In my recent interview with Richard Stallman, “government-imposed monopoly” was the term Stallman used to describe a patent. As Glyn Moody points out (citation of a citation chosen for context here), Stallman is not alone.
Copyrights and patents are government granted monopolies. They have their origins in the feudal guild system, not the free market economics of Smith and Ricardo. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, Switzerland and the Netherlands actually eliminated patent and copyright protection, with the intent of promoting free market competition. In spite of their feudal legacy, and their obvious status as forms of protectionism, few economists ever question the merits of the patent and copyright systems.
Make a mental note of that one. We’re looking at some feudal roots. Elsewhere, in yesterday’s news, the abuse continues and patents are still being wrongly called “intellectual property”, which they are not. Patents are patents, so let’s call them what they are. Software patents are much, much worse.
Toshiba last week launched legal action against an Italian disc duplication company it maintains has infringed its intellectual property.
Let’s start the new year off with an update on our #1 patent troll from 2007, Global Patent Holdings.
To recap, it filed another patent infringement case on the JPEG-on-a-website patent (5,253,341) on December 5 in Florida.
Long live “government-granted monopolies”? █