The Pomegranate Series, Episode 2: An Intellectual Justification

The Pomegranate Series

IP Fundamentals

Season 1, Episode 2: An Intellectual Justification

Image Courtesy: Google Images
Image Courtesy: Google Images

Why should we even care to spend our time and effort protecting Intellectual Property Rights?

For any work to be done and for any property to be created, human labour is an indispensable requirement. Only when such labour is applied to an external factor, is there a chance for the creation / procurement of another factor of production. This premise is based on John Locke’s theory of the right to property; which states that property is owned by the person who applies his / her labour to any object (material or otherwise) to create such property in the object. This property may lie in a tangible object like a Dell Vostro laptop, or in an intangible one like the content of this blog-post. The existence and ownership of private property is not only recognized by our fellows in society, but is also fiercely protected by the laws of a country.

While interpreting human labour, we often sub-consciously understand it to mean the physical effort applied in works like manual labour and other tasks of which physical utility is the central requirement. However, application of intellectual effort to a sheet of paper also leads to ownership of property in the drawing of a blue-print, just the way an application of physical effort leads to creation of property in an apartment constructed on the basis of that blue-print. The purpose of IP law is to provide recognition and protection to such laborious intellectual effort.

The reason for providing strong protection is to encourage those people who take the extra intellectual effort to bring into society their creative works like paintings, drawings, motion pictures and inventions like pharmaceutical drugs and smart phones. Moreover, the need for stronger protection is felt the most in this field because it is much easier for a person to hack into a supercomputer to steal (misappropriate) an intangible property, like the source code of its software, than to steal the supercomputer itself.

IP owners are therefore allowed to fully reap the commercial benefits of their creation with the added privilege (read right) to exclude any and / or every other person to profit from such IP for a limited period of time. On this, Jeremy Bentham would say that there would be very less incentive (or none) left for your favorite movie producers like Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra to invest several crores of rupees to create a masterpiece like “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” in the absence of copyright protection; and for huge pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to invest tens of billions of dollars for inventing a new life saving drug in the absence of patent protection.

After this basic justification for exactly why our government grants special rights to an IP creator I hope that you have all been introduced to our friend Mr. Intellectual Property Rights. But this is just the beginning; tune into this blog for the next episode of: The Pomegranate Series to meet the first IP Avenger.

Ritvik M. Kulkarni


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