Intellectual Property Vs. the Internet

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Introduction. 3

Thesis Statement 4

Overview.. 4

Purpose. 5

Background. 5

History of Intellectual Property Rights. 6

Discussion. 8

Benefits. 10

Summary of the Overall Study. 13

Lessons Learnt 13

Intellectual Property Vs. the Internet

Abstract

            This paper focuses on the importance of intellectual property and validates the need to strengthen the intellectual property laws. The introduction provides a brief description of the intellectual property rights with the thesis statement focused on the objective of this paper. The purpose, overview, and background of the paper are also provided in the introduction. The succeeding section is the history of the intellectual property. This section analyses intellectual property in Medieval Europe and the intersection between intellectual property laws and contract law in the United States. The sections that follow are the discussion, benefits, summary and the lessons learnt regarding intellectual property rights and/or laws. The last sections are the reference and the appendix sections.

Introduction

            Intellectual property has been a controversial topic globally, especially in the advent of technology and the internet. Knowledge is available in all search engines; therefore, it has become increasingly difficult to provide authentic content. Most researchers prefer to copy-paste content found in peer-reviewed journal sources as opposed to conducting actual in-depth research, which yields accurate and authentic results (Bettig, 2018). Many students in reputable higher institutions of learning have been victims of plagiarism and some discontinued learning in such institutions. Intellectual property is increasingly becoming important to the world because of its ability to curb internet fraud and safeguard the findings of other people.

            Most industries in the United States accuse Chinese companies of industrial espionage. This is due to the duplication of ideas and business secrets of American companies and taking the Americans out of business. However, the world has been pushing China towards abiding by intellectual property laws, something that the country and its citizens have shown a general laxity to adopt. In mitigation, China has set a pre-condition for companies, especially the American companies, to forego their intellectual property rights if they intend to transact business in China (Bettig, 2018). This is a profound challenge for both countries because the Chinese market is a business hub for most American companies and American markets massively depend on the knowledge and cheap quality labor provided by the Chinese.

            Intellectual property is an asset, and duplication of ideas is against progress. Therefore, the Chinese ideology of relaxing intellectual property rights so as to duplicate American ideas is retrogressive and unreasonable. Ordinarily, companies should come up with their own ideas and implement them to establish customer loyalty and be objectively tuned to business ethics. It is ethically incompetent to adopt another person’s ideas as one’s own. Insisting on the person to drop their rights as the sole idea generator/owner is barbaric and unrealistic. China’s requirement for the relaxation of intellectual property rights on the part of American companies operating within their domain is similar to demanding that the companies drop their rights altogether (Correa, 2020).

Thesis Statement

            Intellectual property laws safeguard ideas generated by companies and individuals, therefore should be strengthened and safeguarded against third parties who benefit from the intellectual property without giving credit to the developers.

Overview

            The ethical perspective of safeguarding intellectual property goes beyond the scale of preventing third parties from unduly benefiting from other people’s ideas. Idea generation is a meticulous and challenging process involving lots of failures and constant redesign. Third parties are rarely involved in such a process. Once an idea has matured, third parties also stand to benefit but most credit is owed to the idea generator. Therefore, the opponents of intellectual property rights should develop a different perspective about such laws and help safeguard such intellectual properties (Correa, 2020). This paper is an epiphany on the need to safeguard intellectual property rights for the benefit of the idea developers and the third parties.

Purpose

            There is a bolstered need for safeguarding intellectual property rights. The purpose of this paper is to delve into the reasons for strengthening intellectual property rights and point out the benefit to both the third parties and the developers. Further, the paper analyzes the ethics behind stealing intellectual property rights and/or doing away with such rights altogether. Ultimately, the paper fundamentally seeks to validate the hypothesis that intellectual property rights should be safeguarded and strengthened because it is a safety net for the idea developers and the third parties.

Background

            The definition of intellectual property rights is the rights given to persons over the creations of the mind (Drahos, 2017). The rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of their creation for a specified duration. The history of intellectual property rights has been long and involving. The rights and laws provide a solution to many of the court cases that companies have been subjected to because of intellectual property law breaches. Understanding intellectual property rights provides readers with the incentive of obeying the laws and the knowledge of ways of guarding their inventions and innovations. People’s ideas should not be trivialized but safeguarded; this is the ultimate goal of intellectual property rights (Dratler & McJohn, 2020). Figure 1.0 below explains the definition of intellectual property.

Figure 1.0: The scope of intellectual property Source:

History of Intellectual Property Rights

            Intellectual property rights originated from medieval Europe. The governments granted authority to the guilds to regulate industries. The guilds were in direct control of items that were imported, produced, and marketed in such a way that products could be introduced into the stream of commerce (Gibson, 2016). The autonomous control of the guilds led to stifling creativity and invention. Intellectual property law during medieval Europe was not driven by the interest in creation and innovation, rather by political and religious motivations.  For instance, in a bid to limit the Protestant Reformation movement’s power, the Stationers’ Company’s monopoly of 1556 was established in England. The dissemination of ideas was established by placing the entire printing industry under the autonomous control of the Stationers’ Company.

            The guild system was broken in the 18th century in England and the monopoly of the Stationer’s company expired in 1694 (Peng et al., 2017). The transformations began in 1623 with the passing of the Statute of Monopolies. The law halted the granting of monopolies by the government and gave the first true investor of the intellectual property 14 years to have exclusive control over his invention, but subject to particular pre-conditions. As a consequence of the statute, the British common law continued to refine intellectual property law. For instance, the Statute of Anne enacted in 1710 granted a 14-year protection period and a possible 14-year renewal to the first true investor (OseiTutu, 2016). However, the statute did not protect the authors against importing foreign-language translators. The Statute of Anne also permitted people to complain formally in case printers or booksellers set their prices too high.

            Understanding the intellectual property laws in the U.S. is equally vital for understanding the stalemate that exists on the subject, especially between China and the United States. Colonies in the United States passed their laws on copyright laws when they secured independence from England, save for Delaware. Before the enacting of the Constitution of the United States, the 13 original colonies had their own distinct bodies of patent laws (Halbert, 2016). This profoundly led to the degradation in the value of patents and copyrights. For the purposes of fostering innovation and commerce among states, the intellectual property law was included in the province of the federal government and not the state government. In regards to the constitution, the clause for intellectual property reads:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries – U.S. Const. Art. I, Sec. 8.

            The federal law is overwhelming power on issues regarding intellectual property rights. Therefore, federal law is the prime source for patent and intellectual property law.  State laws that are inconsistent with the text and spirit of the federal intellectual property laws result in an annulment. Further, the federal law grants the courts exclusive jurisdiction in most cases dealing with intellectual property (Sople, 2016). Thus, federal courts have the authority of handling such cases. Intellectual property plays a vital role in interstate commerce providing a cogent basis for the need for uniformity in intellectual property court cases and/or laws. There are instances that require the addition of the basic principles of contract law within the intellectual property law outlined in the federal laws (Halbert, 2016). The first primary investor has ideas but requires the services of another party to develop and/or market the idea in this instance.

Ideas cannot be protected under the intellectual property law unless there is a physical manifestation of the idea. The principles of contract law are instrumental in protecting the idea at the nascent stages of development. The courts normally use contract law to protect intellectual property in the idea submission phase upon meeting three conditions: the idea must be both concrete and novel, the parties ought to have express or implied agreement for which the idea was turned over, and the recipient must have used the data (Goldman, 2016). In addition, the intellectual property laws must be enforced under a contract law theory.

Discussion

            There are five types of intellectual property, which include patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and right to publicity. The figure 2.0 below shows the types of intellectual property. Intellectual property fosters innovation without which businesses and individuals would not reap would fail to reap the benefits of their inventions and focus less on research and development (Aoki, 2017). Further, artists would not receive compensation for their artistry and imagination, which would hinder cultural vitality.

The importance of intellectual property goes beyond the benefits it offers the third party and translates into the economy. For instance, the American media is subtle about protecting artists and professionals in the country. The profound impact of such protection has been the promotion of American ideas and culture around the world. The United States has enjoyed the influential superpower position for decades resulting in a booming economy through trade and industry (Aoki, 2017). The American dollar is the standard trade exchange currency, which partially benefits from the strong intellectual property laws in the country.

Figure 2.0: The types of Intellectual Property Source: Alberto & Braga, 2017

            The reasons for breaching intellectual property are driven by personal interests, which do not serve the common good. China’s breach of intellectual property rights is not justified. The first investor has the right to benefit from his invention. Preventing the benefits associated with the creations of the mind limits creativity and innovation. It is in the interest of every country to promote creativity for economic benefit and to obtain real-time solutions to complex problems that affect humanity (Aoki, 2017). The world is gradually transitioning to nanotechnology and artificial intelligence coupled with challenges such as machine learning, autonomous robots, and business analytics.

Companies are in need of innovators and designers to steer the world into the complex phase of innovations through scientific research and exploration. Limiting intellectual property laws and the benefits associated with such laws only serves to delimit the morale of innovators and encourage them to retain their own creative works (Alberto & Braga, 2017). The main question is what is the motivation behind commercializing the creations of the mind only to obtain duplicates from China and the ilk? Individuals generate ideas but companies have the financial muscles to develop and market such ideas.

The long-term effect of breaching intellectual property rights is the skewed favor to the company owners at the expense of the real innovators. Put more aptly, money comes before the innovators. In such cases, most innovators would prefer to hold their inventions to such a time when they get autonomy and financial muscle to protect their ideas (Alberto & Braga, 2017). Therefore, creativity would decline because of the demotivating business environment and economies. Governments must protect their creative works to encourage the citizens to develop the capacity for being creative.

The first investor has the right to sell or retain their inventions, something that Chinese companies would deprive them of. An emerging nation like China equally has the right to protect its innovators and foster creativity for the common good. Therefore, the protection of intellectual property should not be solely the preserve of the United States and other economies as opposed to China (Alberto & Braga, 2017). The Chinese government should be at the forefront of protecting intellectual property rights including those rights for the American companies operating in China. The Americans should also do the same.

Benefits

            The greatest benefit of intellectual property laws is protecting the rights of innovators and encouraging creativity and innovation. Companies that espouse innovation like Microsoft and Apple Inc. have established a reputation and achieved brand loyalty due to the real-time solutions provided to customers through privacy and intellectual property rights (Abbott, Cottier, & Gurry, 2019). Apple Inc. does not have duplicates that can mar the image of the company, because the quality and customer-centered research is the focus of the organization. Advocating for annulment of the intellectual property laws is tantamount to striking out customer protection. In such cases, there would be many duplicates in the market, which focus on the manipulation of the consumers for the benefit of the companies. Companies would not be compelled to provide quality because duplicates and counterfeits would enter the market and compete with genuine products, which are of better quality and centered on years of meticulous research and product development.

            The protection of copyrights by the federal government has effectively worked for the United States and other countries. The uniformity in copyright laws and the reduced number of controversial cases of copyright infringement point out the efficacy of the federal laws regarding intellectual property rights. Safeguarding intellectual property rights has a trickle effect on the economy through commerce. Companies are confident in their dealings with clients and innovators because of the protection offered by the intellectual property laws and the uniformity of solving cases dealing with copyright infringement, especially in the United States (Abbott, Cottier, & Gurry, 2019). The rolling out of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence requires innovation that demands the input of governments in protecting ideas. The benefits of intellectual property laws are manifest in multinationals such as Amazon and Microsoft Corporation, which have stayed at the helm of competition for decades.

            Copyright laws and intellectual property laws in general provide the distinctive feature between the products of one company and the next (Abbott, Cottier, & Gurry, 2019). This distinction is vital for accountability purposes. The counterfeit products introduced in markets due to breaching trademark and intellectual property laws are harmful to the populace in terms of both health and economic. The order that intellectual property laws cannot be underestimated, advocating for the surrender of such laws is tantamount to advocating for anarchy and chaos due to the lack of accountability. For example, the copyright laws distinguish the pharmaceutical products, identifying the various vaccines that are currently in circulation. This makes it possible to keep track of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and their side effects. Counterfeits only serve to water down the accountability making it difficult to distinguish one vaccine from the other. The figure 3.0 below shows some of the benefits of intellectual property from the perspective of a business school student.

Figure 3.0 Benefits of Intellectual Property Rights Source: Abbott, Cottier, & Gurry, 2019

Summary of the Overall Study

            Intellectual property laws are mandatory to foster creativity and innovation. The creation of the mind encourages systems to provide real-time solutions to challenges that the world is facing. Currently, the world is in a crisis due to coronavirus. Intellectual property laws have regulated the manufacture of vaccines and ensured that such vaccines are safe for the consumption of the populace. Further, the trickledown effect of intellectual property rights is manifested in the growth of talent of the upcoming artists, especially the American artists. As a result, there has been a profound investment in art translating into profound economic benefit for the United States in decades. Therefore, intellectual property laws should be strengthened to foster uniformity in implementing the laws across all destinations, China included.

Lessons Learnt

The lessons learned are:

  • Intellectual property rights protect ideas and the first investors of such ideas.
  • China advocates for the watering down of intellectual property rights for their own benefit and not the idea creators of innovative purposes.
  • Strengthening intellectual property rights ensures uniformity in implementing the laws and should be effected across all destinations.

References

Abbott, F. M., Cottier, T., & Gurry, F. (2019). International intellectual property in an integrated world economy. Aspen Publishers.

Alberto, C., & Braga, P. (2017). The economics of intellectual property rights and the GATT: a view from the South (pp. 27-48). Routledge.

Aoki, K. (2017). Neocolonialism, anticommons property, and biopiracy in the (not-so-brave) new world order of international intellectual property protection (pp. 195-242). Routledge.

Bettig, R. V. (2018). Copyrighting culture: The political economy of intellectual property. Routledge.

Correa, C. (2020). Trade related aspects of intellectual property rights: a commentary on the TRIPS agreement. Oxford University Press.

Drahos, P. (2017). Global law reform and rent-seeking: the case of intellectual property. In Copyright Law (pp. 43-59). Routledge.

Dratler Jr, J., & McJohn, S. M. (2020). Intellectual Property Law: Commercial, Creative and Industrial Property. Law Journal Press.

Gibson, J. (2016). Community resources: intellectual property, international trade and protection of traditional knowledge. Routledge.

Goldman, E. (2016). The Defend Trade Secrets Act Isn’t an Intellectual Property Law. Santa Clara Computer & High Tech. LJ33, 541.

Halbert, D. (2016). Intellectual property theft and national security: Agendas and assumptions. The Information Society32(4), 256-268.

OseiTutu, J. J. (2016). Human Development as a Core Objective of Global Intellectual Property. Ky. LJ105, 1.

Peng, M. W., Ahlstrom, D., Carraher, S. M., & Shi, W. S. (2017). History and the debate over intellectual property. Management and Organization Review13(1), 15-38.

Sople, V. V. (2016). Managing intellectual property: The strategic imperative. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.