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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 5381

Property, Liberty, and the Law

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Ryan Bradley & Mike Quirk LJST 24 May 10, 2004 Professor Delaney Property, Liberty, and the Law "Protecting Intellectual Property through Patents" Property is one of the ultimate indicators of wealth in our society. Property laws help everyone, even the property less. Order through property laws allow the people to be engaged in the free market economy with little fear of losing everything they have because someone bigger and stronger took it from them. Property laws prevent societal chaos. Property covers a wide array of "things," from pencils and televisions to yachts and buildings, it even includes ideas. Almost everything has an owner, from a tree branch overhanging a country road per Heckert v. Patrick to the design of a back massager. Intellectual property is the category of property consisting of these intangible things, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. What we plan to do in this paper is to depict the history of patent law, and illustrate the morality issues behind patents and to determine their effect on society. The notion of establishing a way of protecting ideas through patents is an old one. The first documented patent was given in 1421, in Florence, Italy. North America's first patent was "given by the Massachusetts General Court to Samuel Winslow for a new means of processing salt," while "the first machinery patent was granted in 1646 to (-2-) Bradley & Quirk Joseph Jenkes for devising a mill for manufacturing scythes."1 Without the incentive for personal gain provided by patents, we would live in a very different world. Patents create protection for the inventor in that they create a low "stress" environment for innovation and production. Mark Twain once said, "A country without a patent office and good patent laws was just a crab and couldn't travel anyway but sideways or backwards." What Twain meant was that a country could not expect to move forward technologically unless there are sufficient rules protecting invention and innovation, especially in a free market economy. ...read more.

Middle

To create and test a new discovery in the bio tech field is extremely expensive and time consuming. Therefore, the stock holders and/or owners of the companies deserve to try to make a profit and charge exuberant prices for their discoveries. Although this might seem trivial, the time and money put into testing is extremely important. If one were to take a new crop out into the world, seed it on various continents, and sell it world wide without knowing long term effects of the good could be deadly. The testing that goes along with these advances is well worth the time and effort. Also, without an international patent law or punishment there is no benefits or want for private investors to invest in this risky ordeal. This is because there is no stopping others countries form producing and stealing these new inventions once they go overseas and making profit on them themselves. In saying this, there needs to be new patent laws which encourage inventors, protect inventions, but provide access to all in need if the new invention will help better man kind. Secondly, the ideas of what can be patented arise. If someone attempts to patent some plant, fish or new species it cannot be done. However, if one finds that the extract of juice within a certain fish's eye can heal cancer than the extract may be patented. The (-11-) Bradley & Quirk maybe within the last statement is because the only way the extract can be patented is if the inventors modify it and or work with it in some way to create a drug, food, or something new. On the other hand not being able to patent things such as a new species or an extract can create other moral dilemmas. Such as, keeping the discovery form the world, so an individual firm can concentrate on its discovery and find out what can and cannot be done with it. ...read more.

Conclusion

A person who makes commercial use of a creative work, an invention, a trade mark or a trade secret is benefiting from the expense and effort of the artist, inventor, or trademark owner." This should be common law just as the Jewish faith sees it, but not all individuals have a faith or if they do read the materials for their faith. Religion could play a large role in intellectual property and common law, but possibly in another time when commandments actually mean something. Property law in general is a complicated matter. Owners, as part of the system that protects their individual rights, must weigh the uses of their own property against the rights of the society in which they live. Patent law specifically, is heavily based upon this ethical dilemma. The owner of a patent subscribes to this notion of helping society eventually, and must fulfill this obligation in order for the system to perpetuate itself. There is a minute distinction between helping society and hurting society, based upon how the owner interacts with the system. A business powerhouse like IBM hurts the system if it uses its property rights as a sword, or just to cripple its competition. Large corporations have a larger responsibility than the small, garage inventor, but the obligation is still there: to help society in any way they can. Owners invest themselves in the system, so they must work to perpetuate it however they can. If this obligation cannot (-20-) Bradley & Quirk be fulfilled by the philanthropic inventor, then a body like the International Patent Institution needs to be more authoritative. This would most likely happen before inventors decided to manage their own obligations. Intellectual property rights are namely those ideas that would help mankind, so mankind should have some say in the matter, therefore making a powerful governing body a necessity. 1 Britannica Student Encyclopedia Online 2 Rose, Carol M. "Crystals and Mud in Property Law" 3 www.ibm.com/ibm/licensing/patents/ ...read more.

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