Intellectual Property (IP) and Globalization
IP and GATT
Your reading makes it seem as though IP was a natural extension of GATT
from goods only, to goods and trade, to goods and trade and this thing
called IP, which is just another piece of the modern world. It was a
perfectly natural thing.
Well, it wasn't. It was a sneaky thing, as we'll see.
The way that IP got in -- TRIPS
Like Calvin and Hobbes GROSS -- not a perfect acronym.
I've seen students try to fit other words in to TRIPS, not realizing that
it doesn't really make any sense. The real acronym is Trade Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Background on IP
Fundamentally different from EVERYTHING else we've covered in this
course, for a number of reasons.
Non-rival good -- we can all listen to the same Beatles. We can't all
eat the same apples.
Monopolistic -- in every other area of trade, we want competition! It
helps consumers. In IP, we grant monopolies -- rights of exclusion.
Why? To incentivize creation. If creators don't have the right to
exclude others from their trade, then they make no money, because
everyone can have their stuff for only the cost of reproducing it,
which, as we've discussed, is negligible-to-zero. Copy a CD, doesn't
With that in mind, let's start with a very brief overview of what kinds of IP
Generally, just four. There are more (rights to publicity, etc) that we won't
get into here. They're not important for our purposes, but know that they
Types of IP
Copyright -- basically, anything "creative" that gets recorded somehow. A
story, a song, a video
Patent -- any device, method, or process (can be any of these, not just
tangible things), that is novel (not done before) and nonobvious (another
legal term, complicated, but basically has to require some thought to
Trademark -- won't really go into this, but you probably have some idea of
what a trademark is
Trade secret -- this one is really interesting, and seems like an outlier.
Basically it just means you can keep secret stuff secret. How is THAT
helpful? Is this just a silly branch of law? NO! It means that if someone
promises (through employment K, say) to keep your secret, and they
don't, you have a right to sue them.