Monday, May 16, 2011

On IPR Abolition 6: Blog Ownership and Drug Molecules

Below is a continuation of my debate with some libertarians who are anti-IP. Specifically with Say Peng, a friend in Singapore. Posting his comments with his permission.

Say: Nonoy, do you agree that ownership of property can only be physical ownership; if you do, then since ideas are intangible, how does one own them?

Nonoy: Say, I already said above, ideas are ownable. I own a blog, it's intangible. Would anyone say now that I cannot own it? If they persist so, then who owns Government? UN? the socialists? Follow up question: do the anti-IP libertarians consider molecules as intangible? Scientists and inventors create and invent new molecules or compound of molecules.

Say: I believe Blogger, which is currently owned by Google, "owns" your blog. A blog is a type of service, which explains its intangibility; it is a service which result from the workings of physical computers and whatnot. So the people who owns the computers sustaining the blog are its original "owners". And because you are using a service, you do not own anything.

Molecules are tangible, obviously. Scientists who create new molecules own the molecules that they have in their possession, but not the concept or idea of the molecule; which means, for example, if I invent a new chemical compound called Sodium Trioxide, I do not own the chemical formula NaO3, but only own the NaO3 molecules that I have in my possession.

Nonoy: Google owns blogger, true. Google owns and controls my blog, adds or removes content, allows or disallows reader comments, false. It is that private ownership of something that allows people to be creative. The Philippine govt, the Philippine "collective", owns the portal, What do I care about it? That portal has little or no creativity, only press releases of the national bureaucracy.

Now to molecules, it's good that you admit that molecules are tangibles. But such molecular inventions are governed by IPR, that's why new drug molecules are patented. The pharma or biotech companies have their own trademarks, another form of IPR. So what's wrong with granting patents to a new drug molecule that was invented by scientists? What's wrong with granting a trademark to companies? Why insist on the abolition of IPR?

Say: ‎"Google owns and controls my blog, adds or removes content, allows or disallows reader comments, false." This is only false if you've entered into a contract with Google forbidding so. Otherwise, Google holds exclusive control over the blog.

It's not the drug molecules that are patented; it's the chemical formulas of the drug molecules that are patented. What's wrong with it is that nonviolent people who use the same chemical formulas to create the drug molecules with their own chemical and technological tools are met with by violent intervention from the State. Just imagine: If the person who invented sulphuric acid had patented its chemical formula, that would mean that anyone (from chemistry students in schools to industrial scientists in chemical companies) who created the chemical, using their own stuff, would be penalized. That's what wrong.

Nonoy: Google, fb, yahoo, twitter, etc. have their own terms and conditions. Once you click "I accept", that is the contract between you and them. By having its own IPR, by having its own trademark, google, fb, youtube, yahoo, etc., they become very innovative, very efficient, and we are reaping their efficiency, like these free fb accounts. Isn't it wonderful how the IP system that protects them causes them to become efficient? About drug molecules, wrong. Check my earlier paper, "IPR and medicines part 8", I enumerated there some molecules that are patented -- abiraterone acetate, azazitidine, befetinib, cixutumumab, docetaxel liposomal, enzastaurin, intetumumab, ixabepilone, lenalidomide, nimotuzumab... these are not chemical formulas, they are drug molecules. So to treat just one disease, prostate cancer, I mentioned there 101 new molecules under various R&D stages. Anyone and everyone can create his/her own drug molecule, no copying needed, so long as they have the scientific capability and financial resources. What's worng with that system? Why insist on the abolition of the IP system that encourages more and more people and companies to become inventive and innovative?

Say: I never read the terms and conditions set by Google and Hotmail. I honestly doubt anyone reads them. But yeah, it's a contractual agreement.

Drug molecules are chemical molecules, and how would one patent them if not by patenting their chemical formulas? There is nothing wrong with people creating their own drug molecules, but what if I want to produce the drug molecule that you invented instead? In order to do so, I have to use the drug's chemical formula, which is an intangible concept which you therefore cannot own, and my own chemicals and machinery. I have taken nothing from you by force; yet you would, by enforcing IPR, set the State's violent mechanism upon me and prevent me from doing what I want, nonviolently, with my own properties. How does this system protect my propertarian liberty?

Nonoy: To treat breast cancer, there are probably more than 2,000 different drug molecules that have been invented -- off patent and have hundreds of various generic brands already; patented and marketed, and patented but still not marketed, in various R&D stages. If you insist to use the drug molecule that I invented, no problem, just buy my drug, period. If you think my price is very high or the effectiveness of my drug is suspect, then just go to another manufacturer and buy his drug using a different molecule. But if you insist to really use my drug molecule, the raw materials I got, say, from innards of cows or pigs, then just innovate a little, get raw materials from innards of chicken or ducks or tilapia, and produce your own molecule. The IP system really encourages endless, limitless innovation and imagination. Why insist on abolishing the system?

Say: ‎"If you insist to use the drug molecule that I invented, no problem, just buy my drug, period."

It's not about buying your drug, which means buying ownership of a physical item; but about "buying" the chemical formula of the drug which is non-physical and therefore cannot be owned, sold, and bought.

I don't really know if the IP system promotes innovation; there are disputations regarding it and I haven't made up my mind. But I am against it currently because of its immorality; it is in conflict with tangible property rights.

Nonoy: "I don't really know if the IP system promotes innovation." -- I already explained it above: millions of patented seeds, with tens of thousands of rice seeds alone; dozens and dozens of cartoon characters aside from Mickey Mouse; thousands of drug molecules invented on each of major diseases (prostate C, breast C, colon C, hypertension, cardiovascular, stroke, etc.). Millions of songs copyrighted, millions of books copyrighted. And see the important trademarks -- google, fb, youtube, yahoo, live, twitter, wordpress, baidu, naver, etc. -- and all the efficiencies and free social networking and search engines they give us for free.

To be continued...

On another note, another friend in facebook, Sebastian, posted in my wall the book, Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo, by Jeffrey Tucker of the Mises Institute, Alabama, USA. Sebastian wrote a short note, Some more thoughts for you to disagree with over IP protection ;)

I thanked him for that link. I told him that I already mentioned this book in Part 4 of this discussion series. I noted how the arguments of the socialists and some libertarians on IP are so similar.

Sebastian replied, “I don’t think socialists would describe IP laws as monopolies granted by and in connivance with the state, would they? As I understand it, this is not an attack on property itself, there is a big philosophical difference between physical and intellectual property. You should also discuss this book on your blog:

I replied, “Yes, socialists consider IPR like patents as monopolies granted by the state. See how the left formulate their campaign against drug patents, "Patients over patents".
I saw that book earlier, especially the part on "simultaneous invention". The authors are wrong, there is NO conflict in simultaneous invention, as I discussed here, IPR and medicines, part 8. 101 different new drug molecules being developed just to treat prostate cancer, excluding old drugs that are still patented or off-patent already. There are endless possibilities and opportunities to inventors and innovators, thanks to the IPR system.”

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