Mr.Gib wrote:Ahh certain conditions may call for such radical measures and often certain types of regulation are prudent (particularly those that are designed to enhance fairness and competition). But that "technological knowledge" and "intellectual property" that the companies were forced to share would not have existed were not for an environment that protected those things from theft/misappropriation and created a reasonable expectation of return on R&D investment. The Japanese competitiveness and affluence of which you speak was in fact not the result of sharing but the result of a marketplace that supported the creation of the technologies in the first place.
Checkmate. Here endeth the lesson.
I'm afraid that Mr. Gib has it only part right this time.
It's true that it's an article of faith amongst economists that clear laws of property and contract are necessary for successful markets (and, therefore by extension, that intellectual property rights are necessary to successful markets). But this argument is flawed, both theoretically and empirically.
Theoretically, it is only necessary that -- as you say -- people have a reasonable expectation of return on investment. But this can occur without property and contract rules as long as there are settled cultural expectations (of various sorts), the ability to inflict reciprocal costs, or some other economic advantage. (I've written a longer article on this using basic Coasean premises.) It can certainly occur without intellectual property rights as long as the original retains niche advantages over the copy. (No Beatlemania copy is going to to detract from the value of an original Beatles performance.)
Empirically, there are multiple examples (both contemporaneous and historical) of markets that work on trust rather than law. There are also multiple examples of IP producers who maximize the value of their product by not protecting their intellectual product. Google (Android operating system) and the Grateful Dead are the prototypes.