Saturday, January 11, 2014

An own goal

Here are a few truisms (aphorisms): The armed forces of a country defends its country. Funding of the armed forces of a country is derived from taxes. Taxes originate from the country's tax-paying residents. Residents are protected by the country's armed forces.

So I was surprised and somewhat disturbed by a report online that revealed that 2 doctor-inventors, apparently citizens of Singapore, had given up their legal fight over intellectual property rights they claimed over an app (Mobile First Aid Post) with Singapore's Ministry of Defense (Mindef). According to one of these inventors, the reason for giving up was that they did not have enough money to continue the legal action. If this were true, it is disturbing fact indeed. It is claimed that Mindef had "three sets of lawyers" and that in a war of attrition, these inventors couldn't win, and perhaps even if they did win, it would be a pyrrhic one.

The thing I find disturbing is why would Mindef, a public institution that exists at the pleasure of the electorate, and funded entirely by tax payers, could find it necessary to engage an army of lawyers to defend itself? What is the justification for this? Yes, the case might involve IP issues across different countries, but is it that complex as to warrant the legal firepower employed? I am not siding with one or the other party in the case. I do not know enough beyond what has been reported about the case.

But I am concerned about why, as a taxpayer, so much of my money is being spent on this legal tussle, and against its own taxpayers - people who feed it, at that. Mind-boggling sometimes, the things that go on.

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