Yesterday, we were treated to another preliminary injunction on a product due to patent trolling. Over the past few years, some companies have resorted to patent trolling instead of competing on merit, using frivolous and obvious software and design patents to block competitors - even though this obviously shouldn’t be legal. The fact that this is, in fact, legal, is baffling, and up until a few months ago, a regular topic here on OSNews. At some point - I stopped reporting on the matter. The reason for this is simple: I realized that intellectual property law exists outside of regular democratic processes and is, in fact, wholly and utterly totalitarian. What’s the point in reporting on something we can’t change via legal means?
I’m sure some people are shaking their heads in disbelief by this point, assuming this is yet another one of my usual overreaching nonsensical hyperboles just to drive some otherwise reasonable point home. In all honestly, I wish it was a hyperbole. The reality, however, is that thanks to the World Trade Organization and something called the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), we, the people, have no democratic control over intellectual property law in any way, shape, or form.
The end result is simple. Even if a majority of voters in a country want a drastic reduction in Intellectual Property rights to modernize IP law and adapt it to modern times, it simply cannot be implemented. This effectively means that copyright law, patent law, trademark law, and all other associated laws, exist in a protected legal bubble over which we, as voters, have zero democratic control. In other words, current IP law exists entirely outside of the democratic process - effectively making it totalitarian.
The moment you realize this, the moment you let it truly sink in that this far-reaching and incredibly complex set of legal constructs that affect almost every sector of our economy exists entirely outside of the democratic process and is, in essence, totalitarian - that’s the moment it dawns on you: we’re in a war we cannot win, because we already lost it decades ago.
Call it pessimism - I call it realism. Barring a cultural collapse or a world war, our current system where trade is intermingled with Intellectual Property will not significantly alter or change. In fact, things like ACTA or SOPA? The next step is that they will simply be introduced as part of the WTO, just like TRIPS, or even as an amendment to TRIPS. Outside of any democratic control, they will be enacted in such a way that individual states cannot resist it, because doing so would endanger your WTO membership.
That’s why I stopped reporting on these matters. You often hear people say, “If you don’t like our current Intellectual Property regime, change it! You live in a democratic country, right? Make your vote heard!” You can vote for all the pirate parties in the world, but it won’t matter. It won’t change anything, because it cannot be changed. Democracy is all fine and dandy, but when it endangers the corporate bottom line, they will find a way to circumvent it.