Perspectives from Intellectual Property, Labour, Competition and Corporate Law
Edited by Marilyn Pittard, Ann L. Monotti and John Duns
Chapter 3: Innovation through the lens of intellectual property law: rights in employee inventions
The nature of intellectual property (IP) law is that it provides time- limited protection for a disparate range of intellectual creations from the ‘fine arts’ end of a spectrum through to all forms of new technology. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) that might be valuable assets in business innovation differ in their scope and purpose according to the nature of the subject matter in which the rights are granted: in particular patents protect inventions, design law protects the appearance of products, copyright protects against copying all manner of output in the area of ‘fine arts’ and trade marks can provide a business with valuable protection for distinguishing their products and services from those of their competitors. In many instances a business might rely upon internal secrecy to protect its ideas but in others, patent protection might be the only option for protecting useful ideas to avoid ‘free riding’ by competitors. Business innovation is associated generally with the continual development and introduction of new and improved products and methods to help businesses build and retain a profitable and competitive position in the marketplace. The types of expenditure involved may be directed at activities such as research and experimental development including design and testing of product prototypes, application for and acquisition of IPRs, and developing operational, managerial and marketing processes to maximise financial returns.1 A business may have its own skilled workforce, which generates new knowledge and technology and which manages all aspects of the production and marketing processes.
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