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Condemning Patents

I recall years back pointing out to a liberal how absurd it was that some federal agencies have lobbyists on staff to promote their agenda and funding.... to Congress. It's bad enough that we pay taxes to fund the agencies, and Congress, said I, but do we have to fork over additional taxes to pay shills of the federal agencies to try to persuade the federal legislature to pass laws that expand said agency and thus take even more of our taxes? Talk about adding injury to injury.

The liberal's response was typical: a blank-faced stare, then a mumble along the lines of, "but what's wrong with that?"

Paying one part of the state to persuade another part of the state to extrace more taxes from me is one thing. But inter-state fighting--that I like. If my taxes pay one state entity to fight another one, at least it's diminishing the injury a bit by adding a bit of pleasure to it. Case in point is the proposal by a DC councilmen that states should use their eminent domain (condemnation) power to take patent rights from pharmaceutical companies and give them to competitors that agree to sell the drugs to the states at much lower prices. I.e., the proposal is that states find a way to threaten the compulsory license that the feds already have the right to do.

As I've noted previously, there is nothing necessarily unlibertarian about the feds issuing a compulsory license of a patent, since this merely takes back some of the monopoly right it should not have granted in the first place. While I'm not normally in favor of eminent domain, if units of the state want to fight each other over a non-existent property right, this may be all to the good.


Stephan Kinsella

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