by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
eu, harm, innovation, intellectual property

EU Worried About IP Harming Innovation... But Gets It Backwards

from the sigh dept

Rob H alerts us to an article that starts out sounding reasonable... pointing out that politicians in the EU are meeting because they're worried about intellectual property laws holding back innovation in Europe... but then it goes off the rails. You see, they're not worried that the laws are holding back innovation because they're too strict, but because they're too weak. As you look, though, you realize that these politicians have basically been lobbied by businesses that want protectionist policies. The "report" they discuss talks not about how to better incentivize innovation, but how to "better favour business." What that means is they went and spoke with a bunch of incumbent businesses, not innovative startups, and those businesses said they want more patents. Someone should send them a copy of Boldrin and Levine's book...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    The problem with incumbents..

    The problem with incumbents.. is they have all this money from being the incumbent...

    The startups just don't have the same resources.

    How can we convince our politicians (in all sectors) that disruptive startups are a good thing for the economy as a whole, and we should encourage them when the gigantic encumbants have their ear and are whispering the exact opposite to them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:43am

    Re: The problem with incumbents..

    Wann help with a small disruptive startup? ... GRIN ... my target is the media industry ....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:47am

    Re: The problem with incumbents..

    The only differences between schoolyard politics and grown-up politics that I can see is the money, and the propensity for children to call "bullshit" more often.

    (Lily Allen's entry and quick exit from the copyright debate is also a palpable analogy to "real" politics)

    How does one get the attention of someone outside of their 'clique'? How do we insert ourselves into a conversation between self-absorbed, self-important gibbering teenagers?

    The only ground rule that seems to be apparent in the government clique is "money talks".

    That means we're kind of screwed until someone can out earn the incumbent interest, or better, put them out of business... which they are trying to prevent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Rob H, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:30am


    I got a mention on TechDirt! (Possibly sadly, this is the highlight of my week so far).

    This story made me sad, but not surprised. As always in politics, its not the volume of your voice that gets you heard, its the volume on the table....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    How does the proverb go? You can't teach an old dog new tricks? As long as we have 200 year old politicians that run every country, things will only change for the worse. The problem is that the common mortal would never elect a 30 year old to run anything... so because people are generally stupid about politics (I make no assumptions, that includes me!), we are stuck in a rut and can't get out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Call me Al, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Re: Wow

    I would argue it is both the volume of your voice and the volume on the table. The campaign to decrease IP is much quieter and less obtrusive then the one to increase it. They are shouting from the rooftops and generally being very abrasive in an attempt to force their way... it appears to be working.

    This is typical Western government thinking. We've had it too easy for too long and are busy making the rope to hang ourselves with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Rob H, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    Whats worse is, at least in the majority, we're going along with it happily, blinded/deafened by the noise and lights.

    "Gee mister, what did you saw we were going to do with this rope once we've finished weaving it? I hope it's fun, to make up for my sore hands... Wow, we're going to build a swing! .. oh, we're going to _swing_!! At least we'll do it together. Mister...? Mister..? Where'd you go? Wait a minute, where's my wallet? Mister, did you see a wallet lying around here?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    captn trips, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:35am


    In a world run by corporations that are "too big to fail" shouldn't we be TRYING to to limit their monopolies and incentivize competition? The part thats so misunderstood is that competition breads innovation not monopolies.
    In one breath the political voice of all parties condemn monopolies and push for stronger IP.. I don't think they make the connection, or realize the harm their doing to innovation as a whole.. At least I hope not.

    Consolidation is the single most destructive force to innovation there ever was. The corporate Oligarchy disdains innovation and uses IP to destroy and assimilate competition before they can threaten the status-quo. The truth is that it's easy to lobby for stronger IP, because what never was is unquantifiable. They simply take innovation, which is a force that cant be stopped by paper tiger monopolies. Then credit patents as the culprit for all of humanities modern innovations.

    You-Tube is an excellent example, I heard so many people decry you tube as "pure theft" (to quote Joe Bidden) in 2002 wondering how they can even exist legally. Fast forward.. now imagine life without it. Again, if it hadn't been consolidated under Google it would have gone the way of countless other competitors/innovators ..to the bit bucket. THATS what IP REALLY does: it consolidates innovation into the hands of existing monopolies, who **USUALLY** just kill it.

    I would like to know what % of IP Patents are in the portfolio of companies like MS as opposed to companies that are still small and scrappy (and practicing those patents). more over, I would love to see how the patents have moved over the years. As in who originally filed them and the path that they took to where they are today. That would show I'm sure that once a patent is proven viable it's acquired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    LoL, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    IP laws promote a weaker industry.

    If the industry don't exercise competition many will fail in the long run. IP laws guarantee Europe will be failing against the rising asian competitors just like the U.S. already failed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    another mike (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    experiments with chimps

    The chimpanzee investigates a wire connected to a treat. When the chimp pulls on the wire, the treat moves further away. The chimp doesn't pull on the wire too many times before realizing the action taken isn't matching up with the intended result. Noticing that the observed result is the exact opposite of the intended result, the chimp performs the opposite action and pushes the wire and receives the treat.

    The politician sees a failing market; the treat is already moving away. The politician passes strong IP protection laws to improve the economy. The market accelerates its decline; the treat moves away even faster. So the politician passes stronger IP protection laws and the market goes down more. This cycle repeats indefinitely. The politician may realize that the observed result is the opposite of the intended result, but never makes the connection to perform the opposite action and weaken IP protection.

    Therefore, a chimpanzee is obviously smarter than a politician.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    bikey, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 2:42am

    EU and IP

    As long as the EU has virtually no democratic input and fails utterly to regulate lobbies, you are going to see and feel the effects of more and more of this gibberish. Lisbon Treaty anyone? Get real, then maybe people will vote yes (if they're ever given the opportunity to vote, that is).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Dale B. Halling, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    IP Laws too weak in EU - Good News

    Intellectual property is the free market method of encouraging innovation. Innovation is the only way that per capita income can increase. (see http://hallingblog.com/2009/07/08/is-innovation-the-key-to-growing-the-u-s-economy/). This is great news for the world economy that the EU is waking up to the fact that there patent laws are too weak, too complicated, and too expensive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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