WASHINGTON – Brent Kendall reports: A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled Apple Inc. was entitled to an injunction barring rival Samsung Electronics Co. from incorporating features into its devices that infringe the iPhone maker’s patents.
A trial judge who previously denied Apple’s request “abused its discretion when it did not enjoin Samsung’s infringement,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.
The decision is a notable win for Apple, which has argued that Samsung should have to do more than pay monetary damages for infringing upon Apple’s patented technology. Read the rest of this entry »
Calling all inventors! On this date in 1790, the first U.S. patent was granted. The patent was signed by George Washington and granted to Samuel Hopkins for the process of making potash, an element used for making fertilizer.
Since 1790 many, many, many more patents have been granted, and some say that patents are being abused.
Should we reform the U.S. patent system? Check out Cato research on the topic and decide for yourself:
- Patent Reform in the United States: Lessons Learned, Regulation Magazine article
- Of Patents and Property, Regulation Magazine article
- Unleashing Innovation, essay from Cato Conference The Future of U.S. Economic Growth
- Our Mangled Patent System, Podcast
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: FAIL, Cato@Liberty Blog
- Specialist Patent Courts Are Part of the Problem, Cato Commentary
- Patents and Public Choice, Cato Unbound issue
The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) has been proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government. This is the final installment in the series.
(Editor’s Note: For 15 years, the author was editor of The Freeman, the journal of the Foundation for Economic Education. A version of this essay was originally published there in June 2000.)
Sheldon Richman writes: Can the free market provide public education? The short answer, of course, is: yes, look around. Right now, private enterprise and nonprofit organizations provide all manner of education — from comprehensive schools with classes in the traditional academic subjects, to specialized schools that teach everything from the fine arts to the martial arts, from dancing to dieting, from scuba diving to scrutinizing one’s inner self.
If we define “public education” as “what the government does now,” then it’s a trick question. Every school serves members of the public. For the sake of this discussion, we can ignore that the word “public” has been corrupted to mean “coercively financed through the tax system.”
- As long as government can tax its citizens and then provide educational services to them at a marginal price of zero, much private education will never come into being.
- Most parents would no more make educational decisions without consulting knowledgeable authorities than they would make medical decisions without consulting doctors.
- We don’t use the small number of neglectful parents as a pretext for government control or finance of religion. Nor should we use it as a pretext for government control or finance of schooling.
- Government domination of education assures that the entrepreneurial innovation and creativity we are accustomed to in, say, the computer industry will be missing from education.
The free market — and I include here both for-profit and nonprofit organizations — would provide even more education than it does now but for the “unfair competition” from government. Since government has a resource that private organizations lack — the taxpayers — it’s able to offer its services for “free.” They’re not really free, of course; in the government context, “free” means that everyone pays whether he wants the service or not. Clearly, as long as government can tax its citizens and then provide educational services to them at a marginal price of zero, much private education will never come into being. How ironic that government vigilantly looks for predatory pricing in the private sector when it is the major offender.
There is certainly nothing about education that should lead anyone to doubt that the market could provide it. Like any other product or service, education is a combination of land, labor, and capital goods directed at a particular objective — instruction in academic subjects and related matters demanded by a class of consumers, primarily parents.
Here’s where things may get contentious. Critics of market-provided education are uncomfortable with education’s being treated like a commodity, subject to supply and demand. In the marketplace, consumers ultimately determine what is produced. Entrepreneurs take risks to serve them. And fickle consumers show no mercy when something new and attractive comes along. Ask the shareholders of Boston Chicken or Kodak, among others.
Why should parents alone determine what is and what is not acceptable education? But why not parents? To whose hearts are the interests of children closer? Besides, most parents would no more make educational decisions without consulting knowledgeable authorities than they would make medical decisions without consulting doctors. The uninformed-consumer argument against free-market education is a red herring. Read the rest of this entry »
When patent law blocks innovation
Jesse Walker writes: Patents are supposed to foster innovation by restricting competition—in the Constitution’s words, to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” by giving inventors a temporary “exclusive Right” to their creations. But sometimes those restrictions can suppress innovation instead of encouraging it.
Consider the Typo Keyboard Case, which is supposed to start shipping to consumers this month. The idea behind the device is simple. Right now, people who prefer a smartphone with a physical keyboard basically have just one option, the BlackBerry. If you like real keyboards but prefer the iPhone’s operating system, you have to either put up with the BlackBerry’s software or put up with the iPhone’s virtual keyboard; no phone-maker offers a product that combines the best of both worlds. The Typo fills that gap. It’s a case that lets you slip a keypad over an iPhone and type the way the QWERTY gods intended, without a flat touchscreen that makes errors inevitable and without an algorithm that “corrects” words that weren’t errors in the first place.