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Ridiculous Report on Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks

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Ridiculous Report on Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks

Postby skynet » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:49 pm

A government report was released on Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks. Have you heard?

The Department of Commerce just came out with a study on Intellectual Property and the US Economy, put together by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Economics and Statistics Administration, seeking (supposedly) to "better understand" intellectual property and the "IP-intensive" companies. While the report insists that it is not taking a policy stance, its position is actually quite clear from the outset: to talk about how wonderful intellectual property laws are. The fact that the report was introduced by the government at a press conference with the US Chamber of Commerce & the AFL-CIO -- two of the biggest supporters of SOPA/PIPA -- shows you upfront that this report is not neutral on the policy position.

Further highlighting how bizarre this report is, the top industries it describes as "copyright-intensive" are actually tech companies -- the very ones who fought SOPA and PIPA. So this bizarrely disingenuous and misleading report really appears to be about SOPA/PIPA supporters co-opting the economic power of the tech industry that was against SOPA and PIPA, and obnoxiously trying to take their economic might and throwing its weight into an argument for IP expansionism -- even as the actual companies in the space continue to fight such laws.

The first paragraph of the executive summary alone represents the problem, in that they make statements that they pretend are connected to one another to prove a point, but which don't actually have any evidence of a direct connection.

The key problem is a simple one: those who wrote the report seem to have completely bought into the entirely faulty claim that because a company produces something that is covered by intellectual property laws, they needed those laws to produce that product. In other words, they are assuming -- entirely incorrectly -- that but for those laws, these products would not exist. This has been a key assumption in the bogus reports that the US Chamber of Commerce puts out every year, but it's scary that US government officials would fall for such a misleading assumption. Of course, when you base your entire report on such a completely false assumption, the rest of the report is going to look rather silly. And, indeed, this report looks incredibly silly. It is a true case of garbage in, garbage out. Let's look just at the opening paragraph alone:

Innovation--the process through which new ideas are generated and successfully introduced in the marketplace--is a primary driver of U.S. economic growth and national competitiveness.

Start with a factual statement that is difficult to dispute. This is absolutely true. Okay.

Likewise, U.S. companies' use of trademarks to distinguish their goods and services from those of competitors represents an additional support for innovation, enabling firms to capture market share, which contributes to growth in our economy

Wait, what? Already by the second sentence we've started to go off the rails with an unsupported and really tangential statement. Trademark doesn't "enable firms to capture market share." Trademark is a consumer protection law to keep people from being fooled into buying a product that is not what they think it is. That's got nothing to do with "support for innovation." When you're two sentences into a report, and you're already misrepresenting the nature of trademark law, you're not inspiring confidence.

The granting and protection of intellectual property rights is vital to promoting innovation and creativity and is an essential element of our free-enterprise, market-based system.

And here we take the entirely baseless assertion up a notch. They are honestly saying that a system of government granted monopolies issued from a centralized government organization are an essential element of a free-enterprise, market-based system? That's just wrong. Separately, there is little to no evidence that "the granting and protection of intellectual property rights is vital to promoting innovation and creativity." In fact study after study after study has shown much greater innovation and creativity in areas of the economy that do not have such protections. So, either the authors of the report are misinformed or they're lying. Neither makes them look good.

Read More: Ridiculous White House Report Pretends Getting Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks Means You Benefit From Them
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