Intellectual Property is Expensive

Intellectual property is an interesting concept to me. The state can grant a monopoly to somebody on an idea even though ideas aren’t scarce, if I tell you my idea I don’t lose it. Yet the state manages to use its violence to protect the monopolies it grants which has given rise to a whole new industry, the industry of patent trolls. Patent trolls are nothing more than companies that buy up patents for the express purpose of suing anybody violating said patents. This industry is certainly enriching lawyers:

In the past, “non-practicing entities” (NPEs), popularly known as “patent trolls,” have helped small inventors profit from their inventions. Is this true today or, given the unprecedented levels of NPE litigation, do NPEs reduce innovation incentives? Using a survey of defendants and a database of litigation, this paper estimates the direct costs to defendants arising from NPE patent assertions. We estimate that firms accrued $29 billion of direct costs in 2011. Moreover, although large firms accrued over half of direct costs, most of the defendants were small or medium-sized firms, indicating that NPEs are not just a problem for large firms.

$29 billion was completely wasted in 2011 by businesses defending themselves against patent trolls. That $29 billion could have been spent on productive endeavors, which would have given way to cheaper and better products for consumers. Instead a bunch of lawyers were enriched because the state has granted a monopoly on certain ideas to entities that exist solely to sue other entities that managed to have the same idea. When you boil it down patent violations are a form of thoughtcrime.