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"Its Precious Patents Disclosed"

In Lee Kuan Yew is usually worth reading, Tyler Cowen discusses a Lee Kuan Yew interview, where Lee mentions ‘intellectual property’ law as a place Singapore can stay ahead of its competitors.

Mr Lee says:

Such as where the rule of law, intellectual property and security of production systems are required, because for them to establish that, it will take 20 to 30 years. We are concentrating on bio medicine, pharmaceuticals and all products requiring protection of intellectual property rights. No pharmaceutical company is going to go have its precious patents disclosed. So that is why they are here in Singapore and not in China.

The trouble is, patents must be disclosed. It’s part of the deal. You explain how you do something, in a way that allows someone else to do it, and in exchange, the government forbids anyone else from doing that for a while. Then anyone can do it, and the state of the art is advanced.

I believe that Mr. Lee understands this, but the language he uses is far less precise and forthright than he has been using of late. Has he been hanging out with too many intellectual property extremists, and lost his way?