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Der Volkswirt: gegründet 1926

Der Hoppeninator sent me this. I can’t read civilized languages, so I can only guess what this is about. From a magazine Wirtschafts Woche, apparently discussing the issue of whether state-granted patent rights are “necessary” for there to be innovation, in particular to produce a Covid-19 vaccine. It apparently references counterarguments by me and even somehow mentions Rothbard.

Geistiges Eigentum

Update: A partial translation by my friend Aaron Kahland:

“The American patent attorney, Stephan Kinsella calls for an end to state protection for intellectual property. Intellectual goods are, in contrast to physical property, not scarce goods. For example, a countless number of companies could produce medicines using the same recipe without that formula being denied to the original inventor. Therefore, in the case of idea-goods (don’t think there is a term in English for this) there is no need for property laws to prevent consumption via rivalry (of that property): Patents and copyright law are (he quotes you here) ‘cannot be justified in being protected by the state via monopoly rights to generate artificial scarcities where none existed before.’

“Furthermore, these restrict the property rights of others. For example, pharmaceutical companies cannot produce medicines protected by patents, singers are unable to make commercial use of their voices by singing songs of other artists. In short, patents and copyright rights create (quotes you again) ‘controlling and joint-ownership of the physical property of others.'”


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Arthur Krolman June 14, 2020, 9:42 am

    Thanks to HHH. And congrats Stephan! Favorable exposure to your argument (a little ironic that they back you up with Rothbard who wanted some kind of copyright protection for inventions, right?). Here’s the concluding section of the piece where you’re mentioned per Google Translate (edited for readability by me — but not for accuracy ’cause I don’t speak German either!):

    “The American patent attorney Stephan Kinsella therefore calls on the state to waive protection for intellectual property. Unlike physical goods, intellectual products are not in short supply. For example any number of companies simultaneously have a recipe for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals without the inventor losing the formula. Therefore, while property rights are necessary and ideal for physical goods to avoid consumer rivalries, patents and copyrights are “unjustifiable government monopoly rights that artificially create shortages where they didn’t exist before, ”says Kinsella.

    They also restrict others’ property rights. So may pharmaceutical companies do not use the patented manufacturing processes of others’ for making medicines they might otherwise make and sell, singers do not use their voices to release copyrighted foreign songs for commercial distribution. In short: patents and copyrights wielded by authors and inventors “control rights of ownership to the physical property of others,” complains Kinsella.

    But what if people want more innovations than companies offer? Then they can go ahead and “connect with like-minded people and those companies to subsidize their efforts,” Rothbard suggested.

    Harvard economist and Nobel laureate Michael Kremer has recently come out with a similar Idea. He wants a purchase guarantee to a company that offers a fixed price for their medication, so they work harder on researching medicines for certain diseases. Private donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support Kremer’s proposal. There is a good possibility that this Idea make take force — and completely without patent protection!”

  • Jan Masek June 16, 2020, 12:33 pm

    “He wants a purchase guarantee to a company that offers a fixed price for their medication, so they work harder on researching medicines for certain diseases.”

    Not sure what exactly this means but it doesn’t sound to me like something Dr. Kinsella would support (fixed price, purchase guarantee..). Am I wrong?

    Also, if it’s supported by Gates, what are the chances of it being a good idea. The last time I heard a good idea from a business tycoon in this space was when Steve Jobs was bragging about being “shameless about stealing great ideas”.

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