That’s not what “IP” stands for, but it’s essentially the definition of the ambiguous term, “intellectual property.” Meant to ensure the continued discovery and implementation of new ideas, IP is the foundation of today’s ever-changing, technological world. The U.S. Department of State sums up its definition best: “Effective protection of intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights, is an essential role of government in encouraging innovation.” Without the protection of ideas, our society would be drastically different.
Not only does IP support the economy by fostering job creation, but it also provides incentive for many independent artists and inventors to release new content and develop futuristic devices. If there was no guarantee a song you just wrote or the mechanism you developed could be protected, would you continue the pursuit of discovery? Personally, I don’t see the point. Ideas need protected because ideas are the foundation of humanity.
Take, for example, the intermittent windshield wiper on your car. Originally, its design was stolen from inventor Robert Kearns by Ford Motor Company and Chrysler. Kearns, who won multimillion-dollar judgements against the companies, argued it was his new combination of parts that made his wipers unique. Though Kearns won the suits, his familial relationships eroded with the years that passed.
In the 2008 film Flash of Genius, Kearns compares the writing of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to the creation of his wipers: “All Charles Dickens did was arrange [words] into a new pattern, isn’t that right? … But Dickens did create something new, didn’t he? By using words. The only tools that were available to him. Just as almost all inventors in history have had to use the tools that were available to them.”
IP also ensures the validity and safety of products.
Counterfeit drug sales in the U.S. totaled to $75 billion in 2010, with approximately 15 percent of pharmaceutical drugs on the market classified as fake. Stronger IP protection helps protect individuals’ health and innovations.
IP protects posterity. Think of IP as an investment in your future. After all, the future can be fragile.