Intellectual property is a term that refers to unique creations of the human mind that are subsequently recognized and protected by law, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce. It includes musical performances, films, fashion, advances in technology or medicine, and innovations on existing design in every field and genre. Simply put, intellectual property represents our genius.
Stealing intellectual property is no less of a crime than stealing someone’s wallet or damaging their sale goods. Some consequences of intellectual property theft are obvious. If a patient is treated with counterfeit medication, his or her health could suffer, or they could die. Intellectual property theft deprives artists, inventors and innovators of their just compensation, and cheats purchasers of pirated goods, because the value of the purchase is less than advertised.
Some of the lesser known forms of intellectual property theft include appropriation of trade secrets and specialized know-how, usually through cyber theft; and compulsory transfer of technology from transnational companies to the government of a country on whose territory they wish to conduct business.
Still, one of the most serious consequences of intellectual property theft is that it stifles creativity and innovation. Why dedicate effort and resources to creation or innovation if one is not likely to reap commensurate rewards?
On April 26th, we observe World Intellectual Property Day to celebrate creativity, to acknowledge the contributions of creators, inventors and innovators to the development of societies across the globe, and to raise awareness of how patents, copyright and trademarks contribute to humanity’s progress. This year’s theme, Women in Innovation and Creativity, is designed to celebrate women’s contributions to intellectual property.
The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights helps ensure the world will continue to benefit from the time, resources, and brainpower invested in developing new technologies and improvement of existing ones; from the works of some or our most creative citizens, and from new brands and modes of production.
On this day, as we celebrate the human capacity to create, innovate and invent, we call on all our friends and partners to stiffen intellectual property laws where needed, and enforce them strictly, for the sake of us all.