The Transfer of Intellectual Property Rights: Can There Be Too Much Freedom in the Marketplace for Ideas?

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We Americans take for granted the fact that intellectual property rights can be transferred from one person to another. A small “garage” inventor can sell patent rights to a manufacturing company. Two sparring competitors can settle their disputes by a cross-license of rights. Franchises can be built by licensing out trade secrets to local operators. All of this is part of our daily life, and it seems both natural and good. But like anything else, taking the concept of transferability too far has the potential to cause problems.

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