2. What is the purpose behind granting ownership rights in intellectual property?
Like other forms of tangible property, the rights associated with intellectual property incentivize individual productivity. The exclusive right to use or control property also incentivizes creativity. This belief is captured in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” In furtherance of this purpose, the Federal Government created and extensive statutory and regulatory framework for the recognition and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
• Note: Generally, intellectual property rights (particularly patents) grant a limited monopoly to the holder in exchange for full disclosure of the intellectual property rights to the public. This is not true for trade secrets, which require secrecy.
• Discussion: How do you feel about the concept of intellectual property? Should individuals be able to establish rights in a form of creation that limits the ability of others to employ that creation in a commercial manner? Why or why not? How is this different from a monopoly, which is generally illegal under antitrust law?
• Practice Question: Payton and Eric are having a discussion over the usefulness and necessity of a government allowing for intellectual rights. They ask your opinion as to why the government allows for such rights. What can you tell them about the origin and purpose of intellectual property rights in the United States?