Introduction to intellectual property rights
Intellectual property rights are aimed at protecting the creativity, inventiveness and the results of the human intellect. The primary function of intellectual property right under the law is to protect the creator or owner from any form of exploitation.
Elements of intellectual property rights
Virtually every company has intellectual property in the form of brand names, publications or literature, unique product designs, symbols, phrases, music and other artistic works. Under the intellectual property laws, the owners of such property are granted certain exclusive rights.
Common intellectual properties
- Trade dress
- Trade secrets or protection of undisclosed information.
- Registered industrial design rights
Management of intellectual property
The arrival of the knowledge economy has created urgency in understanding and managing knowledge-based assets such as inventions and other artistic works.
The current economy is being wheeled by institutions which spearhead in value creation which leads to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction comes from value addition generated from simplifying processes or coming up with new products to fill gaps in the chain of value creation or solve problems in the society.
Products or services that solve problems in the society will generate more revenue for the firm depending on the extent to which the problem affects the majority of the population. A good business product is one which focuses results on numbers.
Benefits of intellectual property
Intellectual property right is important in shaping the success of an enterprise, institution and the government. This is very important especially in the contemporary world where the trade environment has been changing rapidly.
These changes are characterized by global competition brought about by economic integration, short product life cycle, rapid technological changes, high innovation risks and the need for highly skilled labor. The key benefits of intellectual property include:
- Intellectual property can be used as a key selling point or competitive differentiator, giving market advantage on the basis of a unique product, brand name or service such as Coca Cola.
- Patents can be used as a powerful source of revenue. This is achieved through issuing license agreements at a fee. Many companies around the globe have enjoyed a significant amount of revenue from patenting business. Research indicates that a profit margin from patenting is estimated at 90%. This is because the costs associated are minimal.
- A company may patent its business processes. This has been well demonstrated by Dell Company as a strategy to retain a niche of clientele. From their website, a customer is able to keep track of the manufacturing process, testing and shipping details.
- The registration of copyright helps in the identification of the ownership of the work.
- One can use copyright as a source of passive income e.g. one can write a book and sell his/her books. However, the author is not protected unless his/her artistic work is protected. Only copyrights will act as his/ her insurance.
- Trademarks provide the owner exclusive rights to use it to identify goods or services or authorize others to use it in return for some consideration.
Challenges facing intellectual property rights
- A number of people have resorted to infringing the works of others and reap where they have not sown, therefore the owner’s effort, time and expenses incurred go in vain.
- Piracy and hacking have encroached industries throughout the world. When you mention the term ‘pirate’ the first thing that comes to your mind is Somali pirates. However, the deadliest pirates are those that kill the human intellectual development. You may be a pirate but live in denial of it. They include students who photocopy entire books, individuals who engage in film and music piracy and importers of fake products which are branded and sold as local products. This not only kills our industries and opportunities for job creation but also leads to unfair competition and poor standard goods. Today, drugs and foodstuff have been counterfeited to such a big extent. Consumer protection organizations need and must move a notch higher to curbing this spiraling menace.
- The emergence and evolution of complex information technology around the globe has brought about the challenge of data protection. No one is safe from hackers and pirates. This is because the world has become a ‘global village’ connected through the internet. It is this same internet that hackers use via computers and phones to access other peoples’ or organizations’ private databases. The hackers use ‘reverse engineering’, to analyze and program these computers or phones to counter their defense software. Lawyers have been having challenges protecting these intellectual properties. Lack of moral standards and job scarcity has pushed many learned youths, especially from the I.T. sector, to be involved in illegal activities – the so called ‘get rich quick scams’. They will hack into your computer, steal data and sell it to the highest bidder or hack into your account and wire funds.
- Many products and technologies are being marketed and utilized simultaneously across the globe hence intellectual property has become vulnerable to violations leading to loss by the creators of the ideas.
- The infringement of intellectual properties has led to reduction in the pace of development. This is because most of the affected innovators and inventors whose ideas have been leaked to social media and used freely feel demoralized. Our farmers and manufacturing industries are killed by the smuggling of fake and substandard products which are eventually sold at very low prices.
- The dichotomy of the legal systems across borders has greatly affected protection of intellectual property rights as well as the growth of international trade.
- Poor governance and corruption. This has seen institutions and leaders refusing to take responsibility and accountability for their failure to protect intellectual property infringements across the globe. Our leaders who are being emulated by many youths across the globe have set a bad example by being at the forefront of corrupt dealings. This has been spurred by extensive greed for wealth among our leaders.
- Sabotage of the legal system. Lack of respect to the legal system has caused the uprising of questionable property rights and transfer of ownership rights. In some streets and bus stages, people are illegally vending products without permits. Some even vend fake drugs, yet they are not qualified physicians. The general society and our institutions have sabotaged the legal system and accepted such to be the norm.
- Lack of awareness. There is low awareness of intellectual property rights among the majority of the population. Therefore the perpetrators take advantage of this to manipulate the public and earn them stupendous wealth.
Conclusion to intellectual property rights
Everyday, we wake up to challenges that require creative genius to solve. These challenges present numerous opportunities for inventions and innovations. This is not to say that these are in short supply. But on the opposite side, exploiters, hackers and pirates have been perfecting their games therefore stifling creativity. Thus, there is growing need to enlighten the society on intellectual property rights so as to encourage respect for these rights and to deter violators.
Whether in business security or privacy of government, it is of paramount importance that we pick from where the great inventors left and push inventions and innovations to higher levels. Without past inventions, we would not be enjoying benefits of convenience, ease of doing things, faster information processing by computers, communicating via phones, better health, faster travel, cleaner energy sources and many other important utilities in our daily lives. Every business challenge brings about an opportunity to invent and innovate. The solutions to these challenges will shape our future and the society at large.
The human brain has unlimited power, the power to think and come up with unprecedented ideas that will add value and create abundant job opportunities for generations to come. It is therefore important to ensure that creating, protecting and managing intellectual property becomes an important corporate activity just like other vital business ingredients.