As I have discussed before, the state is schizophrenic. It grants monopolies aimed at limiting competition (patents and copyright), and then penalizes companies for using (“abusing”) them, in contravention of state antitrust law–so that there is a “tension” between these state laws. Then courts have to “balance” these against each other. Each state law gives the state an excuse to ratchet up its power. Here’s an idea: get rid of both antitrust and patent law.1 (Likewise, there is also a “tension” between copyright censorship, and the right to free speech.)2
A recent illustration of this can be seen in the Engadget post FTC: Western Digital and Hitachi must give assets and IP rights to Toshiba:
Thought everything was looking rosy for the hard drive hitch of the year? Well, it looks like Federal Trade Commission reckons the union of Hitachi and Western Digital isn’t quite there just yet, ordering that the new company would have to shed some of its assets to Toshiba. The FTC wants to ensure a competitive climate in the 3.5-inch hard drive market and avoid Western Digital and Seagate — the two largest HDD manufacturers — carving up the whole sector between them. According to the FTC’s proposals, Toshiba has to receive the production assets needed to equal Hitachi’s current HDD market share, alongside access to Western Digital’s research and development resources and licenses to its intellectual property. Regulators had previously stated that WD could expect to sell on some of its production assets in order to get the tie-up okayed. Western Digital now has 15 days to hand over these assets to Toshiba — who, presumably, aren’t complaining — once the deal with Hitachi is finally inked.
- See EU newsflash: patents are anticompetitive!; State Antitrust (anti-monopoly) law versus state IP (pro-monopoly) law; The Schizo Feds: Patent Monopolies and the FTC; see also When Antitrust and Patents Collide (Rambus v. FTC); Antitrust vs. Trademark Law; Price Controls, Antitrust, and Patents; IP vs. Antitrust; The Schizophrenic State; Intel v. AMD: More patent and antitrust waste. [↩]
- Should Copyright Be Allowed to Override Speech Rights? [↩]
- State Antitrust (anti-monopoly) law versus state IP (pro-monopoly) law; Intellectual Property Advocates Hate Competition; IP Rights as Monopolistic Grants to Overcome the Public Goods Problem. [↩]
- The Microsoft-Apple Gesture Oligopoly; Controls breed controls, Monopolies breed monopolies; The Patent Defense League and Defensive Patent Pooling; Are Patents Needed to Make Up for FDA Kneecapping?; Nortel Patents Sold for $4.5 Billion to Consortium Which Includes Apple; Apple vs. Microsoft: Which Benefits more from Intellectual Property?; Patent Cross-Licensing Creates Barriers to Entry. [↩]
- See Abolish antitrust law and the real monopoly: the state. [↩]