How To Understand Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual property is authorized possession privileges over innovations produced by the mind, both artistic and commercial, as well as the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, proprietors of such creations are given specific absolute privileges to a variety of intangible properties. These may include some compositions, paintings or literary works like poems, articles or prose. General forms of intellectual property include copyrights, trade names, and trade secrets.
Intellectually property generally covers four recognized types:

  1. Copyrights. These deal with forms of creativity concerning mass communications. Examples of these are novels, music, song lyrics, movie films, theater plays, computer software and dance choreography.
  2. Patents. These are used to protect new inventions so that they cannot be exploited or used without permission of the patent owner.
  3. Trademarks. These are designed to individualize goods and services in order for consumers to distinguish the source. They can be represented by symbols, words, logos, slogans or any other combination as long as it distinguishes one brand to another.
  4. Trade secrets. These are business information that are kept secret such as formulas, patterns, devices, strategies and techniques that are used to obtain an advantage over competitors.

Intellectual property theft often occurs when such absolute privilege granted to the creator is violated and benefited by people who did not help conceptualize the intellectual property. It has the following characteristics:

  1. It is non-consumable. Obviously, the creators of the creative work will not notice if their creative works have already been stolen. It is still in their possession although the thieves have already carried off a copy of the work. Compared with physical theft, the burglary is often discovered because the item is actually missing.  
  2. It does not reflect its production cost. Its intangible property makes the thieves earn more by reproducing multiple and cheaper copies of it compared to the local markets. Although some of the quality is compromised, people will tend to buy the cheaper versions of the intellectual work, regardless of copyright laws. When materials are stolen physically, their value is estimated immediately based on their purchase and their use.
  3. It requires skills, technical expertise and exposure to equipment. Many creative work bandits have the technical knowledge how to reproduce the work. They usually avail of the equipment needed to produce the work. Ordinary robbers also have this distinctive trait although people who commit intellectual property theft are messing with patent laws.    
  4. It needs an opportunity to offend. Thieves who commit intellectual property theft need to be exposed to the equipment and have sufficient training to manipulate it. Ordinary felons often have the opportunity to commit the crime, whether they have sufficient training or not.

Today, there are severe laws mandated and designed to protect intellectual property. However, there are some groups who believe that intellectual property is meant to be shared and not retain sole authorization of the creator. The liberation of such exclusivity is believed to lessen the incidence of intellectual property theft.


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