Innovation Patent

Qu-IP: Innovative Impotence in Intellectual Intercourse?

intellectual intercourse

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!

ps: Any of you have interesting IP witticisms stocked up in your memory storehouse? Please do share and we’ll run it here. For our previous Qu-IP’s, see here and here

pps: image from here.

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Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.


  1. AvatarAnonymous

    Michele, Boldrin, Levine, K. David. “The Case Against Patents.” The Journal ofEconomic Perspective 27, no. 1 (2013): 3

    1. AvatarShrikantWad

      Thanks for quickly pointing it out!
      What is assumed to be a reflection on the said quote by one of his students, is a copy-paste from the book. To be precise, the source is-
      Chapter 10: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly
      Boldrin, Michele and Levine, David K. (2008). Against Intellectual Monopoly. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  2. AvatarGaurav Gupta

    “The economic histories of industrial world, is one of imitation and plagiarism, which is replaced by the propertization of innovation, once the imitator has something to lose. Thus, even the USA which was the architect of the TRIPS agreement, commenced its industrial life by imitating the industrial innovations of the UK.
    There is another thesis, which surprisingly has not yet been tested, tha the industrial development of countries necessarily commences with a phase of imitation, during which the technological skills which underpin indigenous industrial innovation are developed.”
    Source: Michael Blakeney, “A critical analysis of the TRIPS Agreement” in “The Intellectual Property Debate. Perspectives from Law, Economics and Political Economy”, Edward Elgar Publishing.


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