Fighting Unemployment through “Intellectual Property” (??)

That is the theme of an article which appeared in the Hindu “Open Page” today. The author goes on to say-

Leaving aside the debate of whether IPR protection is needed or not “or”, what are the pros and cons of IPR protection, what is required is to understand the need of the hour of our country, the unemployment scenario and how IPR in coming days would help in generating employment? No doubt protection of intellectual property rights can foster economic growth, provide incentives for innovation and attract investment that will create new jobs and opportunities.

Oh, is that how we should fight unemployment?! And what sort of employment is it going to provide?

One can make a decent living in IPR as a patent agent, trademark agent, patent analyst, patent attorney, copyright attorney, IPR consultant, patent examiner, trademark examiner, IP scientist in a research organisation, can pursue Ph.D. in IPR with interdisciplinary combinations, or start a department of IPR at university level or, if someone has an entrepreneur zeal, one can start a coaching institute in IPR, or a training institute in different areas of IPR (like patent drafting, searches, analysis, mapping, etc).

A whole new class of “middle men”! How innovative! Of course, the lawyers would be the ones who benifit most- like in the US.

I find the author’s eagerness to “leave aside the debate of whether “IPR” protection is needed or not” rather disturbing. The society seems to have a deep conviction, developed by the influence of the mainstream media, that “IPR” provides incentive for creative activity and leads to economic growth. This is an idea that appeals to the one of the basest emotions of man- greed, which from my experience is incompatible with any creative activity- and is embraced by most economists as it fits in marvellously with the rest of their “science” of greed.

I’d recommend Free Software, Free Society, a collection of speeches and essys by RMS, as a primer to anyone who is confused by the inappropriate term “Intellectual Property”.

7 thoughts on “Fighting Unemployment through “Intellectual Property” (??)

  1. Hello Kishore 🙂 I do think that “it generates employment” is a bit of a ludicrous reason to embrace IPR. Yet, as regards incentivising creativity: I do think patents do that (although the system is not perfect)- by allowing companies to recover R&D costs and so on. Just thought I’d comment, as I’ve nothing much to do. Shall write soon. Take care!

  2. The term “Intellectual Property” inappropriately bundles together a group of different laws governing different issues. For example, patents deal with ideas, copyright with creative works etc. It’s important to deal with each one separately.

    Even within patents, you have to be careful how you apply it to different cases. Perhaps pharmacology is the area where the patent-incentive argument is best suited (relatively). Even then you hear of the plight of poor people in developing countries who cannot afford to buy drugs which would have been affordable if not for patents.

    When applied to computers and algorithms, patents are a stupidity. You simply can’t “own” mathematical procedures.Knowledge is a common human heritage. Imagine what it would be like if Bach had patented the major scale and the perfect cadence! Beethoven and Mozart would have had to wait till the patents expired, to publish their works, or give ridiculously large royalties to Bach(or his successors).

    When applied to Genetics, it’s purely immoral and unethical. Human beings can’t “own” living things! Besides, the genetically modified crops are actually derived from varieties formed by the selective breeding of farmers over the generations.

    I just took these examples to illustrate how complicated “Intellectual Property” is. The problem today is the indiscriminate application of a set of laws to all creative activity,

  3. Hey there…
    Do you believe that the whole concept of patents and copyright is flawed and should be removed entirely? or do you want certain things to be done to improve the current system?
    Lets take the case of drugs. I do agree that the price of the drugs make them inaccessible to the millions of poor people. But if there weren’t patents… then wouldn’t the researchers have found it hard to get any funding for their research? and if they didn’t manage to get that the drug wouldn’t even have been discovered, would it?So do you beleive that companies would spend money on infrastructure required for R&D without patents?

  4. Regarding the concept of copyrights and patents, if you check the constitution of any country, it would be stated explicitly that they are “artificial and temporary monopolies” granted to innovators as incentive so that society will benefit, and not a natural right. It’s *very* important to understand this point. Knowledge cannot be owned by anyone.

    Like I mentioned in my earlier comment, perhaps Pharmaceutics is where the patent argument is suited most. But even then, is the *primary* objective of the patent to make drugs available to the sick, or make profits for the company? Constituted as they currently are, patents ensure only the latter, while it’s clear that their purpose is the benefit of the society.

    Besides, it’s important to understand patents as applied to different areas, separately.

  5. Dear KISHORE / VT / PROMODE / PARVATHY,
    Hi All, i appreciate Your response to the article “It’s right time to sensitize the masses” published in Hindu (3rd August 2008) By Rinky Gupta. i also appreciate your apprehensions about the emerging IPR era. However, with your skewed approach towards IPR you fail to see what is inevitable (IPR system) and the very essence of the Article.

    The statement in the article “Leaving aside the debate of whether IPR protection is needed or not “or”, what are the pros and cons of IPR protection, what is required is to understand the need of the hour of our country………………….” doesn’t mean putting the discussion of Harmonizing IPR System aside FOR GOOD…….rather an urgent need is there to create awareness till the grass root level so that even a child would be able to debate on IPR issue; of course that would come with an informed mass and education about IPR.
    As VT aptly throws a relevant question” Do you believe that the whole concept of Patents and Copy Right is flawed and should be removed entirely? or do you want certain things to be done to improve the current system?” ………….The question has the answer to it….. we cant avoid being a part of the IPR SYSTEM (however hard you try)….thus what is required is to improve and harmonize the system to our country’s need……. and people like you can play a commendable role in that direction. ……………..

    For this we require an informed society….. and thus is the time to sensitize the mass not only about pros and cons of IPR but also about the ample Job opportunity IPR ERA is bringing.. Your concern about Lawyers benefiting the most is genuine and appreciated, But isn’t naming all the profession mentioned in the article as “the middle man” an absurd attitude???????? ………………. in light of Lawyers making IPR a play field for their bread and butter, what is required is IPR awareness to percolating to everyone…
    No doubt blind acceptance of any system is not at all welcomed. Be it IPR System or India being a TRIPs compliance, what is essential is “A WHOLISTIC AWARE GENERATION” pondering over what IPR system would cost, how can one be careful from the fast moving IPR era and what are the benefits from IPR system????……… And for this a balanced and sensible approach is required and not outright vandalism…!!!
    Perhaps it is important to understand Patent’s as applied to different areas seperately!!!!!! (Kishore this statement of yours has a substance, except replace patent’s with IPR)

  6. @Rinky Gupta

    First of all, please avoid using the propaganda term “Intellectual Property Rights”- it makes people think that what you are talking about it a natural right of the creator, whereas a look into the constitutions of any country would reveal that it is nothing but an artificial and temporary monopoly granted to creators, in the hope that it will benefit society. Talk about patents, copyrights, trademarks etc. separately, because they deal with separate issues.

    >>But isn’t naming all the profession mentioned in the article as “the middle man” an >>absurd attitude???????

    In this age of digital revolution, artists and creators of content are empowered to directly reach out to their audience. Anyone who comes in between is a “middle man”. Period.

    You admit that it is important to make the public aware of the pro’s and con’s of the so-called IPR, and then you contradict yourself saying that what is needed is to “leave aside the debate” and talk about the employment opportunities in it.

    Sorry if I sound harsh, but that’s all I’ve got to say.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s