Stephan Kinsella’s Techdirt Profile


About Stephan Kinsella

Libertarian writer and patent attorney in Houston. and

Stephan Kinsella’s Comments comment rss

  • Apr 27th, 2016 @ 7:09am

    Denying a Trademark doesn't violate rights

    The state should never grant trademark protection in the first place, just as it should not grant patent or copyright, so the USPTO denying the Redskins' a trademark doesn't violate its rights. It doesn't prevent the Redskins from using the logo or the mark. It just means the Redskins would find it harder to sue people who also used the mark.

    Ironically, denying the trademark would lead to MORE use of the "Redskins" mark--for example the Redskins would not be able to stop knock-off teeshirts, hats, and so on. So denying them a trademark would not prevent the team from using that mark, and many more third parties would also be able to use the mark.

  • May 21st, 2015 @ 8:10am

    Rothbard did this long ago

    The libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard demolished the trope decades ago, in The Ethics of Liberty (

  • Aug 28th, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    Who is "Dr." King?

    Just wondering.

  • Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:53am

    America is no exemplar

    The arrogance of the US on this topic is amazing. It has millions of people rotting in jail for victimless drug crimes. The drug war is one of the worst holocausts of human rights violations in human history. It is rich for the US to pretend like it is some shining exemplar of human rights, when it has the drug war--among many other fascist/police state policies, from selective service/conscription, to confiscatory taxation, regulation of markets, minimum wage law, pro-union legislation, draconian and fascist patent and copyright law, antitrust law, extraterritorial application/bullying of IP and antitrust and drug and gambling law, and so on. THe US is a fascist police state. Saudi Arabia is also terrible, but that does not mean the US is "modern" or civilized.

  • May 23rd, 2013 @ 8:56pm


    I suspect this law will be held to be unconstitutional as preempted by federal patent law. Just a guess.

  • May 10th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    The state is always worse

    I hear you. I feel ya. But no matter how moronic or vile this mom is, the state is always worse. See this post: THe state blunders and kills, far more than incompetent parents do.

  • May 6th, 2013 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Facts, just the facts!

    "Bottom line, there are fixes in place. The author should stop complaining and call a small firm or solo patent lawyer and get some real advice."

    This is horrible. Sometimes an innocent victim actually does lose, because of patent law. It does exist. And telling them to stop complaining is horrible--it is blaming the victim. As for advice--what if the lawyer says "Looks like the patent is valid, you infringe, and you will lose--might as well shut down your company." What then, jerk?

  • May 6th, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    Patent Stockholm Syndrome

    This poor guy is being devastated by patents. Yet, at 5:40, he admits he is not against the patent system, does not want to abolish it--only to "reform" the system that he admits is "totally broken." This is really sad. The patent trolls are just responding to the current legal system. And they are not the worst problem--they just want a little royalty. Software patents are not the problem--maybe they are for this guy, but not in general. It is high quality, good patents, practiced by practicing entities--Apple, etc.--that is the problem. The trolls are just responding to the legal system that guys like this are in favor of. Guys like this are a bigger problem than trolls are. It is because of people like this that we have a patent system at all--people who support the basic system and the state's right to impose these fascist laws on us.

  • Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Slimy, but tax simplification is not good

    The problem with taxes is not that the system is complicated. It is that people are stolen from: taxed. The problem is taxes.

  • Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Slimy, but tax simplification is not good

    "As simpler system is harder to abuse."

    Yes, and that is a bug not a feature. It's good that people are able to game the system, "abuse" it, evade or avoid taxes. If making it simpler makes it harder to evade, that is hardly an arguemnt in favor of simplification.

  • Apr 5th, 2013 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Slimy, but tax simplification is not good

    taxes are high relative to some baseline. there are various reaosnable baselines. One is what taxes ought to be: zero. By that standard taxes are high. Another is what they were in times past. By that standard they are high--compared to what king george taxed us for examlpe or taxes even in late 1800s. another standard is the amount of taxes that would be needed to fund a state that restricted itself to the core functions enumerated in the constitution--that would be a state at least 95% smaller than today's. I.e. a budget of at most $200B a year. Not $4T. Taxes needed to fund that level of state would be trivial. Our taxes are high compared to that.

    As for the comment that no one wants to cut spending--nonsense. We libertarians do.

  • Apr 4th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Slimy, but tax simplification is not good

    loopholes are good. anything to allow you to avoid taxes is good. this is one problem with tax "simplification".

    I of course agree with other comments--that reducing the burden, ceteris paribus, is good. But the primary burden of taxes is not the complexity or record keeping: it's the amount. Focusing on "simplification" is giving in to their distraction.

    Consider: suppose you are paying on average 33% taxes now, after all the bullshit. You have a choice: you can just pay 45% of gross income on a postcard. No records, no nothing. Simple! What would you choose? HELLOOOOO

  • Apr 4th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Slimy, but tax simplification is not good

    This is slimy, but there is no reason to be in favor of tax simplification. THe problem with taxes is not that they are complicated. It is that they are high. When they are high they always become complicated. Arguing for simplification is just distracting people who are overburdened from paying high taxes, by making them think "something is being done"--it's just a shell game because these changes are always "revenue neutral" or even worse.

    Meaningful tax reform is not simplification or changing from one type of tax to another. It is simply drastically lowering tax rates of whatever type of tax system is in place. And that is why the state does not propose this--it would lower their take--and instead keeps mooting cosmetic changes to keep the tax-sheeple docile. It's like the stupid marriage tax penalty. They've been promising for decades to get rid of it. Meanwhile, people keep paying it.

  • Feb 16th, 2013 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Libertarianism

    My sentence they quoted was perhaps a bit mangled -- "There are also a growing number of IP critics who are artists, philosophers, techies, or journalists, most of them at least libertarian leaning, including artist Nina Paley, philosopher David Koepsell, tech blogger Mike Masnick, and reporter Joe Mullin." I meant mainly here to imply that Masnick is one of the tech/journalist types who were IP critics.

    I had just gotten done in the article talking about various types of libertarians (including Austrians and anarchists) who were increasingly against IP, and then I mentioned "a growing number of IP critics who are artists, philosophers, techies, or journalists" -- why? because most of the IP-critical ones I have seen do seem to be at least somewhat pro-free market, etc. David Koepsell is more or less an avowed libertarian but maybe not orthodox, Nina Paley is a lefty but anti-state and not opposed to profit and the free market.

    I probably should have written the sentence a bit more clearly. That said, Masnick seems to be pro free market and pro-civil liberties, which is libertarian leaning, it seems to me.

  • Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: bad actor?

    Richard, this is surely true; content companies like Fox are notorious for using copyright to legally bully people. But I don't think that is Coulton's complaint.

  • Jan 19th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    bad actor?

    Agree as usual with most of Masnick's take, but don't see why Fox is a "bad actor"--I don't see that they did anything immoral or wrong whatsoever. Absent copyright, I don't think there would be anything wrong even with failing to give attribution credit to someone you are copying. I don't even think it's bad form. It depends on the context. It's like dropping footnotes--sometimes it's appropriate, sometimes it's overkill.

  • Nov 21st, 2012 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Progressives are not against IP; libertarians are not "the right"

    Suzanne: "The environmental movement is broader than simply what we will use for energy. Therefore boiling it down to being for or against nuclear power is simplistic."

    Well, you have a point, but most greens yammer on about climate change, etc. solar etc. cannot solve this. Nor can geo or wind. Everyone knows this. The choice is simple: starve, or use some mass energy source: fossil fuels like oil, coal, or natural gas, or nuclear. A rational, non-malevolent person would choose to avoid humanity's energy-starvation; and among fossil fuels, if you think they really are leading to global warming etc. (I do not) you would be all for nuclear. But they are not. why?

    "One of the big issues with nuclear power as it is currently being used is centralized energy generation. Some of us prefer finding ways for as many people as possible to generate their own energy off the grid. There are proposals for small nuclear generators which can power individual houses or neighborhoods, which could be a vastly different approach than we have now. So it is entirely possible to view the current nuclear power industry as antiquated but to still be open to future developments depending on what they are. "

    But you do not hear greens talking about this. they are not even for exploring better nuclear. all they say is "maybe fusion" because they konw it's 50 or 70 years off. So they can hide their misanthropism and technophobia/illiteracy.

    My point is: if someone tells me they are an environemntalist, but they hate nuclear or don't even explore it as an alternatively, I konw that they are either stupid, ignorant, or a misanthrope.

  • Nov 21st, 2012 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Progressives are not against IP; libertarians are not "the right"

    "If they were on the land first, and we know that they were, then they should be able to claim it was theirs. I don't buy the "I didn't know any better than this" argument. "

    That is not the argument. the argument is that they have a better claim than any other claimant.

    See the La. civil code stuff cited in notes 25 etc. of my

    "'People opposed to nuclear power are, in my view, either not really environmentlists, or technologically illiterate. Anyone who is really in favor of environmentalism and knows a bit about science, would be in favor of nuclear power.'

    "For you to make a statement like that means that you see the world in more black-and-white terms than I do. I don't think we think in the same manner. The "if you don't agree with me, I discount what you are saying" approach is one I'll pass on, thanks.""

    No. It means that nuclear power is obviously better and safer for the environment than other serious competing sources; if you are really an environmentalist, you would be FOR nuclear power, unless you are ignorant--whcih is what I think is the case for most anti-nuke greens. But there are some who know nuclear is better but oppose it anyway, which means their real agenda is not environmentalism but something else. If you worried about "climate change" ( I am not) you should be for nuclear power.

  • Nov 21st, 2012 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Progressives are not against IP; libertarians are not "the right"

    Suzanne: "But what about Native Americans? Do current land owners have a right to land that was once settled by others? If property has been taken by force from those who were there first, should it revert back to the original owners?"

    Of course. If they can prove it. I agree with rothbard: see contracts/: "It might be charged that our theory of justice in property titles is deficient because in the real world most landed (and even other) property has a past history so tangled that it becomes impossible to identify who or what has committed coercion and therefore who the current just owner may be. But the point of the ďhomestead principleĒ is that if we donít know what crimes have been committed in acquiring the property in the past, or if we donít know the victims or their heirs, then the current owner becomes the legitimate and just owner on homestead grounds. In short, if Jones owns a piece of land at the present time, and we donít know what crimes were committed to arrive at the current title, then Jones, as the current owner, becomes as fully legitimate a property owner of this land as he does over his own person. Overthrow of existing property title only becomes legitimate if the victims or their heirs can present an authenticated, demonstrable, and specific claim to the property. Failing such conditions, existing landowners possess a fully moral right to their property."

    "My primary concern is how to deal with global environmental problems."

    My primary concern is justice and protecting indivdual human rights. I believe that the best outcome in environmental terms comes from private property rights strongly protected. There is a huge literature on this if you are really intersted. One test for me of someone who is a true environmentalist is whether they are pro-nuclear power or not. People opposed to nuclear power are, in my view, either not really environmentlists, or technologically illiterate. Anyone who is really in favor of environmentalism and knows a bit about science, would be in favor of nuclear power.

  • Nov 21st, 2012 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Progressives are not against IP; libertarians are not "the right"

    Suzanne: "The emphasis is on commons rather than private property."

    I find such anodyne statements to masque or distract from the issue at hand, which is always: who has the right to use a particular contestable (scarce, rivalrous) resource? The libertarian answer, which I agree with, is that the person with the best claim to the resource is the one who was the first to use it or who acquired title to the resouce by contract from a previous owner. Any alternative property allocation rule always ends up taking property away from earlier or better claimants in favor of others; i.e., is a form of theft or wealth redistribution, and is thus immoral and wrong, and inefficient to boot.

    "Shareable: The Boom of Commons-Based Peer Production: "Physical production is impossible without natural resources."

    Yes. That is why property rights in such resources are establihsed; the question is what property allocation rule is society to have? If it's not the Lockean rule, that means at some point some stronger group wrests possession of already-owned property away from its previous owner. This is just naked theft, might makes right.

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