Intellectual property: the future and regulation
Intellectual property grants an author of an intellectual creation for exploiting and benefiting from the idea or innovation. World Intellectual Property Organization takes the responsibility for intellectual property. However, the digital reality and not normal economic goods change the rules. How to look at the problem and what could be potential solutions?
or public domain?
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) started its operation in 1967. WIPO has set a goal "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." At the time when WIPO was established, there was no system of innovations. The organization has been the only chain between innovators, scientists, and companies. WIPO boosts development by providing incentives for inventors to patent, copyright, and trademark on their work and ideas. Innovators get a hold on where and in what way their discovery or idea is implemented. However, WIPO has not predicted that economical incentive may slow down the development instead of boosting global and social improvement.
For instance, a boost in aviation industry was enabled not by patenting the technologies. Controversially, when the United States of America needed to improve their military aircraft, the government has opened the patents for public use. This way they have improved the whole global aviation development. This is one of a proven examples when the WIPO has been a barrier to innovation and development. Government intervention was required to solve the problem.
Does WIPO provide
Another influential example is healthcare industry. Talking about healthcare one has to keep in mind that healthcare products are not regular free market goods, and demand for medical care is inelastic. Medication for AIDS transformed lethal disease into chronical one. In 2002, the cost of treatment for HIV and AIDS was $12,000 per patient per year. This price has cut off access to treatment in developing countries. People in Europe and States have been living with the diagnosis, while the rest of the world was fighting for the access. The reason for the high price was that company who held the patent on the drug had an enormous economic incentive - profit - to prevent other players from producing or making low-cost versions. It was true until the day when Indian company has produced a generic copy of the drug. It was what we call today - disruptive innovation. The new generic drug had driven the price of the HIV/AIDS medication from $12,000 to $60 per year per patient. This example shows that WIPO system has its downturns undermining reaching the goal of global development.
HIV/AIDS case is only one of many. In the light of this problems, it has to be required from WIPO to create different regulations for sectors like healthcare. Innovations and discoveries in the industry should be treated different way from the normal goods. Intellectual property rights have to be built from commercial and from ethical and moral standpoint. Granting exclusive rights for exploiting the creation has to be weighted by moral principles. Similarly to what have been discussed in our previous article "Ethics of the coming decades."
An amount of online produced information grew from 30 exabytes per year in 2005 to 1,000 exabytes in 2015. These numbers describe how many ideas are traveling in the web. Each idea can be, and in some cases must be, copyrighted. It is tough to control the use of the information on the Internet. Intellectual property right has to protect the creation of mind which has both moral or commercial value. All material, from visual to textual content, has to be protected from duplication. Steps should be taken in order to solve the problem and find the most efficient way to control the intellectual property rights online.
People should focus on the importance of preventing illegal duplication and celebrating one's creativity and business. At the same time, corporations have to find a way how to aid WIPO with regulation the online world.
Moreover, companies have to stop exercising WIPO solely as profit mechanism. There have been reported issues with so-called patent trolls. Patent trolls are companies which establish a patent existing processes or technologies but for emerging world. Those companies then hunt down corporations and sue them. For instance, some companies like Fark.com, have been taken to court for "creation and distribution of news releases via email." As ridiculous as it is, the patent has been granted to Gooseberry. As a result, any company in the world who uses direct mail marketing might be brought legal charges against. Obviously, Goosberry does not act ethically or morally, creating problems instead of benefiting global development.
WIPO recognizes the challenge and ready to act accordingly to the rules of new emerging world. It might take a while till the efficient regulations are developed. Nevertheless, it is already a step forward that the digital issue is on the agenda. In words of WIPO, "On this day, as we celebrate digital creativity across the world, we should also think about how to find the right balance - one which recognizes the importance of creators and innovators to all the progress that we see, culturally and technologically, as a consequence of digital technology."
The meaning and exercising of intellectual property rights are changing with time. It is hard to imagine that centuries ago people will be building legal barriers to resist the development. Nowadays, when the holes in the WIPO regulations are coming onto the surface, new sets of rules are needed to provide the protection for one's creation. Shall we not forget that digital environment dictates its own laws.