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Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights Essay



The process of inventing or discovering the innovative and rather unique product and the focus on launching it in the future can guarantee the success of a company or a person within the market. Nevertheless, there are a lot of associated challenges. Thus, the unique idea or design can be stolen or copied. Moreover, the inventor or creator does not receive the recognition and benefits, if the product and idea are not protected with references to the intellectual properties laws.

Intellectual property is one of the most controversial legal and ethical fields of management. It is the dynamic and developing area of the modern law which covers all the creations of the human mind. From this point, intellectual property can be defined as the specific concept which is used to speak about inventions, literary pieces, artistic and music works, designs, photographs, slogans, names, and symbols.

The above-mentioned pieces and objects are protected in relation to the intellectual property laws such as copyright, trade mark, industrial design rights, and patent. According to these types of intellectual property laws, the inventor or creator receives the exclusive right to control the usage of his or her discovery, invention, symbol, or image.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights

The main types of intellectual property rights are distinguished according to the type of intellectual property which is protected with the help of the definite intellectual property law. It is possible to focus on copyright, trade mark, industrial design rights, and patent which guarantee the inventor, designer, or creator the protected control over the certain intellectual property (Holland).


Literary pieces, artistic and music works, web pages, commercials, computer software, graphic works, architectural works, and any other products of the human mind and ideas expressed with the help of the definite physical medium become protected by copyright. Thus, copyright protects the original work of the author which is presented in the specific form, in the medium of expression. That is why, copyright cannot protect ideas which are not fixed in any medium of expression (Holland).

Copyright is not granted by the federal agency, the registration of the creative work is necessary only if infringement occurs. Copyright provides the automatic protection of the creative works when they are fixed and presented in any tangible form. The person who has the exclusive rights provided by copyright can copy, reproduce, distribute, change, and publicly perform the work.

The owner of the copyright in spite of the absence of necessity to provide the copyright notice on the work is the only person who can determine the ways of possible usage of the work. The owner of the copyright is also the only person who can receive some financial benefits from using the creative work (Holland). The owner can also claim copyright or transfer the rights to the other person providing the written agreement.

The fact that it is unnecessary to register the work or provide the copyright notice provokes a lot of challenges for copyright owners who need to focus on confirming their authorship in order to avoid the situation of stealing the idea fixed in the physical medium (Sonderholm).

Trade Mark

Business owners pay much attention to the image of their companies, products, and services in order to contribute to the company’s recognition. To compete within the market, it is necessary to develop an effective logo, slogan, or symbol which can stimulate the brand recognition and help consumers identify the product or service among the other competitors within the industry.

Thus, a trade mark is a brand name which is used for the definite product or service and help consumers create certain associations with the company and the quality of products. Trade mark is necessary to protect the brand name from using it for the other products within the industry.

Trade mark laws work for benefits of trade mark owners and consumers because they protect the interests of both the parties (Holland). Having chosen the effective trade mark, business owners expect that the trade mark can promote the company and product’s reputation and can contribute to the customers’ loyalty. Thus, trade marks are developed to work for the company’s benefits, but not all the trade marks can have the same impact on the improvement of the company’s reputation.

To discuss a trade mark as protectable, it is important to compare trade marks within the market and avoid any similarities. The search should be realised in the field of logos, symbols, and names in order to avoid any confusing associations. However, strong trade marks can guarantee the effective protection for business owners according to the trade mark laws.

Customers are also inclined to rely on trade marks because developed and promoted trade marks are associated with the definite company and its reputation within the industry. From this point, choosing the certain product, a consumer expects for definite quality with references to the protected reputation and goodwill.

Industrial Design Rights

Industrial design rights are often associated with copyright because of similarities in functioning and protection provided. According to the industrial design right, the designer can protect such types of the intellectual property as the design of the definite project, its form, and colour. The visual design of objects can be protected if it is fixed in the form of two-dimensional or three-dimensional pattern. These rights protect the aesthetic features of the product or object.

It is important to protect the visual characteristics of the developed and designed product. The designer often needs to protect the specific shape, form, colour, combination of colours and lines in the object in order to avoid copying them by the other persons.

Visual patterns protected according to the industrial design laws are used to create industrial objects of the innovative form and with unique visual characteristics (Holland). Nevertheless, to protect the definite visual pattern, it is necessary to publish it in an official bulletin. In this case, the industrial design rights can be realized completely.


Inventing new products, developing new methods, and working out improvements for the existing technologies and processes, a person or a group of persons should protect their property rights with the help of a patent. It is important to note that patents provide the inventor with the right to stop the process of manufacturing a new product, using a new method, process, or improvement. Patents cannot provide the inventor or creator with the right to practise the new technology or improvement without the necessary license.

From this perspective, patents provide the inventor with the right to exclude others from using the innovation during a definite period of time and protect the utility of the product. Patents are used to protect specific features of the product or technology which adds to its usefulness (Holland). Furthermore, patents can stimulate innovations protecting the intellectual property rights of the inventor.

Intellectual Property Laws’ Objectives

Intellectual property laws are developed to protect the rights of inventors, innovators, creators, and designers. As a result, the progress, creativity, and innovation are stimulated with references to the laws. It is necessary to focus on the main objectives of the intellectual property laws associated with the concepts of financial incentive, economic growth, and ethical aspect of innovation.

Financial Incentive

One of the main goals of intellectual property laws is to contribute to the development of rich and competitive market. Thus, the innovation and improvement is protected with references to the intellectual property laws. Inventors and designers can provide the financial incentive to develop the market and manufacture more products produced according to their patterns or methods. As a result, the owners of the right can receive definite profits and gain some benefits.

Moreover, the idea of financial incentive provides companies with the right to determine process and conditions for using the innovation (Barrett). Thus, companies can receive the opportunity to have the definite compensation in relation to the costs of the research and development process.

The idea of financial incentive stimulates the development of the diverse market where inventors and innovators can gain benefits from developing more innovations. That is why, financial incentive is closely associated with the general promotion of progress as the key goal of the intellectual property rights.

Economic Growth

Intellectual property rights are also important for the economic growth and social development. Innovations, discoveries, artistic and literary works as well as unique designs should be protected to contribute to the economic progress of the inventor or designer. If the innovation does not add to the economic development of the definite company or sphere because the innovation was copied or stolen, inventors have no stimulus to continue research and development practices.

On the other hand, the effective innovation which is practised within the company or industry contributes not only to the improvement of the company’s financial state but also to the general economic progress within the market and industry.

After the period of patent protection, innovations and improvements become accessible for the public stimulating the effective production within the definite sector or industry and making the market richer (Barrett). That is why, the economic development of the company and progress within the industry directly depends on the effective realisation of intellectual property rights.

The Ethical Aspect

The problem of stealing and coping ideas and inventions is not only the problem of marketing and management but also the problem of the business ethics. If the rights of inventors, designers, innovators, and creators are not protected, any person can use their inventions, visual patterns, and works without the necessary permission. Thus, the ethical component of permission is involved in the process.

Those persons who invented or designed definite products or images have the rights to control the usage of their ideas or inventions. It is the question of morality. The ignorance of the intellectual property rights leads to the violation of human rights.

From this point, the other important objective of the intellectual property laws is the protection of the people’s rights in relation to the issues of morality. Innovation and invention in the society where the intellectual property rights are not protected with references to ethics cannot be developed effectively because inventors and designers are at risk of violating their human rights (Sonderholm).

Receiving exclusive rights, inventors, designers, and creators also receive the definite recognition for their contribution to the development of the technological or manufacturing process. Intellectual property rights are important to protect this ethical aspect associated with innovation. The protection of this sphere is necessary to promote the further invention within the field.


The products of the people’s creativity and invention processes can be discussed as intellectual property. Intellectual property also includes innovative objects, inventions, discoveries, literary, artistic, and music works, images, designs, visual features, logos, names, and symbols which are fixed in the definite physical form. Different forms of intellectual property are protected with intellectual property laws which differ in relation to the type of the object to be protected.

Copyright protects creative literary, artistic, and music works as well as web pages and computer software. Trade marks protect brand names and associated logos, colours, and symbols. They guarantee the support of the company’s reputation and goodwill in relation to the customers’ attitude toward the brand. Industrial design rights protect the aesthetic characteristics of the object when patents protect the objects’ features related to their usefulness and practicability.

The protection of intellectual property in relation to the above-mentioned rights also contributes to realisation of such objectives as the provision of the financial benefits for inventors and designers, the stimulation of the economic growth within the industry, and the protection of the ethical aspects of using the innovation, improvement, or design.

Works Cited

Barrett, Margreth. Intellectual Property. USA: Aspen Publishers, 2008. Print.

Holland, Catherine. Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade Secrets. USA: Entrepreneur Press, 2007. Print.

Sonderholm, Jorn. “Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights”. Philosophy Compass 5.12 (2010): 1107–1115. Print.

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"Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights." IvyPanda, 12 Aug. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/intellectual-property-2/.

1. IvyPanda. "Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/intellectual-property-2/.


IvyPanda. "Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/intellectual-property-2/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/intellectual-property-2/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Ethical Issues Surrounding Intellectual Property Rights'. 12 August.

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