Many people underestimate the role that has been played by intellectual property in shaping the technological advances which we enjoy today. It is because of IP that we can enjoy modern transportation, communications, technological advances in the field of medicine, and everything else in between. With time it became necessary to patent and copyright innovations to ensure that credit was given where due each time the invention was used for the benefit of another. However, with the rapid rate at which technology has been expanding, it has become very difficult to change and enact appropriate legislation that can keep up.
Previous technological advances have been industrial in nature. But with the advent of the information age, knowledge and skills have become the new source of competitive advantage in invention and its implementation. In the modern time, the intellectual property that a company has and how they apply it determines their success or failure (HG Legal Resources). For instance, tech giants have no tangible goods or services to offer, so their economic survival depends on how well they preserve this intellectual property.
A few decades ago, the wealthiest people in the world were those who had invested in fields like oil and the money markets. Today, the world’s wealthiest individuals are those who have invested in technology. The only challenge that is facing the sector is that new inventions are coming up every day, which is making it very difficult for definitive laws to be set with regards to ownership and transfer of IP. The need to have legislation that protects IP persists because if industries such as microelectronics, biotechnology and telecommunications are left with their IP vulnerable to copying, it will be impossible to generate enough wealth to sustain employees and fuel growth.
In the past, companies invested in technology have taken others to court over what they termed as infringements on their intellectual property. In many cases, when a company is able to prove that they own the patent to the property, they are awarded damages to the tune of millions of dollars. There are times, however, when these companies file the lawsuits not because they are certain to win the suit, but to make their competitors more cautious and slow down their progress in making the next generation of technology. Considering the exponential rate of advancement calculated by experts at The Emerging Future, it’s a cunning practice.
The problem of rapidly evolving technology and IP legislation is further complicated by the presence of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Machines are now automated to carry out tasks that the human brain takes much longer to accomplish. How long will it be before AI becomes a source of intellectual property and when this happens, will humans have laws to protect the rights of a computer as the owner of certain IP.
As summarized by one patent attorney, the successful prosecution of patent applications to issued patents is both an art form and a science. It is obvious that IP laws need to stay dynamic so as to cater for the needs of the ever-evolving world of technology. Creators of patentable IP also need to be encouraged to register and patent quickly so as to maximize the benefit from their creations.