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Peter Thiel Should Learn a Broader Litigation Lesson from his Gawker Lawsuit

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Lawsuit Lesson Learned?

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel is a pretty smart guy. As partial evidence, I give you his self-made net worth of $2.7 billion. He co-founded online payment mega-company PayPal – which was in 2002 sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. Anyone who saw the very good flick “The Social Network” knows Thiel was one of the first outside investors in Facebook. He still owns a chunk, and is on their Board. He invested in LinkedIn. He’s…done well.

Thiel obviously has a knack for knowing what is worth his money, time and effort. So it was noteworthy when he officially acknowledged that he helped fund professional wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the online publication Gawker (Gawker had amongst other things posted a Hogan sex tape.) Hogan was awarded $140 million for Gawker’s invasion of his privacy.

Why did Thiel fund Hogan? Because nine years ago, Gawker invaded Thiel’s privacy – with a story headlined “Peter Thiel is Totally Gay, People.” Thiel said Gawker followed up with similarly invasionary stories on several of his friends (and others) – which Thiel said “ruined people’s lives for no reason.”

So Thiel “funded a team of lawyers to find and help ‘victims’ of the company’s coverage mount cases against Gawker.” Which begat Hogan.  Thiel assessed why he stepped up: “I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves…It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence.” More

Donald Trump, China, Trade – and Intellectual Property Theft

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Perhaps a Little More
Umph is Required

We are in the midst of a presidential race that is fundamentally changing how many view – and thought they knew – politics. Donald Trump especially is radically altering that map. What many thought were permanent lines – turned out to be drawn on an Etch-a-Sketch. That the presumptive Republican nominee has spent the last year shaking into oblivion.

Much of what Trump has altered – desperately needed to be altered. Change can be a very good thing – especially when terrible ideas and actions have been ensconced and accepted as “the norm” and “that’s how it’s always been done.

That’s certainly the case in many instances with intellectual property (IP). Intellectual property has come to be seen as somehow less than physical property – and thus less worthy of protection from theft. In an ever increasingly digital economy – that’s even less good.

One of the first major purveyors of IP theft was Napster. Launched on June 1, 1999, Napster was a website designed to allow its users to steal digital copies of music. Millions of people downloaded songs – for which they did not pay. These same people – who would never have walked into a brick-and-mortar Tower Records store and stolen the same music on CDs – had no compunction doing the exact same thing digitally. In this way did Napster help begin to artificially, dangerously lessen the perceived value of IP.

But just because you aren’t stealing anything tangible – doesn’t mean you aren’t stealing. By illegally replicating a song (or movie, or book, or….) – you are lessening the value of the legal copies thereof. It is the exact same reason you aren’t allowed to print fake money – because it devalues real money. (Someone please tell the United States Treasury.)

Flash forward nearly two decades – and we have China. Which is Napster on uber-steroids – ensconced as government policy. On May 15 on Fox News Sunday, in defense of Trump’s call for a reanalysis of how we cut trade deals, Republican former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said “When you hear, for example, that the Chinese last year probably stole $360 billion in intellectual property from the United States, I think being tough about that’s a good thing. I think conservatives can be for very tough-minded trade.” More

Government Spontaneously, Dramatically Changing the Rules is Terrible for Business

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Welcome to Government

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Certainty” as: “The quality or state of being certain especially on the basis of evidence.” As we know, evidence abounds that the world is inherently a very un-certain place.

Given all the naturally-occurring uncertainty that exists, the last thing we need is unnecessary, artificial uncertainty thrown on to the pile. Unfortunately, that is what our government incessantly insists on doing.

Which is a violation of its mission statement. Ensuring certainty is one of the main reasons our Founding Fathers set up our government the way they did. Laws are written by the Legislative Branch – by representatives elected by and directly accountable to us. And are, by design, systemically difficult to pass (the Senate as “cooling saucer”).

The Executive and Judicial Branches are only to execute and adjudicate laws written by the Legislative – they are not themselves to create law. Because Executive Branch bureaucrats are elected by – and thus accountable to – no one. And judges receive lifetime appointments – and are thus accountable only to the Grim Reaper. If bureaucrats or judges start writing law – it is unilateral tyranny, antithetical to our Constitutional system. More

The Koch Brothers Don’t Want Government Cronyism – Google Does

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Endless Applications for Government Cronyism

It is an incessant refrain – from Leftists and the media (please pardon the redundancy). This annoying gaggle whines and moans that the quintessential, awful faces of corporate influence over government are those of Charles and David Koch.

Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid said of them on the Senate floor “These two brothers are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.” Uber-Leftist “green” billionaire (and MUCH larger political donor than both Kochs combined) Tom Steyer said of David Koch: “Just a famously evil person.”

Not at all over-the-top or vitriolic. Thanks for the substantive critique of these men and their political perspectives.

It is true – when the private-sector-uber-successful libertarian duo isn’t donating massive coin to people and things like criminal defense lawyers, hospitals, the arts and black colleges, they do contribute to people and political entities seeking to deliver us less government than the massive amounts with which we are currently afflicted. More

Let’s Not Emulate How Much of the World Treats Intellectual Property

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Less Theft, More Heft

April 26 is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day: “We celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.”

It’s sad that so many of us still need to learn “the role that intellectual property rights…play in encouraging innovation and creativity.” It’s sad that the inherently obvious isn’t inherently obvious: that IP and its protection is a fundamental building block to any successful economy.

What we have is so many countries the world over abusing IP. Sometimes because they fail to grasp the concept (the learning curve is indeed steep):

India Must Build Intellectual Property: “For most Indians, intellectual property is a combination of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Robin Hood. The French anarchist famously declared property to be theft. Indians, few of whom put in the hard slog required to create intellectual property, readily agree, and are eager to do to the owners of intellectual property what Robin Hood did to the rich. Karl Marx, no fan of property himself, pronounced Proudhon to be confused: you can steal something only if it already belongs to someone, meaning property must precede theft and so cannot be theft. Indians are equally wrong to disrespect intellectual property.”

Let’s first correct this mis-characterization of Robin Hood. He didn’t steal from the rich – he stole government’s onerous taxes from the collectors, to return the coin to the people. Robin Hood, if anything, was a pro-capitalism, pro-private property figure. More

Intellectual Property Protection is a Fundamental Free Market Tenet – Not a Tax

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

None of Which is a Tax

There was on Monday a quintessential example of the horrendously bad thinking of those opposed to all things intellectual property. An op-ed totally disconnected from Reality – and chock full of thought-free, pathetic anti-property platitudes.

It is sad that so many remain steadfastly impervious to facts. But they do, so we will address this latest bit of inanity – so that the many who remain receptive to Reality may be properly informed.

We speak now of Truthout’s Dean Baker extrusion Think Trump’s 45 Percent Tariffs Are Bad? Try Obama’s 10,000 Percent Tariffs. Which mangles much of the English language – in service of much muddled thinking. Baker begins:

“Lately the media have been going wild mocking Donald Trump’s plans to put 45 percent tariffs on imports from China. They are partly right. It’s not clever to indiscriminately impose large tariffs on major trading partners in violation of existing trade agreements….

“But what is even more striking is the selective concern over tariffs. While Trump wants to put large tariffs on imports from some of our major trading partners, President Obama is actively pushing to have far larger tariffs imposed on a wide range of goods in his trade deals, most importantly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Measures in the TPP pushed by US negotiators will raise the price of many items by several thousand percent above the free market price.”

Tariffs are, of course, taxes. We conservatives don’t like taxes – so this may be an attempted appeal to our sensibilities. A 10,000% tariff? That would be awful. Except to what Baker refers – isn’t any sort of tax at all. More

Google, the Barack Obama Administration – and Even More Questionable Policy

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

This One Apparently
Doesn’t Detect Buses

Almost inarguably, no private entity is more enmeshed with the Barack Obama Administration – than is Google. This has been – in way too many ways for an allegedly free market economy – the Google Administration.

Google has met with the White House just about once a week – every week since President Obama took the oath. Think tanks usually staff administrations – Google and this administration have been swapping (often very high-level) employees throughout.

And as we know, personnel is policy. So time and again this administration has (often illegally) jammed through awful, anti-capitalism policy – because Google asked for it.

Sometimes the cronyism is so overt – it’s darkly comical. Like when the administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally imposed Google’s preferred (and really idiotic) Network Neutrality.

The Commission’s two Republicans weren’t given an advance draft of the order – but Google was. And then the Commission’s Obama-appointee chairman – altered the order at Google’s request.

And now we have Google’s foray into driverless cars. Cars that can drive themselves – and thus must detect all manner of things stationary and mobile around them. There are many components incorporated in making that a possibility. And each sliver of every component – requires a patent. More

Washington DC: Don’t Just Do Something – Stand There

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Congress Should Take Notes

There is a warped Inside-the-Beltway fetish with “getting things done.” Warped – because of what many of those “things” consist. Most members of both political Parties (and the bulk of the Chattering Classes) want things – that most of We the People do not. So DC tries to distract from their terrible products – by obsessively fixating on the process.

Behold but one heinous example. Chattering Class-member The Washington Post on December 17, 2015 extruded Paul Ryan Notches a Big Victory, but the True Test May Come Next Year: “The House is expected to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill Friday that will remove any threat of a government shutdown, keep the government funded into the fall of 2016, and notch a signature win for new House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)”

This “big victory” blew up the “Sequester” spending caps – the only (tiny) such constraint placed on DC in decades. And it funded President Barack Obama for basically the rest of his administration – which means the illegal unilateral actions in which he has endlessly engaged will be from now on unimpeded by Congress’ power of the purse.

That’s a DC “signature win.” Remember this – and an endless cavalcade of similar “signature wins” – when you next hear how important it is for DC to “get things done.” (Remember it all – when you wonder how Donald Trump is doing what he’s doing.) More

Another Presidential Legacy: Several American Presidents Were Also Inventors

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

Mount Invent-more

Last Monday was Presidents Day. But that holiday is relatively new – an amalgamation of the birthdays of George Washington (President #1, February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (President #16, February 12). It is now a day set aside to celebrate all American Commanders-in-Chief.

Since yesterday was Washington’s actual day of birth (and he is thus far my favorite president) I think we should look at another, lesser known contribution he and several of his successors made to our nation. They were inventors.

When asked how he wanted to be remembered, Washington replied “As a farmer.” And it was in all things farming that he was constantly tinkering – and inventing. And he understood the vital import of people with the capital to invest – to invest in inventing. “Washington recognized that experimentation was anathema to all but the most forward looking farmers. Instead, Washington believed that it was the responsibility of wealthy farmers to undertake experimentation, as failures would be inevitable and losses would have to be absorbed while new techniques were perfected.”

As my friend John Berlau exquisitely put it, “Washington was less a ‘gentleman farmer’ than an agricultural entrepreneur.” Washington was constantly looking to invent better ways to do things: “He tinkered ceaselessly but never aimlessly. A firm believer in experimentation, he tested tools with a view to their capacity to save labor and boost productivity. Among other cutting-edge technologies, he installed at Mount Vernon an advanced gristmill that allowed him to produce high-quality ‘G. Washington’ brand flour and even market it overseas.” Washington received a trademark for his flour – the better to protect his intellectual property with, both here and abroad. More

Inventors Pass Away – Let’s Make Sure Invention Never Does

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org

So NOW Patents are Important?

Fame is a distorting and highly overrated quality – as the late, great David Bowie knew so well. Especially now in the Internet Age – when everyone shares publicly every tiny facet of their existence. Especially now in the Omni-Media Age – in which was born the phrase “Famous for being famous” (See: Kardashians).

But the things that allow people to achieve and maintain fame (and wealth, and freedom, and opportunity, and just about everything worth anything) – are for the most part invented by people of whom almost no one has heard. Inventors toil in anonymity – to make the famous possible.

But if you know any Inventors – you know that’s how most of them want it. And even the ones of whom we all have heard – we almost never think of as Inventors. The aforementioned Bowie was world-renowned as a musician, fashion icon and actor. But Bowie was also a really creative, innovative inventor. And lest we forget – he invented his songs and various personas.

Billions of people knew Bowie as an innovator – but didn’t think of him as an Inventor. Which is a shame. Because you can’t innovate – without first inventing.

Artur Fischer just passed away at 96 years of age. He was not famous. But he did more to improve our lives than just about anyone in the 20th Century. Because he was an Inventor – par excellence. He had more patents over the course of his life – than did the famous Thomas Edison.

More