Breadth of Coverage for Intellectual Property Law. ENCOURAGING PRODUCT INNOVATION BY BROADENING PROTECTION

Pages5-17
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/10610429310039731
Publication Date01 Feb 1993
AuthorFrank Alpert
SubjectMarketing
VOLUME 2 NUMBER 2
1993
Breadth of Coverage for
Intellectual Property Law
ENCOURAGING PRODUCT INNOVATION BY BROADENING PROTECTION
Frank Alpert
Innovations
are the
lifeblood
of
our
economic system. "Innovation"
is
practically
a
sacred American value.
In
the last decade business
has
taken
innovation
to
heart more than ever,
and
the pace
of
innovation
and
new product
introductions
has
steadily increased.
As a
result, product life cycles have become
shorter.
At the
same time,
the
industrial
revolution
has
made way
for the
information revolution. Service product
growth outpaces industrial product
growth. Amazingly, today's state-of-the-
art computer will
be
obsolete
in
just
a
few years.
Yet intellectual property law[1], that
part
of
the legal system which
is
supposed
to
promote innovation
by
temporarily protecting
the
rewards
to
innovators,
has not
changed much
in the
past 200 years. Current law provides
for
17-year patents
in
this country because
of
the antiquated rationale that patents
should
be for
more than twice
the
length
of the standard seven-year apprenticeship.
Intellectual property law
is a
complex
area
for
which there
are no
easy answers,
because
all
types
of
protection involve
trade-offs.
But for too
long
the
intimidating complexity
of
this area
has
left
the
debate over patent policy
to be
controlled
by
lawyers
and
economists
with little input from business thinkers.
This article fills that gap
by
presenting
a
possible reform
to the
intellectual
property law system based
on
business
and marketing theory with
the
aim
of
promoting innovation
in the
marketplace.
Two major developments during
the
last half-century have reduced
the
effectiveness
of
intellectual property law:
(1)
the
nature
and
mix
of
products
is
changing;
and
(2) new products
are
generally more
expensive
to
develop
and
market
today than ever before.
The change
in the
nature
and
mix
of
products
has
been widely recognized
as
the economy
has
evolved from
an
industrial economy
to a
service economy
to today's increasingly information-based
economy. The service
and
information
products which have become prevalent,
are
not
well protected
by the
current
intellectual property law:
Journal
of
Product
&
Brand Management, Vol.
2
No.
2,
1993, pp.
5-17,
© MCB University Press,
1061-0421.
5

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