Scarcity, Monopoly, and Intellectual Property

Posted by  $  richrobinson 5 years, 7 months ago to The Gulch: General
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Interesting discussion on IP rights. Not sure I agree.
SOURCE URL: http://mises.org/daily/6727/Scarcity-Monopoly-and-Intellectual-Property


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  • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
    The book smears the property rights of inventors and authors as a monopoly. Here a numerous articles showing that patents are property rights.

    Patents: Monopoly or Property Right a Testable Hypothesis http://hallingblog.com/patents-monopoly-...
    If patents are a monopoly, as some suggest, then it should lead to certain outcomes. A close examination shows that none of the supposed monopoly effects result from granting patents.

    Monopoly/Rent Seeking vs. Property Rights/Intellectual Property http://hallingblog.com/monopolyrent-seek....
    This post explains the characteristics of a monopoly and a property right and poses three questions to show the difference. Patents fit all the characteristics of a property right and none of a monopoly. Note that professional license, such as a law license has some of the characteristics of a monopoly.

    More on the Myth that Patents are Monopolies http://hallingblog.com/more-on-the-myth-....
    This post contains a number of quotes from philosophers explaining that patents are not monopolies.

    Property Rights, Possession and Objects http://hallingblog.com/property-rights-p...
    This post explains the difference in the concepts of property rights, possession, and objects. Most economists and patent detractors confuse these concepts. The origin, definition, and legal basis of property right are explained.

    The Myth That Patents are a Monopoly http://hallingblog.com/the-myth-that-pat...
    This post compares the definition of a monopoly to the rights obtained with a patent. It shows that the rights obtained with a patent do not confer a monopoly.

    Patents are Natural Rights http://hallingblog.com/patents-are-natur...
    This post traces the ideas of Locke and William Blackstone to show patents and copyrights are natural rights.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
      db: Can you accept that more than one person can derive the same idea at the same time (or nearly so) without knowledge of the other? If that is true, than wouldn't you agree that the idea is not the singular property of one individual, but rather shared by both? If both have a reasonable claim to the idea, how best to provide private property protection to each? And cannot a third come up with the same idea completely independent of the first two? And now how to best provide private property protection to the third as well as the first two?

      These are not easy questions, but need to be answered, don't you think? Or do you believe that the first to come up with an idea, regardless of whether any second or third person comes up with that same idea completely independently, has the sole ownership of that idea?
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      • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
        The simultaneous inventor thing is a myth. The US had a procedure for determining the first inventor for years and it rarely occurred.

        The complete independence is also rare - but more importantly only the first person is the inventor. If I rediscover calculus without any knowledge of calculus today, that does not make me the discover of calculus.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
          I don't require simultaneous, merely close.

          As for complete independence, in your case the development of calculus, why not? Please support your contention with logic. You make an assertion with no logical reason. If I had no other concept of calculus, and developed it from "nothing", then of course I would be the discoverer of calculus. The follow on question would be - to what effect?
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          • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
            Because you have added nothing to the store of human knowledge, you have broken no ground and proving that you did not gain information from the real inventor/invention is almost impossible once something is in the open. I hear all the time about people who say they developed something independently, but the ideas are now in the mainstream. It is just ego boosting BS.
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            • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
              Your saying so is anti-rationality, anti-property. How does timing, in and of itself, add anything to human knowledge? If the knowledge were created in 1000 AD in Europe, and then created in 1500 AD in America how did timing have any impact at all? You want to attribute time as a salient factor when it is not. I will grant that a totally independent development of calculus in a culture that already operates with that knowledge is not advanced by the independent development, and that developer will be treated thusly. But a relatively contemporaneous development of something new must allow for the ownership to exist by multiple individuals.

              You can continue to claim that "simultaneous" development doesn't occur, but that is immaterial. The fact that it may occur is what matters. That needs to be addressed.

              And why is the addition to the store of human knowledge a criterion? Who determines? I say that if I can devise a system of creating all possible written knowledge, then I should have the rights to same. Do you deny that if I have a computer that generates random sequences of characters that eventually it will create every work ever created and every work possible to create? The only question then is how fast can those random sequences be created. Since time is the only factor, why must I be penalized for not having had the time to allow those creations to have occurred?
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              • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
                Who determines it - metaphysics. Property rights are for creators, not imitators. Imitators are not inventors. Its nonsense to say that if I create an incandescent light bulb, I am the inventor. It already exists. I have added nothing. Now in the case of cement that invention was lost for a 1000 years. It still does not make me the inventor.

                No it is impossible to create every possible work. And it would take infinite money, infinite time, and would be meaningless, because you would have an infinite pile of crap to sort through to find out what was useful.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
      The intellectual confusion of facts with assertions is shown by this. " An example of lawful possession of something you do not own is when a car mechanic is servicing your car. He does not own the car, but he is in possession of the car." - dbhalling. In fact the Carrier's Case is the perfect counter-example. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier'...). Until 1473 when the king's "Star Chamber" ruled apart from the common law courts and also apart from the "lawe marchant" (law of the merchants), it was assumed that when you delivered something, the receiver held title to it IN YOUR INTEREST. If you gave your Volvo to a mechanic who sold it for a million dollars, kept 10% and gave the rest to you, how could you complain? In the Carrier's Case, if the carter had been faced with selling wool at the destination for 100 pounds, but could have sold it elsewhere for 125, should he not have done so for the benefit of the tenderer?

      dbhalling writes as if this is from Moses and the Burning Bush, but, really, these laws are only a few hundred years old and peculiar to England. How did commerce exist in the days of Hamurabi or Solon or Caesar or Charlemagne if no one had figured out the difference between possession and ownership?

      Moreover, dbhalling's claim that in taking possession of all the land you can see, you have "mixed your labor" with it is illogical.When the Europeans landed in America, they claimed "this land" for the king of wherever. By dbhalling's logic, they did indeed own everything except those places where a Native happened to be standing... or maybe at most a Native village happened to be. Does the first astronaut on Mars get the whole thing? Thank goodness that Neal Armstrong claimed the Moon for all mankind.... (dbhalling, of course, would object, and perhaps rightfully so, but this needs deep thinking and halling is invested in the present and current US law: it is his bread and butter, literally, so of course, like any lawyer with a client, he speaks eloquently on his own behalf.)

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      • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
        Mike,

        I have no idea what you are talking about.

        As for commerce before patents, sure it occurred. The only way to increase real per capita income is by increasing your level of technology. Before modern patent system that rate was so slow that people lived in the Malthusian Trap. Only with the advent of modern patent system did people begin to escape starvation and have an increasing standard of living.

        Your bastardization of Locke is intellectually dishonest. It was clear that Locke in modern language is talking about creating.
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  • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
    Here are some of the errors in this book/article.

    “The common law system got it right: because the essence of ownership is found in the capacity to control some resource in furtherance of one’s purposes, such a claim [of common law copyright] is lost once a product is released to the public. The situation is similar to that of a person owning oxygen that is contained in a tank, but loses a claim to any quantity that might be released — by a leaky valve — into the air. (pp. 25-26)”

    This statement is factually and historically incorrect. Property rights at common law were founded on Locke’s idea that you own yourself (see Sir William Blackstone’s commentaries), so you own those things you create. If you took the argument above seriously, then anyone with the biggest stick can control resources for so long as he can hold it and claim that it furthers their purpose, which any despot can make to any resource. That is not common law and is not property rights.


    The author argues that copyrights provide “Monopoly privileges.” The author is confusing a property right with a monopoly. You have the exclusive right to use and sell you car, does that mean you have a monopoly? Of course not. What the author appears to be confused about is that property rights can overlap. For instance, you own your house, but the utility company has easements on your land, someone else may own the mineral or water rights. When it comes to copyrights in a book say, the owner of the physical book has the right to sell and use the book, but does not have the right to reproduce the book.


    “If copyrights, patents, or trademark protections are not recognized among free people — unless specifically contracted for between two parties — by what reasoning can the state create and enforce such interests upon persons have not agreed to be so bound? ... Among men and women of libertarian sentiments, one would expect to find a presumption of opposition to the idea that a monopolist of legal violence could create property interests that others would be bound in principle to respect. (p. 22)”

    This argument clearly fails. American Indians did not understand the idea of property rights in land. For instance, here is a quote by an American Indian that illustrates my point.

    "What is this you call property? It cannot be the earth, for the land is our mother, nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish and all men. The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs only to him?" -Massasoit

    Nomadic people gather, they do not cultivate. As a result, a nomadic people cannot possibly understand why they cannot pick an apple from your orchard. Only with the agricultural revolution (and mining) did the concept of property in land make any sense.


    “All of these early inventions and creations were accomplished, as far as is known, without a violence-backed monopoly to prevent others from copying them.” (pp. 35-36)”

    This is an intellectually dishonest statement. All property rights are backed by violence. There was no utopian period in which thieves and robbers did not exist. But more importantly, the rate at which inventions were created before property rights in inventions (patents) were created were so slow that the average person lived on the edge of starvation. Only with the advent of property rights in inventions did the Industrial Revolution occur and real per capita income started to take off.

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    • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
      Can we evaluate the situation of the infinite number of computers randomly generating an infinite number of manuscripts? Such a system would create every existing book as well as every future book that would ever exist. If these computers were owned by myself, wouldn't I own all of these works?
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      • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
        Robbie,

        There are a number of problems with your theory. Even if you could create them all, someone has to figure out which ones are worthwhile, so the experiment is nonsense on that level. In addition, there is no fixed number of books so it would be impossible to create them all.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
          If I have an infinite number of computers drafting an infinite number of manuscripts, then I have created every possible work. What is the problem you see?

          Oh, you want to limit me to a finite number of computers - OK, that only puts a timeline on the creation. Again, how does that limit my creation of all possible works, at some point in time?
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          • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
            First of all there are an infinite number of possible books - you argument fails. Second of all you would spend a lifetime trying to fine one good book in you infinite pile of crap. The argument just doesn't follow. Last you would spend an infinite amount of money creating your infinite pile of crap.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
      "Property rights at common law were founded on Locke’s idea that you own yourself ... so you own those things you create." - dbhalling. I agree 100%. If I see someone growing big, sweet apples which do not exist in nature, and I figure out how they did that, do I not own the product of my labor as I own myself? It seems to me that you insist that the IDEA of finding good apples and grafting them to a trunk must belong to the first person who figured it out - and for how long? It used to be like seven years for patents, but now, for copyrights it is the life of the author plus the life of Mickey Mouse. What is the objective standard?
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      • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 7 months ago
        Actually it was 14 years from the date of issuance. It changed several times and then settled on 17 years from the date of issuance for a long time and is now 20 years from the date of filing, with the caveat that you have to pay maintenance fees to keep your patent alive.

        I am against the maintenance fees and i do not think 20 years is too long. There has never been a society with too strong of patent rights. Patent rights are the key reason the Industrial Revolution occurred when it did. We need people to compete on creating new inventions not making me too products.

        I agree that the copyright term is probably too long and either way the recent extension was a piece of crony capitalism for Disney
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    • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
      Thanks Db. I thought the reasoning in this article was strange. Some of the examples didn't seem to fit the point he was trying to make. I was disappointed this appeared on the Mises site. I usually agree with them.
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      • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
        did you see that the site admin gave db -29 points on his posts. db is like the jfuchs of the von mises site. up is down
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        • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
          I didn't see that. Sounds like they oppose honest debate as well. Depressing.
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          • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
            their views on property rights are as dismally faith-based as environmentalism. There was seriously a comment linking to an article about intellectual property and tolkien's middle earth. They haven't a reasoned argument in the real world so better go have it in Lord of the Rings. Sad Halling fact. Our son is highly influenced by some von mises/libertarian views on subjectivity. They want to short cut philosophy."because it's all subjective, you have no right to impose your will on me." Utopia or anarchism is what this kind of thinking smacks up against-NOT reason. It's one of the many reasons Rand argued with von mises. It ultimately rests on utilitarianism. Reason not required.
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  • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
    Update: Not only has the site administrator over at von mises refused to post Db's comments, db is getting many comments asking questions from contributors which also are not being posted. Consider that, when you are enjoying the von mises online site.
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  • Posted by SRS66East 5 years, 7 months ago
    I'm not sure I agree on this one either. From a Libertarian standpoint I understand the logic but from a Capitalist perspective I disagree. Allowing the inventor some time limited protections to profit from his idea encourages innovation. Still undecided on this issue though.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
      I agree that I do not have "an" answer. Thinking this through from facts and logic needs work. I do acknowledge that by whatever legal legerdemain, the copyrights on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle seem secured. So, the revenue from them pays for an office at 221B Baker Street London. If you write to Sherlock Holmes there, you get a reply that he is busy and not accepting new clients. That's pretty cool...

      Yet, my wife and daughter and I all read _A Tale of Two Cities_ together and no copyright prevented the production of dirt-cheap editions. By present copyright law, if applied to the past, Homer's heirs would still own the Iliad, as the Disney heirs still own Mickey Mouse.
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    • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
      db will weigh in on this, he was working on other stuff this morning. it is always annoying whenever the word monopoly is used with IP. It doesn't fit the definition. Just because you can't use the invention does not mean the inventor/owner has the right to make or sell his invention. example: Edison and Swan. In order for Edison to make and sell the incandescent lightbulb he had to get licensing rights from Swan because he was infringing Swan's patent. This happens all the time. After awhile, one begins to think that those mis-using the term "monopoly" do it on purpose to confuse people into seeing their side of the issue. The idea that limitless/infinite ideas can be compared to breathing air is ridiculous. There is infinite gold in the Universe. Even so, for us, it is scarce. All one has to do to know the importance of patents is to look to our own Constitution. The ONLY right enumerated in the 1st draft. Our country went from fledgling to the wealthiest country in the world in under 160 years. Rand recognized this fact as well. One must be able to own the product of their mind.
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    • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
      I have read that there is clear evidence that where intellectual rights are not protected that advancement slows. I like Mises but I just didn't follow their logic on this one.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
        Not true, rich. Mere "protection" is not enough. The contradiction that the Hallings have never addressed is this: If you own your life and you own the product of your labor and ultimately of your mind, then any so-called "copycat" has the same Lockean right to their labor as the original inventor.

        Again, see this TED Talk by Johanna Blakely http://www.ted.com/speakers/johanna_blak... The fashion industry has very weak protection but has THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (trillions of dollars versus mere billions) more market than those industries protected by strong intellectual property laws.

        The Mises Today article agrees as we all do with the fundamental premise that intellectual property is to be identified and protected by law. The questions are about how that gets done. The present system is founded on medieval ideas about land which is rival and exclusive. If you see someone with good land, you cannot just make good land of your own - actually you can, an interesting point to be discussed later - but if you see Henry Ford motoring about Detroit in his automobile, you can make one of your own. Now there are two where once there were none. How is that taking away from Ford? He still has his car. In fact it is also true that MANY people made such machines, but only some profited in the market, which is a whole other aspect not addressed by mere claims of prior invention.

        If Daniels had recreated Galt's motor, who would own the one that Daniels made?
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        • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
          "The fashion industry has very weak protection but has THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (trillions of dollars versus mere billions) more market than those industries protected by strong intellectual property laws. "
          Fashion Industry is much larger than Google, Apple, IBM, Boeing, Amazon, Cisco, Oracle, EBay, etc huh? please provide a credible source for your argument. I debunked it before and actually posted all major industries in the US economy for example. fashion doesn't even come close. why is it people are quite happy to postulate copying inventions but would be outraged if they were plagiarized or their merchandise and trademarks copied(mark Cuban).
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          • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
            How about the curve ball? (See below to Rich Roberts.) Should the baseball curve ball pitch (knuckleball, slider, sinker, screwball, high heat,...) be patentable? Why or why not?
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            • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
              the simple answer:
              too many years ago, too much prior art so no.
              2nd simple answer: it's part of a game (not the whole game) and within that game, it makes no sense to have outside rules that only allow certain people to do certain things.
              Outside the context of the game Baseball-if you are the first one to create a curve ball, it is invention with an objective result. in fact, I'm sure the first company to create a pitching machine that could throw a curve ball got a patent. see golf clubs, tennis rackets, bats, balls, pads, etc.
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          • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
            To trump fashions, you have to pull in four different industries. You ran the list as "...Google, Apple, IBM, Boeing, Amazon, Cisco, Oracle, EBay."That is really Apple, IBM, and Cisco. Boeing. Google. eBay and Amazon. And as we all know Apple prospered because "great artists steal."
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            • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
              No one in the fashion industry steals?
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              • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
                In the fashion markets theft is the norm. "Everyone steals." Watch the Johanna Blakely video. That is why fashion is vibrant. It as often builds up from the street to the design houses as it does come down via the knock-off rack. And as the video shows, people who buy GENUINE articles would never be customers of the knock-offs. Laurel and I went to lunch with a delightful old couple and realized their actual status when we discussed the Target scams over last year's holiday shopping season. They had no idea what we referred to because they would never shop at Target. So, for people like that, paying for originality is the norm.

                Note also that Design Houses also steal from the street. Pre-stressed clothing is just one example.

                According to the pseudo-Lockean theory, Christian Dior owes huge royalty payments to actual poor people whose clothes are worn out and tattered.
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              • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
                all the time. it's one of the huge bones we have to pick with China. knock-offs. They use trademarks and copyrights. Trademarks are HUGE in the fashion industry. it's why a pair of CROCS costs $50 and a knock off pair at Walmart costs $6.
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          • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
            Answer the question: "If Daniels had recreated Galt's motor, who would own the one that Daniels made?"
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            • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
              the question would turn on whether Galt had a duty to assign the inventions to his employer. how is this relevant to this discussion? In the gulch, there was still trade and value for value. Daniels would never have stolen galt's engine. It was Galt's. If it was working in the Gulch it was not Daniels'
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              • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
                I have always felt that Galt left clues behind as sort of a challenge. In other words if any of you can build it then it is yours. He left without obtaining a patent and 20th century motors is bk so Daniels would own the motor.
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                • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
                  No. Whomever created the original art would "own" it. The most that another could do that used that as the basis of furthering the design would be to license the original IP at whatever the original owner agreed to license it for. Unless that original licensee specified that their rights were placed in the public domain.
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                • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
                  I agree with that assessment. Galt abandoned it and said that only his equal could recreate it and left it unsaid that he did not expect that in his lifetime. Suppose, though, that the motor had gone into production. Without seeing the plans or anything, Daniels could have worked it through, knowing at least that it could be done.

                  Also - a point not emphasized by the patent lawyers - once the patent is published, all your secrets are out. The unique components are identified. The so-called copyist just needs to do the same thing a different way. In electronics, it is done all the time. A certain chip does something. You just do the same thing with a different circuitry.
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                • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
                  Galt walked away from it. Daniels also walked away from the reverse engineering.
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                  • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
                    There is no such thing as "walking away" from IP. You can only put it in the public domain with an intentional action.
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                    • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
                      you walk away when you choose not to pursue it and to not publish it. In fact, "diligently working the invention" was a main point in the now defunct interference's in patent law. Inventor's choice as it were
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                      • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
                        However, having documented evidence of the idea prior to another inventor's application has been an impediment to patentability (at least in the past - called prior art, as I know you are aware). You cannot patent, and claim exclusive ownership of an idea, that has already existed in documented form prior to your claim of "invention."
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                  • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
                    Daniels got an invitation to the gulch out of it.
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                    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
                      When John Galt brought Quentin Daniels to the Gulch, he bought out the competition.
                      If that had not happened, his motor would have remained the property of Daniels. The assumption here is that there is only ONE way to do this. That is seldom true. In fact, I submit that you must be disciplined to slavishly copy without injecting yourself into the process. You would be hard pressed to cite a single example of a so-called "copycat" product that did not offer its own innovations, tweaks, or improvements.

                      Moreover, there is a certain objective reality here. The original inventor has a distinct advantage over any copyist. If not, then the market has responded to whoever can best meet the needs of those who want to buy. It is a sad tale from baseball that the curve ball has at least two inventors and the man we think really was first ended up poor and dead. But, he was not a great pitcher, either. He just had a gimmick that did not do him as much good as steady work. That is an objective reality.

                      In _The Anti-Capitalist Mentality_ von Mises wrote about intellectuals who complained that their treatises did not sell as well as murder mysteries; then, he examined the anti-capitalist tone of the murder mysteries. Here, too, I see a kind of anti-capitalist assumption that all goods must be rival and exclusive - and that denies services.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
          Mike: If one merely copied the IP of another (say that you check out a book from the library, take it to a copy machine and copy each and every page, and bind it), can you sell that for your own profit? Most would say no, that is the property of another. Merely taking the IP of another and copying it does not give you the right to profit from another's property.

          However, if you created the exact same IP independently and without knowledge of the other, wouldn't you own your IP? And thus, if you sold your IP shouldn't you derive your own profit from that IP independent of the other person who also developed that IP?

          And, if you set up an infinite number of computers creating an infinite number of manuscripts that would then create every existing book and every future book, wouldn't you then "own" every possible literary creation? This is a situation that causes problems.
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        • Posted by  $  5 years, 7 months ago
          Isn't a copycat by definition stealing someone elses idea? I can't make something a famous designer made and put their name on it. If Ford developed a more efficient engine he should benefit from that. I am free to develop a better one and I should benefit from that.

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          • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
            I agree. And in fashions, the TRADEMARK is protected. The product is not. You cannot make stuff with Tommy Hilfiger's name on it, but you can copy it. Indeed, absent the label, what is a Tommy Hilfiger or a Colors of Benetton or Banana Republic that a generic sweatshirt or no-band jeans are not? Without the label, can you tell one from the other?

            On the other hand... some years back, at a coin show J. P. Martin was standing around. He is an expert in ancients, well known. Someone came up to him for an authentication. He tried to beg off: he was at the convention to buy for himself and have a good time. But they pressed, so he looked at the coin. "Fake." But I bought it in Cappodocia! "Still fake." How can you tell?? And the man's companion said - this was in Detroit - if you saw a Chevy with a Ford nameplate would you know the difference? "Sure." Same thing for him.

            My point is that some products are distinguishable by their designs, Fords from Chevys, Volvos from Saabs. But fashions... I dunno...

            And to the point, an old friend once restored an old Mustang. When I told he about fake coins, she told me about fake vintage car parts. That being so, ancient Greek coins are not protected by intellectual property rights, but Mustang carbureters are (in theory). In both cases, enforcement is exactly the same. Ford has no incentive to protect their protect. Anyone can make one. It is up to the expert to know the difference.

            I suggest that the difference between a mature market and a vibrant one is whether the rule is "the customer is always right" versus "caveat emptor". Myself, I prefer the mature market. But mature markets are not innovative - and that is the point here.
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          • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 years, 7 months ago
            Can you steal something that is given away free? The formula for Coca Cola is secret. However, many brands of cola drink are on the market. Are all the cola drinks the intellectual property of the first person to make one?

            How about the uncola? For some years in the late 1960s, 7-Up marketed itself as the uncola. If you invent A, then by definition, do you own the rights to non-A which would not exist but for A?
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            • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 7 months ago
              "Cola" is not a specific product nor idea, it is a general description of a drink containing an ingredient commonly termed "cola."

              Coca Cola being maintained as a trade secret instead of as a patented item trades the ability to specifically codify a unique proportion of ingredients but make that formula public from others that claim to be the "same" as Coke but better. If Coke patented its formula, then another cola producer could create a slight variation and say that it was the same but better than Coke. By maintaining the recipe as a trade secret, nobody can claim to be Coke or the same but a bit better since the formula of Coke is "secret." However, another provider could create the exact same recipe, they just couldn't say that it was the same as Coke, nor reference Coke in any way. There are many "store brands" that have done this. They may be exactly the same or nearly so as the original brand, but cannot claim to be so. Thus the true differentiator is the trademarked brand and not the product itself.
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            • Posted by khalling 5 years, 7 months ago
              do not confuse a marketing technique for a patentable invention. An invention is a human creation that has an objective result. 7up does not have an objective result.
              Coke is a trade secret because it can stay secret as long as you can keep it a secret. actually impedes competition/progress. In the middle ages, we had all these trade secrets. the only way to learn the secrets was to become a member of the guild. Because of that, it slowed the rate of progress because people could not build on others ideas. Patents are set up precisely for you to work around build anew. Interestingly, you will see a huge resurgence (bad for technology) in trade secrets due to the hostile environment for patents
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