Modern usage of the term Intellectual Property goes back at least as far as centuries back. The history of patents actually sprung not from scientific inventions but rather from royal grants for monopoly privileges. Now we ask, what is Intellectual Property and what does it signify? First we define Intellectual Property as creations of the mind such as inventions, literary pieces, artistic works, images, trademark names, and design. There are two categories of IP, namely Industrial property pertaining to inventions, industrial design, trademarks, and the other type is Copyright which includes literary and artistic works.
These exclusive rights allow the owners of the intellectual property to benefit from their creations, mainly involving a financial aspect in the picture. This is important whenever these are products of research and development ventures. The term itself has its own share of limitations by distorting public perceptions creating a bias by advocating monopolies claiming ownership of scarce physical things, associating them to property rights. Intellectual property tends to be directed by economic goals when it should be regarded mainly as a social product. To serve us, intellectual property rights must be respected and conformed to human rights.
Another limitation is probably its focus on individual work. So how about outputs from the combined efforts of the whole community. Nowadays, I think the trend is that companies are putting more attention to intangible assets in determining the value of the company. There are several treaties and international agreements that are founded on the notion that the protection of intellectual property rights is important in sustaining economic growth and development globally especially for developing countries in all industries. There are also ethical problems brought about by intellectual property rights.
For example, pharmaceutical companies would use intellectual property rights to disadvantage others, the consumers. When they produce medicine, they would want to stop the other drug manufacturers from manufacturing these drugs without incurring additional cost of research and development. In doing so, they are allowed to charge higher selling price to recover costs. The higher prices harm consumers since they might not be able to purchase the drug which is supposed to save their lives. The incentives for innovating constituted by IPRs establish a direct relationship innovation and price.