Is Intellectual Property the next Economic Crisis?

That’s the question that has been dogging me all day. The number of patents awarded is dramatically up over the last fifteen years (including patents on molecules and genes) and the U.S. Congress is considering a (draconian) piece of legislation to vastly expand copyright holders rights. The increasingly restrictive licensing contracts and DRM practices placed on both consumers and libraries wrests the ownership of content back into the hands (and whims) of music, movie, and publishing companies. Fair use has come under attack while copyright rights have expanded tremendously.

I don’t think the charge that intellectual property rights have gone too far is anything new, but I’m wondering when it will start effecting the economy. I say when because it feels like a certainty at this point; the increase in the number of owners and intellectual property units seems to beg for a major collision. I’m sure some would argue that it already has created different chilling effects for innovation, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. It brings me back to the question on how innovation and creativity will continue on when companies assert ownership claims over whole or parts of existing platforms, products, and designs?

I usually try to think through my blog posts before I release them into the wild, but for this one I need some additional outside thoughts. My fear is that my pessimism is blinding me on this one and I want some outside opinions.