The internet opens numerous opportunities and benefits for people, but it has also given rise to a new generation of criminals and wrongdoers. Since the property of companies is shifting from existing as a solely physical product to being an intangible commodity, this poses a new challenge to security providers and government officials. Thus, cybersecurity remains an essential part of modern world safety measures, forcing numerous commercial organizations that produce high-quality intellectual property (IP) products to focus additionally on defending them from theft. Developing a procedure that takes into account the various types of IP to tackle the numerous transgressions possible becomes necessary to secure any company’s assets.
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Overview of Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property is a creative product, which can take the form of a logo, art, music, and even a piece of literature, which may be easily stolen, repurposed, or plagiarized. Congress first secured scientific inventions in America in 1787, giving future rise to such IP laws regarding products such as “patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets” (Parr, 2018, p. 20). Defining these categories may be possible per their duration and the product they claim to secure, but all of them provide ownership rights and allow a person to take legal action in case of infringement. Since the majority of IP laws center around the rules instituted at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, their effect is international, spreading beyond the US (Abbott, Cottier, & Gurry, 2019). Thus, intellectual property rights (IPR) become omnipresent rules, helping guarantee IP security and preventing their theft and misuse domestically and abroad.
Policies, Standards, and Guidelines
Companies may need to take a decisive stance on preserving the rights of inventors and authors to continue encouraging creativity and innovative practices, without which modern business could not remain to be successful. It is especially crucial to implement a sound IP policy that helps advance business and secure a firm’s integrity in an Information Technology (IT) firm due to the number of IT manipulation tools available (Abbott et al., 2019). Thus, instituting strict policies and standards allows securing the confidence of both the public and called upon content producers. Non-adherence to the proposed guidelines may lead to punitive action.
It is necessary to establish the existence of an IP patent to prevent any possible infringement on IPR, allowing the company to achieve a standard of IP use that is congruent with the law. Generally, this type of ownership lasts for 20 years and pertains to inventions, which may constitute the basis of an IT company’s provided goods and services (Parr, 2018). Therefore, adhering to a policy of IP protection necessitates following specific guidelines for integrating any machine or method, such as:
- Identifying and defining the chosen process;
- Making sure with the responsible department if this process is patented;
- If it is, either checking if it is possible to change the wording not to violate IPR or contacting the owner and negotiate with them for the right to use their property (Suzuki, 2015);
- Implementing the process becomes possible after making sure that it does not violate patent regulations.
Trademarks remain in ownership based on yearly payments, making their use more complicated. However, due to their similar nature as business rights, they “can be more valuable than the tangible assets,” especially for companies who strive to make a name for themselves on the market (Stjepandic, Liese, & Trappey, 2015, p. 522). Hiring artists to design organizational emblems may allow developing a company-wide creativity standard that could forbid reusing previously created work. However, due to the artistic nature of the majority of trademarks, which make complying with a strict no-infringement policy difficult, the firm should adhere to guidelines, such as:
- Making sure their logo and all similar unique labels are sufficiently different from the design of other firms;
- If needed, rectify offending designs according to company creativity standards.
Copyright is responsible for securing artistic works, which could seem completely unrelated to an IT firm’s operations, but relates to advertisements, programs, and databases, which may not be used accidentally. Additionally, the owner of the copyrighted IP can pass them on to their designated heirs, making them one of the longest-lasting intangible properties (Parr, 2018). To defend one’s company from being summoned to court for copyright infringement, it is imperative to follow these guidelines, adhering to a standard of responsiveness and a widely-implemented policy of IP verification:
- Make sure that the chosen firm has the owner’s approval for the IP’s use;
- Any copyrighted material may be used only after communicating with and achieving the owner’s consent.
Ownership of Company Material
Company ownership remains one of the most challenging and widespread concepts in IP laws, making the avoidance of infringement an imperative necessity. The exhaustion of companies’ IPRs, which may be defined by the “first sale rule,” requires a more precarious approach (Abbott et al., 2019, p. 99). Therefore, dealing with the IP of firms necessitates a policy of background checks, made possible through adhering to a pre-verification standard that disallows the implementation of any uninvestigated outside material, enabled by guidelines such as:
- Undertaking multiple tests for possible IPR infringement;
- In the event of IPR encroachment, the offending department managers should immediately contact the responsible internal department, which in turn need to contact the owning company;
Procedure for Reporting Violations
Making sure a company’s practices are free from IP infringements is one of the most significant prerequisites of honest and successful business ethics. Companies and government departments dealing with IP laws retain a variety of effective methods to trace a breach of IPR (Stjepandic et al., 2015). Internally reporting violations becomes an essential step before outside courts and lawsuits become involved, allowing the company a chance to correct the situation. Thus, an instituted procedure should allow following this structure:
- Workers should be given the right to report IP violations happening in their departments anonymously, defending their employment status;
- Claims are filed and checked by an independent department, which analyzes the report’s credibility;
- If a breach of IPR is found, the offending department is contacted and asked to rectify the situation;
- If no action is taken within three days since the request’s issue, the case is escalated to involve upper management, with appropriate sanctions applied to the contacted department.
Making sure that every employee within a company recognizes their impact on their firm’s image in the United States and abroad equally necessitates understanding the consequences of violating IPR. Such companies may be faced with a multitude of ramifications, from a decrease in external investments and hefty fines to a loss in customer’s trust, resulting in a business failure (Abbott et al., 2019; Parr, 2018). Thus, the ramifications of IPR infringement are appropriately more considerable than the possible profit that a firm makes from dishonest IP practices, and offending departments may be penalized for breaching IPR.
While the rules regarding IPRs are under constant development, their current state allows defending content creators from possible IP theft and establishes an efficient system of punishment. The proposed policies could permit employees to draw attention to possible IP infringements, strengthening the company’s integrity. This approach necessitates that employees recognize the adverse effect of breaching IPR and are incentivized to support honesty in business tactics.
Abbott, F. M., Cottier, T., & Gurry, F. (2019). International intellectual property in an integrated world economy (4th ed.). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer.
Parr, R. L. (2018). Intellectual property: Valuation, exploitation, and infringement damages (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Stjepandic, J., Liese, H., & Trappey, A. J. C. (2015). Intellectual property protection. In J. Stjepandic, H. Liese, & A. J. C. Trappey (Eds.), Concurrent engineering in the 21st century: Foundations, developments and challenges (pp. 521-554). New York, NY: Springer.
Suzuki, K. (2015). Economic growth under two forms of intellectual property rights protection: Patents and trade secrets. Journal of Economics, 115(1), 49-71. Web.