How Our System Works

Published on, by Thomas Riggins, 06 May, 2008.

There is an article in Wednesday’s New York Times that is a perfect illustration of how capitalism works (“Patent Bill is Bonanza To Lobbyists” by Robert Pear, NYT 5/1/08, Business Section).

There is a heated debate going on in Congress whether or not companies (especially drug companies) “should be allowed to keep patents they obtained by misrepresentation or cheating.” Fraud would be a better word but the Times doesn’t want to upset its advertisers.

Imagine, a company lies to the Patent Office to get a patent because if the truth were known it would not qualify for the patent. The truth comes out. Our senators and representatives are actually debating a new law which says its ok for the company to keep the patent; it cannot be revoked just because it was obtained by lying to the government. Remember if you as an individual lie to the government, i.e., the FBI or the IRS, it’s off to jail.

The courts have been voiding patents, Pear reports, of companies “that have intentionally misled the Patent and Trademarks Office.” This will never do and Congress intends to put a stop to this outrageous judicial interference with free trade.

As the law now stands a company can lose its patent if it “misrepresented or concealed information with an intent to deceive the patent office.” R.A. Armitage, a VP at Eli Lilly & Co., says, “This is like imposing the death penalty for relatively minor acts of misconduct.” He means, it seems, capitalism can’t function without fraud and deceit … (full text).

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