Patent law? It’s all about Apples, Newton and iPads; why even free marketeers need IP protections

“As regular readers will know, I’m about as froth-mouthed free market as it is possible to get without descending into Randian lunacy,” Tim Worstall writes for The Register. “Yet even I support government interventions into the economy at times: it’s only the times and methods used that are to be argued about.”

“A case in point is the existence of the patent system,” Worstall writes. “I’m not about to claim that everything is peachy with the system we currently have, but this is a walk through of why economists, and yes, even froth-mouthed free marketeers, think that we need something like it – even if not exactly what we’ve got.”

“The basic problem is something called ‘public goods,'” Worstall writes. “No, these are not things that the public likes, nor what the public wants. Nor is it particularly the things that would be good for the public. It’s, strictly speaking in the jargon, things that are non-excludable and non-rivalrous. In any form of a free market or capitalist system (the two are very different ideas: one refers to how goods and services are distributed, the second to who owns the productive assets) these public goods also pose a particularly thorny problem.”

Much more in the full article here.

12 Comments

    1. Theory what a word but a bother like no other as it takes a man out of himself and far gone, flitting with his will-o-the-wisp thoughts through a grey wet landscape to some fecund meadow overrun by centaurs and fauns of logic he claims a consummation so perversely wished, even as stroking fingers coax the dreamer from the tar-black Stygian water; madness is cancelled by sweet acquiescence and I am here yes I am Yes.

        1. Undoubtedly. I haven’t yet won the Nobel Prize for Literature as Faulkner did. Nor did James Joyce, whose Blooming soliloquy I paraphrased. (Crabapple at least would have approved.) Since my stylings aren’t appreciated, perhaps I should stick to idiot doggerel or efficient algorithms. Or fashion advice. The Internet welcomes even discredited outcasts. Goodbye.

          1. I for one know I would enjoy reading anything you write, dear goddess.

            Meanwhile, there certainly is a market for idiot doggrel. That terrible tug-of-war within: Whether to lazily churn out housewife romance tomes, or work for a living and write actual literature worthy of the ages. The first option makes lots of money. The second option makes lots of angst and stress but maintains one’s integrity, growth and imagination. Money. Quality. Money. Quality. Which shall it be?

            And please NEVER say ‘Goodbye’. Just say you’ll look me up again some day. (^_^)

  1. I was going to complement Tim Warstall for not lowering himself to using cockney insult lingo, but oops:

    So how in buggery can I make my money back now?

    It’s a journalism status symbol in London, or something. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, it’s just Brit trash blahblah, ever lowering The Register’s reputation for professionalism, like they’d ever care to be professional.

    I put The Register on a par with Ars Technica. Ars can’t help themselves from posting Crap Science articles then vehemently defending their blunders in public. The Register can’t help insulting and perturbing their readers with gutter snipe blether. These days, I don’t bother much with either site. (Except Dan Goodin at Ars. Excellent researcher and writer).

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