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Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is basically any item that a person can have legal rights over. These items have to be intangible items to
be considered intellectual property. The legal rights to have protection over this property can include copyrights, patents,
trademarks, and industrial design rights.

According to International Business: Competing in the Global Marketplace, by Charles Hill, intellectual property is
“products of the mind, ideas (e.g., books, music, computer software, designs, technological know-how).  Intellectual
property can be protected by patents, copyrights, and trademarks.”

Intellectual property can be in the form of any of the following: songs, drawings, designs of products, books, etc.

1. Copyright - a copyright grants the owner or the creator of the property the right to distribute the property for a certain
                        period of time.

2. Patent - patents are in terms of inventions.  An inventor is given rights over the invention over a certain period of time.

3. Trademark - a trademark is a sign or logo that a company, business, or product uses. This trademark is unique.

4. Industrial Design Rights - this area deals with the legal rights over shape and or color pattern of an object or product.

(Note: Intellectual property Wikipedia entry.)

A perfect example of an intellectual property is a song that a musical artist creates.  Whoever in the contract owns these songs
has the copyright and the patent for them.  One can see on the back cover of a music album who or what company has the
rights to the recordings.  For example, the back cover of this album, by The Rolling Stones, contains patent and copyright
information on the right hand side underneath the bar code.

Many items or products that fall under the category of intellectual property have tremendous commercial value to their creator.
For example, in continuing with the song and music example, when an artist creates a song, they own it or their producers own
it as long as they have the copyright to the song.  If another artist comes along and decides to lift the song’s tune or a portion
of the melody, they would be committing copyright infringement.  In this case, a lawsuit could be filed against the person or artist
who has committed the infringement.  One way to get around this issue of copyright infringement, if it is really necessary to use
the tune, is to credit the original owner of the property for their work.  This idea can work the same for literary works and art
pieces as well.

Another problem that is present in the music world in terms of intellectual property is music piracy.  This piracy breaks copyrights and
distributes the music of the musician and his/her producer illegally. intellectual property may not seem to many as actual property.
Because of this issue, people continue to pirate such items as songs.  Piracy is a growing problem. With peer to peer networks
that include software like Napster, intellectual property rights are being taken away every day.  With any intangible item, this is
the problem.  Because people cannot touch this product, they see no harm is using it past their allowable limits.

An organization known as the World Intellectual Property Organization promotes treaties that protect intellectual properties.
183 nations in the world are a part of this organization and many have signed treaties into effect that do recognize intellectual
property.  An organization like this is extremely important because it promotes the acceptance and regulation of property that
is intangible.  Since this property is recognized through treaties, people who break the rules such as commit copyright infringement
can be prosecuted for their wrongful actions.