Ideas Do Matter, But That Has Nothing To Do With 'Intellectual Property'

from the keep-up-folks dept

Glyn Moody points us to a website put together by Microsoft, Philips and DSM -- three giant companies that have relied heavily on intellectual property laws to fend off upstart competitors and disruptive innovation -- called Ideas Matter - the value of intellectual property. As you can tell from the title, the website focuses on two key points, which they then try to conflate as a single point: (1) Ideas matter and (2) because of that, intellectual property is important.

Of course, there's a huge problem with this: while ideas do matter, that has nothing to do with intellectual property. As people are quick to point out in our comments any time we suggest that ideas are being blocked or censored by intellectual property laws, such laws are not supposed to apply to ideas. In fact, it's explicit with both copyright and patent law. In copyright law, protection is supposed to be applied to expression, not ideas, and the difference is supposed to be key -- even if it isn't always observed. Similarly, with patents, protection is supposed to be applied to inventions, not ideas -- again even if that isn't regularly observed in practice.

To be honest, I find this particularly nefarious and disingenuous, in that any time people point out that ideas are being censored, defenders of IP laws insist that there's a split and "ideas" are not covered. Yet, when these same folks seek to push forth a propaganda campaign in support of greater protectionism, they use the claim that "ideas matter" to support those laws. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the site's name and premise itself, the rest of the site is filled with ridiculous and unsupported propaganda, such as this laughably misleading video that seems to assume that because certain things are protected by intellectual property laws, they wouldn't exist without them. It also tosses out ridiculous debunked industry figures on "losses" due to infringement. This is extreme propaganda.

Filed Under: copyright, ideas, intellectual property, patents
Companies: dsm, microsoft, philips


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  1. icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), 11 Jun 2011 @ 9:25am

    Re: Ideas Do Matter, But ....

    I just find it difficult to believe that we could elimitate "defensive" IP only. (I assume that by defensive IP you mean IP used to destroy competitors) However, IP is designed to work by stopping competition so you can collect monopoly rents on a particular technology. So, I find it hard to believe that we can somehow let companies use IP and not let them use it in such a way as to destroy competition. (Not to mention that their enormous lobbying power can be used to bypass any safety mechanism that would have been put it place.)

    As for ignorance of the reasons why the founding fathers put IP in the Constitution, I think it's pretty clear why they put IP in the Constitution: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;" Much of the arguments on this blog specifically call out what seems to be pretty clear by now that IP is unnecessary and that it is more harmful than helpful as far as the progress of science and useful arts is concerned. So, no, the founders weren't wrong to allow IP to promote progress. (Progress is good and if IP helped, maybe it would be a good idea) Congress is wrong to keep using IP to attempt promote progress because IP hinders progress.

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