When all else fails, pharma and the trolls cry “Racism!”
As anyone who’s followed the long-standing battle to fix America’s patent system and cut off abuses by bottom-feeding legal parasites and abusive monopolists will tell you, the list of excuses for our broken system offered by those people is seemingly never-ending.
They tell you patent reform will hurt job growth. The opposite is true.
They tell you patent reform will hurt the small inventor tinkering in his garage. This is, again, not true — in fact, the small inventor tinkering in his garage (or, more likely, at his laptop) is more vulnerable to the kind of frivolous lawsuit threats that patent trolls bring due to comparatively smaller resources.
They tell you that patent reform is contrary to the Constitution. Actually, given that the Founders put patents in the Constitution in order to promote “science and the useful arts,” and given that patent trolls (and, for that matter, pharmaceutical companies) often use patent rights as a pretext to shut down research or development, this is also false.
So, having run out of legitimate grievances to complain about, what are the trolls now resorting to? Claiming that holding them accountable is racist.
I wish I was kidding. But that is literally the defense being used to justify one of the more absurd end runs around the patent system ever. I refer to the scandal surrounding the sleazy pharmaceutical company Allergan.
How does racism tie to intellectual property rights, you might ask? Well, Allergan’s particular attempt to circumvent U.S. patent laws consisted of selling their drug patents to a Native American tribe, on the theory that U.S. law doesn’t apply to Native American tribes the same way it does everywhere else. Thus, once Allergan’s patent was safely out of reach of the U.S. justice system, it could simply license the patent back from the tribe and keep itself immune to competition or litigation forever.
To say that this is not how the system is supposed to work is an understatement. And in a rare moment of clarity, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has already taken action to try to stop this sort of thing from happening again — that is, she has drafted a bill to make this sort of patent law evasion illegal.
The response from Allergan and its allies in the Native American community? Cry racism. And no less a source than Newsweek has decided to assist them, claiming that the only thing fueling the scandal over Allergan’s behavior is “racism.” In its article, Newsweek also quotes the tribe in question accusing Sen. McCaskill of enforcing a “double standard” (i.e. of being racist) with her legislation, and of cutting off its access to money it needs for public services. The tribe even accuses McCaskill of leaving people uniquely incapable of getting healthcare out to dry… by attacking their ability to partner with people using some of the exact tactics that make healthcare so expensive in the first place.
All of which is to say, the unholy alliance of pharma companies and patent trolls has jumped the shark in their fevered attempts to avoid the rule of law, or to weaken it, and now having lost any and all legitimate arguments to defend their behavior, have fallen back on accusing their opponents of bigotry. In other words, given their adoption of the tactics of the worst of empty-headed college Social Justice Warriors, it may be less accurate to call these people patent trolls than to call them patent snowflakes.
Here’s hoping that, like all snowflakes, these particular snivelers learn fast that the American system is too strong to be subverted by their self-dealing, entitled whining.