Intellectual Property Theft Essay

Cheap Custom Writing Service

Intellectual  property  (IP) rights  are the  rights  given to individuals over the creation of their minds. These rights  are  afforded  legal protection  for  a  specified period of time during which the creator  of the intellectual property  has exclusive rights to this property. Intellectual property has three principal categories: copyrights, which govern the IP of authors  of literary and artistic works (books, writings, and musical compositions), as well as the rights of performers  (singers and actors) and those responsible  for the dissemination of these works (film and record producers); trademarks, which are the indicia (signs, words, or symbols) used by manufacturers to distinguish  their  products from those of others. These marks may consist of the same mark applied to a number of different products or they may involve the application of different marks to unrelated  products.  Owners of registered trademarks are entitled to their exclusive use. Finally, there are patents, which govern the IP of those creating industrial property (for example, new technology, processes, and designs) and may be held by individuals or the corporations which employ them.

Protection  of IP, in all its forms, is important for a variety of reasons. As far as the creators  of IP are concerned,  exclusive rights reward creative work in the arts (copyright); they allow trademark  owners to enjoy the goodwill associated  exclusively with their marks; and  patents  encourage  research  and  development  into  new products  and processes. Properly enforced, the rights associated with IP ensure that not only do the creators of IP benefit but so does society as a whole; when not properly enforced, misuse of IP affects both the private benefits that accrue to its creators and society at large. Consider, for example, the following potential consequences for society when IP is misused: Research and development  are discouraged and therefore economic growth is reduced; new cures for life-threatening diseases are delayed because of the greater uncertainty surrounding future returns; misuse  of trademarks   on  pharmaceutical products can cause serious  injury or death;  organized  counterfeiting exacerbates the problems associated with organized crime.

At the international level protection of copyright was enshrined  by the Berne Convention  for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886 (and subsequently revised, for example, in Paris, 1896; Berlin, 1908; Rome, 1928; and, most recently, by the TRIPS Agreement, 1994). The Berne Convention and its successors established a series of guidelines and the minimum level of protection to be afforded to copyright. For example, works originating  in one  of the  contracting  states were to be given the same protection in each of the other contracting  states as the former gave to its own subjects. The Convention  provided for “moral rights”—the right to claim authorship  of the work and the right to object to any modification of the work that was prejudicial to the author’s reputation.  The Convention  stipulated  that  the duration of copyright protection was to be 50 years after the author’s death.

During the Uruguay Round negotiations preceding the TRIPS agreement, it was accepted that the Berne Convention generally provided adequate standards of copyright protection and so the focus was on extending  the  provisions  laid  down  in  the  last  Convention (Paris, 1971). However, signatories do not have rights or obligations under the TRIPS Agreement  in respect to “moral rights.” Among the key extensions that TRIPS made to the Berne Convention  were that copyright would be extended to expressions; the provisions of the Berne Convention  that  apply to literary works would be extended to computer  programs; and  databases  would  be protected  even where  the data  contained  on  them  was not  subject  to  copyright protection.  In the case of computer  programs, authors would have the right to authorize or prohibit commercial  rental  to the public of originals or copies of their copyright work. The duration of copyright protection was retained  at 50 years (but 20 years for broadcasting organizations).

In the case of trademarks,  international agreements covering their registration  and protection date back to the  Paris Convention  for the  Protection  of Industrial  Property, 1883 (and its subsequent  extensions, for example, the Hague, 1925; London, 1934; Lisbon, 1958; and the TRIPS Agreement, 1994). The basic guidelines and rights  to protection set out  in these Conventions  were as follows: First, nationals of each of the countries  of the Union shall enjoy in all other countries of the Union the advantages that their respective laws now grant; the countries of the Union agree to refuse or to cancel the registration  of or to prohibit  the use of, any trademark  that constitutes  a reproduction or imitation of a mark already used by a person entitled  to the protection of the Convention, and used for identical or similar goods; restrictions were placed on the  use of state  emblems,  armorial bearings, and hallmarks, as trademarks.

The TRIPS Agreement continued these basic provisions and made a number of extensions. For example, in deciding whether a mark proposed for registration would undermine the exclusive rights of the owner of a registered trademark, the likelihood of consumer confusion was assumed. Additionally, service marks were specifically included in the definition of trademark (the Paris Convention  only contained  a general obligation to recognize the rights of owners of these marks). TRIPS introduced the first international requirement to  provide  for cancellation  and  opposition  procedures  when a trademark  was published prior to registration.

In the case of patents, these, too, were the subject of international protection under the Paris Convention and its successors. The fundamental  rights of patent holders established by these Conventions were similar to those of trademark  owners (for example, rights to reciprocal protection within the Union), but differed to the extent  that  they are an intrinsically different form of IP. Among the key rights accorded to patent holders under the Paris Convention were that patents applied for in the various countries  of the Union by persons entitled to the benefits of the Union would be independent of patents obtained for the same invention in other  countries  irrespective  of whether  they were members of the Union; if examination indicates that an application contains many inventions, the applicant  may divide the application  into a number of separate applications, and no country of the Union may refuse an application for a patent on the grounds that it contains multiple priority claims.

The TRIPS Agreement extended the Paris Convention in a number  of directions. For example, restrictions  were  imposed  on  eligibility:  inventions  may be excluded from patentability  if there was a danger that  their  commercial  exploitation  would endanger public order/morality (for example, pornography). Additionally,  signatories  were permitted  to exclude from  patentability  diagnostic  and  surgical methods for the treatment of animals (to facilitate the free dissemination  of new medical techniques).  Finally, patent  applications  would  be subject  to  a precise  test governing the  description  of the  invention.  Specifically full disclosure was required  to ensure  that  the invention  can be exploited  without  undue  difficulty by others after the expiry of the exclusive right (which is nonrenewable).

Misuse of IP continues  to be a booming, if illegal, industry, as demonstrated by Nicole Piquero: In the United States, it has been estimated  that the motion picture industry lost $1.25 billion between 1998 and 2002 due to piracy; worldwide estimates of the annual amount  of pirated  software range between $7.5 and $17 billion. One  problem  is that  rapid  advances in technology  have increased  the  opportunities for IP theft. For example, the proliferation of photocopying machines has increased concerns about the effectiveness of rights given to copyright holders; these concerns have been exacerbated by the even more rapid proliferation of personal computers  and access to the World Wide Web.

Greater international efforts to combat protection of IP rights, as demonstrated by the TRIPS Agreement, have also been matched by reinvigorated efforts at the national  level to solve this problem. For example, in the United States, the Department of Justice created a Task Force on Intellectual Property in 2004, to examine how methods  for civil and criminal enforcement of IP could be improved. In the United Kingdom, the Alliance Against IP Theft was formed, comprising, for example, British Brands Group; British Phonographic Industry, British Video Association, and the Institute of Trademark Attorneys. These national initiatives are important to combat  indigenous  IP theft; however, because  globalization  has  increased  trade  in semi processed and finished products, all of which contain IP to varying degrees, greater international coordination of these initiatives will become more important if international IP theft is to be eradicated.


  1. Jay S. Albanese, ed., Combating Piracy: Intellectual Property Theft and Fraud (Transaction Publishers, 2007);
  2. Blakeney, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Sweet and  Maxwell, 1996);
  3. Christopher Burgess and Richard Power, Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost: Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century (Syngress, 2008);
  4. Geraldine Szott Moohr, The Criminal Law of Intellectual Property and Information: Cases and Materials (Thomson/West, 2008);
  5. World Trade Organization, (cited March 2009).

This example Intellectual Property Theft Essay is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic please use our writing services. offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.

See also:


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality

Special offer!