Intellectual Property in Business

As a thought is not a feasible and measurable thing, it can be hard to track the source of an idea. This leads to thievery and dispute, which eventually lead to the logical incorporation of patents. Without these, companies would have nothing to base their success on, as any competitor could easily match the strategy or design of another without violating any sort of laws or moral guidelines. Patented property most commonly consists of images, designs, inventions, and discoveries. While some of these grant ownership to the source, others, like discoveries, simply credit the person to have their ventures and achievements known and verified. Patents help to establish ownership of non-physical objects, and affect the way business is conducted everywhere.

The idea of being able to own things like these caught on fast, developing something called the WIPO treaty: an international agreement to abide by patents. The reasoning behind this treaty was fundamental, and defined by the creators of the treaty in the following definitive statement:

“One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.”

The ladder portion of this quote summarizes the intent of intellectual properties purpose of keeping a morally clear and focused form of technological growth for the business community. Instead of debating over mock products and stolen designs, a fiscal honor system allows to consistently building upon trust and advancement.

The phrase and concept of intellectual property was developed in seventeenth century Germany. Rather than every idea being shared as a community, discretion came into play at the hands of a sense of deserved ownership. The influence of a group of northern Germans won over the legislation of the German government, ruling it appropriate to own creations, thoughts, strategies, and anything else related to intellectual ownership. The spread of acceptance for this theory spread very slowly through Europe, reaching the United Nations in 1967, creating the aforementioned WIPO treaty (world intellectual property organization.) Prior to this, there were trace signs of intellectual ownership in governments before this point in time.

There remains a debate of morality for the effectiveness of intellectual property. It has become widely accepted as a reasonable concept in recent years, but there are still apparent criticisms. One main example of this is the theory that exclusive information may lead to commercial disputes, eventually leading to and involving real, physical objects and services including the income. An advocate to such criticism, Richard Stallman, describes this confusion as a tangled mess that feeds money to those that endorse it. This man runs something called the Free Software Foundation. Not alone in his endeavor, other groups of people agree that perhaps thoughts and improvements should be shared for the common good of all. Though this is a debatable point of view, these critics are simply outnumbered.

As it exists now, the concept of intellectual property serves to benefit businesses greatly. Plagiarism and violating copyrights are not only morally corrupt to most, but illegal in many forms of the act. Trade marks, patents, and copyrights are easy to obtain in the United States, and allow a business to have ownership of designs, pictures, and certain forms of ideas. For innovative businesses, this allows them to keep the upper hand for new product designs for a longer amount of time. Eventually, generic and barely law abiding products get out and are sold for less, making the brand name once more nothing but an expensive label. When it comes to capitalism, this intellectual property can be valued, especially in a place with as much corporate competition as America.

Intellectual property stands to be a controversial subject, especially because of the recently agreed upon jurisdiction of the United Nations in 1967. Its heavy influence in America, however, serves a powerful purpose and delivers a hefty impact to commercial business. This concept created an entire change in the game of business, making ownership of ideas full of loopholes, and only temporarily valuable, rather than businesses focusing on advancing designs as a whole. Intellectual property has increased competition and made commerce vastly more cutthroat.

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