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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Is China using patents as an arm of state power?

The Economist has a startling article this week on China's drive to develop patents as part of its development policy and to put it ahead among the world's leading economic powers link here. " The country's patent office leads the world in patent applications, more than 800,000 of which were filed in 2008. ...Most are for "petty" patents: middling technology that undergoes minimal review and receives only a 10-year term....[But] Chinese firms are increasingly filing "invention" patents that are rigorously scrutinized and receive 20 years of protection, as in the West." "Since 2006 more patent lawsuits have been filed in China than anywhere else, even litigious America. Most pit domestic firms against each other, but in recent years foreigners have found themselves on the receiving end too."

For those of us who regard patents as anti-competitive, leading to monopoly, this can only be seen as unwelcome. When intellectual property becomes an arm of the state in international competition, the world's consumers will lose and fights over IP will become sources of international conflict. Such conflicts need a lot more attention than they have been given to date. But attenuating them, much less resolving them, does not seem likely. What goes around comes around.


Comments

While I agree with John's view on this, it is not without precedent. The U.S. government obtained patents on nuclear weapons technologies in the aftermath of WWII and during the early years of the cold war in order to have legal standing for preventing other countries from acquiring these weapons.

Interestingly, the strategy wasn't particularly effective.

Stephen:

Do you have more information on the U.S. government patents on nuclear weapons? I am curious because, as you know, any inventions related to nuclear weapons are not patentable and have been so since the days of the cold war.


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