WHY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY?

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I find it necessary to write on the subject of Intellectual Property (IP) and what opportunities it provides any nation. IP is one great differential between developed economies and the others, it is indeed an indispensable factor in business and national development. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, intellectual property intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs in the United States and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That is to say 27.7% of all jobs in the U.S. are either directly or indirectly attributable to IP-intensive industries, and the amount contributed to the U.S. economy represents a staggering 34.8% of GDP.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. It is all about innovation, creativity and commercial distinctiveness. It is broadly divided into Industrial Property on the one hand and Copyright on the other hand. Industrial Property comprises of patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indication. Copyright on the other hand gives protection to authors of literary and artistic works and also includes rights related to those of authors of artistic and literary works known as related rights.

IP is important in every area of human endeavour. We need authors to create educational materials for teaching and learning in our schools. Without copyright protection there will be no incentive for authors to put in energy towards making those creations. In the field of science and technology, we need constant innovations and inventions to make life easier. Without patent, there will be no incentive for inventors to put in the great length of time in research required to bring out those inventions. There is also the need to identify goods and services and what source they are from in order to maintain quality and goodwill. This is only possible through trademark protection. Therefore the philosophy behind IP is recognizing that ideas rule the world, every idea that have been expressed in some form, and the energy expended in expressing such idea should somehow be rewarded.

Since IP is relevant to every facet of human endeavour, as well as to every person, everyone is a stakeholder in the field of IP. For the IP right holder, it can be used to legally acquire monopoly in the market, as a negotiation tool, as collateral to secure loans and financing, as asset which can be sold or licensed to generate revenue, and to gain and maintain goodwill. A person who does not desire to acquire and own IP rights will still be careful not to incur liabilities from the breach of someone else’s IP rights.

In the information age, IP intelligence is inevitable for every business, professional, entrepreneur and government that desires to stay atop. A vibrant IP portfolio is one tool necessary to top any field of human endeavour. It will therefore be a worthwhile investment to make out little time to study the basics of IP, and also to consult IP specialists for professional advice.