The transition to a new stage of social development is impossible without respect and promotion of creative and scientific activities. Consumer society stimulates the development of new technologies and manufacturing them in new products. Thereby, our society needs in a clear legal regulation of such legal institution as intellectual property rights. Intellectual property is usually divided into two branches, namely industrial property and copyright.
The broad application of the term “industrial” is clearly set out in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Article 1 (3)): “Industrial property shall be understood in the broadest sense and shall apply not only to industry and commerce proper, but likewise to agricultural and extractive industries and to all manufactured or natural products, for example, wines, grain, tobacco leaf, fruit, cattle, minerals, mineral waters, beer, flowers, and flour.
” The formation of the major institutions of intellectual property rights including industrial property is accompanied with a conflict of social interests and also a set of ethical issues. First of all, there is a problem with understanding the nature of the intellectual property. Some things, which society considers fair and reasonable are in a conflict with the commercial interests of the rights holders, who are secured by legal protection. Ethical standards are in conflict with the legal.
As a result, the loyal attitude of our society to the infringement of intellectual property rights makes its protection weaker. Indeed, the legal content of the intellectual property is very different from the traditional category of private property. In comparison, buying any object and getting a private property right we actually have a full right to possess, use and dispose it in any way as we wish. The intellectual property rights story is different: you buy a commercial right to use the technology or design, but the moral right belongs to the author.
In practice, an average person hardly knows that he can break the moral right of the author to the integrity of the author’s project and therefore break the law when he rebuilt his house. Another example is the purchase of goods, when manufacturers use well-known trademarks (brands), in other words, buying fakes. It is widespread in a fashion industry. From the consumers point of view they have rights to choose and buy jackets with a famous label for $ 50 from the Chinese manufacturers, or very similar jackets with the same label for $ 500 from a company whose production is probably also located in China.
If there is no difference why have we pay more? The same story happens with modern gadgets: phones, smart phones, tablets, etc. Technology evolve rapidly, using them becomes a necessity, and patents, which belongs to large companies significantly increase the cost of the final product. However, even the most expensive and most modern portable device you can always find in a Chinese market. The Chinese analogue will be cheaper and available for people with low income. From the point of the patent holder view this is a violation of his legal rights.
The company researches and develops new technologies, paying staff and taxes. Hereby the patent holder must cover its costs, and have the motivation to further developing of new technology. From the ethical point people buying fakes in China support the violation of the law and also make a contribution to a slowdown of technological progress. On the other hand father, buying to his child a cheap tablet from China cause of lack of opportunity to buy a more expensive original, gives the child a chance to join the computer world.
This is his contribution to the training of the next generation. Perhaps his child will be an inventor of new technology in future. In one book about Harry Potters adventure there is an interesting conversation about the goblins ethic, which is very different from the humans: goblins believe that all things that they made and already sold belong to goblins in any case. In my opinion, big international company press governments to get as more privilege in protection of intellectual property rights as possible.
Therefore in the first place we have a protection of large businesses interests, but not consumers interests (their opinion is insignificant, and the ability to press is minimum). Public opinion, which is the main carrier of morality and ethics can have a significant impact in resolving of specific legal situations, as well as the formation of a balanced interpretation of law practice. If the law contains a space or a contradiction that can not be resolved solely on the basis of legal knowledge, a legislator should take into account ethical point of view.
Legislation is conservative and written text can not be perfect. Of course this is not the only ethical issue related to industrial property. Ethical issues also have a tendency to increase. It is directly related to the intensity of the modern technologies and new directions in research development. For example highly relevant from the ethical point of view issue is a patented technologies and materials associated with biological objects, including the human body.
The number of patents on materials and processes used in biomedical research is increasing. They are being sought and awarded not only for drugs and other medical products, but also for human cell lines, stem cells, human proteins, and genes. On the one hand it promotes medicine to a new step, on the other hand we are afraid to become expendable and lose our human integrity. This can radically change a system of ethical and moral values, and hence the modern legal system.
Interpretation of the law and the development of ethical standards should not interfere, but should help to the development of legislation. Law and ethics, as well as other social norms, despite that they are abstractions, they reflect social consciousness by certain facets. If such rules have a conflict, this conflict can not be resolved by ethical or legal methods, including law enforcement. It requires a systematic understanding of the system.