Similarly to the law of copyright, patent law was originally created with the intention of protecting intellectual property and stopping inventors being cheated and exploited by business-minded entrepreneurs. However, like many other laws, the effect has been just the opposite. For in our society it is mostly the people who have the greatest financial staying power and can afford the best lawyers who win their cases.
In this way some companies have managed to acquire a patent on life. Using the pretext of generating resistance against pests, pesticides or herbicides they modify the genes of plants and animals and have the result patented. In many cases no new seeds can be obtained from genetically modified plants. The seeds no longer germinate (terminator seeds). This property is desired by the manufacturers, as the farmers have to buy new seeds from the manufacturers again and again. Should a farmer nevertheless succeed in obtaining new seeds from the fruits, he is accused of infringing patent law and sentenced to pay a high fine.
This now goes so far that farmers are sentenced when their conventionally cultivated fields are contaminated by pollen dispersal or bees from a GM field in the neighbourhood. Actually the farmer should be able to claim for damages as his fruit has been contaminated by GM seeds against his will.
We can well imagine what happens when the natural process of obtaining seeds is stopped in more and more plants. On the one hand, a small number of companies get control over the world food supply and, on the other, a fault in seed production can result in the purchased seed not functioning either. Quite apart from the health repercussions which GM feed has on animals and probably on people who eat their meat as well. This can cause great damage to the entire food chain.
The patents can, however, greatly obstruct technological development in other sectors as well. There are thousands of cases where inventions which would have been of service to humanity were patented and hidden in a drawer because they ran counter to the financial interests of certain companies.
Why have our cars been running on petrol or oil for over a hundred years? Why is there no official research into sustainable forms of energy? Why are researchers who search for other forms of energy ridiculed?
»The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.«
– Indian saying
Can anything such as property exist at all? Wasn’t all property stolen from the community at some time or other? In the Wild West it was considered law that a person could use a piece of land if they had marked the boundaries with four pickets. If they were able to defend their area if necessary and nobody lodged a complaint within a certain period of time, the land belonged to them. Indians naturally had no right to protest. Private property must have developed something like this all over the world
The word »private« comes from the Latin »privare«, which means »rob«. Hence, private property is stolen property. Even when we buy a piece of land today, it was stolen at some time in the past. The previous owner may have legally acquired or inherited it from the person who owned it before and the latter, in turn, obtained it from another previous owner. But at the beginning of the chain there was once someone who had taken it away from the community in the Wild West manner.
Today there are initiatives to buy land to save it from destruction. Although this constitutes a purchase in purely legal terms, it is essentially stewardship. The buyers see themselves as stewards of creation. In future all tenureships should be transformed into forms of stewardship.
Thus seen, there can be neither intellectual nor physical property. All ideas and inventions stem from a common field of thought, the »morphogenetic field«, as Rupert Sheldrake calls it. That is why different people often make the same invention or discovery in different places at the same time. You know the saying: »This invention was simply in the air «. Who does the invention then belong to? To the person to whom it »occurred« a few hours or days before? Or to the person who was sufficiently business-minded to file a patent for it as soon as possible? Or to the person who can pay the best patent lawyers and conduct the longest lawsuits?
There is the additional point that it is often not a question of an independent invention. Every important invention grew on the foundation of extensive knowledge which already existed before. The inventor may have studied physics and can thus access the knowledge of entire generations of researchers. He may be a brilliant lateral thinker and combines inter-disciplinary knowledge in a new unconventional way so that something new is created. Is the honour due to him alone or weren’t all the other people involved as well? What about the inventors’ partners? Albert Einstein’s first wife was also a physicist and contributed a lot to his research.
It becomes even more critical when important knowledge has »occurred« to someone and they sell it to third parties who hide it in a drawer – to the detriment of the whole of mankind and often of nature. All important inventions therefore belong to the whole of humanity and not to single individuals.
The journey is starting ...
Please imagine that somewhere at the edge of the universe there is a planet whose inhabitants live in prosperity and peace in harmony with nature. That was not always the case. They had also had an eventful past with disasters, poverty and wars.
But then they found the solution. It is so simple that any child can understand it since it is copied from nature. Nowadays people are happy there. They have compassion for one another, for nature and for the inhabitants of other planets, who are not yet as far as they are.
Therefore they explore the galaxies and find our sun system with our wonderful earth. The people on earth are actually quite all right. Actually! If only they did not have this strange compulsion to want to do everything differently from the way nature does it.
They decide to send a messenger to earth, a very good friend who would like to help…