Re: Intellectual property
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 16:09:20 -0500 (EST) (Michael Lorrey) writes:

> For example: There have been approximately 5.5 million inventions
> patented in the US in it entire history (mostly during periods when
> patent rights are vigorously enforced, hint hint)

I would like to lay to rest the notion that patent enforcement is necessary
for invention. Two countries in the 19th century, the Netherlands and
Switzerland, deliberately eliminated patent protection for several decades.
In the Netherlands there was no measurable effect on the rates of invention.
In Switzerland the rate of invention increased; the Swiss chemical industry
came to world prominence during that period.

>while laborers have
> worked approximately 25 x 10^13 hours in US history. This means that
> in fair market value, the average invention is equal to 4.55 million
> man hours of physical labor in relative scarcity. If we value the
> average man hour at as little as $1.00 per hour (which was typical
> for the turn of the century, never mind that 2/3 of all workers have
> lived since that time) we see that the fair market value for an average
> invention is $4.55 million dollars.

That's a complete nonsequitur. You're assuming that the market value
of patentable inventions developed over the period equals that of labor of
the period. There is no necessary connection between the two numbers, any
more than between the market value of inventions and that of infrastructure
or capital investments, or for that matter any arbitrary subset of labor,
infrastructure, or investments.