I have started looking through the "White Paper" ("Scotland's Future. Your Guide to an Independent Scotland") on Scottish Independence which was published yesterday. It is, of course, not a White Paper, but a manifesto of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to promote independence of Scotland. Many sections are quite eerie for somebody with some knowledge of political philosophy and modern European history, not only because what it says, but also because what it leaves out.This blogger will start the debate.
In that document I have come across the following passage at page 102. It says:
"Intellectual propertyCan anybody explain to me what that means? Judicious answers are appreciated.
We will ensure continuity of the legal framework for protecting intellectual property rights. Independence will also allow Scotland to offer a simpler and cheaper, more business-friendly model than the current UK system, which is bureaucratic and expensive, especially for small firms. The UK is one of the few EU countries which does not offer a scheme which covers the basics of protection. Scotland could follow, for example, the German model which protects technical innovations."
On a simple level, the meaning of the words is clear: "Let's introduce a cheap system of second-tier legal protection for innovations that are technical because it is cheaper and more business-friendly than an IP system that lacks such a scheme". However, what it means is not just a question of parsing a verbal formula: there is a real-world dimension to it too. What does this paragraph mean within the context of attracting innovative businesses to Scotland or inducing them not to leave that country? What does it mean in the context of a former manufacturing powerhouse that is now, like many of the first wave of industrially competent countries, now in a profoundly post-industrial phase? What does "business-friendly" mean in a context in which, where one business is able to secure a right that is cheap to acquire and awkward to dislodge, any number of businesses that compete with it are deprived of part of their freedom to operate. The high aspirations contained in the quoted paragraph are laudable in themselves, but what they mean at ground level, to innovators, manufacturers, distributors and consumers, is what counts.