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Anita 11th January 2006 06:56 PM

The Threat of Eminent Domain
My latest Small Business Trends Radio program is on an important issue here in the U.S. that is getting a lot of press lately: municipalities using the threat of eminent domain to take property from owners and use it for the purposes of commercial redevelopment.

In the show I interviewed Andrew Langer of the NFIB. The NFIB, a 600,000 member organization of small businesses, has taken a position opposed to these eminent domain actions.

We were also joined by Nancy Kurdziel, a business owner from East Lansing, Michigan, who described how she has been fighting this issue for nearly 5 years now to protect her family's property management business. She mentions how the Internet and the media have been very important tools in her fight.

Go here to read more and listen to the show archive or download the MP3 file to your iPod:



StupidScript 13th January 2006 02:12 PM

This is a very disturbing issue, to be sure.

Do you think it will one day extend to Internet domains and intellectual property rights?

Anita 13th January 2006 06:15 PM

Yes, it could apply to intellectual property

Originally Posted by StupidScript
This is a very disturbing issue, to be sure.

Do you think it will one day extend to Internet domains and intellectual property rights?

Yes, in theory there is absolutely nothing to stop eminent domain applying to intellectual property rights.

Although in practice, I don't really think it is that much of a threat to IP rights. It is hard to conjure up a factual situation where a government would have the guts to claim it is somehow in the best interests of the public to grab one company's intellectual property and redistribute it.

But a disturbing issue, to be sure.


StupidScript 13th January 2006 06:31 PM

Thanks for that, Anita.

I worry that 'the best interest of the public' is becoming more fluid, every day. It's not so much the acquisition and redistribution that I'm concerned about, but rather the acquisition and burial of important IP for the 'public good'.

Langrrr 19th January 2006 11:06 AM

Eminent Domain and IP
Anita -

Wanted to thank you again for having me on your show, and I hope you don't mind that I'm responding here.

When I talk about "public benefit" and the threats of eminent domain to IP rights, I'm thinking about the exigencies of public crises..

Assume a scenario in which company A has the patent rights (ie, the intellectual property rights) to manufacture and distribute an anti-viral drug to combat a particularly noxious and dangerous strain of flu. I dunno, call it something like an "avian flu". Said hypothetical avian flu comes to the United States, starts an epidemic, and all of a sudden we're in national crisis....

But either company A charges too much for the drug, or they can't produce enough of it in time, so the US "takes" the patent, turns it over to another or a series of other companies, and Company A no longer holds sole dominion of their IP.

Now, this could either be the opening shot for the federal government to take other drug patents for the great public good, or it could be one manifestation. Think about all of the fights that have happened over the re-importation of drugs sold outside the US - what's to stop an administration hostile to pharmaceutical company intellectual property rights from exercising the powers of eminent domain over the patents of popular, but expensive, everyday drugs in order to make cheaper generics available to the public?

The same possiblities hold true with certain types of software, technologies, etc.

So, I think it's not only not-far fetched, but entirely possible, given the right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) set of circumstances.

Thanks again. Keep up the great work, Anita!

- Andrew Langer

Anita 19th January 2006 01:05 PM

Eminent Domain and Intellectual Property
Thanks, Andrew! Appreciate your input and your expertise on this issue.

And thanks once again for being such a fabulous guest. You were well-prepared and brought out excellent information that small business owners need to know.

I hope to have you on the Small Business Trends Radio show again in the future.



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