Intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks, and patents, is a phrase that is often used in reference to different unique kinds of creations of the human mind or intellect for which the creators are given certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets. The intangible assets include, but not limited to, musical, literary, various works of art, terms, signs, and inventions.
Internationally, the governing body is the World Intellectual Property Organization, and it is responsible for granting exclusive rights to the owner of the intellectual property for a varying period, according to the type of the intangible asset. Because of the benefits of intellectual property rights, they should be protected by all countries.
In order to protect intellectual property, a number of agreements are usually reached to ensure that the owners retain the exclusive rights regarding their use.
The first agreement is copyrights, which refer to the set of exclusive rights, specified under the copyright laws of a country, that guard the original authors of both published and unpublished works of literature from unaccredited reproduction and republication (Bainbridge, 2009).
In this form of intellectual property, the creator of the copyright is endowed with the responsibility to control how the work is used for a specified period, after which the work is open for others to use. The second agreement is trademarks.
These refer to any unique symbol or indicator used mostly by companies for identification purposes, for example, the products of Nike Inc. can easily be identified through the design of their logo. Once registered, a trademark has a legal protection and any unauthorized use of that trademark can make the originator to sue the responsible individuals for trademark infringement.
The third form of intellectual property is patents, which refer to the granting of exclusive rights to an originator for a specified time period for discovering any new, beneficial, and no-obvious thing (as opposed to the rights of authorship of any form of art or literature).
A patent is usually granted by the state in exchange for the originator’s agreement to disclose the aspects of the invention to the rest of the people (Smith & Russel, 2005).
Another type of agreement is trade secrets, which refer to the initiatives an organization can put in place to ensure that it gains a competitive edge in the market, for instance, an organization can protect trade secrets by issuing contracts to its workers or by locking sensitive information away in a bank vault.
Lastly, industrial design rights, often conferred for a period of ten to twenty-five years, have been employed to shield the aesthetic design of items that are not entirely serviceable.
Protecting intellectual property rights has many benefits. Importantly, the rights shield the originator from unauthorized use of his or her ideas; consequently, the originator can comfortably earn the sweat of his or her hard work.
In addition, the introduction of the rights has played an essential role in enhancing inventiveness and creativity because the originator of the idea often feels free to disclose his or her inventions to the public without the fear of being misused.
The costs of protecting the intellectual property rights usually vary from one country to another and the type of intellectual property to be protected. Further, it is important to note that the costs are far less compared to the damages one can incur due to the misuse of his or her ideas.
Bainbridge, David, Intellectual property, 7th edn, Pearson Longman, New York, 2009.
Smith, GV, LP Russel, Intellectual Property: Valuation, Exploitation, and Infringement Damages, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, 2005.