Tell Us: Is Intellectual Property Even Property at All?

Businesses spend a lot of time and money fretting over patent issues, but perhaps the concept of intellectual property as a whole needs to be re-examined.

learn more about Ray Hennessey

By Ray Hennessey • Sep 19, 2013

intellectual-property.legalhelp.org

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Is intellectual property even property at all?

Businesses fret over IP issues all the time. On the one hand, they covetously protect what ideas they believe are theirs alone, making sure to use the courts to protect the exclusivity of whatever products grow from those thoughts. On the other hand, these same companies often find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits from others who claim their ideas were not as original as they thought. It's worse that there are also patent trolls who have made a business out of threatening lawsuits over intellectual property.

Related: Angry Business Owner Wages War on 'Troll'

But are these patent fights even valid? Attorney David D'Amato argues that they are not -- that, in fact, intellectual property is not true property at all. Ideas are evolutionary. In short, he says, endowing ideas with rights is ridiculous and impossible.

"Any attempt to neatly partition the contributions made by one mind or another, through all the ages of invention and scientific discovery, is vain and fruitless to the point of inanity," he writes. "Inventions constantly both absorb and propagate one another, plagiarizing, consuming and collaborating to create still newer inventions. To source any idea whatsoever to a particular individual or group is to assume that we know far more than we ever could about the full picture of the idea's germination and evolution."

By assigning rights to intellectual property, argues D'Amato, "is a millstone around the neck of innovation and technological progress, a political mechanism for stifling both in favor of bare monopoly."

Businesses spend a lot on intellectual property. Even filing for a patent for a simple, basic ideas will cost the inventor a minimum of $5,000, and usually more. Then there is the cost of defending and protecting patents and IP.

Is it worth it? Should we treat intellectual property as property at all?

Tell us your opinion.

Ray Hennessey

Former Editorial Director at Entrepreneur Media

Ray Hennessey is the former editorial director of Entrepreneur.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

Frontier Airlines Just Announced Its All-You-Can-Fly Summer Pass for $399. What's the Catch?

As travel begins to pick up, the airline hopes unlimited travel will jumpstart its business.

Marketing

If You're Not Using This Type of Content in Your Marketing, You're Missing Out

User-generated content is one of the most authentic ways to promote your brand to consumers. Here's how to find and benefit from UGC.

Growing a Business

6 Ways to Continually Grow Your Business Without Going Insane

This guide will help you create a successful, sustainable business that will provide long-term growth and profitability. Discover how you can take your business to the next level by reading on.

Leadership

20 Ways to Achieve Street Smart Wisdom for Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Leaders need to be street-smart to stay ahead of the curve, make educated decisions and continue to be successful.