IS A GOVERNMENT PERMIT JUST AS MUCH OF A PROPERTY RIGHT AS A PATENT? (YOU KEEP CALLING IT A PROPERTY RIGHT, BUT I DON’T THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS)
According to a quote from an opinion by Judge Posner in a recent case, a taxi medallion owner made this argument: a permit (granted by the government) to operate a taxi is a property right that can’t be taken away by the government without compensation.
Judge Posner called that argument absurd, and I agree. Just because the government (artificially and perhaps even arbitrarily) limits the number of permits doesn’t turn the permit into a property right.
The judge also pointed out that a property right can be intangible, such as a patent, but that doesn’t mean that a government permit is a property right. The easiest way I can think of to explain why a taxi operator’s permit is different from a patent is this: with a patent, the monopoly that’s being protected is my right to use my own idea; with the taxi operator permit, the monopoly (or oligopoly) is a restriction created by the government.
You can read about the case at the Institute for Justice’s web site. If you own a patent or some other type of intangible property right, like a copyrighted work, and want to talk about how to incorporate it you’re your estate plan, we can help.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.