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Patent Hypocrisy


Tags Legal SystemMonopoly and Competition

It always galls me when I see limousine liberals send their kids to fancy private schools while supporting public school; or Congressmen exempting themselves from their own wage and hour legislation.

IP laws are no different. Congress enacts laws protecting imaginary things, with predictably disastrous consequences. So then exceptions have to be invented, by courts or legislators, to alleviate the consequences. Without the nebulous, arbitrary, incoherent, and utilitarian "fair use" exception, copyright law would be much more painful and more obviously unjust and intolerable. In the case of patents, when a patent injunction threatened to prohibit the BlackBerry and bankrupt NTP, upsetting many Congress-critters who used BlackBerries, can there be any doubt Congress would have stepped in to stop this if necessary? And during the anthrax scares a while back when the FedGov was catching flak because Bayer was using state-granted patent monopoly rights to keep the supply of Cipro limited and its price high, the feds of course threatened to use its power to issue a compulsory license (2). So what does Congress care about the draconian effects of patent law?—it can easily alleviate the effects. Another example: in 1997 Congress added 35 U.S.C. 287(c) to the Patent Act to exempt certain surgical methods from patent liability (2).

And now the latest. Many huge banks, such as "City National, Wells Fargo, BOA, US Bank, Wachovia, Suntrust, BB&T, Bancorp South, Compass, Frost National, First Tennessee, HSBC, Harris, National City, Zions First National Bank, Bank of NY, Bank of Tokyo, Comerica, Deutsche Bank, First Citizens, Keycorp, LaSalle, M&T, PNC, and others," have been sued by a company called DataTreasury, for patent infringement. "DataTreasury claims that its patent is necessarily infringed when a bank follows the Federal "Check 21" procedure for electronically processing checks."

Well, the corporate-state banking system can't be jeopardized by a pesky patent, now, can it? And can there be any doubt that Congress is in bed with these large donors? So what does Congress do? Easy: it adds a section to impending patent reform legislation which some are calling the "Anti-DataTreasury Provision: "Although DataTreasury is not named in the Patent Reform Act of 2007, it is clear that Section 14 of the Senate Bill is primarily directed at that single patent holder. The bill would excuse "financial institutions" from charges that their check imaging methods constitute patent infringement."

The bastards. Congress and its corporate cronies should feel the full brunt of its outrageous IP-monopoly privilege laws.

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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