Jeremy's Reviews > Against Intellectual Monopoly

Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin
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's review
Jan 05, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: economics
Read from December 11 to 14, 2010

Not as compelling as I had expected. I had heard good things, and I wanted to challenge my own beliefs about intellectual monopolies and learn something in the process. While I did learn several interesting facts, the argument made by this book comprises anecdotal situations instead of a more convincing rigorous analysis.The book did convince me that some of the intellectual monopoly laws deserve a second look such as minimum requirements for patents and how to handle two inventors with the same invention at nearly the same time. It did not convince me that the world would be better off without patents and copyrights.

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Daniel Did you actually read the book? The authors cite study after study in which nobody can provide any evidence that intellectual monopoly increases innovation by enough to compensate for the negative consequences of anti-competitive monopolies. Not to mention all the people in poor countries who are dying because they can't afford to pay the monopoly prices for patented drugs whose marginal cost of production is trivial.

Givent that the scope of IP has steadily increased in past decades due to the success of IP lobbyists at capturing government policy, the book is able to cite numerous cases in which countries which lacked various patent or copyright schemes later adopted them, with the result that there was none of the promised explosion in innovation and productivity. For example, has the fairly recent introduction of software patents led to an explosion of software innovation? The book provides all the evidence anyone would need to conclude it has not.

Note that the IP rent-seekers have never presented any rigorous analysis to support their rent-seeking. Why do you hold the authors to a higher standard of evidence than the people who are ripping you off?

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