Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Philosophy of IP

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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"Stealth Libertarianism" to Blame for Patent Law Flaws?

In The Reach of Patent Law and Institutional Competence, one Richard Gold makes an odd argument that "stealth libertarianism" is to blame for some of the problems in patent law. He believes there has been a "clandestine shift in patent law's normative base from a utilitarian justificatory rationale to a libertarian one; a trend the author refers to as 'stealth libertarianism.'"

Under the "libertarian" (sic) approach, it is assumed "that the social good is always attained by expanding patent rights in all domains," but courts dress this "libertarian analysis in the commonly accepted language of utilitarianism. This surreptitious adoption of libertarian analysis is particularly disconcerting because it enables courts to avoid addressing the ethical and distributional effects of patent determinations."

As far as I can tell from a quick read, Gold maintains that a utilitarian basis should be employed, instead of a "libertarian" one; that courts are incompetent to make these utilitarian determinations; and that if utilitarianism is correctly applied, patent law scope would not be expanded as much as it has been by courts applying a "stealth libertarian" rationale.

I can't figure out if this guy is an ally or not.


Wouldn't a better name for that be "stealth propertarianism" rather than

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