Tag Archives: intellectual property

Power to the People

Corporations, conglomerates, and industrial organizations aren’t the enemy, ipso facto. In fact, they make socialism not only possible, but necessary, IMO.

What is the enemy is unbridled greed, rampant cronyism, nepotism and, especially, the codification of deep income inequality. It is not good for a society when individuals can amass fortunes they can’t possibly spend. That they then turn some of that fortune into philanthropy and charitable organizations doesn’t change the fact that it should be criminal for one individual to take that much surplus value from the workforce that made their fortune possible. It’s estimated Jeff Bezos makes (not earns) around $2,500/second. Dafuque does he do, other than own Amazon stock?

I’m not saying inventors, creators, entrepreneurs, etc. aren’t entitled to profit from their efforts, but they shouldn’t be able to continue siphoning profit off an organization that has reached a point where it could easily survive without them. By the same token, intellectual property law has expanded patent and copyright protections way beyond their original intent, creating other avenues of indecent profit-making.

And getting back to what I said about making socialism possible and necessary, without large profitable organizations, we’d all be living off mom & pop’s and craft-making. Many of the products we enjoy, and that provide the grease that skids civilization as we know it, would not be possible without large factories, laboratories, and other institutions. By their very nature, though, they transcend the control and direction of any one individual, and I believe our pay/profit structure needs to take that much more into consideration, providing a larger share to the workers who have helped make the org successful.



Nearly eight years ago I gave a presentation at a KM Cluster event held at PricewaterhouseCoopers in downtown Los Angeles. The title was “From Wright to Wrong: The Dark Side of Intellectual Property Rights” and in it I took the position that IP protection had hypertrophied to the point it was choking off innovation and providing far more protection than was either necessary or useful. I was able to find a link to the website for the event, but it was so long ago it’s been abandoned and the URL resolves to a GoDaddy Parking site (here’s the link – http://www.kmcluster.com/lax/Past%20Events/LAX_Spring_2004.htm).

The title comes from the story of the Wright Brothers’ defense of their patent for “wing warping” which, like ailerons, allows an airplane to fly straight and level. Their assertion was that they had actually invented the concept of straight and level and they were able to prevail in the Supreme Court, thereby “stunting” further development until after the outbreak of WWI, when the U.S. was desperate to produce airplanes and worked out a deal to overcome the hurdle. I’m busy recrafting the presentation I gave, ironically in part because I posted it to SlideShare and quickly received a call from my former company’s IP attorney asking me to take it down as it contained their logo, which I’m removing as well as updating the info.

I’m pretty sure Mark is being a taste satirical here, and I think he’s kind of making the same point I was. I tied my preso to the concept of knowledge management, especially with respect to freely sharing knowledge and the damaging effect I believe overzealous IP protection has on it. See what you think.


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