By Adam Mossoff
The incredible technological revolutions in the biotech and computer industries were made possible by the intellectual property laws; unfortunately, this fact is obscured by widespread misinformation and attacks on these vital property rights by libertarians and leftists alike. As a corrective, this course reviews the historical development of these industries in the last half of the twentieth century, addressing such “hot topic” issues as the development of patent protection for computer software and for isolated DNA. The story is the same for each industry: at the appropriate point in which innovative geniuses, such as Steve Jobs or Craig Venter, created new material values, the courts properly secured these values under the patent laws as property rights. Through this inspiring story of innovation—the biotech and computer industries have been a source of explosive growth in life-enhancing values—it is possible to understand how the American patent system exemplifies objective law par excellence, from its use of inductive methods to identify new values deserving of legal protection as property rights to the principles it uses to self-correct any mistakes that may occur in this process. Ultimately, this course concretizes Ayn Rand’s radical insight that the intellectual property laws represent the “legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.” No knowledge of law, science or technology is required.
This course was recorded at the 2011 Objectivist Summer Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
(MP3 download; 3 hrs., 13 mins., 138.92 MB)