Opinions and Editorials

Jul. 3, 2019

Human Events: Injunctions Give Teeth to Property Rights by Jim Edwards

If you unlocked the door to your home and discovered trespassers had moved in, should the court have to presume your right to expel the trespassers from your property?

You’re thinking, “That’s a silly question. Of course there should be a presumption that I, the property owner, can have trespassers kicked off my own property.”

The right to exclude other people from using your property — your house, your car, your money — without first getting your permission is self-evident.

You may lend someone your property. You may lease it to them, if they agree to your terms. You may sell it to them. You may even give it to them.

But there is no question that you control who may and may not have or use something that you own. And if you own it, you have the right to say no to anyone who would borrow, lease, buy or use something of yours.

This straightforward tenet follows from the rights of ownership. Otherwise, there is no enforceable property right.

The high court in 2006 effectively revoked what federal courts across the country for two centuries had presumed: if you prove someone is infringing your patent — the intellectual property equivalent of living in your house without your permission — then that finding established a legal presumption that the court would grant you a permanent injunction.