Intellectual Property Rights As ‘Numero Uno’ For Inventors

The importance of intellectual property protection cannot be over emphasized in today’s global era. A force which has come with this era of globalization is all form of infringement on the intellectual property of various inventors.

Intellectual property can be defined in the simplest term as the kind of property which results from the fruits of mental labour. Intellectual property rights, on the other hand, are those legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, literary and artistic field. Intellectual property protection, therefore, involves the protection of the creation of the mind which has both a moral and a commercial value. This protection grants the author of an intellectual creation exclusive right for exploiting and benefiting from their creation.  This right of monopoly is, however, limited in scope, duration and geographical extent.

Jumoke Ademola
Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State

To be sure, Intellectual property is everywhere around us, and extends to cover all areas of human life and activity, covering four primary areas: copyright, trademark, patents, and trade secret. It also includes industrial designs and geographical indications or appellations.

On the one hand, patents protect the inventions of tangible things. Patent owners have the exclusive right to prevent or to stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the consent of the patent owners. Copyright, on the other hand, protects various forms of written and artistic expression. Copyright basically refers to literary and dramatic works, artistic and musical works audio and video recording, broadcasts and cable transmission. This protection gives owners of a work the right to dictate how other people can use it and it makes it easier for authors to make money by selling their works.

Trademarks protect a name or a symbol identifying the source of goods and services. The importance of trademark is that it distinguishes the goods and services of one enterprise from those of another enterprise. A trademark could even consist of numerals, drawing, symbols, and even 3 dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds, fragrance, or colour shades used as distinguishing features.  For patents, industrial designs and geographical indications, registration is compulsory and this is in the best interest of the inventor. But for trademarks and copyright, registrations are not necessary.  In the event of a fraud, misrepresentation and an error in registration, intellectual property right can be revoked or cancelled. With an increase in counterfeiting and piracy on innumerable intellectual properties, it is only reasonable to consider why intellectual property protection is important and why it was put in place in the first place.

The very essence of intellectual property is first to protect the interest and idea of the inventor. This is aimed at protecting the time, effort and resources spent by an inventor to produce his invention.  For instance, consider the musicians who spend time writing their songs, figuring the notes to go with the lyrics, working each tune to perfection in the studio. This  shows the energy and time put into releasing a song and if there was no such thing as intellectual property rights or protection, the efforts of these musicians would be fruitless, and without such thing as intellectual property rights, there is room  for any other person to reproduce such song without permission or use it for his own commercial benefit, which clearly means an infringement on the copyright of such musician. Once an intellectual property is protected, the inventor has the exclusive power concerning that creation and as such can dictate how that creation is to be used and can also stop others from using, selling, making and importing it without his permission.

Another importance of intellectual property protection is that it provides room for new inventions. By this, an inventor is assured that if he releases his ‘creation’ to the public, it is protected and as such, he can reap from it and this serves as an encouragement to others who also want to bring something for public use and this, in the long run, brings about an influx of creations which are all to benefit the public without leaving or forgetting the creator.

The strength of intellectual property protection rests on the fact that it ensures the availability of the original product. The very essence of intellectual property protection is not just to reward the creator but to also kick out counterfeit products from being released into the society for consumers and, as such, it can be said that intellectual property protection seeks to make sure that it is the original product that is being released into the environment for consumers to make use of or benefit from. This in turn not only protects the ingenuity of the product in the market but also protects the creation and also provides more market for such a product or creation since the consumers would be guaranteed of the originality.

Furthermore, it can be said that intellectual property protection promotes economic growth and technological advancement in the sense that it provides incentive for the creator while offering customers something new and different from time to time, and it promotes technological advancement in that it confers development on already laid-down technology. Additionally, intellectual property protection helps set a business apart from its competitor. Distinctive things which fall under trademark such as logos, signs, taglines etc. are all distinct qualities which are privately owned and with no limit and as such the logo for a soap company in Ibadan must be different from the logo of a soap company in Lagos because although they are both soap companies, their logos and name are different and as such their intellectual property is being protected because it causes customers to easily identify which is which and also tells competitors in the same field apart from each other.

As I see it, intellectual property as a whole is a topic of discussion which is not being hammered enough in this dynamic era and this goes with the discontinued enlightenment on this area of law and with this infringement would be on the rise on all forms of intellectual properties. Even creators sometimes overlook situations where their intellectual property has been infringed upon because they also do not have an idea on what they are to gain if their intellectual property were to be properly protected. This is why it is of Catholic importance that the radio on the very essence and benefit of intellectual property protection not be shut down but be raised to the loudest volume possible because at the root of it all are the consumers. And in most cases, the consumers get the biggest blow where intellectual property protection is lacking to serve, not only as a form of protection of the interest of the creator, but also that of the investors and consumers.

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