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In the United States, and elsewhere in the world, intellectual property is protected by patents and copyright law. Are these valid ways to protect intellectual property, or do they validate the rights of others by infringing on "fair use" or some other right?

asked Sep 28 '10 at 20:23

Justin%20O's gravatar image

Justin O ♦

Ayn Rand explains this in her article "Patents and Copyrights." You can find excerpts here. The essence of the Objectivist view is that property rights protect the right of a creator to his creation. For the same reason that you have the right to the corn you grow, so you have a right to books you right, or the medicines you discover. In this sense, all property is intellectual property: it all flows from the rationality of the person creating the value.

However, there are crucial differences between how a government protects the right of a creator to IP as against other forms of property. This is one reason why some defenders of property rights have trouble understanding the issue of IP rights. Rand addresses some of this in her article. More work has been done by Objectivist law professor Adam Mossoff (George Mason University). You can find some of his writings here.

answered Sep 28 '10 at 21:39

Publius's gravatar image

Publius ♦

Agree. One thing I'd add is that today's patent system in the U.S. has massive problems, including the granting of patents too freely—that is, granting patents to things that don't deserve them. So don't take the current U.S. Patent Office to be a representative of what patents might be and ought to be.

(Sep 29 '10 at 04:36) jasoncrawford ♦ jasoncrawford's gravatar image

Ok then objectively what are good general criteria for deserving a patent?

(May 14 '11 at 03:27) Marnee Dearman ♦ Marnee%20Dearman's gravatar image

In my opinion, the current criteria of utility + novelty + non-obviousness are perfectly good. The problem is that the search conducted by the USPTO to determine novelty and non-obviousness is lacking. They pretty much only search other US Patents/Patent Applications to see if the purported invention is described therein. They can look at other publications if their attention is directed to them, but that is rare. Thus an invention that is not novel might nonetheless get a patent if the search conducted by the USPTO did not reveal its lack of novelty.

(Sep 22 '11 at 23:21) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image
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Asked: Sep 28 '10 at 20:23

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Last updated: Sep 22 '11 at 23:21