Intellectual property law and modern society

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Critically consider the extent to which the law of intellectual property meets the needs of modern society The following consideration of the intersection between the needs of modern society and intellectual property law will focus upon specific examples drawn from patent innovation and its legal protections, and various developments in copyright law. Patents The fundamental purpose of intellectual property law is outlined in Aerotel Ltd. v.

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Telco[1]. Aerotel is the most recent UK Court of Appeal articulation of software patents principles. The Court stated that it had ‘no concern’ regarding the debates that have raged for years concerning software patents and the question of whether the larger public interest requires a greater degree of access to otherwise protected innovations[2]. A summary of the purposes of modern patents was developed as[3]: ‘The patent system is there to provide a research and investment incentive but it has a price. That price (what economists call “transaction costs”) is paid in a host of ways: the costs of patenting, the impediment to competition, the compliance cost of ensuring non-infringement, the cost of uncertainty, litigation costs and so on. There is, so far as we know, no really hard empirical data showing that the liberalisation of what is patentable in the USA has resulted in a greater rate of innovation or investment in the excluded categories. Innovation in computer programs, for instance, proceeded at an immense speed for years before anyone thought of granting patents for them as such.[4] TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) demonstrates that international software patent laws are a somewhat unstable mixture of legal theories and the hard edged economic realities of international trade regulation concerning the control of technology. The international intellectual property regime as contained within TRIPS is not so much a system as it is an organism that is not fully developed. The TRIPS agreement is Annex 1C of the Marrakesh Agreement creating the World Trade Organization[5]. This document is the product of a series of multi-lateral agreements made by the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) respecting various aspects of intellectual property, including software patents. TRIPS represents the first time that intellectual property issues have been formally installed in any world trading structure. TRIPS is a point of commencement in the effort to bring order to the handling of intellectual property disputes. The comprehensive language regarding software patents in TRIPS is consistent with American, British, and European patent practices. However, it is open to question whether the TRIPS regime will assist in the satisfaction of the demands of modern society for clear and effective world wide intellectual property regulation. Earlier and equally lauded WTO initiatives that purportedly enjoyed the support of the international trade community, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),

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