Viewing the McNugget through the lens of Intellectual Property
An article from the Atlantic uses the McNugget to argue against strong patent laws, but by the end of his article I think he manages to create his own McNugget of murkiness and contradiction.
McDonald’s hasn’t patented the McNugget, they’ve trademarked the name. Having said that, the author’s final paragraph is this:
Given a choice between making sure everyone reaps the maximum profit from their work, and ensuring that good ideas become useful, free public knowledge, I’d take the latter. Obviously, there are some products–pharmaceuticals being the classic example–where the R&D costs are so high, and the ease of copying so low, that nobody in their right mind would invest in their creation without some IP protection. But that’s certainly not the case for every valuable product. You can taste the evidence for yourself.
There is no better “good idea” that serves the public good than medicine, yet the man who wrote the title, Why the Chicken McNugget Is a Great Argument Against Strong Patent Laws, concedes that no one would develop medicines without strong patent laws. So where does he stand? Obviously it’s “if you’ve thought of an idea that is making lots of money and it’s an idea so easy and frivolous that I CAN DO IT (now), than I should be allowed to do it.”
If McDonald’s did manage to patent the idea of a ground-up chicken made into a mealy paste and deep fried, should we discard patent laws (that the author concedes are important for the continued development of important medicine) because McDavid wants to make the McDavid McNugget?