It must be stated that intellectual property laws are some of the most confusing set of laws for the everyday citizen to interpret, despite the fact that they constantly affect our lives. This confusion has left many in the tech industry feeling slightly all at sea; with a real inability to understand what they can actually get away with when innovating and if it is even worth innovating within. This passage will aim to breakdown the intricacies of Intellectual property law, how it may be hindering technological innovation, and what you can do to avoid intellectual property law infringement.
To try put this all into layman terms Intellectual property is the ownership by the law of both a person’s ideas and property. Its basic purpose is to protect you and your product from other people or corporations from stealing your ideas without fair compensation. With these laws in place if another person or company would like to use your ideas or work then they must ask for your permission, and it is highly likely that they will pay you in some form of compensation for your work. Now protection of your work can be done in a few forms which I will explain and explore later in this passage. Basically, the laws should be in place to protect you. Some critics of the laws have called them rather draconian, and actually halt cooperation between both innovators and creators. While others believe that the laws do their job and protect the little guy and the independent.
Patent, Copyright & Trademark
Now, let us break down how you can protect your work through the law. Firstly, you can be granted a patent by the government. A patent will give you the right to have complete control of your inventions; which as the possessor of said patent it will give you the right to exclude others from making, producing, or selling your invention; it legally belongs to you. Obviously, there are some requirements for getting a patent, it has to be original, innovative to a suitable extent, and actual application. Your patent will though in return become public knowledge.
Next to be summarised is the process of copyrighting your product. Copyright does not actually have to belong to the owner; it can be bought from you or simply expire, usually by a 70 year period. A good example of this is with The Beatles and their musical discography, who do not actually own the copyright to their own music as Sony outbid them in an auction. Meaning Sony can license out The Beatles music for car adverts without actually having done any of the work. Very strange indeed.
Finally, the trademark is less a protection of ideas, but more of a protection of image. What your trademark makes your company you. Think of the Coca Cola logo which belongs to Coke, I cannot start a soft drink company and use the logo it belongs to Coke as it has been trademarked. This is especially important for building a brand.
How it is Hindering Innovation
Now, this is the real meat of the passage how are these laws hindering technological innovation. Like I previously mentioned the usage of someone else`s patent is all up to the patent holder, and they have full choice in how much this will cost, and well human beings are greedy so this seeking of permission can hold up innovation as the patent holder holds up for the highest bidder, not the most innovative idea.
Intellectual property law also predominantly benefit larger corporations. Large corporations can swallow patent after patent, which squeezes and bullies’ smaller firms out of the market. Like I previously mentioned with Sony owning the entire discography of The Beatles; well they actually own the copyrights to 37% of all music including the Happy Birthday song; which again they use to bully smaller firms.
Finally, the weak patent protection will lead to a discouragement of innovation, as the amount of money a patent may cost will halt larger companies from coming up with their own ideas; as they can simply buy it off of someone else.
How to Fight Intellectual Property Law
This inclusion is especially personal to me as someone who constantly has to combat intellectual property law. My biggest advice would be to use royalty-free music and be polite when asking for permission. I have also experienced big companies bullying me when my work is a fair use; to that end, this lawfirm is great at protecting intellectual property and has helped me many a time, so if you are ever in doubt do not be afraid to consult a lawyer. Finally, there is no real way to fight against a fair case of intellectual property theft so my advice to you would simply; be original, obtain licenses correctly, and like I said use royalty-free music! Just be careful and keep creating!