Readers may recollect an early series of ours titled “Qu-IP”, where we sought to collate some of the wittiest and whackiest IP quips/sentiments. Well, here comes one.. after a rather long hiatus.
In one of my exam papers, I’d asked students to reflect on Fritz Machlup’s famous quote:
“If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it”
And here is an extract from one of the interesting answers:
“At a time when Machlup wrote this, intellectual property was delectable but not pervasive, and restricted to a few, perhaps not vital, economic organs. Times have changed and now, this cancer is affecting the most fundamental organs of the economy to a point that metastasis is near. Its time that this cancer is controlled, if not cured and the threat of intellectual monopoly is faced squarely. Nevertheless intellectual monopoly protectors like to picture intellectual property as a cure that is a beneficial and formidable remedy, which alleviates the innovative impotence of competitive markets. If intellectual property is the panacea of innovation, then it has been prescribed on a flawed diagnosis with scant empirical grounding to support this proposition. Although it does spurt innovation in the initial stages, it later entails a rapacious desire to obtain economic satisfaction, driving out people from a productive intellectual intercourse.”
I particularly like “innovative impotence” and “intellectual intercourse”. Some serious word play there!
pps: image from here.