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The term of patent issue

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I definitely think people have a moral right to control the use of their ideas. Translating this into politics in where it starts to get incredibly complex for me.

The way I see it is like this: If an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for 100 years, then the inventor deserves a 100 year patent. If, however, an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for one month, then the inventor deserves a one month patent. This is an objective measurement of their contribution by inventing the invention.

The problem then is determining the most likely patent term (that would correspond with reality, which we can't know without the counter-factual). Another way of looking at it would be to err on the side of a short patent term, because if the patent is too short, only one person (the inventor) is harmed, whereas if the patent is too long, everyone else gets harmed. I'm not sure if I prescribe to this way of looking at it. I think I'm more comfortable with the idea of just determining the most likely patent term at the present time. The other problem of course is determining how you would go about determining the most likely patent term.

Anyway, my point is this: when you consider that all sorts of people are trying to invent something all the time, it seems absurd to me that the typical inventor's contribution when they invent something is 20 years. Yet, in the U.S. and other countries, they dole out the 20 year patent. But do inventors typically invent something that wouldn't have been invented for another 20 years? That's insane.

What we end up with is oil companies buying up patents for alternative means of getting energy and transportation and newcomers to the market unable to get technology 19 years old without getting permission from someone else first. Furthermore, let's suppose an inventor invents something so amazing (perhaps it was dependent on several other inventions of theirs that they kept secret) that the general consensus is that this wouldn't have been invented for several decades. Wouldn't it therefore be wrong to have the patent be only 20 years?

These are just some initial thoughts of mine on the issue. Whaddaya guys think?

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The purpose of scientific and technological research is to identify needs and fill them with inventions. Once someone invented something, that need is filled: that is a blessing for everyone. Why woul

The way I see it is like this: If an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for 100 years, then the inventor deserves a 100 year patent. If, however, an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for one month, then the inventor deserves a one month patent. This is an objective measurement of their contribution by inventing the invention.

I don't know where this premise comes from - especially since you already said that you think people have a moral to control their ideas.

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As mentioned by the OP patents can have a harmful effect on competition.

What would have happened if someone used it on a operating system? No more OS-s for twenty years?

Or you would have to get permission for money? Why would anyone who produce the OS do that?

I guess different things require different patents. Or maybe not...

Edited by Dániel Boros
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What we end up with is oil companies buying up patents for alternative means of getting energy and transportation and newcomers to the market unable to get technology 19 years old without getting permission from someone else first.

Do "newcomers to the market" have a right to the products of others' minds?

As mentioned by the OP patents can have a harmful effect on competition.

Patents do not "have a harmful effect on competition", but are a necessary precondition for the freedom of competition to exist.

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To milked: Then why did Rand oppose indefinite patents? If we can agree that patents should exist and shouldn't be indefinite, then that takes us to the question of how long they should exist and by what standard(s) we ought to use to determine this, which is the point of this thread.

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I don't know where this premise comes from - especially since you already said that you think people have a moral to control their ideas.

Indefinitely?

As for the time period--it's an objective measurement of their contribution of the invention (how long it takes until their contribution stops existing in the counter-factual).

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I understand what the objective measurement you propose is, but I don't understand how that's justified. For one, what would be the point of protecting something no longer than the next person to invent that particular thing? I'm not sure why you're using "contribution" as the standard here, because the point is that a creator gets to reap the rewards/profits of their own invention/idea. Secondly, you cannot predict how long it would have taken someone to invent something. People can die, decide to not pursue an idea, turn crazy, or simply be unable to follow through with their current schemes. I'm not saying an *indefinite* patent is a good idea, but in my mind, a patent should last at least as long as a person is alive. I do not know of other good standards which to determine the length of time a patent should last, but your standard is at best flawed.

Edited by Eiuol
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To milked: Then why did Rand oppose indefinite patents? If we can agree that patents should exist and shouldn't be indefinite, then that takes us to the question of how long they should exist and by what standard(s) we ought to use to determine this, which is the point of this thread.

A patent (which refers to the right to use and sell physical instances of the design or invention) should be in effect until the owner had a chance to fully commercialize his invention. In other words, it should be in effect as long as there are people willing to buy it and use it for its intended purpose, and as long as he is willing to sell it to someone (not to everyone indiscriminately, but to at least someone - even if it is just one company, in an exclusive deal).

It should expire once it is used for the opposite effect: to hamper development by denying it from everyone; or when it is no longer used at all as intended. Obviously, this clause shouldn't be abused (by picking someone to sell it to just to bury it - the courts can and should see through such a strategy).

I am going to go ahead and preemptively answer the obvious question: Why can't someone deny his invention to everyone? Answer: they can, by never registering it with the patent office, or making it available. In other words, by keeping it a secret.

What would have happened if someone used it on a operating system?

They did. Most operating systems are copyrighted.

If someone's ideas are his own property than losing that property after a finite time would not be fair.

Someone's ideas are not his property, once others find out about them through legitimate means (you can't torture someone for them, or break into their house to find them on his laptop, but if he tells them to you, they're "yours" -they're part of your consciousness- like I tried to explain in the libel thread, you don't have the right to control the contents of someone's mind).

Property refers to material values, not ideas. In this case, the physical instances of a design or invention, or the physical copies of copyrighted material, are one's property. Ideas are a part of people's consciousness: they are communicated, not given or taken, and once they are communicated, they are no longer under your control.

So you are more than welcome to figure out and memorize the design of the IPhone (without breaking the law of violating the TOS agreement of course), and Apple doesn't have the right to stop you. They can only stop you from implementing that design and using that implementation without their permission. Any such implementation is their physical property: they are the reason it exists, not you. You just built it off of their design.

Similarly, I do not own the ideas contained in a book, once I fail to maintain their secrecy by relying on contracts (non disclosure agreements) and my property rights (keeping the book in my house, never publishing it). Once it's published, and you buy a copy, the ideas contained in it are just as much yours as they are mine. I can't get into your head and "own" them. What is still mine is the copyright, meaning that I'm the only one who is allowed to copy the book, and if you do so illegally, I own that copy and you're a thief by keeping it.

Why can't people inherit them like houses or the right to publish books?

Patents and copyright can be inherited. Ideas cannot, because ideas aren't property. This notion is also the basis of absolute and inalienable freedom of speech, btw.

Edited by Nicky
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I definitely think people have a moral right to control the use of their ideas. Translating this into politics in where it starts to get incredibly complex for me.

The way I see it is like this: If an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for 100 years, then the inventor deserves a 100 year patent. If, however, an inventor invents something and no one else would have invented it for one month, then the inventor deserves a one month patent. This is an objective measurement of their contribution by inventing the invention.

...

These are just some initial thoughts of mine on the issue. Whaddaya guys think?

That is not "an objective measurement of their contribution". First, it is not even close to being objective at all because the counterfactual would-have-been-invented time is unknown and can never be known. It is not even possible to come up with statistics on which to base a guess, and the statistical approach would contradict the individual nature of justice anyway. Second, the phrase "of their contribution" makes one wonder who is collecting the contributions, in other words there is an implicit premise of a trade here. But patents are assertions of rights not trades and the government must issue patents that are validly claimed.

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I'm not sure why you're using "contribution" as the standard here, because the point is that a creator gets to reap the rewards/profits of their own invention/idea.

I'm saying they ought to reap the profits of their invention. If they invent something that was going to be invented one year later, their invention is the invention of this invention for one year--that's how long it takes until their invention no longer counts as an invention because it was invented by someone else. If someone invents X and someone else would have invented X 5 years later, then the invention of X is more valuable than if it would have been invented by someone else one month later. Do you see my point?

Secondly, you cannot predict how long it would have taken someone to invent something.

That's true and irrelevant to this discussion. I'm asking what ought to be our standard.

What do you think is a better standard? Why?

Edited by Mnrchst
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it should be in effect as long as there are people willing to buy it and use it for its intended purpose, and as long as he is willing to sell it to someone.

You mean potentially forever? We should have patents on inventions from hundreds of years ago?

It should expire once it is used for the opposite effect: to hamper development by denying it from everyone; or when it is no longer used at all as intended. Obviously, this clause shouldn't be abused (by picking someone to sell it to just to bury it - the courts can and should see through such a strategy).

This is vague. How exactly are we to tell the difference?

Someone's ideas are not his property, once others find out about them through legitimate means (you can't torture someone for them, or break into their house to find them on his laptop, but if he tells them to you, they're "yours" -they're part of your consciousness- like I tried to explain in the libel thread, you don't have the right to control the contents of someone's mind).

That there is no right to control the contents of someone's mind doesn't preclude the possibility of ideas (as such) as property.

Patents and copyright can be inherited. Ideas cannot, because ideas aren't property. This notion is also the basis of absolute and inalienable freedom of speech, btw.

You're confusing ideas (as such) with ideas in someone's head.

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That is not "an objective measurement of their contribution". First, it is not even close to being objective at all because the counterfactual would-have-been-invented time is unknown and can never be known.

I'm saying *what if* we could know. Do you see my point? If you *could* know, wouldn't you use this as the standard? If not, why not? What would be a better standard?

Second, the phrase "of their contribution" makes one wonder who is collecting the contributions

Anyone who benefits from knowledge of the invention, even if its just "I'm glad I know this"

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You mean potentially forever? We should have patents on inventions from hundreds of years ago?

No, I can't think of any patentable designs that would fit my criteria "forever" or for "hundreds (meaning over 200) years". You should name one that you think could last that long. Maybe I didn't think of it, or you misunderstood my criteria in some way. Either way, an example would clear it up.

This is vague. How exactly are we to tell the difference?

By noting that the invention is not being put to use by the buyer. I don't think that's vague at all. If Apple stopped selling iPhones for instance, that would be pretty obvious.

That there is no right to control the contents of someone's mind doesn't preclude the possibility of ideas (as such) as property.

You're confusing ideas (as such) with ideas in someone's head.

I must be. I had no idea ideas exist outside someone's head. But then again, maybe I do have that idea, somewhere outside my head. Where should I look first? :)

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Property refers to material values, not ideas. In this case, the physical instances of a design or invention, or the physical copies of copyrighted material, are one's property. Ideas are a part of people's consciousness: they are communicated, not given or taken, and once they are communicated, they are no longer under your control.

So you are more than welcome to figure out and memorize the design of the IPhone (without breaking the law of violating the TOS agreement of course), and Apple doesn't have the right to stop you. They can only stop you from implementing that design and using that implementation without their permission. Any such implementation is their physical property: they are the reason it exists, not you. You just built it off of their design.

This hits at part of my (longstanding) confusion with intellectual property. I'm going to take an opposing view to yours to try to further suss this out.

Suppose I have the components for an iPhone. I've purchased these components with the money I've earned through my honest employment. I think that you'd agree that these components are my property.

And we're agreed that a person cannot own an idea; an idea, in itself, cannot therefore be property, except that it "belongs" to whomever holds it.

Given this, why cannot I arrange the components I own in the fashion that I choose, if I decide to act upon the knowledge that I have in constructing an iPhone? Because the instant that I do so, it somehow now becomes Apple's property? How so? They're not the one to have purchased these components, nor did they invest the labor in this specific phone's construction -- I did that. I got the idea from them, but what of that? They never owned the idea to begin with. Because "they did it first"? Why should I care that they did it first?

"They are the reason that it exists, not [me]"? To a point that's true (let's grant that iPhones in general would not exist without Apple), but in the case of this specific iPhone that I've built? I am very much the reason that it exists. It was my mind that understood how to construct it (just as I did not invent nuclear physics, but if I understand how to build a bomb based on other peoples' discoveries, and I do so, I am the reason that this bomb exists). It was my wealth that provided for its construction. It was my labor that constructed it in fact. And I am neither contracted to Apple, nor have I entered into any other specific agreement not to make an iPhone.

In learning and living I have acquired "inspiration" and knowledge from a myriad of places, and the work of countless, countless others. Why should I take the time to care who devised which devices, and how recently, and where they have originated, before I choose how to invest my rightful time and resources for the furtherance of my own life? Where's the sense in it? Before I build a chair, should I track down the descendants of the first man to ever build one? No. I observe others sitting comfortably; I decide that is a good idea; I build myself a chair. This seems only sensible, and an iPhone is but a sophisticated chair.

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I had no idea ideas exist outside someone's head. But then again, maybe I do have that idea, somewhere outside my head. Where should I look first? :)

You're misunderstanding me. I'm drawing a distinction between the concept "apple" AS SUCH and "Person X is thinking about the concept of 'apple' ". Yes, there can be no idea not in someone's head, but that doesn't mean you can't conceive of the idea of "apple" without it being in someone's head.

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Given this, why cannot I arrange the components I own in the fashion that I choose, if I decide to act upon the knowledge that I have in constructing an iPhone? Because the instant that I do so, it somehow now becomes Apple's property? How so? They're not the one to have purchased these components, nor did they invest the labor in this specific phone's construction -- I did that. I got the idea from them, but what of that? They never owned the idea to begin with. Because "they did it first"? Why should I care that they did it first?

In response: There's the argument that "all property is fundamentally intellectual".

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_intellectual_property

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I'm saying *what if* we could know. Do you see my point? If you *could* know, wouldn't you use this as the standard? If not, why not? What would be a better standard?

If we could is a matter of being omniscient, not just a matter of "in the future". So that's why I'm saying at the least, your standard is impossible. Like any piece of property, ownership lasts as long as ownership can be maintained. Patents cannot be maintained like tangible property to the extent that patents are for physical manifestations ideas.

In learning and living I have acquired "inspiration" and knowledge from a myriad of places, and the work of countless, countless others. Why should I take the time to care who devised which devices, and how recently, and where they have originated, before I choose how to invest my rightful time and resources for the furtherance of my own life? Where's the sense in it? Before I build a chair, should I track down the descendants of the first man to ever build one? No. I observe others sitting comfortably; I decide that is a good idea; I build myself a chair. This seems only sensible, and an iPhone is but a sophisticated chair.

To dive really deep into that, the reason is that justice requires it. Paying for anything is to give another person what they deserve in the form of a trade so that you, too, acquire value. Perhaps there is some work involved, but if you seek justice, it's exactly what you need to do. But what you are mentioning is hardly what would be involved in a system of intellectual property. Intellectual property wouldn't be inheritable really, although some caveats on length of time beyond the creator's life so that companies involved with the IP can reasonably make investments. A patent can't really be transferred, similar to what I said in my previous paragraph, so some differences from tangible property would be used. So, if you have a special chair design, it's yours, but you wouldn't have to hunt down whoever inherited a chair patent - there would be no broad chair patent. I don't know how to measure if a patented object is defined broadly, though. In any case, it's no problem for anyone that they have to pay to use your chair design. After all, you're the sole reason there is even an option to sit on your new chair. You'd be getting what you deserve if people pay to use your hard-earned design.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22474 is a thread I started a while back that you may like to read.

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To dive really deep into that, the reason is that justice requires it. Paying for anything is to give another person what they deserve in the form of a trade so that you, too, acquire value. Perhaps there is some work involved, but if you seek justice, it's exactly what you need to do.

Again, I'll claim that I have taken inspiration and knowledge and other assorted boons from countless others who have come before me. I do not live as a caveman does, and a caveman could never live as I do; I was born into a world of incredible wealth, and I benefit from that pre-existing wealth in ways so numerous I couldn't begin to count them.

When someone offers to deal and trade with me directly, of course I respect the terms of that trade (or I don't make it). But to insist that justice requires that I must somehow compensate every source of good or value of which I'm the recipient, even incidentally...? I don't know. That sounds, at the least, unwieldy.

Now we can agree that we ought give people "what they deserve," but I consider it begging the question to say that the inventor of the chair (or the iPhone) therefore deserves financial compensation, on their terms, of anyone who wishes to build something alike. Perhaps I reward the originator of the chair with a smile, as I carve my own facsimile. Or with my friendship. Or I don't know. But we're talking about property rights and the initiation of force, and I don't know that I can agree that being the first person to build a chair means that you "own" the efforts of others to do likewise. In fact, that doesn't sound right at all.

But what you are mentioning is hardly what would be involved in a system of intellectual property. Intellectual property wouldn't be inheritable really, although some caveats on length of time beyond the creator's life so that companies involved with the IP can reasonably make investments. A patent can't really be transferred, similar to what I said in my previous paragraph, so some differences from tangible property would be used. So, if you have a special chair design, it's yours, but you wouldn't have to hunt down whoever inherited a chair patent - there would be no broad chair patent. I don't know how to measure if a patented object is defined broadly, though. In any case, it's no problem for anyone that they have to pay to use your chair design. After all, you're the sole reason there is even an option to sit on your new chair. You'd be getting what you deserve if people pay to use your hard-earned design.

Well, I understand. The life of a chair patent would have long run out, and maybe that's too broad of an invention to patent, and so on. I understand that if I were to press on any of these details, we could just consign the whole matter to some "special science" of law, where men would somehow be wiser and better able to decide what was, and was not, fitting of a good system of IP.

But again, we're talking about the initiation of the use of force and human rights. I think the lines ought to be clear here, because if we're just a shade off on what's "too narrow" or "too broad," then we are necessarily on the side of those who initiate force.

These IP discussions always seem so "ad hoc" to me, for lack of a better term. Patents are "property" in ways that suit us, but not "property" in others. They can't be transferred? Why not? Property -- real, actual property -- is transferable. If patents are not, it leads me to suspect that patents are not property at all. If we're serious about these matters, then the man who first invented the chair deserves to reap all of the rewards, period. It was his mind, etc. And if he wants to pass that on to his descendants, why not? I mean, if we're talking about the actual, physical chair that he's constructed, we'd never have this discussion at all. Right? His lease on that chair -- no matter how valuable it might become over time -- would never run out. It would be his family's property forever, unless they ever chose to sell it. So why shouldn't his ownership over "chairs," as such, be equally as eternal?

It seems more and more to me that the reason is: because nobody can own the concept of "chairs." And to prevent another person from building a chair -- even if their impetus was that they saw you building the first one, and are therefore benefiting from your mental labors and so forth -- is to initiate the use of force.

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=22474 is a thread I started a while back that you may like to read.

I hope to investigate the thread you've linked and the discussion Mnrchst referenced as well in the near future.

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your standard is impossible.

Yes, I know. I'm just asking *IF* we could know, would you want that as the standard?

Here's an analogy: Rand said murderers deserve the death penalty morally but not politically, because of the epistemological problem of not knowing completely for sure (as in metaphysically) if anyone ever murders someone. So isn't it at least plausible to say that there's the moral standard of the patent existing the length of the time until it would have been invented until someone else even though we can't get that politically because we can't know that length of time?

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In response: There's the argument that "all property is fundamentally intellectual".

http://www.aynrand.o...ectual_property

All right. I've listened up to 43:19 of the lecture, and I've stopped it there on two accounts:

1) He's going into Bentham's philosophy, which I don't find particularly applicable to my concerns on this matter, and

2) I'm just incredibly antsy from the proceeding presentation. Most of what he says is indisputable (or at least, nothing which I would dispute), but I'm still missing the vital step from "the centrality of man's mind to man's survival" to "therefore, if you build a chair first, you own all subsequent chairs that anyone else builds." I almost feel like I'm watching the Underpants Gnome episode of South Park, but without the comedy.

Now maybe it's just me? My personal lack of understanding? I'm open to that. I'm willing to be wrong on this subject, and I'm willing to embrace correction fully, if I can be made to see my error(s). I'm not a Libertarian. I'm not a... er... Benthamite? I'm going to go where reason and reality sit, insofar as I am able, without reservation. So if you have those, lay them on me. But look...

In Mossoff's lecture, he spoke about man's mind being the difference between a simple parcel of land, and its potential for being a farm. No questions there. Yet his conclusion is that the "products" of man's mental labor are equally deserving of protection as the products (i.e. material products) of man's physical labor.

Well, what then? Are we saying that the first man to turn land into a farm therefore owns "farms," as such? Of course not, right? Absurd, right?

Other things Mossoff observed as being products of man's mental labor -- and therefore a testament to the centrality of man's mind to his survival (and ultimately therefore something deserving of legal protection in a Capitalist society) are: clothing. And "division of labor." Ought someone therefore be able to "own" these things? Never mind that the potential claimants are long, long dead, but even in the most theoretical of settings, can this ever be sensible?

Look. I think that the inventor of the chair is deserving of the fruits of both his mental and physical labor. The fruits of both happen to coexist in one material value: the chair that he's built. He also owns every subsequent chair that he builds, or contracts to have built through his factories or any other manufacturing arrangement. The things that he builds, the deals that he manages, all of that are his.

But the step I'm missing -- the only step that matters for me, with regards to "intellectual property" as such -- is how this entitles him to prevent anyone else from doing something similar.

If you build the first chair, then you own that chair that you've built. If I see your chair and I build the second? I own that chair. We cannot discount the centrality of the mental work that you've done, in building your chair, but neither can we discount the fact that you needed to have one built, in actuality, for there to be any "property" at all. In my creation of the second chair, I've also performed mental (yes) and physical (yes) labor. This is how there is a second item of property. That I have done this work, in understanding how your chair was made, and recognizing that it would be good to turn raw material into a value for my own use -- and in that I have performed the manual labor necessary to bring this idea into physical fruition -- that is what makes this chair, mine.

You do not own the chair that I've built on account of having built one before me.

Do you?

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This hits at part of my (longstanding) confusion with intellectual property. I'm going to take an opposing view to yours to try to further suss this out.

Suppose I have the components for an iPhone. I've purchased these components with the money I've earned through my honest employment. I think that you'd agree that these components are my property.

And we're agreed that a person cannot own an idea; an idea, in itself, cannot therefore be property, except that it "belongs" to whomever holds it.

Given this, why cannot I arrange the components I own in the fashion that I choose, if I decide to act upon the knowledge that I have in constructing an iPhone? Because the instant that I do so, it somehow now becomes Apple's property? How so? They're not the one to have purchased these components, nor did they invest the labor in this specific phone's construction -- I did that. I got the idea from them, but what of that? They never owned the idea to begin with. Because "they did it first"? Why should I care that they did it first?

"They are the reason that it exists, not [me]"? To a point that's true (let's grant that iPhones in general would not exist without Apple), but in the case of this specific iPhone that I've built? I am very much the reason that it exists. It was my mind that understood how to construct it (just as I did not invent nuclear physics, but if I understand how to build a bomb based on other peoples' discoveries, and I do so, I am the reason that this bomb exists). It was my wealth that provided for its construction. It was my labor that constructed it in fact. And I am neither contracted to Apple, nor have I entered into any other specific agreement not to make an iPhone.

Ayn Rand answers that so perfectly that it would be a shame to add anything:

By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that that value is created by the originator of the idea...(Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal)

In learning and living I have acquired "inspiration" and knowledge from a myriad of places, and the work of countless, countless others.

And you should always acknowledge that fact, and never claim that everything you know is solely the product of your own efforts.

Why should I take the time to care who devised which devices, and how recently, and where they have originated, before I choose how to invest my rightful time and resources for the furtherance of my own life?

That's the whole point of patents: you don't have to take the time to do that, there's a system in place. The reason for that system, I believe, is fully given in the above Rand quote.

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Somewhat unrelated: this same principle (of identifying the source of some object's value to determine who owns it) is applied when determining to whom a piece of land belongs. That is why land can in fact be owned: because its value comes not from "nature" or the dead dinosaurs buried under it, but from the man who discovered a use for that piece of land or for that oil under it.

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Ayn Rand answers that so perfectly that it would be a shame to add anything:

By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that that value is created by the originator of the idea...(Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal)

Well, the idea that this is an "unauthorized reproduction" is precisely what's at issue. Or moreover, whether anyone has the legitimate "authority" to tell me when I may or may not build a chair.

And I both agree and I disagree that "the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object's value." I think that there are two senses here. Well, back up for a moment (I'll get to the "two senses" in a moment). As stated, strictly, I completely agree. Copying things unthinkingly is not the source of an object's value. If I were to copy your chair as a machine might do, for instance. But if I build my chair because I have recognized the value in doing so? If I take the time to learn how your chair was constructed, and why I ought build one of my own? Then I have performed mental labor as well as physical labor.

In one sense, you -- as originator of the chair -- are the source of the value of all chairs from now until the end of creation. You thought of it first, and insofar as all other chairs are based on your prototype, they stem directly from your "fountainhead."

However. In another sense, you are certainly not the source of all the chairs which follow. Other minds must grasp what you've done, and why you've done it, if they are to follow suit. If a million chairs are built based on your initial design, that does not necessarily mean that you've built a million chairs. The value of that million chairs is not due alone to the originator of the idea.

In the same way, when I learn mathematics from my teacher, and then go on to solve problems on my own...? In one way, I could not have done so without my teacher's efforts. And yet? It is not my teacher that is solving the problems that I solve. My mind must grasp the mathematics. My hand must write out the calculations. I am the one solving problems. And when I do so, I am entitled to reap the rewards. I feel the pride that comes from solving those equations, and I am right to do so. A teacher does not own the subsequent efforts of his students. And the originator of an idea does not own the fruits of the labor, both mental and physical, of those who take that idea for themselves, and employ those ideas for their own ends.

And you should always acknowledge that fact, and never claim that everything you know is solely the product of your own efforts.

Agreed (and insofar as you're quoting me, I'll note that I'm not shy of so acknowledging ;) ). But neither do I owe fealty to the whole of humanity that came before me, and certainly we ought not construct a convoluted system of laws and taxes to force me to "pay what I owe" to all of the previous innovators. They do not own my efforts, and nobody does but me, except that I enter into an explicit agreement to trade my labor.

That's the whole point of patents: you don't have to take the time to do that, there's a system in place. The reason for that system, I believe, is fully given in the above Rand quote.

Except that "the system in place" itself requires a great investment of time and energy to investigate, and even then, how often does it happen that there is a lawsuit based on the idea that a given work or design is "too similar" to another? Perhaps this is just a matter of "poor implementation"? But I think that we will always have poor implementation if the system is unjust in principle. And so that's the matter that must be sorted.

And if Rand's argument as quoted above is sufficient for you, I understand. But it is not yet sufficient for me, for the reasons I've stated. The first man who builds a chair is simply not the creator in fact of the value of all subsequent chairs. He is the first to recognize the value of the chair. The first to put that into practice. He is the innovator. He owns the chairs which he builds. He does not own the idea. He does not own the efforts of those who subsequently also recognize the value of a chair, and subsequently put that into practice. Those are the property of other people.

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