Intellectual Property

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The idea of intellectual property is a fusion of products of a mind and property-as legally protected. Unlike other protected property, such as a home, a burger or a car, intellectual property (in the strict sense as protected) must be unique and therefore sufficiently original for ownership claims to be recognized and defended. This protection takes the form of exclusive rights acknowledged for the creator of that property.

Because IP ownership can be transferred under works for hire, e.g., by a cartoonist working under a work-for-hire contract, to his employer, in the future there may be issues about ownership of creations produced by increasingly complex AI robots and other artificially intelligent systems, e.g., whether the manufacture of a semi-sentient robot, its purchaser or lessee, or the robot itself, owns its creations. Such futuristic concerns have become present concerns in the form of the suing, for patent infringement, of farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto genetically engineered seeds blown by the wind from a Monsanto-seeded neighboring property.

However, IP law is already sufficiently complex and specific to require utmost care in attempting to determine whether a particular "creation of the mind" can be protected, e.g., could Einstein have copyrighted "E=mc2"? (The answer is "no".) Likewise, he could not have copyrighted his name (same link).

Intellectual property (IP) is a third kind of property (in addition to "real estate" and "chattels"), which comprises works created by the mind that are afforded various legal protections in the form of exclusive rights. There are two basic types: industrial and copyright. Geographic descriptions, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks are all considered to be industrial property. Copyright applies to architecture, art, music, dramatic creations, and literature.

Organizations and individuals benefit from IP because it keeps commerce fair, rewards and protects creative initiative and investment; they are able to market their products or services to target audiences with certain guarantees without fearing that anyone else will copy the ideas or products. It also stimulates more creativity by halting incessant copying and allows an organization to recover the costs of developing a product. Typically, when employees develop something, the property rights belong to the organization; therefore, human resources should seek out and nurture creative individuals. One concern that employers may have is that when an employee either joins or leaves the organization, care must be taken that trade secrets are not carried from one job to another.

On the other hand, copyright and patent protection can deny a society, culture or community benefits that free diffusion of the intellectual property would create, e.g., medicines or techniques, such as water purification methods in polluted regions, when copying of the technology at minimal cost to communities could save many lives.

Organizations committed to creation of IP should give themselves a competitive edge by first hiring people that show creative ability. Then they should give those employees the resources needed to generate new products and ideas. Lastly, the organization should take steps to protect the products of their employees' creativity. This in turn drives sales because the trademark, product, design, etc. becomes synonymous with the organization itself.

With the growth of a global economy, the need for protecting property rights has grown. This is difficult to do because intellectual property is not what one would call tangible. It would therefore benefit an organization to consider hiring professional advisors in this field.
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