The Pope on Patents

In a recently published encyclical letter, Pope Benedict XVI has taken a stand against strong patent rights because of they way that the exclusive rights of patents tend to promote wealth inequality at the expense of development in the world’s poorest countries.  

“On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care.”

The intellectual property statements only make up a few lines in the 144-page letter. However, they fit with the overall theme – that relying solely on monetary greed as an incentive does not lead to the right kind of development and actually creates instability.

The letter does not edify official Church doctrine, but it is used by Church leaders around the world in setting priorities.

In response, the IPO released a statement that it is “working to educate on the incentives that IP rights provide for advancing knowledge and creating jobs.”

  • See “Encyclical Letter Caritas In Veritate Of The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI To The Bishops Priests And Deacons Men And Women Religious The Lay Faithful And All People Of Good Will On Integral Human Development In Charity And Truth,” June 29, 2009. [Link][Related Post]

102 thoughts on “The Pope on Patents

  1. On the corporations question, I really doubt that the externalized costs arise from the corporateness of the business entity. A sole proprietorship is just as likely to belch CO2 as multinational; the only difference is scale.

    As to the risks of oligopoly and monopoly, I agree that they are undesirable, and we do have the antitrust laws to keep those in check. Adam Smith also decried the conspiracies of competitors against the market. (Too bad the antitrust laws don’t apply to other monopolistic entities like government and unions.)

  2. Just the fact that the church has to have a group dedicated to defending pedo-priests should be cause for some serious soul-searching. And if the pope has already shown a lack of leadership in the one area that he’s supposed to be an expert on (morality), why should anyone listen to what he says on patents?

    Man, I hope that Larry Craig or Bernie Madoff don’t start condemning patents. Then we’d really be screwed.

  3. American Cowboy,

    What bothers me is that people like to pick and choose from Adam Smith caeteria style based upon their ideology like they do with Friedman and others.

    Divorcing absolute responsibility from self-interest, which corporations do, allows one to externalize some or most of their costs, while retaining the profits, which I would dare say is not optimal and not what Adam Smith would have condoned.

    Regardless, people acting in their own self-interest has been proven to NOT always result in the maximum good anyway. Moreover, I would conjecture the natural attractor from almost any starting point where the only rule is a respect for property and contract rights is oligopoly or monopoly.

    There is also that other small problem of an imbalance in information or imperfect information.

  4. Personally, I am an atheist, but I don’t understand the people on here attacking or mocking the man’s opinions. Simply disregarding his opinion as ignorant or unexperienced is one thing. I guess I don’t see the need for the gratuitous Catholic bashing. I mean it’s fun when I do it to my mother around the Holidays, but not with people you don’t know.

  5. “why do you allow others to use your forum to attack the Catholic Church”

    LOL.

    News flash: for many of us, the Catholic Church, along with every other organized religion, is a sad joke. Just because their magic spells are “deeply” important to you doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean squat to me, just as I could care less if you are “hurt” when I make jokes about your favorite Jonas brother.

  6. “Every intelligent man knows that there is ALWAYS something to be learned.”

    That’s true Noise, but the veracity of that statement doesn’t necessitate that there be something for the Pope to learn from you.

    “If we can convince the Pope that the correct, long term charitable option is really free markets, ”

    He would look at you with one crosswise glance and your arguments for such a thing would be silenced. If you somehow mustered the courage to continue (this is impossible, but just assuming arguendo) stating your case, he’d simply ask you how come it has worked out so well for everyone in the countries at issue so far. Then you would likely concede the argument on the merits and you’d both go home happy. You having learned something from the Pope, and the Pope having spread wisdom.

    The bottom line is this guys: the fostering of progress brought about by patents comes with a cost. The Pope obviously sees it as unconscionable to pass the cost of that fostering on to the poor in certain countries and teaches as much.

  7. I agree with the suggestion that it would be good to teach the Pope market economics and the patent system’s role in it. For that matter some 98% of the population probably could benefit from that education.

    As to Lionel’s conjecture that because I cite Adam Smith, I should advocate the abolition of corporations and allow unlimited personal liability, my response is: Whaaa? I don’t see how that is germane to this discussion.

  8. “The Pope teaches on issues of theology…not…science.”

    I meant to address my comment to you, 6.

  9. The Pope teaches on issues of theology and morals; he does not teach on issues of science, including economics.

    He makes assumptions based on science. Often, Catholics assume that pseudo-socialistic policies are more charitable than free market policies. Government mandated “charity” certainly has that emotional attraction. Thus, Church leadership often urges such policies. But such urgings are not doctrine; they are implementation of doctrine. Doctrine is to be charitable. If we can convince the Pope that the correct, long term charitable option is really free markets, he would go the other way, and there would be no doctrinal flip-flop, just a correction of assumptions.

  10. Do we all agree yet? Is it clear now that because of the church sex scandal, the Pope is not qualified to speak on issues of economics or charity.

  11. 6,

    Every intelligent man knows that there is ALWAYS something to be learned.

    My bet is that the Pope is no exception.

  12. American Cowboy,

    You are absolutely correct that we can feel free to disregard the Pope’s advice. As I mentioned, infallibility pertains to matters of faith, rather than scientific or even economic policy.

    However, to simply ignore the Pope’s advice means that we would lose a chance to educate the Pope. Just because the Pope is the father of the church, does not mean that the Pope can’t, or doesn’t, learn. It is a prime opportunity to respond with a clear and reasoned explanation of how strong patent rights PROMOTE innovation and increase advancements in the important fields that help the poor, rather than with the angry and vindictive anti-Catholic rage evidenced in several responses here.

  13. American Cowboy wrote “Adam Smith pointed out to us in 1776 that the greater good for all is achieved when each seeks to maximize his/her own reward in a system that respects contracts and property rights. It is amazing how often that lesson keeps getting forgotten, with this thread showing that the Pope forgot it.”

    It’s amazing how many people who have never read Adam Smith like to cite him. It’s amaizng how many people are not aware that economics did not begin nor end with Adam Smith.

    Actually, I say we follow Smith and abolish all corporations so there can be no limited liability. I assume you support that American Cowboy.

  14. “the Pope does not run the Church based on American Law and tradition”

    I can agree with that. Which leave us, as enlightened commentators on American Law and tradition, not to mention public policy and patent law, free to disregard his advice.

  15. “with this thread showing that people have misread what the Pope said and allege that He has forgotten it.”

    fixed your statement American Cowboy.

    Or perhaps, since the Pope does not run the Church based on American Law and tradition, American Cowboy’s statement is a better indicator of the tendency to read into the Pope’s statement, elements of American jurisprudence that simply are not there, nor meant to be there (for those that actually have taken the time to read the Pope’s statement).

  16. American Cowboy, good point regarding Smith.

    But note that the Pope did not repudiate intellectual property rights…anymore than he repudiates personal property rights by calling for charity on our part with regard to our property wealth that we may have and that the poor may need.

  17. American Cowboy, good point regarding Smith.

    But note that the Pope did not repudiate intellectual property rights…anymore than he repudiates personal property rights by calling for charity on our part with regard to our property wealth that we may have and that the poor may need.

  18. Adam Smith pointed out to us in 1776 that the greater good for all is achieved when each seeks to maximize his/her own reward in a system that respects contracts and property rights. It is amazing how often that lesson keeps getting forgotten, with this thread showing that the Pope forgot it.

  19. “These attacks have nothing to do with patents generally, and nothing to do with the Pope’s comments specifically, so why do you effectively endorse these non-topical attacks by publishing them for these posters?”

    You are your own publisher here unless otherwise notified.

  20. This thread has been both disturbing and enlightening to me. I did not suspect the level of hatred harbored for my Church by my professional peers. This hatred is apparently well hidden in my physical presence, but publicly displayed behind the protection of pseudonyms on the Internet.

    Professor Crouch, I think it is time to end your silence. Where do you stand on the Catholic issue? Is the Catholic Church evil, or not? And if you desire not to take a stand because such discussion is not on point with your blog, then why do you allow others to use your forum to attack the Catholic Church? These attacks have nothing to do with patents generally, and nothing to do with the Pope’s comments specifically, so why do you effectively endorse these non-topical attacks by publishing them for these posters?

  21. “How come when I feed the poor, they call me a Saint, but when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist?”

  22. 6 hasn’t been “touched by the hands of God” like some alter boys I knew! Fred’s points are valid and on the mark. The pontiff has no credibility and should shut up about business, which is no business of any church.

  23. With respect to medical techniques, equipment, medicines, he is correct. Before someone attempts to lecture me on the necessity of profit incentive on pharmaceutical companies, which I understand, I have to ask about bioprospecting and patenting medicines that natives had been using for years?

  24. Fred,

    I’m glad you took the list of “rightful” things I provided and think that such activities make me “holier than thou”. It goes to show that you continue to miss the point in your rampage against the Pope for a singular (and yes, very important point).

    The works you are so quick to disparage are done every day by the people that make up the Church you have so much venom for. The Church is not the Pope, or the holdings of material goods, but the Catholic people themselves. The point is that while what you say may be true about the heinous acts of pedophilia, the ledger has two sides and both must be weighed. Just as many have jumped on one side of what the Pope has said (and many including you jumped incorrectly), they have done so without regard to the Pope’s comments concerning cultural aspects that need attention. Had you been paying attention rather than so quickly enjoying your anti-Catholic fervor, you would note that the Pope has NOT pressed for taking anything that is not His. I am not sure “delusional” quite fits my wanting to have a full picture taken into account for a reasoned dialogue.

    I’m quite touched that even 6 feels compelled to speak against you (odd, but none the less touched – thanks 6)

    As for the actual position, to me it has nothing to do with infallibility, as the religious will recognize that infallibility pertains to matters of faith, rather than scientific or even economic policy. The statement begs for a clear and reasoned response explaining how strong patent rights PROMOTE innovation and increased advancements in the important fields that help the poor (much as our founding fathers reasoned for creating our US system in the first place). I would hope and look to people like Dr. Noonan and the folks over at Patent Docs to address at least their items of specialty in this opportunity to “spread the religion” of why patents are a GOOD thing.

  25. Dear Fred,

    I doubt anyone posting on this thread was unaware of the church’s ugly problem and its attempts to cover it up.

    I would bet the shame of the church’s problem crossed the mind of every poster on this thread, i.e., pedophilia and the manifest attempts at cover-up was the pink elephant in the thread. You were to the only one to bring it up. I didn’t think that was the thing to do but in retrospect I realize I overreacted and that you had a right to express your mind.

    Notwithstanding, pedophilia has nothing to do with patents. The Pope’s position on patents sucks — do you agree with that?

    Re:
    “Shame” on me? Seems a little judgemental [sic]. Your desire for me to “shutup” is only indicative of your own shame of the actions of the leaders of the Catholic church re: pedefilia [sic] and a desire to keep their actions in the dark.

    Yes, you are right; I was judgmental. Please forgive me and accept my apology, and I will try to control my tendency to be judgmental. Friends?

  26. “Just an ordinary inventor”:

    You’re right . . . Catholic Priest pedefilia is depressing and covering it up is the dark side.

    As to my questions re: Pope Benedict XVI . . . they are just that,interrogatory, although reported as fact by news organizations and video confessions . . . if you wish to deny or defend them you are entirely free to do so.

    Bringing up the questions, however, is right on point.

    If someone is using his leadership position and authority of a major religious group to covet what doesn’t belong to him it’s only fair, valid and responsible to question his authority, background and position from which he speaks.

    And unfortunately the hallmark issue surrounding Pope Benedict XVI is over 20 years of covering and protecting thousands of pedefile Priests.

    “Shame” on me? Seems a little judgemental. Your desire for me to “shutup” is only indicative of your own shame of the actions of the leaders of the Catholic church re: pedefilia and a desire to keep their actions in the dark.

    “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
    John 3:19-20

    Sincerely,
    Fred

    P.S. Just realized . . . What does the Pope need other people’s patented medicines for anyway? Didn’t he have a bunch of Patron Saints hangn’ around somewhere to heal the sick?

    Okay . . . feel free to cuss me out some more and call me some more names.

  27. I do not see how exclusive rights prevent under-developed countries from increasing their economies. These countries can implement their own IP system, license IP like any other entity does as a cost of doing business, or innovate beyond existing IP. The quote may be out of context but weakening IP rights will not service anyone.

    GeneralPatent.com

  28. “Hasn’t the Catholic Church spent approximately 2 billion donated dollars, which could have purchased food and medication for the poor, on protecting it’s pedefile Priests and Bishops (approximately 4,400 Priests in the US alone)?”

    If they failed to protect them then the backlash might have cost them 3 billion+ in excess of what the backlash already cost them.

    Next time, spend that extra calorie.

  29. Fred,

    It was only a matter of time before some asswhole jerk would bring up the dark side.
    What did your depressing totally useless and tasteless comment accomplish?

    Not a godamn thing. Shame, shame on you.

    Didn’t your mommy teach you better?, i.e., e.g., if you don’t have anything nice to say. Just shutup?

  30. “Noise above Law” quote:

    “I for one am part of the Church and welcome you to come with me and help:
    Feed the hungry
    Give drink to the thirsty
    Clothe the naked
    Shelter the homeless
    Visit the sick
    Visit the imprisoned
    Bury the dead
    as well as
    Instruct the ignorant
    Counsel the doubtful
    Admonish the sinner
    Bear wrongs patiently
    Forgive offenses willingly
    Comfort the sorrowful
    Pray for the living and the dead.”

    Wow . . . impressive . . . sounds like you’re a very busy person! Thanks for sharing your holier than thou “good works” with us.

    But, it still doesn’t give Pope Benedict XVI the right to take what is not his.

    Hmmm . . . didn’t the same Pope Benedict XVI, aka Cardinal Ratzinger, enforce the “Crimen
    Sollicitationis” (the Catholic Church’s secret written policy to cover up Catholic Priest sex crimes against children) for a period of 20 years? And in 2001, didn’t Cardinal Ratzinger issue a replacement policy to Catholic Bishops worldwide which instructed them to cover up priest pedefilia and silence victims upon threat of excommunication? Hasn’t the Catholic Church spent approximately 2 billion donated dollars, which could have purchased food and medication for the poor, on protecting it’s pedefile Priests and Bishops (approximately 4,400 Priests in the US alone)?

    link to abcnews.go.com

    link to video.google.com

    Have a great delusional day!

    Sincerely,
    Fred

  31. While I belive as I do, I am not dogmatic that everyone must also believe so – Probably my american individualism shining through.

    In that spirit, I wanted to say thank you JAOI, well put.

  32. Feeling Thankful and saying/thinking so in Concentration and Meditation is good for the Spirit and the Body — Positive Thinking can’t be beat, and Positive Thinking fosters powerful self-fulfilling prophecy. Ask Not for what you Want – Rather, be Thankful for What you Have!

    Believing in the Collective Sanctity of Humanity is an intelligent and positive alternative to subscribing to organized religious fantasies. Together, We the People comprise great power, far, far Greater than anyone can Imagine.

    Here’s the sunday punch line:
    Human Sanctity is achieved through Principled Biblical Behavior and by Helping One Another.

    It’s that simple.

  33. “I for one am part of the Church and welcome you to come with me and help:
    Instruct the ignorant
    Counsel the doubtful
    Admonish the sinner
    Bear wrongs patiently
    Forgive offenses willingly”
    Obsess over Mooney

    fixt

  34. “Feed the hungry
    Give drink to the thirsty
    Clothe the naked
    Shelter the homeless
    Visit the sick
    Visit the imprisoned
    Bury the dead”

    Noise spends all her time that she doesn’t spend taking away from the poor giving back to it. That comforts me to know that.

    No, really, it does.

  35. Jules,

    I am not sure how you mean that the Uppity thread is a clear indicator of a downfall.

    Sure, Hawk mentions both capitalism and Professor Crouch, but the gist isn’t even near the Church. If anything, I would read the Uppity line:

    “Hawk swoops about, twittering colorful gibberish with unctuous irreverence.”

    as still giving the finger to the Church, rather than the much more baleful lines in the Almost Enough thread, including:

    “It was the writing practice, honing the storytelling craft, that was both challenging and gratifying. That’s what kept me writing.”

    and the downright contrite:

    “Whether you agree with his point about patents doesn’t take away his very honorable and legitimate concerns about human welfare.”

    and even the repentant:

    “the Patent Prospector is not dead. It’s just sobered up.”

    The further pervasive use of past tense in the Almost Enough thread compares drastically with the present tense of the Uppity thread.

    What was it about the Uppity thread that is a clear indicator of a downfall? I need help seeing it.

    /on soapbox

    Fred,

    It’s nice that you merely focus on one side of the ledger. Ask yourself a few more questions: How much does the church freely give to the poor? How much is freely spent in support of worthwhile causes that would greatly languish but for the Church’s involvment? How much of it’s people’s minds, work, and investment, and oh yeah, a little thing called soul, from multiple aspect of the Church (which includes both clergy AND lay members) ARE gladly donated? It would be nice if you painted a complete picture before you hurry and hurl invectives and dispersions at one of the leading humanitarian organizations of the world.

    I for one am part of the Church and welcome you to come with me and help:
    Feed the hungry
    Give drink to the thirsty
    Clothe the naked
    Shelter the homeless
    Visit the sick
    Visit the imprisoned
    Bury the dead
    as well as
    Instruct the ignorant
    Counsel the doubtful
    Admonish the sinner
    Bear wrongs patiently
    Forgive offenses willingly
    Comfort the sorrowful
    Pray for the living and the dead.

    /off soapbox

  36. The Catholic Church owns more land globally than any other organization on the planet, owns priceless art, jewelery & historical treasures & receives over 8 billion tax free dollars in annual donations.

    I don’t see the Pope spending billions of dollars building his own drug research labs, yet he will gladly donate the hard earned results of someone else’s mind, work and investment.

    I’m astonished the Catholic Church would even believe in the use of modern medical drugs . . . they don’t condone the use of condoms in order to save millions of men, women and children from a grizzly death with AIDS.

    Maybe they should have stuck with their inquisitions, excommunications and burning at the stake . . . that worked for them for quite a while.

  37. “Any remorse at your prompting of your pal Hawk and the subsequent fallout he is experiencing over at the Patent Prospector?”

    Don’t be so sure D actually made a “truth or dare” with hawk specifically. Hawk may just have meant that D wouldn’t say on his site what “needed to be said”.

  38. Noise, you left out this:

    link to patenthawk.com

    which was also a clear indicator of a downfall. In fact I was going to post something funny in response to “uppity” before “almost enough” was posted, but I thought a private email might be more appropriate. I chose to do neither. Guess that means I can’t say “I told you so.”

  39. “Any remorse at your prompting of your pal Hawk and the subsequent fallout he is experiencing over at the Patent Prospector?”

    Don’t be so sure D actually made a “truth or dare” with hawk specifically. Hawk may just have meant that D wouldn’t say on his site what “needed to be said”.

  40. Alun: “The problem is that drugs cost too much for third world economies. Drug companies do have huge profits, so they should be able to do something about it.”

    The free meds would come with a trophy and a Little Red Book? Forget Kappos, we deserve Stuart Smalley for PTO Director (and Senator).
    Then again, Smalley also says: “Because what they say is true – it’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.” Amen.

  41. Alun: “The problem is that drugs cost too much for third world economies. Drug companies do have huge profits, so they should be able to do something about it.”

    B..b..but..what about th..th.the sh..sh..sh..shareholders?!?

  42. Interesting that the Church acknowledges the validity of health costs when someone is dying as a part of the ethical considerations one needs to make before seeking near death extraordinary care.

    My, I haven’t heard such anti-Catholic bias since my friend Martin Luther left the Church…

  43. The Pope’s last job (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger) was Defender of the Faith.

    During the Spanish Inquisition, the Defender of the Faith was the Inquisitor-General, who was in charge of the Inquisition.

    The Church should not torment and torture Inventors.

    That’s the USPTO’s job.

    [I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition!

    NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise!

    ...Surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency....

    Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our four...no...]

  44. The problem is that drugs cost too much for third world economies. Drug companies do have huge profits, so they should be able to do something about it.

  45. So, Pope Benedict urges us to be charitable with our intellectual property, in much the same way that the Church has consistently urged us to be charitable with our real propety and our personal property. And, he does it in a way which does not attack the fundamental property right in question, but actually recognizes the fundamental right in question.

    Yeah, I can see why everyone is so upset.

    I mean, urging us to be charitable with our property?…Who does this guy think he is, the Pope?

  46. I can only think the Pope is concerned that maintaining and operating charitable medical clinics in third world countries has become too expensive for the Catholic Church. How are they to cultivate a flock in such a country when it costs so much to maintain these clinics that they cannot then yield a profit from fleecing that flock? So, excessive enforcement of patents occurs when companies use those patents to enforce the ability to pass on costs of research and development to the Catholic Church, thereby hampering God’s work. That’s just evil.

  47. Mr. Thomas (or is it Dr. Thomas?),

    I hadn’t visited your website in some time. It is truly remarkable and, I might add, well-designed. You have good taste.

    I encourage other readers of PatentlyO to visit the website if they haven’t recently. For a number of reasons, you shouldn’t wait too long or it may be too late …

    From the website:

    “As the World’s Only Inventor of Significance ages, the era of significant invention creation is drawing to a close, effective on the date of my death as there is no replacement inventor. Due to the present refusal to purchase or deal on the part of financers, developers, and companies, a huge black hole in invention will deny the world of critical human advancement that could have existed if these individuals had cooperated with me. When it is considered that the four individuals who created everything, George Roberts, Isaah Roberts, Delbert Roberts, and Michael R. Thomas (Genetically Michael Roberts Welsh), have received little or no recognition or compensation. The reality is that much of the money being contributed to charities, presently, is being squandered in comparison to what potential good that could be realized by investment in my human advancement creation fund.”

  48. Patented artificial birth control keeps it out of the hands of the poor (if the pope’s patent’s are evil is to believe), so then it’s good for the Pope’s birth control position.

  49. IP rights (at least copyrights and patents), if properly crafted, are supposed to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” (US Const., Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cl. 3) Perhaps it doesn’t always work that way, but that is the intent. They create incentives for advancing knowledge.

    It is not entirely clear in what ways the pope thinks there is “excessive zeal for protecting knowledge” in our current IP laws, nor in what ways assertion of IP rights is “unduly rigid”. Some concrete examples would have been helpful in understanding what he means.

    Even the mention of the field of health care doesn’t really help us discern what the pope is trying to get at. Is he thinking of pharmaceutical patents? advanced diagnostic equipment? or the inability of poor countries to afford such advances? One could argue that such advances in medicine are made possible by existence of IP rights, even if there is a time lag of about 20 years in the poor getting access to such advances.

  50. The individuals who own and assert these patents are in many cases excessively profiting, however, these are not the same persons who created the divine conception of the invention. These individuals should be considered for sainthood and receive the profits they deserve. The wealthier they are, the more likely they are to be philanthropist and during their lifetime or after their death, give most back to the poor or advance human interests through more invention because you might be able to take it with you. As far as underdeveloped countries go, they are mostly under developed because of their lack of strong patent rights which go hand and hand with other serious problems preventing development such as dictatorships, unstable currencies, civil war, constitutional protections, law infrastructure, corruption, and dishonesty in dealing with other nations (international fraud tolerance). The United States is a shining example of invention patent progress in relation to human advancement in all fields, although in recent years, the reputation has become somewhat tarnished by the way patent awarding and development abuses have cheated invention conceivers of their rightful financial rewards, padding the pockets of invention thieves, development thieves, patent resale profiteers, corporations . Also, R&D stagnation and unwillingness to pay for IP and/or partnership on IP conceptions is creating retartive corporation refusal to deal attitudes with independent inventors. These belligerent ignorance problems are severely curtailing new product creation and contributing to world economic stagnation.

    The Pope’s overall theme that relying solely on monetary greed as incentive does not lead to the right kind of development and creates instability is not accurate. The reality is, the term monetary greed should be referred to as the right to make a fare profit in a capitalistic system. Since without invention conceivers, the item of the invention would not exist and therefore its beneficial usage by mankind would not exist. Without all these inventions, life would be a desperate struggle to survive, as it was two hundreds years ago. This results in attitudes of gross ingratitude resulting in legislation such as the Patent Reform Act of 2009 and invention stagnation.

    Regarding Pope’s overall theme of patents creating instability, the reality is they only create instability with regards to the fact that the patents are in the wrong name and the inventor has never been paid. The reality is that monetary greed is created in the U.S. and third world countries by the dishonest lying, reneging, and stealing intellectual property, thereby creating instability due to frauds. Probably the most vivid examples come from government leaders nationalizing foreign country investments in order to corruptly legitimize stealing. Another problem is governments that allow companies to enter and begin business in their country and then gain their intellectual property knowledge and then renege and throw them out of the country. The other major problem is, countries lying and claiming invention in their own countries thereby cheating and stealing from actual inventors which can result in instability. Clearly we need new direction to address these issues such as my patent reform proposals.

    See our website for progressive invention reform legislation topics and for intellectual property conceptions. link to inventingconsultantcreator.net

  51. If the “Godly Powers” application issues to a patent, will the pope be infringing or should pope declare a third party interference?

    2007/0035812 Abstract
    Christopher Anthony Roller is a godly entity. “Granters” had been given my powers (acquired my powers) (via God probably). These “granters” have been receiving financial gain from godly powers. These “granters” may be using their powers without morals. Chris Roller wants exclusive right to the ethical use and financial gain in the use of godly powers on planet Earth. The design of godly-products have no constraints, just like any other invention, but the ethnic consideration of it’s use will likely be based on a majority vote of a group, similar to law creation. The commission I require could range from 0-100% of product price, depending on the product’s value and use.

  52. Dear Prof. Crouch,

    May I suggest an addition to Patently-0?
    Every week you pick one comment for the “Comment of the Week” award.

    Posters may make suggestions to you — for example, I suggest Andrew Dhuey’s comment above:

    “Good Lord. Inventors have seen so much hostility in recent years from the courts, Congress, the press and much of academia. “At least the Pope isn’t against us,” an inventor might have joked…until today.”

    * * * * *

    Dear Patent Heathen,
    Re:
    “Is it possible for lightning to strike the pope?”

    Yes, just like it’s possible for a car full of Nuns to collide with another car full of Nuns.

  53. Also, does this mean that I can practice 6,170,193 without being sued?

  54. If the Pope is truly concerned about health care related patents and their effect on the world’s impoverished, perhaps he could divert some of the Church’s funds away from diamond-encrusted shoelaces and toward research into third world medicine.

  55. I love it, patent holders of the world being taken to task for being greedy robber-barons by an ex-nazi who lives in his own private nation. I agree with whoever above that stated that science is by definition not the pope’s strong suit. (actual strong suits: discouraging the spread of aids and unwanted pregnancy through effective techniques like abstinence, oppressing homosexuals, defending pedo-priests, receiving an inordinate amount of wealth from developing nations)

    Is it possible for lightning to strike the pope?

  56. Dear Andrew Dhuey,

    Re:
    “Good Lord. Inventors have seen so much hostility in recent years from the courts, Congress, the press and much of academia. “At least the Pope isn’t against us,” an inventor might have joked…until today.”

    Thank You — although many comments on this thread were enjoyable, yours was the best.

    * * * * *
    Oh Lord hear my prayer, for I have sinned:
    The Devil Made Me Invent Over & Over Again!

  57. Is this the same pope that responded to child molesting priests by stating they are “An American problem” and that the “media is making too much out of it”?

    Wonder how much he enforces copyrights on all those vatican paintings?

  58. The Pope did not use the inflammatory phrase “monetary greed” (Dennis) – he did use and primarily addresses in his letter “justice and the common good”.
    Unfortunately he does not appreciate the economics of the health care industry as it applies to “the common good”. By paying premium prices (yes, in part supported by the global patent system) the fortunate citizens of “rich countries” heavily subsidize health care innovation to the benefit of the less fortunate citizens of “poor countries”, and “the common good”.
    But to paraphrase one of our colleagues at a major pharma, “If I can’t tell my CEO that we can protect the IP from our $6B annual investment in R&D, I should tell him to spend it on advertising.” Not sure even JC could turn that water into a benefit for “the common good”.

  59. Something new to confess to the priest. I wonder how many “Hail Mary”‘s worth of penance a broadening reissue might draw, Might I earn an indulgence by making a narrowing amendment?

  60. People, how do you interprete the word “unduly” in the statement? Excessivily? Improperly? or both?

  61. Wow. Some staggeringly ignorant comments here. Politics and religion do tend to do that to people.
    Go back and read the quote, people. Does he says patents are bad? Nope, he says unduly rigid assertion of patents rights [in the third world]is bad. And you know what? He’s right.
    For those just offering cheap shots, please give it a rest. Or at least try and gain an understanding of what you’re talking about.

  62. Good for the pope. Patent rights have nothing to do with individual liberty or private property. People cannot own a process or technology and more than they can own knowledge or an idea. Patents HINDER progress by encouraging selfish monopolization of information, encouraged by governments and lawyers.

  63. “”I don’t think the Pope was being too serious with his criticism of health care patents. If he was, he just could have said that “Health care patents are evil inventions by wicked men.” Then he could easily cited his case law, Romans 1:30-32, “[Wicked men] … invent ways of doing evil; …. that those who do such things deserve death …”, a penalty I suspect the Supreme Court is sympathetic to.”

    I loled. 2x.

  64. Greg Aharonian does a drive-by and offers Bible quotes?

    Okay, I did not predict that.

  65. I tell you what you should do Pope, use Catholic Church funds to finance the most expensive research in medicines. Like my kid’s cancer. Give it up! Oh wait, you spent it all on legal funds lately in various major US cities?

  66. I don’t think the Pope was being too serious with his criticism of health care patents. If he was, he just could have said that “Health care patents are evil inventions by wicked men.” Then he could easily cited his case law, Romans 1:30-32, “[Wicked men] … invent ways of doing evil; …. that those who do such things deserve death …”, a penalty I suspect the Supreme Court is sympathetic to.

  67. Joe – well put. We are experiencing attacks on property rights from all sides, at all angles, for the “common good”. What the Pope can’t seem to comprehend is that as property rights decline, so do liberty, incentive, and most importantly, individualism. Since he lived through fascism and communism, it’s particularly disappointing.

  68. Ugh. Why spend $500M – $1B developing a drug without any chance of recouping the investment?…

  69. If the pope were really concerned about development in the 3rd world, then he would advocate their adoption of strict property rights to protect producers in these countries. As it stands, anyone who produces a value can be expropriated at the whim of the government or his neighbors.

    If human welfare were his concern, then he would exalt rather than excoriate the greedy wealth producers whose productivity has enhanced the lives of the poorest of people. What is even better is that this trickling down of wealth required no one’s sacrifice.

  70. “Religion is the anti-science.”

    Tell that to the PTO magic-believers!

  71. What’s scary to me is that a mojority of SCOTUS is Catholic, last I heard.

  72. “It’s a pity that lawyers exist to enforce property rights.”

    Yes, because when it gets down to it, people really just want to give their property away for free…

    If it weren’t for those dad-blasted lawyers. Now where are my Birkenstocks? Oh, I left them on the VW Bus at the last Lalapalooza concert.

  73. Wouldn’t it be better if we could all hold hands and just get along. Let’s give eachother a big hug. OK

  74. TheTwoBobs. Insightful. It’s a pity that lawyers exist to enforce property rights. It would be so much better if we could just take inventions, for the public good, you know? Of course the public would “love” to take the fruits of inventive labor. What’s that phrase – “to each according to his need”?

  75. “Good Lord. Inventors have seen so much hostility in recent years from the courts, Congress, the press and much of academia”

    The world loves its inventors. It’s their over-reaching patent lawyers it could do without.

  76. Nice. Of course, I’m sure his objection has something to do with the costs of health care. You know what? It’s expensive when compared, say, to 1950 (a benchmark date I’ve seen in the media).

    Message to Pope – want health care to cost what it did in 1950? Simple. Provide 1950s health care.

  77. It’s unfortunate that the pope is by definition ignorant with regard to anything containing reason.

  78. Good Lord. Inventors have seen so much hostility in recent years from the courts, Congress, the press and much of academia. “At least the Pope isn’t against us,” an inventor might have joked…until today.

  79. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Pope has “taken a stand against strong patent rights.” He didn’t say that. All he disapproves of is “excessive” zeal for “unduly rigid” assertions of IP rights — that, at least to me, goes further than just “strong” patent rights.

    Also, as Mr. Martin points out in his comment, the Pope continues his paragraph with a line about faults in developing countries.

  80. That’s hilarious in that it comes from a guy who claims a monopoly on knowledge of God and what she wants us to do in her name :-)

    (Dennis: You have no sense of free speech or humor if you censor this. I’m merely pointing out the hypocrisy. Laugh a little.)

  81. From the IAM blog:

    It is unfortunate that the quote of the encyclical did not continue. If it had, people would have read:

    At the same time, in some poor countries, cultural models and social norms of behaviour persist which hinder the process of development.

    The reality is as the Pope stated: rich countries do have excessive zeal in protecting knowledge. On the other hand, developing countries maintain certain norms (such as counterfeiting) which are also unsustainable.

    I believe that your quote out of context does the statement a dissservice.

    Marcel Mongeon, Mongeon Consulting Inc on 09 Jul 2009 @ 15:21

  82. If the Pope wants to promote development in the world’s poorest countries he should start by relaxing his stance on artificial birth control.

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