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Is A.I. the Death of I.P.?

The New Yorker [free to read]: “Intellectual property accounts for some or all of the wealth of at least half of the world’s fifty richest people, and it has been estimated to account for fifty-two per cent of the value of U.S. merchandise exports. I.P. is the new oil. Nations sitting on a lot of it are making money selling it to nations that have relatively little. It’s therefore in a country’s interest to protect the intellectual property of its businesses. But every right is also a prohibition. My right of ownership of some piece of intellectual property bars everyone else from using that property without my consent. I.P. rights have an economic value but a social cost. Is that cost too high? I.P. ownership comes in several legal varieties: copyrights, patents, design rights, publicity rights, and trademarks. And it’s everywhere you look. United Parcel Service has a trademark on the shade of brown it paints its delivery trucks. If you paint your delivery trucks the same color, UPS can get a court to make you repaint them. Coca-Cola owns the design rights to the Coke bottle: same deal. Some models of the Apple Watch were taken off the market this past Christmas after the United States International Trade Commission determined that Apple had violated the patent rights of a medical-device firm called Masimo. (A court subsequently paused the ban.)…”

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