Bonum Certa Men Certa

European Commission Learns Whether Patents Harm Europe

“[intellectual monopoly is] a neo-colonialist plot to ensure the continuing dominance of Western nations.”

--Glyn Moody, author of Rebel Code



The mall
Patents: a friend of a coloniser?



Summary: The European authorities no longer take patenting for granted; the situation is still more complex in the US

AS planned for several weeks now, European technocrats and lesser informed officials are to meet and discuss the effect on intellectual monopolies on the European economy. This is a meeting that started yesterday and carries on at the time of writing. As The Register puts it:



A meeting of members of the European Commission and Council of Ministers will today and tomorrow discuss whether the European Union's intellectual property laws are holding back the region's competitiveness.


The meeting coincidentally intersects with the World Day Against Software Patents, which was celebrated in India and in Europe (and maybe in more places). This year's date was not intended to collide with the above meeting as it was simply the same date as last year's World Day Against Software Patents [1, 2, 3].

In the United States, there is blind insistence that intellectual monopolies are good. Being tools of mere exploitation, it should not be entirely surprising that the US Chamber Of Commerce defends them. Mike Masnick and others refute these claims at the moment:

Chamber Of Commerce Gets Basic Stats Backwards, Calls For Stronger US Patent Protection For No Good Reason



David Levine points us to an analysis by Kevin Smith (not the movie maker) at Duke University of a recent report from the World Economic Forum, placing the US as 19th in how strong our intellectual property laws are. This report caused the US Chamber of Commerce to say it's evidence that the US needs stronger IP laws. Yet, Smith points out how silly this analysis is. First, being 19th out of 133 is already pretty damn near the top of the list. Second, the way the WEF ranked the strength of IP systems was based entirely on "executive perceptions" of IP laws in certain countries -- hardly a definitive measure. But, most important, the report shows nothing of the actual impact on innovation.


Those who are in charge (mostly large businesses or nations) are unlikely to give up their monopolies without resistance from the bottom. Let us wake up and make our voices heard. If they can no longer (legally and diplomatically) control by force, they might as well establish new laws that criminalise particular thoughts and their application; It has nothing to do with innovation and incentives anymore.

"Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said."

--IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winner



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