Jones and Benson (36) define intellectual property as a legal field that often involves creations of the mind in the areas of music, literature and arts. It also covers inventions, symbols, names, images and designs which are used in trade and commerce which usually involve copyrights, trademarks, patents and other related rights. Laws were developed in order to protect the rights of the authors or people who hold the rights for their creation, masterpiece or name.
Under these intellectual property laws, the holder of the so-called abstract properties have the sole and exclusive rights to the creative work, commercial symbol, or invention which is covered by it (Jones & Benson 36). Governments all over the world recognized the different forms of intellectual properties for centuries. However, certain governments have gave importance to these rights/properties only recently and at the same time, these properties are still being questioned by some scholars especially with regard to the legitimacy and philosophical basis of these laws.
Despite this, the formulation of these laws was never put to an end. In fact, the nineteenth century also witnessed the formulation of international treaties which aimed to standardize the different aspects of the International Property Laws (Jones & Benson 37). However, the processes by which these laws are being enforced still vary from one jurisdiction to another, as once again mentioned by Jones and Benson (37). Intellectual property rights are also becoming more and more popular with the countries belonging to the first world. Countries such as the United States, Japan, etc.
believe that safeguarding these properties could foster economic growth, provides incentives for technological innovation, and attracts investment that will create new jobs and opportunities for all their citizens, Field (1) mentions. More often than not, as also supported by the report of the World Bank entitled Global Economic Prospects, intellectual property rights for the first world countries are usually associated with greater trade and foreign direct investment flows which could then pave the way for faster economic growth. The Importance of Intellectual Property Rights
The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial property and the Berne Convention or the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works were the first international treaties produced which aimed towards the protection of intellectual property rights in the 1880s (Field 11). The intellectual property rights were first incorporated into the Uruguay Round negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). International treaties had been developed in order to protect the intellectual properties of the people.
Salmon (18) also recognizes the importance of a strong protection for Intellectual Property Rights to the economic growth and development of all the countries in the world. As mentioned in the earlier part of this paper, the international community never had a single source for obligations regarding intellectual property before the 1994 Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which included Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS. Salmon (18) enumerates the importance of this agreement and these are the following:
1. It is the first single, truly international agreement that establishes minimum standards of protection for several forms of intellectual property; 2. It is the first international intellectual property agreement that mandates detailed civil, criminal, and border enforcement provisions; and 3. It is the first international intellectual property agreement that is subject to binding, enforceable dispute settlement. The TRIPS agreement, in effect, lays the groundwork for a strong and modern IPR infrastructure for the world community.
Without a doubt, intellectual property issues are becoming more and more popular as they also continue on to attract controversy and debate. In fact, people do not tend to agree much on issues regarding intellectual property rights. The protection of the intellectual property rights of citizens is essential to the different aspects of development – social, cultural and economic. At the same time, Wayne (17) also mentions that copyrights, patents and trademarks are important in the following aspects: first, to promote cultural development; second, to foster innovation and growth; and finally, to protect public health and safety.
In the world economic scene nowadays, Post (1) mentions the importance of intellectual assets as compared with the physical ones. It is because of this that intellectual property matters are now becoming more and more important, especially with regard to international trade. As earlier mentioned, the protection of intellectual property rights is often associated with economic development and growth. It is for this reason that in the global setting, nation-states are now participating in the enforcement of intellectual property laws.