Intellectual Property Rights: From Theory to Practical Implementation

Intellectual Property Rights: From Theory to Practical Implementation

Richard A. Spinello (Boston College, USA) and Herman T. Tavani (Rivier College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-576-4.ch001
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This chapter presents some foundational concepts and issues in intellectual property. We begin by defining intellectual objects, which we contrast with physical objects or tangible goods. We then turn to some of the normative justifications that have been advanced to defend the granting of property rights in general, and we ask whether those rationales can be extended to the realm of intellectual objects. Theories of property introduced by Locke and Hegel, as well as utilitarian philosophers, are summarized and critiqued. This sets the stage for reviewing the case against intellectual property. We reject that case and claim instead that policy makers should aim for balanced property rights that avoid the extremes of overprotection and underprotection. Next we examine four different kinds of protection schemes for intellectual property that have been provided by our legal system: copyright laws, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. This discussion is supplemented with a concise review of recent U.S. legislation involving copyright and digital media and an analysis of technological schemes of property protection known as digital rights management. Finally, we consider a number of recent controversial court cases, including the Napster case and the Microsoft antitrust suit. Many of the issues and controversies introduced in this chapter are explored and analyzed in greater detail in the subsequent chapters of this book.

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