Why Is President Obama Setting Up IP Enforcement Committees Rather Than IP Effectiveness Committees?

from the what-a-waste dept

The White House recently announced that President Obama has signed an executive order creating two new, very high level “intellectual property enforcement committees.” The idea is to have high level folks in different federal government agencies coordinating their “enforcement” strategies, when they do things like seizing domains without due process or First Amendment considerations.

Of course, if President Obama were serious about improving American innovation and creative output (and living up to the Constitution), he would have put together intellectual property effectiveness committees, rather than enforcement committees. By this point, you would have to willfully ignore all of the studies highlighting how today’s intellectual property laws tend to cause plenty of harm to think that the laws are “effective.” That doesn’t mean there can’t be effective intellectual property laws, just that what we have today clearly does not qualify. Those laws do serve to help some parties, no doubt, but that’s not the same thing as benefiting society. The Constitution makes clear that the purpose of patent and copyright laws is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. And yet, at no time has the government ever stopped to look at the question of whether or not these laws actually do promote the progress of science or the useful arts.

It seems, then, that the only reasonable move would not be to ramp up enforcement of the current laws — which have been shown to be problematic — but instead to commission a look at what would actually be most effective in promoting the progress. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards at all. Too bad.

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Comments on “Why Is President Obama Setting Up IP Enforcement Committees Rather Than IP Effectiveness Committees?”

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John Doe says:

Innovation will soon come to a crawl

If things keep going in the direction they are currently going and at the speed they are currently going, we can expect innovation to come to a crawl very soon. Pretty much any creator of software or website is probably violating many patents. With the patent holders so over valuing their patents, there is no way a new company could ever get off the ground if they have to pay the license fees.

This goes for most any industry right now including pharma and electronics like smart phones. Your diagram of the patent lawsuits shows clearly what is happening and it is only getting worse. We can only hope the system implodes on itself soon, until then, real reform will not happen.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

Hasn’t innovation in pharmaceuticals already come to a crawl, or even stopped? I think all of the new anti-inflammatory drugs have been taken off the market, or cancelled.

I seem to recall, but can’t find, an article about how there’s nothing in the pipeline from major pharmaceutical companies. That is, with extended rights to the drugs they’ve got, they quite investing in new drugs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

Bruce, the drugs that are cancelled or taken off the market generally are because they either fail trials or have adverse reactions when put into use.

The understanding of pain relief and control of inflammation has sort of reached a dead end on the level of chemical adjustments. In a lot of cases (such as sulfa drugs) they are really stretching the limits looking for any and all possible combinations that might have some effect. In all of that tens of thousands of compounds have been developed and used as medicine over the last 100 years or so.

The next steps are likely to occur as we get a better understanding of human genetics and the how some of the dna switches occur. The best solutions going forward may have more to do with stopping the original problem, as opposed to treating it’s symptoms.

Most of the Pharma companies are investing hugely in research in these areas, and things are moving forward. But like any big leap, it may take a while before results are seen at the consumer level.

Any Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

I can point to a drug where this doesn’t hold true. Phoslo. A phosphorous binder use primarily by dialysis patients. This was taken off the market to be replaced by Renvela, a much more expensive version of the drug.

At this point, it’s cheaper to take Tums with the meals instead of the prescription medication. Same active ingredient.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

That’s not quite true though, is it?

People can’t help but be innovative.

Remember when alcohol was illegal? People innovated an amazing array of gadgets for smuggling, house-hold storage, and organized criminal distribution of alcohol in short order.

Presently, marijuana is still mostly illegal. And I’ll bet you could find the ways and means to purchase everything you’d need to do said illicit substance in any city in the US in under an hour.

Later, when innovation is technically illegal thru IP enforcement, we’ll still be innovating. Just not legally. In fact, in some ways it seems as though certain types of innovation thrive more than normal the moment they’re illegal…

bshock (profile) says:

Re: Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

I like this line of thinking.

I’ve long suspected we need an underground communication system that parallels the Internet and avoids the easy meddling of government/corporate thugs. That would be a good start for bootleg innovation. Further bootleg innovation could come from that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Innovation will soon come to a crawl

I heard that the greatest innovation in home marijuana production was the introduction of LED growth lamps that cut the heat produced to levels that heat sensors can’t distinguish from other sources of heat.

Also production of spirits is still a crime but that didn’t stop people from using fraction columns to produce those.

Hint: The easiest fraction column you will ever build is a tube filled with marbles 🙂

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Oh, good.

The country certainly needed more “enforcement” wandering around, operating under vague directives and without oversight.

Of course, they’re going to have to stand in line to get all up in your business what with the FBI, CIA, NSA, various city, state and local governments deciding that everything you do or say (especially on the internet) is just basically you compiling evidence against yourself for a charge to be named later.

Your internet history is now an ongoing Exhibit A in an open-ended case. Your smartphone is an accomplice, I guess, thanks to its likelihood of sending damning evidence via SMS.

This comment is probably being filed under “Seditionary Acts” as we “speak.”

Steve R. (profile) says:


Why take the time and effort to evaluate effectiveness since we need enforcement?

By way of example, Obama appointed a deficit reduction commission. They came out with a report. Obama announced in the State of the Union Address that he didn’t like portions of it and he then failed to even mention any recommendations to be implemented. So it appears that the deficit reduction report went directly into the trash. Seems that Obama is simply skipping advise that he would ignore anyway. Now that’s efficiency.

Anonymous Coward says:

The way to fix this is not by asking anything anymore is by taking positive action.

If it is a war they want, then people should give them exactly what they want, open source initiatives should patent everything and put it into a patent pool and negate those people the use of monopolies to control a market, that would force them at some point to create mechanisms to dismantle those patents pools and in the process creating the tools to dismantle IP laws as we know them today.

IP enforcement is not selective, besides there is a small problem I don’t think the U.S. alone has any power to change IP laws on their own, just like the U.S. did with the U.K. in the 40’s other countries could just enact IP laws and exclude everybody else which is very attractive to many countries. People must show them in a very real way why those laws doesn’t work and they need to do it by taking action.

They want to corner the public, is time the public corner them, realizing their own solutions and using their own laws against them.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

IP Theft

Maybe Obama’s new roving band of IP enforcers will drag “America’s Most Wanted” into the 21st century and profile some of this nation’s most wanted IP thieves.

We could be treated to breathtaking reenactments of someone uploading something to Rapidshare followed by grainy B&W shots of various hard drives. John Walsh would be allowed to ramble on about how “dangerous” this all is and etc. while proudly pointing out that law enforcement is responding faster than ever to claims of “sharing.”

monkyyy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

agreed, protest outside white house? no the lobbyist would make up a story, breaking into the white house and explaining our side? no we get kicked out in 2 seconds and the news would spin it as people who should just talk to their congress officials

hacking Obama email to show a page essay? maybe but so many laws would be broken
the said essay tried to a rock through the window to his office with some money? yes that could work

Anonymous Coward says:

Why not just amend the Constitution to eliminate Article 1, Clause 8, Section 8 from the Constitution? Of course, the 10th Amendment would also have to be amended to ensure that such powers denied the federal government are likewise denied the state governments.

After all, it is so 1789-ish, hardly of relevance to present day society.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why not just amend the Constitution to eliminate Article 1, Clause 8, Section 8 from the Constitution?

Hmm. Can you point out where I said we should ignore the copyright clause? I actually said exactly the opposite in the post. That we should actually pay attention to what it says.

Now why would you state the opposite of what I said like that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I did not say anything about what was contained in the article. My comment was merely to note that elimination of the powers from Article 1 and the 10th Amendment would truncate the copyright and patent regimes altogether.

If neither copyrights nor patents promote progess in the sciences and useful arts, then why even have them?

Of course, such amendments would certainly be DOA, but consideration of what might happen if the regimes were eliminated might move the discussions here in a new direction, specifically, what would be the end result of doing so and what might spring up in their place?

Anonymous Coward says:

I think we should strictly enforce patents, with the condition that all patents are licenceable without discrimination for for free in any noncommercial use and for commercial use the price of the lesser, 10 cents or 1% of the final commercial product. Problem solved, enforce patents all you want, it won’t get in the way of research. If you patent software and someone sells the software for free, well, they don’t pay anything and if you got a problem, you better figure out how to convince people to give you money for what someone else will do for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Without enforcement, there is also no effectiveness. If you don’t like the rules, work to change the rules. The current problem is that the rules are not easy to enforce, so people ignore them

Enforce the rules, then change the rules as needed based on what you find trying to enforce them. The ideas are not mutually exclusive, even if you try to up that way.

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