My comment on “Citizen Science, Microfinanced Research, Patent Trolls, and Pharma Prizes: A final dispatch from the Open Science Summit,” by Ronald Bailey on Reason Online.
Bailey characterizes the anti-IP “faction” as the “more egalitarian” one, as opposed to the more libertarian bloc at the summit. Yet libertarianism is, in my sense, now predominantely anti-IP, and increasingly so (see Dohert’s post Intellectual Property: Dying Among Libertarians? http://reason.com/blog/2010/08…..y-dying-am) and Intellectual Property and Libertarianism.
Further, David Koepsell is lumped in with the egalitarians even though he’s pretty libertarian and his argument is compatible with my libertarian anti-IP argument; I (a libertarian) was interviewed for his gene patent documentary. http://www.stephankinsella.com/?s=koepsell
Bailey writes, “Whatever one may think about the patentability of genes, the crucial question is, do such patents hurt or help innovation?”
That is not actually the crucial question for libertarians who are not wonkish utilitarians. The question is: are the laws just. And they are clearly not. They are state-granted monopoly privileges that transfer rights from existing owners to those favored by the state–by giving patentees and copyright holders the right to veto others’ uses of their own property.
But even if we were to adopt utilitarian standards, the question is still not: does it help or hurt innovation. The question would be: does the value of the marginal innovation stimulated by the law exceed the cost of the IP system (which includes the value of innovation lost)? (See my There’s No Such Thing as a Free Patent.)
And this has not been shown at all. (See Yet Another Study Finds Patents Do Not Encourage Innovation http://blog.mises.org/10217/ye…..novation/.) In fact, contra Bailey, most studies that conclude anything conclude that not only is the patent system a net loss, innovation itself is hampered overall. Bailey says, “Numerous studies have so far failed to find that gene patents are a big impediment to either research or innovation.” Yes: some studies are inconclusive (no wonder given the subjective, non-cardinal, and non-interpersonally comparable nature of value), and do not conclude that they are an impediment. Others do. But advocates of state IP law try to justify it based on these wealth-maximization claims; they bear the burden of proof. They can’t just say there is no proof that the laws are a big impediment. Rather, they must show that they are correct, that such laws give rise to net societal wealth. They do not do so.
Stephan Kinsella|8.6.10 @ 9:22AM|#
Of course, he cannot and will not answer it, and his type never even try. I have had this same conversation with innumerable patent lawyer jerks who spout off this crap, and when you just ask them a simple question: how do you know? they just look at you with glazed eys, shut up, walk away or change they subject. I have NEVER had one of them even try to answer this question. What’s worse, they won’t even acknowledge that it’s a valid question, or that the burden of proof is on them, since they trot this out as a justification.
When no knowledgeable critics are around they’ll dishonestly state that IP promotes innovation, as if there is well-known empirical support. they’ll even lie and say “the studies” show this. In fact, it’s excatly the opposit. All studies are methodologically problematic (meaning they could never meet their burden of proof, fully); but the ones that do exist are either inconclusive or say that IP is unnecessary or harms innovation or net wealth. When you point this out, you get blank stares and a change of subject.
This thread is a good example. Halling simply refuses to even try to ansewr the qeustion. He knows his position is totally doomed if he does. He can’t even grant that it’s a valid question, since by doing so he would set himself up for certain failure. In other words, he is knowingly peddling bullshit.