Intellectual Property

A family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And then [name your drug company] comes up with a cure. A medicine that not only treats but remediates the illness of your family member. They take the medicine. And slowly – with tears of joy – they begin to improve. And they heal.

Let’s say that the miracle medicine costs all of $10.00 to produce. And yet the cost to you – or your insurance company – is $200.00. Fair? Let’s say the drug company invested $257,000,000 on research for this drug. And they have a series of patents on all aspects of the drug. And by charging $200.00 per dosage, they are recouping their investment – and making a modest profit. Fair? In 2019, pharmaceutical companies spent 186 billion dollars on research.

Today – some political groups seek to nullify patents. Regulate profits. Commandeer rights in a company’s investment in research, development – and healing. A few countries already do this.

To me, one of the most important words in the English language is – “incentive” (please see post of May 6, 2018). We have incentive to obey traffic lights. To work. Take the dog out. To go to our doctors. To attend a church or synagogue. Recycle. To contribute to charity. To be kind to others. And to develop healing remedies that will help humanity.

As an intellectual property lawyer (now retired), I have respect for the intellectual property of individuals and businesses. And for investments made by corporate America – to come up with knowledge, ideas, technology and medicines to cure disease. I understand that businesses need to be fair in recouping their investments. Most are. But the inclination to deny reimbursement for expenditures, deny profits for shareholders or nullify patents – is shortsighted.

When your family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And [the drug company of your choice] decides it is no longer worth it to invest in research – just remember. That when you stifle incentive, lots of things disappear . . . . .

Incentive

I get up in the morning.  Exercise.  Go to work.  I pay my mortgage.  Pay my bills.  Donate to charities.  I take care of the house. Take the dog out.  Put dirty laundry down the chute and put the garbage on the curb. I drive carefully and obey the law.  I pay my taxes and I (usually) don’t grouse. I love my wife and family. I go to Church on Sunday.  I try to eat right.  And I try to be nice to and respectful of all people – those I know and those I don’t.

So – big question – why on earth do I do this?  Why do you?  The answer – to me – is the single most important word in the English language. INCENTIVE.  I have incentive to do all of these things.  To earn a few bucks.  Keep a nice house.  Eat right.  Be respectful to everybody.  To drive carefully.  Yadda yadda. . . .

I’m concerned that we are losing that sense of motivation.  It is being replaced with a sense of entitlement.  A sense of expectation.  Something for. . . nothing.  Incentive is waning.  Maybe it’s a bit old-fashioned.  On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy admonished “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLmiOEk59n8   There was loud applause.   Nods of approval.  Media approbation.  Today though, more and more people are asking what their country can do for them.  Gimme gimme gimme.  With no strings attached.   Some politicians encourage it.  According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2013 40.4% of all Americans paid no income tax.  In 2017, that number rose to 43.9%.  A continued rise in that number could reach a tipping point.  And become unsustainable.   

What’s your take?  More importantly – what’s the answer?   

Incentive

I am a simple soul. I get up in the morning.  Exercise.  Go to work.  I pay my mortgage.  Pay my bills.  I take care of the house. I put dirty laundry down the chute and take out the garbage. I drive carefully and obey the law. I pay my taxes and I (usually) don’t grouse. I love my wife and family. I go to Church on Sunday.  I try to eat right.  And I try to be nice to and respectful of all people – those I know and those I don’t.

So you wonder why on earth do you do this?  My question to most of you out there is the same — why do you?  The answer – to me – is the single most important word in the English language. INCENTIVE.  I frankly have incentive to do all of these things.  To earn money.  Keep a nice house.  Eat right.  Be respectful to my wife and family — and others.  To drive carefully.  Yadda yadda. . . .

I’m concerned that we are losing that sense of incentive.  Losing the sense of effort.  The sense of contribution.  It’s being replaced with a sense of entitlement.  A sense of expectation.  Something for. . . nothing.  Incentive is waning.  Maybe it’s a bit old-fashioned.  On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy admonished “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLmiOEk59n8   There was loud applause.   And approval.  Today though, more and more people are asking what their country can do for them.  With no strings attached.  Does it seem to you that we’re encouraging that attitude??  What’s your take?