Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. Intellectual property encompasses two types of rights; industrial property rights (trademarks, patents, designations of origin, industrial designs and models) and copyright. It was not until the 19th century that the term "intellectual property" began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world.
The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a large variety of intellectual goods. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create – usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to profit from the information and intellectual goods they create. These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.
The intangible nature of intellectual property presents difficulties when compared with traditional property like land or goods. Unlike traditional property, intellectual property is "indivisible" – an unlimited number of people can "consume" an intellectual good without it being depleted. Additionally, investments in intellectual goods suffer from problems of appropriation – a landowner can surround their land with a robust fence and hire armed guards to protect it, but a producer of information or an intellectual good can usually do very little to stop their first buyer from replicating it and selling it at a lower price. Balancing rights so that they are strong enough to encourage the creation of intellectual goods but not so strong that they prevent the goods' wide use is the primary focus of modern intellectual property law.
"Literary property" was the term predominantly used in the British legal debates of the 1760s and 1770s over the extent to which authors and publishers of works also had rights deriving from the common law of property (Millar v Taylor (1769), Hinton v Donaldson (1773), Donaldson v Becket (1774)). The first known use of the term intellectual property dates to this time, when a piece published in the Monthly Review in 1769 used the phrase. The first clear example of modern usage goes back as early as 1808, when it was used as a heading title in a collection of essays.
The German equivalent was used with the founding of the North German Confederation whose constitution granted legislative power over the protection of intellectual property (Schutz des geistigen Eigentums) to the confederation. When the administrative secretariats established by the Paris Convention (1883) and the Berne Convention (1886) merged in 1893, they located in Berne, and also adopted the term intellectual property in their new combined title, the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property.
The organization subsequently relocated to Geneva in 1960, and was succeeded in 1967 with the establishment of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) by treaty as an agency of the United Nations. According to legal scholar Mark Lemley, it was only at this point that the term really began to be used in the United States (which had not been a party to the Berne Convention), and it did not enter popular usage there until passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980.
"The history of patents does not begin with inventions, but rather with royal grants by Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) for monopoly privileges... Approximately 200 years after the end of Elizabeth's reign, however, a patent represents a legal right obtained by an inventor providing for exclusive control over the production and sale of his mechanical or scientific invention... [demonstrating] the evolution of patents from royal prerogative to common-law doctrine."
The term can be found used in an October 1845 Massachusetts Circuit Court ruling in the patent case Davoll et al. v. Brown., in which Justice Charles L. Woodbury wrote that "only in this way can we protect intellectual property, the labors of the mind, productions and interests are as much a man's own...as the wheat he cultivates, or the flocks he rears." The statement that "discoveries are..property" goes back earlier. Section 1 of the French law of 1791 stated, "All new discoveries are the property of the author; to assure the inventor the property and temporary enjoyment of his discovery, there shall be delivered to him a patent for five, ten or fifteen years." In Europe, French author A. Nion mentioned propriété intellectuelle in his Droits civils des auteurs, artistes et inventeurs, published in 1846.
Until recently, the purpose of intellectual property law was to give as little protection as possible in order to encourage innovation. Historically, therefore, they were granted only when they were necessary to encourage invention, limited in time and scope. This is mainly as a result of knowledge being traditionally viewed as a public good, in order to allow its extensive dissemination and improvement thereof.
The concept's origins can potentially be traced back further. Jewish law includes several considerations whose effects are similar to those of modern intellectual property laws, though the notion of intellectual creations as property does not seem to exist – notably the principle of Hasagat Ge'vul (unfair encroachment) was used to justify limited-term publisher (but not author) copyright in the 16th century. In 500 BCE, the government of the Greek state of Sybaris offered one year's patent "to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury".
According to Jean-Frédéric Morin, "the global intellectual property regime is currently in the midst of a paradigm shift". Indeed, up until the early 2000s the global IP regime used to be dominated by high standards of protection characteristic of IP laws from Europe or the United States, with a vision that uniform application of these standards over every country and to several fields with little consideration over social, cultural or environmental values or of the national level of economic development. Morin argues that "the emerging discourse of the global IP regime advocates for greater policy flexibility and greater access to knowledge, especially for developing countries." Indeed, with the Development Agenda adopted by WIPO in 2007, a set of 45 recommendations to adjust WIPO's activities to the specific needs of developing countries and aim to reduce distortions especially on issues such as patients’ access to medicines, Internet users’ access to information, farmers’ access to seeds, programmers’ access to source codes or students’ access to scientific articles. However, this paradigm shift has not yet manifested itself in concrete legal reforms at the international level.
Similarly, it is based on these background that the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement requires members of the WTO to set minimum standards of legal protection, but its objective to have a “one-fits-all” protection law on Intellectual Property has been viewed with controversies regarding differences in the development level of countries. Despite the controversy, the agreement has extensively incorporated intellectual property rights into the global trading system for the first time in 1995, and has prevailed as the most comprehensive agreement reached by the world.
Intellectual property rights include patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets. There are also more specialized or derived varieties of sui generis exclusive rights, such as circuit design rights (called mask work rights in the US) and supplementary protection certificates for pharmaceutical products (after expiry of a patent protecting them) and database rights (in European law). The term "industrial property" is sometimes used to refer to a large subset of intellectual property rights including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models, service marks, trade names, and geographical indications.
A patent is a form of right granted by the government to an inventor or their successor-in-title, giving the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, which may be a product or a process and generally has to fulfill three main requirements: it has to be new, not obvious and there needs to be an industrial applicability.:17 To enrich the body of knowledge and stimulate innovation, it is an obligation for patent owners to disclose valuable information about their inventions to the public.
A copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or "works". Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.
An industrial design right (sometimes called "design right" or design patent) protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft. Generally speaking, it is what makes a product look appealing, and as such, it increases the commercial value of goods.
Plant breeders' rights or plant variety rights are the rights to commercially use a new variety of a plant. The variety must amongst others be novel and distinct and for registration the evaluation of propagating material of the variety is considered.
Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual and aesthetic appearance of a product or its packaging (or even the design of a building) that signify the source of the product to consumers.
A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors and customers. There is no formal government protection granted; each business must take measures to guard its own trade secrets (e.g., Formula of its soft drinks is a trade secret for Coca-Cola.)
The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods for consumers. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. Because they can then profit from them, this gives economic incentive for their creation. The intangible nature of intellectual property presents difficulties when compared with traditional property like land or goods. Unlike traditional property, intellectual property is indivisible – an unlimited number of people can "consume" an intellectual good without it being depleted. Additionally, investments in intellectual goods suffer from problems of appropriation – while a landowner can surround their land with a robust fence and hire armed guards to protect it, a producer of information or an intellectual good can usually do very little to stop their first buyer from replicating it and selling it at a lower price. Balancing rights so that they are strong enough to encourage the creation of information and intellectual goods but not so strong that they prevent their wide use is the primary focus of modern intellectual property law.
By exchanging limited exclusive rights for disclosure of inventions and creative works, society and the patentee/copyright owner mutually benefit, and an incentive is created for inventors and authors to create and disclose their work. Some commentators have noted that the objective of intellectual property legislators and those who support its implementation appears to be "absolute protection". "If some intellectual property is desirable because it encourages innovation, they reason, more is better. The thinking is that creators will not have sufficient incentive to invent unless they are legally entitled to capture the full social value of their inventions". This absolute protection or full value view treats intellectual property as another type of "real" property, typically adopting its law and rhetoric. Other recent developments in intellectual property law, such as the America Invents Act, stress international harmonization. Recently there has also been much debate over the desirability of using intellectual property rights to protect cultural heritage, including intangible ones, as well as over risks of commodification derived from this possibility. The issue still remains open in legal scholarship.
These exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to benefit from the property they have created, providing a financial incentive for the creation of an investment in intellectual property, and, in case of patents, pay associated research and development costs. In the United States Article I Section 8 Clause 8 of the Constitution, commonly called the Patent and Copyright Clause, reads; "[The Congress shall have power] '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.'" ”Some commentators, such as David Levine and Michele Boldrin, dispute this justification.
In 2013 the United States Patent & Trademark Office approximated that the worth of intellectual property to the U.S. economy is more than US $5 trillion and creates employment for an estimated 18 million American people. The value of intellectual property is considered similarly high in other developed nations, such as those in the European Union. In the UK, IP has become a recognised asset class for use in pension-led funding and other types of business finance. However, in 2013, the UK Intellectual Property Office stated: "There are millions of intangible business assets whose value is either not being leveraged at all, or only being leveraged inadvertently".
The WIPO treaty and several related international agreements underline that the protection of intellectual property rights is essential to maintaining economic growth. The WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook gives two reasons for intellectual property laws:
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.
Economists estimate that two-thirds of the value of large businesses in the United States can be traced to intangible assets. "IP-intensive industries" are estimated to generate 72 percent more value added (price minus material cost) per employee than "non-IP-intensive industries".
A joint research project of the WIPO and the United Nations University measuring the impact of IP systems on six Asian countries found "a positive correlation between the strengthening of the IP system and subsequent economic growth."
According to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author". Although the relationship between intellectual property and human rights is a complex one, there are moral arguments for intellectual property.
The arguments that justify intellectual property fall into three major categories. Personality theorists believe intellectual property is an extension of an individual. Utilitarians believe that intellectual property stimulates social progress and pushes people to further innovation. Lockeans argue that intellectual property is justified based on deservedness and hard work.
Various moral justifications for private property can be used to argue in favor of the morality of intellectual property, such as:
Lysander Spooner (1855) argues "that a man has a natural and absolute right—and if a natural and absolute, then necessarily a perpetual, right—of property, in the ideas, of which he is the discoverer or creator; that his right of property, in ideas, is intrinsically the same as, and stands on identically the same grounds with, his right of property in material things; that no distinction, of principle, exists between the two cases".
Writer Ayn Rand argued in her book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal that the protection of intellectual property is essentially a moral issue. The belief is that the human mind itself is the source of wealth and survival and that all property at its base is intellectual property. To violate intellectual property is therefore no different morally than violating other property rights which compromises the very processes of survival and therefore constitutes an immoral act.
Violation of intellectual property rights, called "infringement" with respect to patents, copyright, and trademarks, and "misappropriation" with respect to trade secrets, may be a breach of civil law or criminal law, depending on the type of intellectual property involved, jurisdiction, and the nature of the action.
As of 2011 trade in counterfeit copyrighted and trademarked works was a $600 billion industry worldwide and accounted for 5–7% of global trade.
Patent infringement typically is caused by using or selling a patented invention without permission from the patent holder. The scope of the patented invention or the extent of protection is defined in the claims of the granted patent. There is safe harbor in many jurisdictions to use a patented invention for research. This safe harbor does not exist in the US unless the research is done for purely philosophical purposes, or in order to gather data in order to prepare an application for regulatory approval of a drug. In general, patent infringement cases are handled under civil law (e.g., in the United States) but several jurisdictions incorporate infringement in criminal law also (for example, Argentina, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea).
Copyright infringement is reproducing, distributing, displaying or performing a work, or to make derivative works, without permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work's creator. It is often called "piracy". While copyright is created the instant a work is fixed, generally the copyright holder can only get money damages if the owner registers the copyright. Enforcement of copyright is generally the responsibility of the copyright holder. The ACTA trade agreement, signed in May 2011 by the United States, Japan, Switzerland, and the EU, and which has not entered into force, requires that its parties add criminal penalties, including incarceration and fines, for copyright and trademark infringement, and obligated the parties to active police for infringement. There are limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing limited use of copyrighted works, which does not constitute infringement. Examples of such doctrines are the fair use and fair dealing doctrine.
Trademark infringement occurs when one party uses a trademark that is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services of the other party. In many countries, a trademark receives protection without registration, but registering a trademark provides legal advantages for enforcement. Infringement can be addressed by civil litigation and, in several jurisdictions, under criminal law.
Trade secret misappropriation is different from violations of other intellectual property laws, since by definition trade secrets are secret, while patents and registered copyrights and trademarks are publicly available. In the United States, trade secrets are protected under state law, and states have nearly universally adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The United States also has federal law in the form of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. §§ 1831–1839), which makes the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret a federal crime. This law contains two provisions criminalizing two sorts of activity. The first, , criminalizes the theft of trade secrets to benefit foreign powers. The second, 18 U.S.C. § 1832, criminalizes their theft for commercial or economic purposes. (The statutory penalties are different for the two offenses.) In Commonwealth common law jurisdictions, confidentiality and trade secrets are regarded as an equitable right rather than a property right but penalties for theft are roughly the same as in the United States.
Criticism of the term intellectual property ranges from discussing its vagueness and abstract overreach to direct contention to the semantic validity of using words like property and rights in fashions that contradict practice and law. Many detractors think this term specially serves the doctrinal agenda of parties opposing reform in the public interest or otherwise abusing related legislations; and that it disallows intelligent discussion about specific and often unrelated aspects of copyright, patents, trademarks, etc.
Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman argues that, although the term intellectual property is in wide use, it should be rejected altogether, because it "systematically distorts and confuses these issues, and its use was and is promoted by those who gain from this confusion". He claims that the term "operates as a catch-all to lump together disparate laws [which] originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues" and that it creates a "bias" by confusing these monopolies with ownership of limited physical things, likening them to "property rights". Stallman advocates referring to copyrights, patents and trademarks in the singular and warns against abstracting disparate laws into a collective term. He argues that "to avoid spreading unnecessary bias and confusion, it is best to adopt a firm policy not to speak or even think in terms of 'intellectual property'."
Similarly, economists Boldrin and Levine prefer to use the term "intellectual monopoly" as a more appropriate and clear definition of the concept, which they argue, is very dissimilar from property rights. They further argued that “stronger patents do little or nothing to encourage innovation”, mainly explained by its tendency to create market monopolies, thereby restricting further innovations and technology transfer.
On the assumption that intellectual property rights are actual rights, Stallman says that this claim does not live to the historical intentions behind these laws, which in the case of copyright served as a censorship system, and later on, a regulatory model for the printing press that may have benefited authors incidentally, but never interfered with the freedom of average readers. Still referring to copyright, he cites legal literature such as the United States Constitution and case law to demonstrate that the law is meant to be an optional and experimental bargain to temporarily trade property rights and free speech for public, not private, benefits in the form of increased artistic production and knowledge. He mentions that "if copyright were a natural right nothing could justify terminating this right after a certain period of time".
Law professor, writer and political activist Lawrence Lessig, along with many other copyleft and free software activists, has criticized the implied analogy with physical property (like land or an automobile). They argue such an analogy fails because physical property is generally rivalrous while intellectual works are non-rivalrous (that is, if one makes a copy of a work, the enjoyment of the copy does not prevent enjoyment of the original). Other arguments along these lines claim that unlike the situation with tangible property, there is no natural scarcity of a particular idea or information: once it exists at all, it can be re-used and duplicated indefinitely without such re-use diminishing the original. Stephan Kinsella has objected to intellectual property on the grounds that the word "property" implies scarcity, which may not be applicable to ideas.
Entrepreneur and politician Rickard Falkvinge and hacker Alexandre Oliva have independently compared George Orwell's fictional dialect Newspeak to the terminology used by intellectual property supporters as a linguistic weapon to shape public opinion regarding copyright debate and DRM.
In civil law jurisdictions, intellectual property has often been referred to as intellectual rights, traditionally a somewhat broader concept that has included moral rights and other personal protections that cannot be bought or sold. Use of the term intellectual rights has declined since the early 1980s, as use of the term intellectual property has increased.
Alternative terms monopolies on information and intellectual monopoly have emerged among those who argue against the "property" or "intellect" or "rights" assumptions, notably Richard Stallman. The backronyms intellectual protectionism and intellectual poverty, whose initials are also IP, have found supporters as well, especially among those who have used the backronym digital restrictions management.
The argument that an intellectual property right should (in the interests of better balancing of relevant private and public interests) be termed an intellectual monopoly privilege (IMP) has been advanced by several academics including Birgitte Andersen and Thomas Alured Faunce.
Some critics of intellectual property, such as those in the free culture movement, point at intellectual monopolies as harming health (in the case of pharmaceutical patents), preventing progress, and benefiting concentrated interests to the detriment of the masses, and argue that the public interest is harmed by ever-expansive monopolies in the form of copyright extensions, software patents, and business method patents. More recently scientists and engineers are expressing concern that patent thickets are undermining technological development even in high-tech fields like nanotechnology.
Petra Moser has asserted that historical analysis suggests that intellectual property laws may harm innovation:
Overall, the weight of the existing historical evidence suggests that patent policies, which grant strong intellectual property rights to early generations of inventors, may discourage innovation. On the contrary, policies that encourage the diffusion of ideas and modify patent laws to facilitate entry and encourage competition may be an effective mechanism to encourage innovation.
In support of that argument, Jörg Baten, Nicola Bianchi and Petra Moser find historical evidence that especially compulsory licensing – which allows governments to license patents without the consent of patent-owners – encouraged invention in Germany in the early 20th century by increasing the threat of competition in fields with low pre-existing levels of competition.
Peter Drahos notes, "Property rights confer authority over resources. When authority is granted to the few over resources on which many depend, the few gain power over the goals of the many. This has consequences for both political and economic freedoms with in a society.":13
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recognizes that conflicts may exist between the respect for and implementation of current intellectual property systems and other human rights. In 2001 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued a document called "Human rights and intellectual property" that argued that intellectual property tends to be governed by economic goals when it should be viewed primarily as a social product; in order to serve human well-being, intellectual property systems must respect and conform to human rights laws. According to the Committee, when systems fail to do so they risk infringing upon the human right to food and health, and to cultural participation and scientific benefits. In 2004 the General Assembly of WIPO adopted The Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization which argues that WIPO should "focus more on the needs of developing countries, and to view IP as one of many tools for development—not as an end in itself".
Further along these lines, The ethical problems brought up by IP rights are most pertinent when it is socially valuable goods like life-saving medicines are given IP protection. While the application of IP rights can allow companies to charge higher than the marginal cost of production in order to recoup the costs of research and development, the price may exclude from the market anyone who cannot afford the cost of the product, in this case a life-saving drug. "An IPR driven regime is therefore not a regime that is conductive to the investment of R&D of products that are socially valuable to predominately poor populations".:1108–9
Libertarians have differing views on intellectual property. Stephan Kinsella, an anarcho-capitalist on the right-wing of libertarianism, argues against intellectual property because allowing property rights in ideas and information creates artificial scarcity and infringes on the right to own tangible property. Kinsella uses the following scenario to argue this point:
[I]magine the time when men lived in caves. One bright guy—let's call him Galt-Magnon—decides to build a log cabin on an open field, near his crops. To be sure, this is a good idea, and others notice it. They naturally imitate Galt-Magnon, and they start building their own cabins. But the first man to invent a house, according to IP advocates, would have a right to prevent others from building houses on their own land, with their own logs, or to charge them a fee if they do build houses. It is plain that the innovator in these examples becomes a partial owner of the tangible property (e.g., land and logs) of others, due not to first occupation and use of that property (for it is already owned), but due to his coming up with an idea. Clearly, this rule flies in the face of the first-user homesteading rule, arbitrarily and groundlessly overriding the very homesteading rule that is at the foundation of all property rights.
Thomas Jefferson once said in a letter to Isaac McPherson on August 13, 1813:
"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."
Another aspect of current U.S. Intellectual Property legislation is its focus on individual and joint works; thus, copyright protection can only be obtained in 'original' works of authorship.
Other criticism of intellectual property law concerns the expansion of intellectual property, both in duration and in scope.
In addition, as scientific knowledge has expanded and allowed new industries to arise in fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, originators of technology have sought IP protection for the new technologies. Patents have been granted for living organisms, (and in the United States, certain living organisms have been patentable for over a century).
The increase in terms of protection is particularly seen in relation to copyright, which has recently been the subject of serial extensions in the United States and in Europe. With no need for registration or copyright notices, this is thought to have led to an increase in orphan works (copyrighted works for which the copyright owner cannot be contacted), a problem that has been noticed and addressed by governmental bodies around the world.
Also with respect to copyright, the American film industry helped to change the social construct of intellectual property via its trade organization, the Motion Picture Association of America. In amicus briefs in important cases, in lobbying before Congress, and in its statements to the public, the MPAA has advocated strong protection of intellectual-property rights. In framing its presentations, the association has claimed that people are entitled to the property that is produced by their labor. Additionally Congress's awareness of the position of the United States as the world's largest producer of films has made it convenient to expand the conception of intellectual property. These doctrinal reforms have further strengthened the industry, lending the MPAA even more power and authority.
The growth of the Internet, and particularly distributed search engines like Kazaa and Gnutella, have represented a challenge for copyright policy. The Recording Industry Association of America, in particular, has been on the front lines of the fight against copyright infringement, which the industry calls "piracy". The industry has had victories against some services, including a highly publicized case against the file-sharing company Napster, and some people have been prosecuted for sharing files in violation of copyright. The electronic age has seen an increase in the attempt to use software-based digital rights management tools to restrict the copying and use of digitally based works. Laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have been enacted that use criminal law to prevent any circumvention of software used to enforce digital rights management systems. Equivalent provisions, to prevent circumvention of copyright protection have existed in EU for some time, and are being expanded in, for example, Article 6 and 7 the Copyright Directive. Other examples are Article 7 of the Software Directive of 1991 (91/250/EEC), and the Conditional Access Directive of 1998 (98/84/EEC). This can hinder legal uses, affecting public domain works, limitations and exceptions to copyright, or uses allowed by the copyright holder. Some copyleft licenses, like GNU GPL 3, are designed to counter that. Laws may permit circumvention under specific conditions like when it is necessary to achieve interoperability with the circumventor's program, or for accessibility reasons; however, distribution of circumvention tools or instructions may be illegal.
In the context of trademarks, this expansion has been driven by international efforts to harmonise the definition of "trademark", as exemplified by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ratified in 1994, which formalized regulations for IP rights that had been handled by common law, or not at all, in member states. Pursuant to TRIPs, any sign which is "capable of distinguishing" the products or services of one business from the products or services of another business is capable of constituting a trademark.
Intellectual property has become a core tool in corporate tax planning and tax avoidance. IP is a key component of the leading multinational tax avoidance base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) tools, which the OECD estimates costs $100–240 billion in lost annual tax revenues, and includes:
In 2017-2018, both the U.S. and the EU Commission simultaneously decided to depart from the OECD BEPS Project timetable, which was set up in 2013 to combat IP BEPS tax tools like the above, and launch their own anti-IP BEPS tax regimes:
The departure of the U.S. and EU Commission from the OECD BEPS Project process, is attributed to frustrations with the rise in IP as a key BEPS tax tool, creating intangible assets, which are then turned into royalty payment BEPS schemes (double Irish), and/or capital allowance BEPS schemes (capital allowances for intangibles). In contrast, the OECD has spent years developing and advocating intellectual property as a legal and a GAAP accounting concept.
Balancing the need to protect the intellectual property rights (IPRs) (which the third author considers are more accurately described as intellectual monopoly privileges (IMPs)) of pharmaceutical companies, with the need to ensure access to essential medicines in developing countries is one of the most pressing challenges facing international policy makers today.
The Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement is a loose collection of civil society groups, governments, and individuals converging on the idea that access to knowledge should be linked to fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development.Cease and desist
A cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business to stop purportedly illegal activity ("cease") and not to restart it ("desist"). The letter may warn that if the recipient does not discontinue specified conduct, or take certain actions, by deadlines set in the letter, that party may be sued. When issued by a public authority, a cease and desist letter, being "a warning of impending judicial enforcement", is most appropriately called a "cease and desist order".
Although cease and desist letters are not exclusively used in the area of intellectual property, such letters "are frequently utilized in disputes concerning intellectual property and represent an important feature of the intellectual property law landscape". The holder of an intellectual property right such as a copyrighted work, a trademark, or a patent, may send the cease and desist letter to inform a third party "of the right holders' rights, identity, and intentions to enforce the rights". The letter may merely contain a licensing offer or may be an explicit threat of a lawsuit. A cease and desist letter often triggers licensing negotiations, and is a frequent first step towards litigation.Receiving numerous cease and desist letters may be very costly for the recipient. Each claim in the letters must be evaluated, and it should be decided whether to respond to the letters, "whether or not to obtain an attorney's opinion letter, prepare for a lawsuit, and perhaps initiate [in case of letters regarding a potential patent infringement] a search for alternatives and the development of design-around technologies".Cease and desist letters are sometimes used to intimidate recipients and can be "an effective tool used by corporations to chill the critical speech of gripe sites operators". A company owning a trademark may send such letter to a gripe site operator alleging a trademark infringement, although the actual use of the trademark by the gripe site operator may fall under a fair use exception (in compliance with, in the U.S., the protection of free speech under the First Amendment).Clarivate Analytics
Clarivate Analytics is a company that owns and operates a collection of subscription-based services focused largely on analytics, including scientific and academic research, patent analytics, regulatory standards, trademark protection, pharmaceutical and biotechnology intelligence, domain brand protection and intellectual property management. The services include Web of Science, Cortellis, Derwent Innovation, Derwent World Patents Index, CompuMark, MarkMonitor, Techstreet, Publons, EndNote and Kopernio.Clarivate Analytics was formerly the "Intellectual Property and Science" business of Thomson Reuters. In 2016 Thomson Reuters struck a $3.55 billion dollar deal in which they spun it off into an independent company and sold it to private-equity firms Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity Asia.In May 2018, Clarivate Analytics launched Arabic citation index worldwide.Churchill Capital has agreed to merge with Clarivate. The combined company will operate as Clarivate and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.Copyright
Copyright is a legal right, existing in many countries, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others. This is usually only for a limited time. Copyright is one of two types of intellectual property rights, the other is industrial property rights. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. A major limitation on copyright on ideas is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves. Copyright is applicable to certain forms of creative work. Some, but not all jurisdictions require "fixing" copyrighted works in a tangible form. It is often shared among multiple authors, each of whom holds a set of rights to use or license the work, and who are commonly referred to as rights holders. These rights frequently include reproduction, control over derivative works, distribution, public performance, and moral rights such as attribution. Copyrights can be granted by public law and are in that case considered "territorial rights". This means that copyrights granted by the law of a certain state, do not extend beyond the territory of that specific jurisdiction. Copyrights of this type vary by country; many countries, and sometimes a large group of countries, have made agreements with other countries on procedures applicable when works "cross" national borders or national rights are inconsistent.Typically, the public law duration of a copyright expires 50 to 100 years after the creator dies, depending on the jurisdiction. Some countries require certain copyright formalities to establishing copyright, others recognize copyright in any completed work, without formal registration. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.
Most jurisdictions recognize copyright limitations, allowing "fair" exceptions to the creator's exclusivity of copyright and giving users certain rights. The development of digital media and computer network technologies have prompted reinterpretation of these exceptions, introduced new difficulties in enforcing copyright, and inspired additional challenges to the philosophical basis of copyright law. Simultaneously, businesses with great economic dependence upon copyright, such as those in the music business, have advocated the extension and expansion of copyright and sought additional legal and technological enforcement.Copyright licenses can also be granted by those deputized by the original claimant, and private companies may request this as a condition of doing business with them. Services of internet platform providers like YouTube, Facebook, GitHub, Hotmail, DropBox, Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter only can be used when users grant the platform provider beforehand the right to co-use all uploaded content, including all material exchanged per email, chat or cloud-storage. These copyrights only apply for the firm that operates such a platform, no matter in what jurisdiction the platform-services are being offered. Private companies in general do not recognize exceptions or give users more rights than the right to use the platform according certain rules.Copyright Clause
The Copyright Clause (also known as the Intellectual Property Clause, Copyright and Patent Clause, or the Progress Clause) describes an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8). The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power "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."
The clause is the basis of intellectual property laws in the United States, specifically copyright and patent laws.Indigenous intellectual property
Indigenous intellectual property is an umbrella legal term used in national and international forums to identify indigenous peoples' claims of intellectual property rights to protect specific cultural knowledge of their groups.It is a concept that has developed out of predominantly western concepts of intellectual property law, and has most recently been promoted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, as part of a more general United Nations push to see the world's indigenous, intangible cultural heritage better valued and better protected against perceived, ongoing mistreatment.Nation states across the world have experienced difficulties reconciling local indigenous laws and cultural norms with a predominantly western legal system, in many cases leaving indigenous peoples' individual and communal intellectual property rights largely unprotected. Therefore, international bodies such as the United Nations have become involved in the issue, making more specific declarations that intellectual property also includes cultural property such as historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, and performing arts in addition to artwork and literature.Intellectual Property Office (United Kingdom)
The Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom (often The IPO) is, since 2 April 2007, the operating name of The Patent Office. It is the official government body responsible for intellectual property rights in the UK and is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Some work on copyright policy is shared with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and plant breeders' rights are administered by the Plant Variety Rights Office, an agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.Intellectual property in China
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been acknowledged and protected in the People's Republic of China since the 1980s. The People's Republic of China has acceded to the major international conventions on protection of rights to intellectual property. Domestically, protection of intellectual property law has also been established by government legislation, administrative regulations, and decrees in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent. This has led to the creation of a comprehensive legal framework to protect both local and foreign intellectual property. Despite this, copyright violations are common in the PRC, The American Chamber of Commerce in China surveyed over 500 of its members doing business in China regarding IPR for its 2016 China Business Climate Survey Report, and found that IPR enforcement is improving, but significant challenges still remain. The results show that the laws in place exceed their actual enforcement, with patent protection receiving the highest approval rate, while protection of trade secrets lags far behind.Libertarian perspectives on intellectual property
Libertarians have differing opinions on the validity of intellectual property.License
A license (American English) or licence (British English) is an official permission or permit to do, use, or own something (as well as the document of that permission or permit).A license can be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement between those parties. A shorthand definition of a license is "an authorization to use licensed material".
In particular, a license may be issued by authorities, to allow an activity that would otherwise be forbidden. It may require paying a fee or proving a capability. The requirement may also serve to keep the authorities informed on a type of activity, and to give them the opportunity to set conditions and limitations.
A licensor may grant a license under intellectual property laws to authorize a use (such as copying software or using a (patented) invention) to a licensee, sparing the licensee from a claim of infringement brought by the licensor. A license under intellectual property commonly has several components beyond the grant itself, including a term, territory, renewal provisions, and other limitations deemed vital to the licensor.
Term: many licenses are valid for a particular length of time. This protects the licensor should the value of the license increase, or market conditions change. It also preserves enforceability by ensuring that no license extends beyond the term of the agreement.
Territory: a license may stipulate what territory the rights pertain to. For example, a license with a territory limited to "North America" (Mexico/United States/Canada) would not permit a licensee any protection from actions for use in Japan.
A shorthand definition of license is "a promise by the licensor not to sue the licensee". That means without a license any use or exploitation of intellectual property by a third party would amount to copying or infringement. Such copying would be improper and could, by using the legal system, be stopped if the intellectual property owner wanted to do so.Intellectual property licensing plays a major role in business, academia and broadcasting. Business practices such as franchising, technology transfer, publication and character merchandising entirely depend on the licensing of intellectual property. Land licensing (proprietary licensing) and IP licensing form sub-branches of law born out of the interplay of general laws of contract and specific principles and statutory laws relating to these respective assets.Open source
Open source is a term denoting that a product includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.Ownership
Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be an object, land/real estate or intellectual property. Ownership involves multiple rights, collectively referred to as title, which may be separated and held by different parties.
The process and mechanics of ownership are fairly complex: one can gain, transfer, and lose ownership of property in a number of ways. To acquire property one can purchase it with money, trade it for other property, win it in a bet, receive it as a gift, inherit it, find it, receive it as damages, earn it by doing work or performing services, make it, or homestead it. One can transfer or lose ownership of property by selling it for money, exchanging it for other property, giving it as a gift, misplacing it, or having it stripped from one's ownership through legal means such as eviction, foreclosure, seizure, or taking. Ownership is self-propagating in that the owner of any property will also own the economic benefits of that property.Public domain
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.The works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, and most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, and are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, and all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are actively dedicated by their authors to the public domain (see waiver); some examples include reference implementations of cryptographic algorithms, the image-processing software ImageJ, created by the National Institutes of Health, and the CIA's World Factbook. The term public domain is not normally applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission".
As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another. Some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, and the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country. The term public domain may also be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", and the "information commons".Scams in intellectual property
Scams in intellectual property or invention scams are a type of scam in which either inventors are lured to pay money for development of their idea but the development does not occur, or investors pay money for a non existing product or for an invention never to be developed.
Intellectual property (IP) is a very complex area and covers a vast range of diverse subjects. As a result, there are opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and organizations to take advantage of those wishing to secure protection for their IP.Semiconductor intellectual property core
In electronic design a semiconductor intellectual property core, IP core, or IP block is a reusable unit of logic, cell, or integrated circuit (commonly called a "chip") layout design that is the intellectual property of one party. IP cores may be licensed to another party or can be owned and used by a single party alone. The term is derived from the licensing of the patent and/or source code copyright that exist in the design. IP cores can be used as building blocks within application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs or field-programmable gate array (FPGA) logic designs.Sweat of the brow
Sweat of the brow is an intellectual property law doctrine, chiefly related to copyright law. According to this doctrine, an author gains rights through simple diligence during the creation of a work, such as a database, or a directory. Substantial creativity or "originality" is not required.
Under a "sweat of the brow" doctrine, the creator of a copyrighted work, even if it is completely unoriginal, is entitled to have his effort and expense protected, and no one else may use such a work without permission, but must instead recreate the work by independent research or effort. The classic example is a telephone directory. In a "sweat of the brow" jurisdiction, such a directory may not be copied, but instead a competitor must independently collect the information to issue a competing directory. The same rule generally applies to databases and lists of facts.
Civil law jurisdictions have traditionally used the similar but not identical concept of droit d'auteur. European Union law tends to harmonize the protection of intellectual property throughout member states and the doctrine thus gains more influence. In the Databases Directive 96/9/EC—the member states of the EU are obliged to confer protection known as the database right on non-original databases, that is on those that embody no creativity, but are a consequence of substantial investment (financial, labour etc.).TRIPS Agreement
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It sets down minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of many forms of intellectual property (IP) as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations. TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between 1989 and 1990 and is administered by the WTO.
The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date. In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on an overly narrow reading of TRIPS, initiated a round of talks that resulted in the Doha Declaration. The Doha declaration is a WTO statement that clarifies the scope of TRIPS, stating for example that TRIPS can and should be interpreted in light of the goal "to promote access to medicines for all."
Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering authors and other copyright holders, as well as holders of related rights, namely performers, sound recording producers and broadcasting organisations; geographical indications; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade names and undisclosed or confidential information. TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures. Protection and enforcement of all intellectual property rights shall meet the objectives to contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.Traditional knowledge
The terms traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge and local knowledge generally refer to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of regional, indigenous, or local communities. Traditional knowledge includes types of knowledge about traditional technologies of subsistence (e.g. tools and techniques for hunting or agriculture), midwifery, ethnobotany and ecological knowledge, traditional medicine, celestial navigation, ethnoastronomy, climate, and others. These kinds of knowledge, crucial for subsistence and survival, are generally based on accumulations of empirical observation and on interaction with the environment.
In many cases, traditional knowledge has been orally passed for generations from person to person. Some forms of traditional knowledge find expression in stories, legends, folklore, rituals, songs, and laws. Other forms of traditional knowledge are expressed through other means.World Intellectual Property Organization
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO; French: Organisation mondiale de la propriété intellectuelle (OMPI)) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN). WIPO was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world".WIPO currently has 191 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The current Director-General of WIPO is Francis Gurry, who took office on 1 October 2008. 188 of the UN member states as well as the Cook Islands, Holy See and Niue are members of WIPO. Non-members are the states of Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and South Sudan. Palestine has permanent observer status.
|Sources of law|
Intellectual property activism