Intellectual Property is defined by the WEX Legal DIctionary as follows:
In general terms, intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. The ownership of intellectual property inherently creates a limited monopoly in the protected property. Intellectual property is traditionally comprised of four categories: patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets. 1)
Intellectual Property Law will become increasingly important as the world economy expands in growth and technological expertise. Out of this growth in innovation new and complicated issues arise that must be contemplated by individuals, governments, and corporations.
There is no shortage of issues involving Intellectual Property Law and patent rights, and how the laws are interpreted will shape innovation and economic growth in the future.
As the global economy moves into the post-industrial age, intellectual property will continue to grow in significance and the economic impact will only increase as information becomes increasingly important to global economic avtivity. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), in defining intellectual property, clearly connected the importance of inellectual property to futher economic development:
Intellectual property, very broadly, means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to protect intellectual property for two main reasons. 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.1)
Intellectual property has also contributed to the rise in value of intangible assets, which according to some, now account for up to 80% of the value of companies comprising the S&P 500.2)As investment opportunities skyrocket, conflict over intellectual property. These alleged violations have ahuge economic impact. According to a piece from the Wall Street Journal describing the relationship between India and the EU:
India's rampant intellectual-property violations have serious economic effects on the EU. According to a study conducted by the European Patent Office and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, intellectual property-intensive industries support about a third of all EU jobs. They comprise nearly 40% of the EU's total GDP, or €5 trillion. The industry as a whole invests an estimated €30 billion in research and development projects in Europe.3)
Issues of ownership, property rights, and jurisdiction will need global clarification to ensure the smooth functioning of ever complicated marketplaces of information and moe traditional tangible goods that are protected by patents and IP laws.
Intellectual property laws and regulation are seen as both positives and negatives for economic growth and innovation. Both sides of the argument present several compelling reasons for why this is, but the issue remains unsettled.Heidi Williams, an MIT academic, attempted a reseacrh study to find out the relationship between IP and innovation. The opening claimed:
Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as patents and copyrights, aim to incentivize innovation by allowing firms to capture a higher share of the social returns to their research investments. Traditional evaluations of the eectiveness of IP have focused on whether the prospect of obtaining IP rights stimulates the development of new technologies. However, in many markets technological changeis cumulative, in the sense that product development results from several steps of invention and research. In markets where innovation is cumulative, the overall eectiveness of IP in promoting innovation also depends on a second, less studied question: do IP rights on existing technologies hinder subsequentinnovation? The contribution of this paper is to provide empirical evidence on this second question by investigating how one form of IP on the human genome in uenced subsequent scientic research and product development.1)
The study concluded that Celera, a company involved in sequencing the human genome, reduced its scientific research and product development by 20-30% showing a possible negative relationship between IP and innovation. However, the results are generally deemed inconclusive.
Another point for the negative impact of IP on innovation - the “negative space” argument was presented by Elizbeth Rosenblatt in the Florida State University Law Review. Rosenblatt wrote:
Intellectual property law stringently protects some areas of crea- tion and innovation. It does not protect others, either because the law excludes them from protection or because creators opt out of protec- tion or enforcement. Some of these unprotected areas even seem to benefit from the lack of protection. These are intellectual property’s “negative spaces”—areas where creation and innovation thrive with- out significant formal intellectual property protection. 2)
In this instance, it is claimed that IP law gets in the way of innovation, as opposed to the claim that IP hs negative impact due to a lack of existence needed to provide a legal framework for legal protection.
The argument for the positive correlation between IP law and innovation is summed up nicely by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD:
Intellectual property (IP) has become a significant factor in productivity and economic growth. Strong and effective IP protection is a particularly powerful incentive for firms to invest in generating new technology in sectors where the returns to technological investment are very long term, involve high risks and are easy to copy. IP rights provide a further impetus to innovation in that they require an inventor who seeks time-limited protection to publish the knowledge embodied in a product or process. Contrary to the frequent criticism of IP rights – that they provide a mechanism for hiding or unfairly appropriating knowledge – IP rights are a market-based mechanism for disseminating knowledge and spurring competition. 3)
The views of the BIAC are the predominant views of the current state of IP law as it pertains to innovation and economic growth. This viewpoint ensures that the staus quo will remain as is for the foreseeable future.
IP law continues to be a contested area in U.S. courts. A Wall Street Journal article claimed 2014 will show no signs of slow growth in regards government intervention, cases, and patent disputes.
For starters, there’s more than a decent chance that we’ll see the passage of another federal law pertaining to patents. The 2011 America Invents Act represented the largest overhaul of the patent system in decades, changing the way patents are granted and making it easier to challenge the validity of some existing patents (more on that later). 1)
The AIA bill has proved inadequate to deal with the growth of IP, and patents continue to grow in value, to the point in which so called patent "trolls" involved in patent litigation have forced the U.S. congress to attempt new legislation.
By a vote of 325-91, the House approved the Innovation Act from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), setting the stage for the Senate to act in the coming months. The bill would require patent holders who file lawsuits to disclose more information upfront on the patents involved and the nature of the alleged infringement. It would also give judges more discretion to limit discovery or award legal fees when a lawsuit fails to prove infringement. 2)
Jurisdiction changes dramatically when it comes to practicing business on the internet. Certain professions are under scrutiny for their online services. Doctors are an excellent example.
In January of 2012, blogger Steve Cooksey got a letter saying that he was violating the law by giving out unlicensed nutritional advice. 1) Cooksey began his blog during his struggle with diabetes; as he gained a following, he noticed that people were asking his advice about his diet and exercise routine. He began charging people for a “coaching” service. Because he is unlicensed (and ultimately uneducated about nutrition and exercise science), the state of North Carolina declare that he can no longer practice his coaching service. There is an abundant amount of medical information floating around on the internet, but to charge for it, one must have some sort of education. 2)
However, an education is not the only thing stopping people from giving medical advice online. Texas veterinarian, Dr. Ronald Hines landed himself in Texas courts for charging to answer questions on the internet. The retired vet has years of experience and education, but because he could not physically see the animals in question, he violated Veterinary Licensing Act 801.351, which states “a veterinarian-client-patient relationship may not be established solely by telephone or electronic means.” 3)
But will the rise of telehealth change the standards? Telehealth is an up and coming phenomenon through which doctors consult with patients via Skype or the likes. With the Affordable Care Act going into effect soon, and a predicted shortage of doctors to go along with it, experts speculate that teleconferencing with a doctor can help patients, and save lives. A Boston hospital decreased heart patient readmission rates with a home monitoring system so patients could stay home and get the rest they needed. With current laws, doctors are only allowed to meet with patients in the state that they practice in (no saving lives across the country…yet). 4)
IP rights for artists re a tricky subject, and an ever changing on at that. The most recent in the news for IP rights on art comes last month. A new bill going to Congress proposes that artists shall be able to collect royalties on their art when it is resold. 5) However this is only at auctions and for visual artists, and not applicable to the internet or musical artists. So are artists getting paid when their work is online? The answer is sometimes. Artists generally get paid for their original work, but often when work appears online it gets copy and pasted and the credits back to the original artists get left behind.
According to the Global Intellectual Property Center's International IP Index among twenty five countries the United States ranks fisrt in IP Standards receving twenty-nine points 1). With seven points Indian and Thailand rank last place in IP Standards 2).
A main reason why India ranks last in IP Stanmdards is their ovehaul and disregard of IP regulations. In India they are currently undergoing a debate on Intellectual-property rights. In the past years, Indian comapanies have been allowed to ignore international intellectual-property regulations by producing generic patented pharmaceuticals from European companies 3). Additional abuses include the revocation of patents for drugs manufacture by the three top European pharmaceutical companies and dozens of drugs produced in the west4).
Despite International pressure, Indian continues to ignore the the EU and other countries pleas for IP standards. Indian continues to refuse to pass anti-recording legislations in order to combat film piracy and is still denying patent protection for genetically modified crops 5). However, the laws protecting IP rightssuch as book IP rights are not being fully enforced in India.
Recently, foreign countries have begun to found their own patent trolls. Some examples are Brevets (France), Intellectual Discovery (Korea), and Innovation Network Corp (Japan); China is currently founding a similar entity called “investment service platform 6). Countries that are founding their own patent trolls argue that these entities allows companies within that country to fight back against lawsuits.
On the other hand, American companies see Foreign patent trolls as obstacles for American companies' participation in a globalized marketplace. American companies argue that the creation of foreign patent trolls is equal to the countries imposing a tariff on foreign goods which will place foreign goods at a disadvantage. 7)
A 2013 Wall Street Journal article commented on one of the most important questions society currentlyfaces in regards to IP law:
When is a piece of software patentable? 1)
As cases between large corporate entities like Google and IBM move on to the Supreme COurt, exactly what is patentable and who owns the rights to said patents will have direct impacts on not just the companies involved in the cases, but the consumer as well.
Currently, Apple and Samsung are in a legal battle that started three years ago when the Galaxy S smartphone was launched by Samsung Electronics. Both companies have been in and out of court with the hopes either of extracting money from each other or removing certain gadgets off the market. The current court ruling stated that Samsung had to pay nine hundred million dollars in damages to Apple Inc if the tech company lost the case 2). As of February 2014 they have failed to reach a settlement out of court. An official court ruling is expected to be made in Europe on March 31st3).
From 2013 to 2014 there was a thirty four percent decline in patent litigation cases filed1)which may be in caused by reforms in the process of patent litigation. The current pending legislation in the House of Representatives is targeting patent troll activities making their actions more transparent. Despite the drop in patent litigation cases, patent trolls are now shifting their aim and targeting users.
Executive Director Q.Todd Dickinson believes that the post-grant proceedings implemented by the American Invents Act (AIA)would decrease the abusive patent lititgation practices of patent trolls by diminishing the number low quallity patents as well as providing a lower-cost administrative procedure for challenging 1). Nonetheless, there seems to be an overall concensus that changes in the proceedings of patents needs to occur thru a reorganization of the patent office. The best way to fix the weakness within the patent system is to start at the root of the problem.