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A Modest Patent Proposal

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A Modest Patent Proposal

A Modest Patent Proposal


With homage to Jonathan Swift (born 350 years ago this month) and his eloquent satires, it is a melancholy object to many companies merely wanting to do business and individuals merely wanting to copy that they encounter patent, trademark and copyright owners standing in the way, blocking these companies from moving forward, and demanding money. Indeed, these multitudinous intellectual property holders all have their hands out and companies and people now have to carefully steer clear lest they fall victim to the demands of these predators.

Ideas nowadays are a dime a dozen and companies need to avoid all these patentees with their hands out. Also, all people should get the benefit of these ideas as soon as possible, as cheaply as possible, nay for free, the innovator patentees be damned. I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of patentees has created the deplorable state of the union, and a solution that is fair, cheap and easy of making things simpler for companies to operate, would help the public welfare and preserve the nation.

I am assured that most patents have little or no value and are not a salable commodity. I shall now, therefore, humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by a knowing Englishman of my acquaintance in Washington, DC, that patents are useless to society and that all patentees are but greedy monopolists, whether individuals, universities or corporations. And I make no doubt that patents are worthless to the world as well, who, of course, should see things our way.

I do, therefore, humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundreds of thousands of patents awarded yearly, all be dedicated to the public, and all patents granted thus far be abrogated and the inventors flogged for their insolence in filing for a patent. Likewise, I humbly propose that all intellectual properties be forbidden, i.e., copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets as well, further benefiting the common weal and augmenting the Commons. As with patents, people should be able to have all songs and movies at their whim, and use whatever logos and trade secrets with impunity. Indeed, we should all be able to download and copy and pirate as we wish. Content owners who think otherwise should be fined and even imprisoned for their arrogance of creative expression and claims to ownership.

Now, there may be some naysayers out there who say that taking such measures would be harmful  and that innovators would be less likely to innovate, thereby depriving the world of many important, perhaps critical, technological advancements. That, as Ayn Rand proclaimed, these takings would be to the detriment of all. Perhaps, but free is free, and people with good ideas should just share willingly, considering it their societal duty to aid their fellow man and benefit the common weal in all ways with no compensation whatsoever.

Similarly, some say that artists should not allow their fans to freely copy the latest songs and movies because this would remove the incentive to create. But, people create all the time and should just learn to share their creations with all and for all. Likewise, the argument against businesses just letting others use whatever logos or trademarks is that this would create chaos and confusion in the market place. Poppycock. Let the buyer beware is the mantra. Coke is Coke, and Lipitor is Lipitor, whoever makes it.