Patents in market socialism

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Fri Feb 2 05:58:09 MST 1996

On Fri, 2 Feb 1996, boddhisatva wrote:

> 	What is wrong with an inventor keeping patent rights for his own? 

The inventor does keep some parent rights on thew scheme I described: use
and income rights. So if her incentive was profit, she gets it, and no one
else can use her whosit without permission. Beyond that, the remainder
rights being vested in the state reflects the general princiole of social
ownership, which should not be eroded. 

> First, they run out after a time (an apparent recognition by capitalists that
> a single person's contribution, no matter how seemingly important, is
> obscured by later work), second most patents are owned by firms in which
> inventors work. 

So? If indeed the patrents are owned ny the firms, they're already state

 Where is the exploitation in owning a patent?  So long as
> the patent is not perpetual, it seems to me that it is simply a case of an
> inventor selling the intellectual component of a product to the producer.  
The worry isn't that the inventor exploits the producer but that we don't
want to erode the principle of common ownership of productive assets.

> 	I think private property and wages are separate (although related)
> questions.  Wages can be done away with without a complete attack on private
> property.  The logic of doing away with private property would naturally and
> dialectically follow.  

Sure, at least as to the first. But I think that socialist prodecdtion
relations will be more stable and secure if we get rid of private property
to start with. I woiuld expect that, following Marx on the pesants, we'd
have to leave the private property of small self-employed producers alone
and encourage their withering away through positive incentives rather than
through coercive exercise of police power. That's already more PP than I'm
comfortable with. I wouldn't want to carve out further hexceptioms and
allow therm to be institutionalized.


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