@A J Stiles
>"Intellectual property" should not be allowed to be bought and sold in the same way as real property.
This is the underlying principle behind a market economy : any type of property (i.e., something that someone can own) will eventually be sold, bought, traded, and give rise to speculation. What's more, there will eventually emerge a global marketplace where such sales and trades will be formalized and 'industrialized' so to speak, which in turn gives rise to more sophisticated and/or derivative products based on the original commodity.
This principle applies to just about everything : raw materials, currencies, stock, real estate... but also debts (your bank owns your debt, so why shouldn't it be free to sell it to another bank ? Hey, can anyone say 'subprimes' ?), stock options, derivative products (whose sole purpose is to be bought, sold, and speculated with), and much much more...
The only upside is that patents are currently used defensively mostly -except in the good ole district of Eastern Texas of course- and that there isn't yet (to my knowledge anyway) any agreed-upon mathematical formula for estimating the value of a patent. So using and abusing patents is still a somewhat artisanal process: you have to fight it out in court, there's no guaranteed return on investment, etc.
The day we know how to put an accurate value on a patent without 'exercizing' it (i.e. going to court), is the day patents will become just another commodity. Don't believe me ? Think stock options and the Black & Scholes formula.
All this leads me to wonder what will be the next 'property' playground. My bet is on privacy and/or private data. You own your private data right ? So... if you own it, it can be bought. If it can be bought, it can be sold again. Or traded. Or sold in bulk. This is already the case on the black market, it's only a matter of time before it becomes another legal avenue of financial frolicking.
IANAL, but it might be a good thing we don't actually 'own' fundamental rights (if I remember correctly, they're granted by the state although I suspect Your Constitution May Vary) or some poor sods are bound to sell them one day... or be defrauded of them.