Interview 1462 – David K. Levine is Against Intellectual Monopoly

by | Jul 17, 2019 | Interviews | 12 comments

David K. Levine is an economist at the European University Institute and at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author with Michele Boldrin of Against Intellectual Monopoly, an empirical study of the economics of intellectual property that concludes that IP is not necessary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.

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Against Intellectual Monopoly

Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk


  1. This was a fantastic conversation with David K. Levine!

    I’ll be honest…some factors about patents/copyrights I have always had mixed feelings about. I was on the fence with a foggy assortment of reservations. I had to push through a bit of uneasiness with my own preconceived ideas, but as I listened (really listened), my reservations started to melt away.

    Corbett did a wonderful job of directing the conversation with his questions and comments.

    Corbett hit that haunting question which I have always had…
    “I’m a creator, I’m a businessman…How on earth am I going to make a living?”
    QUEUED video 33:15 “Against Intellectual Monopoly with David K. Levine”

    But there is something even deeper, underlying all this copyright, patent, trademark stuff…

    Who gets to make the rules on copyright, patents, etc.?
    It is the same breed of cat which makes up the Eugenic-tainted Technocrats and their rules “which are best for society”.

    James expressed a concept very well in “What’s Your Endgame? – Questions For Corbett #045” at the 11:44 mark.
    QUEUED video

    You know…I am ready for the wild, wild west.
    There have been times in my life when there was more of an absence of rules and regulations or their enforcement.
    Life then was more free during those times.
    An insouciance of sorts, especially to “The Rules”.
    Life is so much more enjoyable without “AUTHORITY” trying to corral me when I am playing on my own domain.

    “Authorities to watch over me” or the wild, wild west?
    I’ll take the wild west.

    As ManBearPig stated recently “It’s not polite to point the bone.”
    – “Point the bone” – definition –

  2. Corbett Report member t.e.k has a Question for Corbett Members and/or James Corbett.

    As a third job, I am thinking of making a career as a gambling bookie.
    I will lay fantastic gambling odds that it is a sure bet that t.e.k can pretty much do what he wants, and even keep the dough (profits).

    Does anyone want to wager bets?
    (I only deal in Pizza Place tokens.)

  3. As a developer and inventor, I really was blocked by
    the patenting system.
    Anything that can be invented can be seen as a variant
    of something already exists.
    So I have to fight my own invention against something
    that is crap, but existed already.

    Made my own compression, CPU-architecture, data-base, computer-language,
    3D-graphics, etc.
    Algorithms are just something that comes from the mind to solve
    a certain problem. It should never be patented.

    The GIF-format was very popular, until it suddenly was
    patented. Then no-one used it, except in independent countries.
    And after the patent expired, everybody used it again.

    They tried to patent JPG, and used the patent system to block the
    playing of DVDs on Linux.

    Linux has become popular and continuous innovating, because
    it was NOT patented. Yet Microsoft and Oracle (who are selling
    crap) are continuously trying to find a way to stop it, with patents.
    The open-source developers earn money with “gifts” and by giving support.
    When Blender become open-source, it grew into the one of the bests
    3D design system available, that is also free.

    The PC became popular, because IBM had not patented it,
    because it was such a “minor” system.

    The patent system stops innovation, and the technology industry
    works with solutions that are no longer patented.
    And patents are used as weapons in a continuous legal war between
    technical companies. (AMD vs Intel)

    In the medicine industry the patents are used to push
    certain medicine, until the patents are over. And then
    suddenly the medicine are “not working” or have too many side-effects.
    The independent people who have invented and patented their
    own cure, will be fought with all dirty measures. Until they
    almost give it away to the industry. They use the monopoly-power
    of the market.

    These companies also control the sciences.
    And via the sciences they are able to push their monopolized
    solutions onto people (vaccines? GMO? G5? ).
    Science has become a marketing and propaganda tool.

  4. My real experience with the Patent system as an inventor and an investor:

    Almost 20 years ago I hooked up with with a couple of scientists to create a biotech company. I was a small businessman with a strong engineering and science background. I was the primary investor (originally about $250,000 and ultimately “after the troubles” almost a million dollars), and was a co-inventor of the core technology.

    Within 18 months we brought our technology from theory to product and filed US and WTO patents. One of our founding scientists claim to fame was figuring out how to write around existing patents – because the patent system always precluded innovation on developing science unless you could figure out how to parse and write around existing patents. We had a novel technology, but had to write around other technologies that could be inferred to have royalty rights on certain concepts to avoid litigation. ALL SCIENCE, No M

    • Sorry – keystrokes caused this to post prematurely. will start over

    • Yea, I read the news earlier. It is sad.

  5. Steven,
    You bring up a very valid point.

    However, now, I am of the opinion that the entire current system as we know it is the underlying foundation that makes patents, copyrights and trademarks a run-away train.
    Sane economics is lacking within our current system, and this is a big factor in the discourse about intellectual property.

    What’s that Shakespeare quote?
    “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars of freedom to create, but in the system of TPTSNB as we are their underlings.”

  6. NEWS July 18, 2019 – Activist Post

    A Bad Copyright Bill Moves Forward With No Serious Understanding of Its Dangers by Katharine Trendacosta

    The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, aka the CASE Act. This was without any hearings for experts to explain the huge flaws in the bill as it’s currently written. And flaws there are.

    We’ve seen some version of the CASE Act pop up for years now, and the problems with the bill have never been addressed satisfactorily. This is still a bill that puts people in danger of huge, unappealable money judgments from a quasi-judicial system—not an actual court—for the kind of Internet behavior that most people engage in without thinking…

    and leaves the average Internet user at risk of having a huge judgment handed down by the Copyright Office. At first, those judgments can be up to $30,000, enough to bankrupt many people in the U.S…And the “Copyright Claims Board” created by the CASE Act can issue those judgments to those who don’t show up…

    …We said this the last time the CASE Act was proposed and we’ll say it again:
    Creating a quasi-court focused exclusively on copyright with the power to pass judgment on parties in private disputes invites abuse. It encourages copyright trolling by inviting filing as many copyright claims as one can against whoever is least likely to opt-out — ordinary Internet users who can be coerced into paying thousands of dollars to escape the process, whether they infringed copyright or not.

    Copyright law fundamentally impacts freedom of expression. People shouldn’t be funneled to a system that hands out huge damage awards with less care than a traffic ticket gets.

  7. Finally got around to watching this interview and found it very interesting. Many thanks to Mr. Levine for making his book freely available. I read the first chapter and am intrigued enough to buy the book.

    HRS, your first comment so perfectly encapsulates what’s going on in my own mind. It’s such a wonderfully odd sensation to experience former beliefs and fears wobble merely by listening and learning.

  8. On one hand, I agree with many basic points points made, such as the problem with copyrights being extended (done on behest of oligarhs including grandchildren of artists and Disney who own most valuable copyrights) that he talks about.
    He is clueless about “IP.” Intellectual Property and evinces a lack of basic knowledge.

    This guy does not understand “intellectual property” and is really clueless (is he an economist? that might explain why).
    for example:
    1. The biggest category of intellectual property (trade secrets) is ignored. We have federal and state laws covering this biggest category. All contracts written regarding IP address this biggest category in their most basic aim BEFORE even getting to patent rights (which are pulled out of the other rights). In some countries (Japan in particular) the PURPOSE of patent law is to convert secrets that are otherwise held forever as private secrets, into a limited monopoly patent right to GET the technology into the public domain.
    2. The entire venture (new startup) industry is completely dependent on patents. I am not referring to software shops. I am referring to new technologies that provide wealth (think of eating, transportation, TV, solar panels, cameras etc) to society. No angel investor or other investor will invest into a startup unless that startup has filed a patent application to protect that investor. All this blah blah blah about “innovation” but no mention of the absolute necessity for IP (patents) for start up ventures. Was there any acknowledgement of the value of startups? I have not seen any so called “I am an economist!” expert even consider the value of new venture funding.
    3. Basic statements about patent IP are wrong. He does not even know that plant patents exist. His statements about plant IP at 19-20 minutes evince a lack of education and are wrong. For example, new roses, new apples, new oranges etc.
    Genes are not patentable and have never been patentable. Algorithms are not patentable and have never been patentable. His statements about IP are crazy.
    Why does he ignore trademark IP? I suggest that he cannot make a good argument against that kind of IP (nor does he give any reason for arguing against plant patents which in my opinion clearly promote the good by getting new varieties to the public).

    I empathize and agree completely with the arguments about copyright. But dont confuse copyright with utility patents, plant patents, or “IP” such as trademarks, in general. Also dont make sweeping statements about IP while ignoring the biggest category of IP, which is the biggest subject of IP agreements and subject of its own state and federal law, which is completely ignored.

    That said, I do agree that the utility patent system (but not necessarily the plant patent system or the trademark system) is NOT helpful to society and we would be better off without the existing system. BUT that is because the globalists have destroyed the US patent system, which has become profoundly corrupt over the last 25 years, while the Japanese and Chinese (and others) patent systems have become much better and improved those societies. But that is a subject of a longer monologue……………………
    by the way, I am a scientist, an engineer, have about 20 worthless patents, and have worked both on IP litigation and patenting and tradesecrets for more than 25 years as an attorney at major law firms. I walked away from my own successful patent law firm because I am so fed up with the destruction of the US patent system by globalists over the years. I gave many lectures on this subject to large corporations over the years and have much skin in the game.

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