Intellectual property is the creations of the mind to which exclusive rights can be given. Intellectual property law these rights can be granted on to non-physical things such as music, art, literacy, inventions, designs, discoveries and even words and phrases like L’Oreal Paris’ “Because You’re Worth It”. The common types of intellectual property include copyright, trademarks, patents and industrial design rights.
The objective of intellectual property is to promote progress through the exchange of inventions and creative works with limited exclusive rights thereby allowing society and the patentee/copyright owner a mutual benefit. This objective of promoting progress seems to be different to what many believe is the real objective of intellectual property; absolute protection. This gives incentives to those whose creations of the mind are being protected as they may not otherwise invent if they are not legally entitled to the value of these inventions.
The recent case in the US between Apple and Samsung shows the possible costs involved in copying or stealing the protected intellectual property rights of another. Here the courts awarded Apple $1 billion to be paid by Samsung in damages for infringing their software and design patents. Samsung have stated that such a ruling is a loss from the consumer as their choice is now limited, however another commentator has reported that this ruling will encourage rival companies to be innovative so to not infringe Apple’s intellectual property rights.
Recently, a changed has been seen in the way some companies approach intellectual property especially start up companies due to their need to receive funding to continue with design and production of a new product, which comes from keeping hold of the intellectual property. Protei instead created their sailboats; which are designed to mop up oil spills, using community-generated technology. The original designer of Protei set up the project using an open hardware licence as he knew especially with environmental inventions that it is important that you reach the greatest amount of people, quickly and at the lowest cost.
This idea shows that sometimes protecting intellectual property may not be the most beneficial to the current creation and that using the knowledge and resources of others can be very helpful to progress a project quickly and inexpensively, however it can mean that the financial incentive to such projects may be limited due to the availability of your creation and its lack of protection.
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