Thursday, December 1, 2011

Intellectual Property

Apple appears to be suing as part of its business plan:

Apple makes great products, but you wouldn’t know it from the way it’s attacking Samsung. Rather than let the marketplace decide whose products are better, Apple wants the courts to decide. Specifically, Apple is slugging it out with Samsung in a minimum of 19 lawsuits in 12 courts in nine countries on four continents.

Let that sink in for a minute. Apple is trying to use intellectual property law as a bludgeon around the world to protect its sales.

I think that we need to think carefully about what these laws exist to do and to promote. Apple is a profitable and successful company even with competitors. It might well be less profitable and successful if competitors could not enter into it's space. Imagine if the basic functionality of the telephone (talking remotely to people) was under patent. What would be the incentive for innovation?

Intellectual property is a very slippery idea; the gap between compensating for innovation and creating rent-seeking behavior seems razor thin.

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