6
Jul/11

Compulsory Licensing For 'Non Endorsed' Products


Author Cory Doctorow proposes a ‘no endorsement’ licensing scheme for stuff.  The fan makes some object that utilizes the IP and puts a ‘no-endorsement’ mark on it.  This ‘relieves’ the IP owner of ‘the duty to bless or damn the enthusiastic creations’ of fans.  Importantly, the maker pays the IP owner a ‘high percentage without being punitive, say 25%.”

In the abstract, a ‘no endorsement’ button in a specific ‘non-commercial’ zone, as well as compulsory licensing for trademarks, are not in and of themselves insane ideas.   However for a proposal to be taken seriously  should take into consideration:

1. Royalty collection mechanisms for cottage manufacturers.  Note the level of lawsuits that ASCAP and BMI  bring against established businesses.

2.  Does this proposal provide cover for counterfeitors?

3.  The effect on the authorized licensing market suddenly competing with the spurned licensing market.

4.  Reputational risk (for example, headlines that a child choked on an unsafe [FAMOUS TRADEMARK] toy (bearing a no endorsement sticker)).  Why did the company let just anyone make children’s toys?

The ‘no endorsement’ concept may have utility in the fan fiction arena.  Its hard to see what policy objective is served by this proposal that would outweigh, at a minimum, public safety concerns.

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