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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Patents and Unions

This is really wierd.

Hitt, Greg. 2007. "Patent System's Revamp Hits Wall: Globalization Fears Stall Momentum in Congress." Wall Street Journal (27 August): p. A 3. "A bipartisan effort in Congress to overhaul the patent system -- a priority for some of the nation's biggest technology companies -- is hitting resistance because of concerns the U.S. might be exposed to greater foreign competition. Patent overhaul appeared to be on a fast track earlier this summer. But plans for a quick vote got derailed last month after the AFL-CIO entered the debate, warning that innovation -- and union-backed manufacturing jobs -- might be at risk if the changes were adopted. The union has considerable clout in the Democratic Congress and expressed concerns with provisions that would expose patents to expanded challenges and might limit damages for infringement. "At a time when the Chinese government is constantly being challenged to live up to its intellectual-property obligations, we do not want to take actions that may weaken ours," the AFL-CIO's legislative director, William Samuel, said in the pointed missive that was circulated on Capitol Hill."

Michael Perelman


Comments

I don't understand what's weird about this. After all, labor unions are nothing if not anti-competition, so why wouldn't they favor the monopoly formerly known as intellectual property? They are against competition in labor markets, which is why they favor nostrums like the minimum wage law. It's why they favor drug laws--why not put drug "offenders," who are disproportionately black males, in jail and off the labor market? It's why they favor immigration restrictions too. Can't have too much competition for American jobs you know. Freeing up the Mexican economy would aleviate the immigration "problem," as Burton Folsom pointed out in a superb Wall Street Journal piece last week, but that runs counter to everything unions believe in. They are against competition in product markets too. For example, the bad, bad, bad Japanese car manufacturers' competition against Detroit. (Never mind that many Japanese cars are manufactured in the U.S.) So they are back to square one, advocating statism and stasis.

If you take union logic to its ultimate conclusion, we'd be back in the Stone Age. But, hey, that would solve the patent problem!


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