swelling. When this did not resolve the matter, I thought perhaps a new pair of soft shoes might work. That idea also failed, and with a little internet research I realized I had a classic case of the gout. I was soon off to see my doctor to determine what the problem was and to get it solved with the powers of modern medicine.

The doctor confirmed that I had the gout. I was not pleased to find out, that in my case, the gout was probably brought on by another drug that I had been taking daily, against my better judgment. However, I was pleased to learn that I would no longer have to take it, that as part of my treatment I was being prescribed an ancient and natural drug, and that I would only have to take this drug “as needed.”

I was off to get my prescription filled at the pharmacy when a thought came to mind: if this drug was as natural and ancient as advised by my doctor, why did I need a prescription in the first place? Upon inspection the prescription was for Colcrys, the brand name of the drug colchicine. Furthermore, when I picked up my prescription the price was much higher than I anticipated given that it was a natural drug. When questioned, the pharmacy technician replied that the actual price was much higher and that my insurance paid for more than three-quarters of the bill. The cash price (without insurance) was $198.99 which is $6.63 per pill if taken daily, or nearly $20 per dose if used to treat flare-ups.

An extremely high price for an ancient natural drug? I knew I had a new case to solve and that the solution was probably the same old answer.

After conducting some research on Wikipedia, I learned the following: Colchicine can be used to treat gout, Behcet’s disease, pericarditis, and the Mediterranean fever. It has been in use as a medicine for over 3,000 years. After serving as ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin brought colchicum plants back to America in order to treat his own gout. Modern science has further refined the drug for better medicinal use.

Colcrys has been used to treat gout for a very long time, although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved Colcrys specifically for the treatment of gout prior to 2009. Alternative drugs, such as Allopurinal, are also used to treat gout and related ailments. Until recently, you could treat your own gout using one of these medicines for pennies a day.

In the summer of 2009, the Food and Drug Administration approved Colcrys as a treatment for gout flare-ups and the Mediterranean fever. The FDA gave pharmaceutical company URL Pharma an exclusive marketing agreement for selling Colcrys in exchange for completing studies on Colcrys and paying the FDA a $45 million application fee.

This deal effectively created a patented drug with no generic alternative. Therefore it gave the company a monopoly for the duration of the agreement. URL Pharma immediately raised the price from less than a dime to nearly $5 dollars per pill. Comprehensive medical insurance does substantially reduce the price to consumers, but it does not reduce the cost. Insurance only spreads the cost-burden across policy holders.

At the same time, doctors are encouraged by pharmaceutical companies to employ more expensive and profitable treatments. As a result the overall cost burden increases. Evidence suggests that doctors are prescribing Colcrys in large volumes to treat gout flare-ups and as a long-term preventative measure.

Once again the federal government has taken something that was both cheap and beneficial and turned it into a monopoly that hurts the general public and drives up the cost of medical care to the benefit of Big Pharma.

Note: Just because it is natural and produced in a pharmaceutical environment, does not mean that Colcrys is harmless. It can be considered toxic in large amounts, has a long list of possible side effects, and is not recommended for people with certain conditions.

Mark Thornton is a senior resident fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and is the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Prohibition, coauthor of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, and the editor of The Quotable Mises, The Bastiat Collection, and An Essay on Economic Theory. Send him mail. See Mark Thornton’s article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Mark Thornton via this RSS feed.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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The Patent Bubble and Its End – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

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The New Renaissance Hat
Jeffrey A. Tucker
February 3, 2013
Recommend this page.
******************************

“Then they pop up and say, ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!’ Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.”

Those are the words of Newegg.com’s chief legal officer, Lee Cheng. He was speaking to Arstechnica.com following a landmark ruling that sided with a great business against a wicked patent troll company called Soverain.

What is a patent troll? It is a company that has acquired patents (usually through purchases on the open market) but does not use them for any productive purpose. Instead, it lives off looting good companies by blackmailing people. The trolls say, “Pay us now or get raked over the coals in court.”

Soverain is one such company. Most companies it has sued have paid the ransom. Soverain has collected untold hundreds of millions in fines from the likes of Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, Amazon, and Nordstrom.

It sounds like a criminal operation worthy of the old world of, say, southern Italy (no offense, guys!). Indeed, but this is how it works in the U.S. these days. The looting is legal. The blackmail is approved. The graft is in the open. The expropriation operates under the cover of the law. The backup penalties are inflicted by the official courts.

To be sure, the trolls may not be as bad as conventional patent practice. At least the trolls don’t try to shut you down and cartelize the economy. They just want to get their beak wet. Once that happens, you are free to go about your business. This is one reason they have been so successful.

Soverain’s plan was to loot every online company in existence for a percentage of their revenue, citing the existence of just two patents. Thousands of companies have given in, causing an unnatural and even insane increase in the price of patent bundles. Free enterprise lives in fear.

Let me add a point that Stefan Molyneux made concerning this case. The large companies are annoyed by the patent-troll pests but not entirely unhappy with their activities. The large companies can afford to pay them off. Smaller companies cannot. In this way, the trolls serve to reduce competition.

[Stefan made his comments on an edition of Adam v. The Man, in which we were both guests. you can watch the entire show here.]

When Soverain came after Newegg’s online shopping cart demanding $34 million, a lower court decided against Newegg, but only imposed a fine of $2.5 million. Newegg examined the opinion and found enough holes in the case to appeal. It was a gutsy decision, given the trends. But as Cheng told Ars Technica:

“We basically took a look at this situation and said, ‘This is bull****.’ We saw that if we paid off this patent holder, we’d have to pay off every patent holder this same amount. This is the first case we took all the way to trial. And now nobody has to pay Soverain jack squat for these patents.”

It’s true. The case not only shuts down the Soverain racket. It might have dealt a devastating blow to the whole patent hysteria and the vicious trolling that has fueled it all along.

And truly, the patent mania has become crazy. No one 10 years ago would have imagined that it would go this far.

“It’s a sign of something gone awry, not a healthy market,” attorney Neil Wilkof told Gigaom.com, with reference to the utterly insane amounts that well-heeled tech giants have been paying for patents. “I think we’re in a patent bubble in a very specific industry. It’s a distorted market and misallocation of resources.”

[Note: This entire racket is anticipated and debunked in the pioneering work on the topic. The new edition of Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property is now available for free to Club members.]

Earlier this year, Google shelled out $12.5 billion for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Facebook threw down $550 million for AOL’s patents. Apple and Google spent more last year on patent purchases and litigation than on actual research and development. The smartphone industry coughed up $20 billion last year on the patent racket. A lawsuit last year against Samsung awarded Apple $1 billion in a ridiculous infringement case.

These are astronomical numbers — figures that would have been inconceivable in the past. Everyone seems to agree that the system is radically broken. What people don’t always understand is that every penny of this is unnecessary and pointless. This market is a creation of legislation, and nothing more. The companies aren’t really buying anything but the right to produce and the right not to be sued, and that is not always secure.

Let’s back up. Why are there markets in anything at all? They exist because goods have to be allocated some way. There are not enough cars, carrots, and coffee to meet all existing conceivable demand. We can fight over them or find ways to cooperate through trade. Prices are a way to settle the struggle over goods that people grow or make, or services people provide, in a peaceful way. They allow people to engage to their mutual benefit, rather than club or shoot each other.

But what is being exchanged in the patent market? It’s not real goods or services. These are government creations of a bureaucracy — an exclusive right to make something. They are tickets that make production legal. If you own one, there is no broad market for it. It has only a handful of possible buyers, and the price of your good is based entirely on how much money you think you can extract from deep pockets. Sometimes, you actually force people to buy with the threat that you will sue if they don’t.

That’s not how normal markets operate. There was a time when patents didn’t even apply to software at all. The whole industry was built by sharing ideas and the spirit of old-fashioned competition. Companies would work together when it was to their mutual advantage and hoard competitive reasons when it was not. It seemed to work fine, until legislation intervened.

Today the entire fake market for patents is sustained by the perception that courts will favor the patent holders over the victims. The Newegg case changes that perception, which is why it has been the most closely watched case in the industry. This might signal the end of the reign of terror, at least one form of it.

But, you say, don’t creators deserve compensation? My answer: If they create something people are willing to pay for, great. But that’s not what’s happening. Soverain’s bread and butter was a handful of patents that had been on the open market, changing hands through three different companies over the course of 10 years, until they landed in the laps of some extremely unscrupulous wheeler-dealers.

In other words, patents these days have little to nothing to do with the creators — any more than mortgage-backed securities at the height of the boom had anything to do with the initial lender and its risk assessments. Once a patent is issued — and they are not automatically valid, but rather have to be tested in litigation — it enters into the market and can land anywhere. The idea that the patent has anything to do with inspiring innovation is total myth. It is all about establishing and protecting monopolistic weapons with which to beat people.

Many people have been hoping for patent reform. It probably won’t happen and might not even need to happen. If this case is as significant as tech observers say, a sizeable portion of this fake industry could be smashed via a dramatic price deflation. When something is no longer worth much, people stop wanting it.

Patents date from a time when a great industrial innovation made the headlines just because it was so rare. That’s not our world. Government has no business allocating and centrally planning ideas. Here’s to Newegg: Take a bow. Someone had the guts to say no. This time, for once, it worked.

Yours,
Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is the publisher and executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, the Primus inter pares of the Laissez Faire Club, and the author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo It’s a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes, and A Beautiful Anarchy: How to Build Your Own Civilization in the Digital Age, among thousands of articles. Click to sign up for his free daily letter. Email him: tucker@lfb.org | Facebook | Twitter | Google.

This article has been republished pursuant to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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