Monday, January 18, 2016

IPR and Innovation 29, Civil society enforcement of patents, copyrights

Property rights, physical or intellectual, are good only if they are enforced. While the means of property rights protection is via government, national and local, there are other non-governmental, professional and civil society way of enforcing IPR. Some news reports here last year. 

(1) "The benefits of a strong regime of property rights apply just as much to intangibles as to land and goods. We long ago worked out how to make the ownership of cars and houses and factories work, but we are not always as effective at protecting the interests of the originators of an idea, the creators of a work of art or design, or the inventors of a scientific process. Yet the benefits from clear ownership of intellectual property (IP) are every bit as clear as those flowing from the ownership of land and buildings. Those of us who watched the ease with which the private sector beat the government in mapping the human genome is but one recent example of the galvanising effect IP can have on investment in R&D."

(2) "Imagine spending years on research, experiencing a breakthrough, developing a new tool, technology, or medicine, but knowing that your innovation may not be protected. Many innovators around the world face this harsh reality. Intellectual property creates value – both socially and economically- by creating jobs, driving economic growth, and enriching our culture. Yet, despite these things, intellectual property protections around the globe remain inconsistent."

(3) "Rather than looking to Washington for solutions, a coalition of thousands of advertising firms are looking to collaboration to combat digital piracy and counterfeiting in today’s globalized economy. This new initiative is part of an industry led and managed effort designed to restrict the activities of those that promote counterfeit or stolen products and hamper innovation.

Earlier this week, the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a coalition of advertising industry groups, launched the “Brand Integrity Program.” The initiative, supported by the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau plans to “attack ad-supported piracy, digital advertising fraud, malware, and other deficiencies in the digital communications supply chain.”

(4) "In order to realise the goal of an industrialised India, policymakers, the legal community and industry must prepare a synchronous blueprint to align the objectives of our nation building with a responsive IPR regime. Such a regime must lay down the minimum IP capability and process maturity standards for government institutions, industry, education system, judiciary and legal environment."

(5) With the strongest data protection laws in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and the US have become leading centers for biologic research. There are plenty of reasons for others to join them in setting high standards. Relative to traditional chemical formulations, development of biologic medicines involves fewer barriers to entry. The sector is dominated by small, start-up companies. Today, many countries can foster a dynamic medicines sector, and firms in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere are among those leading the way."

(6) "Unfortunately, attacking patents is a misguided way to improve access to medicines in low and middle-income. Although it is a counter-intuitive conclusion, strong patent rights are a better way to achieve this goal.

In an international environment of strong patent rights, innovative drug makers would have every incentive to lower prices voluntarily to poor countries. Costs of manufacturing and distribution are a small percentage of prices charged for patented medicines in the United States. The reason the government recognizes patents is so the manufacturer can charge enough to earn a return on investment in research and development."

Nearly 3 years ago, I briefly debated Jeffrey Tucker, a famous anti-IPR libertarian anarchist. He wrote,

"If patents for inventions were part of the free market, to make and sustain them would not require legislation, constitutions, bureaucracies, filings, armies of attorneys, and years of litigation."

I countered that it is faulty thinking because:

"One, physical assets like cars,... are part of the free market, and they require legislation, constitution, bureaucracies.. And so IPRs are also part of the free market, they are property rights that need respect and enforcement.

Two, private property rights can be enforced by the private sector or civil society, with or without govt penalties. If thieves and shoplifters are caught inside a mall, they are apprehended by private security guards, they can be photographed and their faces plastered in the mall in a wall of shame...

The same way, thieves of IPRs like patent, trademark and copyright can be penalized by an industry association, a civil society org. If someone sells burgers wrapped with fake McDo or Burger King wrappers and trademark, and the consumers get good poisoning, who will they sue -- (a) the orig McDo/BK, (b) the IPR thieves like those sellers, or (c) IPR abolitionists like Jeff Tucker? Obviously (a) and (c) will not accept responsibility so (b) must be prosecuted for misleading the public and consumers."

See also:

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