TradeMarx | Copyright? No, Copyleft: a Marxist Critique of IPR

Parisha Goel
2 min readJun 28, 2021

Now that we have a basic understanding of IPR we can move onto different critiques of it. While IPR is critiqued from both the left and the right — and sometimes with the same criticism — we will be focusing on the marxist perspective in this article. Let’s get started.

First IPR in the domestic context. In the domestic context, IPR is an artificial barrier to entry for smaller firms. This prevents new firms from entering the market if they do not have the capital to pay dividends to bigger firms or to innovate their own products. The result of this is a failure to reach perfect competition standards and hence a failure to reach optimal market conditions. Both the right and the left will agree to this much, even if the right will tend to minimise this problem.

IPR in the international context is where the differences between the left and the right really start to emerge. According to marxist theoreticians, IPR in the international context prevents technology transfer to poorer countries, thus preventing them from moving up the supply chain and keeping them dependent on Western imports. This is part of a larger economic model called ‘imperialism’.

Then IP regulations should be abolished according to the marxists. What then would provide an incentive for entrepreneurs to invest in innovation? Well, empirical evidence suggests that most innovation is actually carried out by the public sector anyway — everything from the internet to touchscreen technology. Then doing away with IPR shouldn’t hamper innovation very much at all.

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