6 comments on “Intellectual Pseudo Property

  1. what is your position on copyrights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and servicemarks? how essential are they for business? how could these be enforced through means other than a central government?

  2. > what is your position on copyrights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and servicemarks? how essential are they for business? how could these be enforced through means other than a central government?

    I can’t say how valuable they are, but the scope of most of them could be narrowed with negligible harm.
    Copyrights increase the production of original works but discourage the production of derivative works. Most of the problems that they cause would become minor if their duration were shortened to a few years and if we returned to the rule that works are only copyrighted if the author does something to claim they’re copyrighted. I doubt that abolishing copyright completely would cause any major problems.
    I don’t know whether a patent system is desirable. If it is, it should have much stricter standards for originality and non-obviousness that the U.S. system currently has (see this book review for more).
    Drug patents are an issue unto themselves. If we’re stuck with something like the current FDA, then we probably need drug patents, and ought to also have some patent buyouts (preferably financed via private charity).
    For trade secrets, courts should generally enforce contracts that protect them the same way they enforce other contracts, and it isn’t clear whether additional protections are important.
    I presume trademarks and servicemarks provide some benefits at reducing deceptive advertising.
    To start understanding how laws can be enforced with anything like a monopolistic government, I recommend reading how the description of medieval Iceland’s political system that you can find in David Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom. The only type of IPP that would need something that book doesn’t try to address are patents, which would probably need something like the current patent office if patents are to work. The only authority a patent office would need would be recognition by the decentralized courts of it’s authority to create the presumption that patents it approves are valid.
    – Peter

  3. explain what you mean by monopolistic government? i have a good guess, but i want to be sure.

    what if courts in different regions come up with differing ruling wrt a patent (e.g. some multi-regional company is ruled to have violated a patent in one region, but to own it in another)?

    i’ll have to go look at the book you reference, but i don’t see how courts could enforce ruling across regions.

  4. We already have a situation where courts in different regions (U.S., Japan, China, etc.) follow different rules. An increased ability of groups to secede doesn’t imply much change in how courts ought to treat other legal systems.
    A monopolistic government is one which uses unfair means to prevent citizens/residents/customers from switching to a competing government. Yes, I’m aware that there’s a lot of ambiguity in the word unfair. Imagine whether you would think it unfair for a corporation to use a tactic and you will get a good approximation of how I feel about government using that tactic.
    See this discussion of Dynamic Geography for a better discussion of government monopoly power.
    – Peter

  5. yes, but “how courts ought to treat other legal systems” doesn’t seem responsive to the question i asked. sure courts ought to do certain things, but what happens if they don’t? this happens in the us, china, and japan, and the various corresponding businesses complain about it.

    do/did company towns exert unfair means? why or why not?

  6. The existence of complaints about U.S. and China enforcing different laws about patents doesn’t imply that there’s a better alternative. China is probably better off with weaker IPP laws than the U.S. It’s easy to imagine that the world is better off if poorer regions don’t have to pay royalties to the wealthiest regions. Even if that’s not true, the existence of different laws in different jurisdictions can be better than a uniform law due to what we can learn by comparing results of applying different laws and due to the ability of people to switch to jurisdictions with better laws.
    Conceivably there should be something like a world court to resolve difference between local courts. Libertarian theory implies we should be suspicious of its power, but doesn’t say it’s a bad idea.
    I expect that company towns often exerted unfair means. They mostly ceased being a problem when more affordable transportation and communication made it easier for people to move to towns with fewer problems (i.e. their monopoly power decreased). The fact that a strong central government would have the power to reduce the problems associated with company towns doesn’t mean that they often do so or that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs of the resulting concentration of power leading to things like the U.S. government meddling in the mideast.

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