Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Freedom of expression is dead

In 1998 Kimbrew McLeod got a US registered trademark on the expression "freedom of expression". He was interviewed for today's Radio 4 Mine All Mine show about intellectual property and pointed out that because he had failed to file a section 8 form five years into the life of his unusual trademark, it lapsed. As a consequence if you check out the status of the trademark, a US government website now declares that "freedom of expression is dead."

The programme also quotes Andrew Gowers as saying that "the whole point of intellectual property rights is to recognise that there is almost no form of innovation or creation that is completely original. Almost any form of innovation or creation that you can imagine builds on innovations creations of thousands and probably millions of people before. And if you lose sight of that and have laws that are too restrictive you go wrong; and so it's always been a balance designed to incentivise and reward creation and innovation on one hand and on the other to allow the free flow and competition of ideas."

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