Protection of intellectual property are investments based on acquired knowledge, thought and effort by one or multiple individuals on behalf of themselves, the business they work for when the property is created, and a financial investment. Each of these – acquired knowledge, thought, physical effort, financial investment – have a value that can be attached as it relates the usefulness or importance of the resulting product. That value will have a level of importance to the individual(s) creating the product and if applicable, the investor providing the funds in support of the creation.
Business demands a return on its research and development effort to be successful and repay those investors of time or money thus commanding a need to protect intellectual property. While the United States has mechanisms in place to protect these property rights, there is concern the laws need to be modernized.
Protection of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property is protected through Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution known as the Copyright Clause which enables Congress 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” (National Constitution Center, n.d.) Today, this is accomplished through the awarding of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
Patents protect the property rights of the invention for 20 years if a utility or plant patent and fourteen years if a design patent (Lau & Johnson, 2013). In return, third parties are not permitted to manufacture or sell the invention but can study it to build upon the invention (Lau & Johnson, 2013). With the knowledge gained, a business may design a similar or related product that does not infringe on the intellectual product rights of a protected product. Where an employee for a business is providing their intellect in the creation of a product or service, the work relationship must be clearly defined and documented to define ownership rights (Hinson, 2014).
Copyrights protect products that can be viewed as authored by the mind grant an “exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work” through any form of media (Dictionary.com, n.d.). Protection through copyright is immediate and based on the author appending the copyright symbol to the documented work. Unlike copyrights and patents, trademarks and trade secrets are protected forever and not subject to the “limited time” restriction of the Constitution (Lau & Johnson, 2013).
While a trademark cannot be infringed upon at any time, if a trade secret is obtained through legal means it is no longer protected from use. With a patent, third parties are prevented from making, using or selling the invention thus protecting the funds used in the research and development (R & D)effort. This initial investment can be recovered and if the product is...