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More of the “China is Stealing Our IP” nonsense

I’m so sick of American politicians and reporters droning on about “China is stealing our intellectual property!” without even knowing what the hell they are talking about.

From some Twitter posts:

what a crime against humanity that China is trying to … grow improved food crops. (See Aleks Phillips, “Iowa Farmers Accuse China of Stealing American Seeds,” Newsweek (Aug. 4, 2023).)

This moron on Fox News reporting on this said they were stealing “secret, patented modified seeds.” Uh, patents are public, not secret, moron.


The argument from the whining farmers and reporters was convoluted but seemed to run something like this: China is undergoing some kind of espionage or theft to get information on how to have improved crop or farming methods, and also information about better seeds. This is secret, patented info, which doesn’t exist, but anyway. So then they get to grow better crops without paying royalties to Monsanto, so Monsanto has to pass on higher charges to American farmers making prices higher for American consumers. Uhhh, moron, how about getting rid of the ability of Monsanto to force people to pay royalties.

They also hinted that China might use this “stolen information” to make new seeds that harm crops, so they could use it as a weapon against American farming.


The FauxNews report was from the genius Bryan “Llenas”. (“What threat does China pose to US agriculture?” [“Fox News national correspondent Bryan Llenas reports on how the threat of China is expanding to U.S. agriculture on ‘America Reports.’”], FoxNews (Aug. 4, 2023).)

By the way, if it’s patented, by Monsanto, say, then Monsanto no doubt has international counterpart patents, e.g. in major countries or regions or in major farming countries, e.g. China and Europe. This means that Monsanto could sue Chinese farmers in China for using the patented seeds. (YES, China has patent and copyright law! Unfortunately!) It makes no sense.

Then the report says the seeds are being stolen from the US and then “reverse engineered.” This implies that they are not patented: that Monsanto is instead relying on trade secrets. Well, buying a seed is not theft. Analyzing its properties in China (“reverse engineering”) is also not theft. Using information you learn to improve you own seeds is not theft, especially if Monsanto chose not to patent it and instead relied on trade secrets. And as noted above, it it is patented, then why would the Chinee have to “reverse engineer” it? The information has to be disclosed in the patent, which is public. And then Monsanto could sue in China for patent infringement.

So this entire report is all bullshit and much ado about literally nothing.

Update: See also this chump on Twitter claiming China is “stealing our patents” and when challenged trots out this article: Chinese hackers took trillions in intellectual property from about 30 multinational companies, which specifically concedes: “Cybercriminals were focused on obtaining blueprints for cutting-edge technologies, the majority of which were not yet patented, Div said.” (And the ones that “were patented” cannot be “stolen” by “China”!)

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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.