The origins of intellectual property rights can be traced back to two British statues established during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Statute of Monopolies, enacted in 1624, prohibited the majority of royal monopolies, but preserved the right to grant a letters patent for new inventions for up to 14 years.1 The Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act of 1709, gave book publishers legal protection for 14 years, and granted 21 years of protection for books already in print.2 In the nearly 400 years since the Statute of Monopolies was made law, we have seen intellectual property rights continue to change and evolve around the world.
Why are intellectual property rights important in the modern era? Let’s explore.
A Brief Review of Intellectual Property Rights
The various types of intellectual property protections have been covered in depth here on the Cardozo Online Blog, along with IP law for beginners and landmark cases that continue to shape business, entertainment, art, and more. Let’s review the various types of protections to further our understanding of how IP law is essential in today’s world.
Copyright protection covers original works, including artistic works such as music, films, writings, and architecture. Copyright law has been part of the constitution since 1790, and the Copyright Act gives authors ownership of their creative work, including reproductions, distribution, performance, display, duplication, and more.
Patents protect discoveries and inventions and can include new drugs by pharmaceutical companies, software programs or machines from small tech start-ups, and much more. Patents offer protection for a shorter period of time than copyright protections. Patent holders maintain a monopoly on their invention during the appointed time period. This protection encourages innovation, recognizing that significant time, money, and commitment go into new inventions and discoveries.
Trademarks protect branding, logos, and phrases that identify an organization or the source of a product. Trademarks can include a company name, tagline, or a symbol that shows or indicates where a product is from. The goal with trademarks is to protect consumers from being misled.
Why Intellectual Property Rights are Important Today
In 2021, intellectual property rights are more important than ever in this global, highly-connected digital landscape. With all of the good the rise of the internet has done for the sharing of information and ideas, it has unfortunately become easier for ideas and works to be stolen, which can be damaging to both national economies and innovation.
Intellectual property protection varies from country to country, but countries that have strong IP laws recognize the important impact original works, designs, inventions, etc. have on the overall economy. Almost every country that has a dependence on international trade takes strong measures to protect their intellectual property rights.3
With the rise of intangible assets that are shared across the internet, it is easy for people to unlawfully copy and share books, music, movies, and more. Copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets and the laws around these protections are all intended to encourage innovation and creativity and are essential to the practice of IP law to help curb illegal activities.
Organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) underscore the importance of fostering IP-driven innovation to incentivize and protect creativity. WIPO is a global forum for intellectual property services and is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 193 member states.4 In 2020, World IP Day, which is celebrated annually on April 26, focused on the race to find a cure or vaccine for COVID-19.5 Without the proper enforcement of intellectual property rights, vaccine rollouts in 2021 may not have been possible.
Study Intellectual Property at Cardozo School of Law
IP Law is complex, especially in today’s world. Gain a better understanding of how different areas of IP law overlap while also building a strong foundation in patent, copyright, and trademark law.
Cardozo School of Law has been a leader in IP law from its start. With an online LL.M. in Intellectual Property from Cardozo, you will build a deep knowledge base of how IP laws are being interpreted to defend intellectual property rights. Learn more about the coursework that will help you understand the intricacies and complexities of IP law.
- Retrieved September 20, 2021, from britannica.com/topic/patent#ref791882
- Retrieved September 20, 2021, from historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=3389
- Retrieved September 20, 2021, from kashishipr.com/blog/why-intellectual-property-rights-are-important-in-current-era/
- Retrieved September 20, 2021, from wipo.int/about-wipo/en/
- Retrieved September 20, 2021, from itif.org/publications/2020/04/23/2020-world-ip-day-intellectual-property-more-important-ever-age-covid-19