Jury in Apple Case Rules for Big Government

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Monday, 27 August 2012 06:57

It is remarkable that in a campaign season where the media are constantly telling us that the election is a referendum about the size and role of government, no one seems to have noticed that the jury's verdict in the Apple-Samsung case is a big victory for big government. The ruling gives strong protection to Apple's patents, which means that it will be able to charge more money for its iPad, iPhone and other related products in the years ahead. The additional charges could well run into the hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.

From the standpoint of consumers this has the same effect as if the government imposed a large tax on these products. However in this case, the government is simply agreeing to arrest competitors so that Apple can effectively impose the tax.

This is big government interference in the free market. Remarkably no reporters treat it as such. For some reason if it is not tax or spending policy, reporters generally fail to recognize the hand of the government. This is unfortunate since the impact of the government's actions in setting the ground rules for the market swamps the impact of the tax and spending decisions that dominate public debate.

 

[Addendum: For the record, I don't have strong views on this case. In general I am not a fan of strong patent/copyright protection, but I haven't studied this one enough to see the extent to which Apple has a serious case. On the other hand, there is zero doubt that if the ruling holds, Apple will be charging more for its products than if doesn't.]