Get Smart! about Intellectual Property

By Andolsen, Alan A. | Information Management, January/February 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Get Smart! about Intellectual Property

Andolsen, Alan A., Information Management

Over the past 50 years, there has been a meteoric rise in claims to intellectual property around the globe. In fact, intellectual property has in many ways become the foundation of some economies. Since the existence of and rights surrounding intellectual property are realized only through complete and exacting documentation, records and information managers must assume important and expanded responsibilities in the management and protection of intellectual property. This article focuses on the principal types of intellectual property: patents, trademarks, copyrights, publicity rights, and trade secrets. In addition to a discussion of the nature and structure of each of these types of intellectual property, important international issues, responsibilities, and tasks for the records and information management (RIM) professional will be addressed.

Intellectual Property

The ownership of the expression of ideas, which is at the core of the concept of intellectual property, came late in the development of Western civilization. Most Western philosophers, including Jeremy Bentham and Thomas Hobbes, focused on the ownership of physical property in their discussions of utilitarianism and politics. Until the 17th century, there were no legal protections even for inventions that had a physical component (e.g., textile loom, typewriter, sewing machine, etc.); and it was not until the mid-19th century that these protections were extended to items without a physical component (e.g., commercial processes, medical procedures).

As the legal structure surrounding intellectual property developed, each nation determined the granting of specific types of monopoly to creators or owners. As the global economy developed, harmonization of the various approaches to intellectual property became necessary. Out of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations in 1994 emerged the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which lays out a set of minimum standards for all the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adopt. The TRIPS agreement is only the beginning. Many practical and concrete outcomes from TRIPS still need to be resolved (e.g., the availability of patented AIDS drugs in developing countries). Efforts to continue the harmonization of intellectual property law continues today through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the current successor to the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property founded in 1893.

For the RIM professional, the key element is the recognition that intellectual property is an important asset, not just a collection of information artifacts. The monopoly granted by government to the inventor or owner of a specific piece of intellectual property permits the creation of substantial, protected income (whether the owner/inventor is an independent person, part of a commercial enterprise, an educational entity, or a not-for-profit). Because of the inherent value of the documentation that permits the granting of the monopoly, RIM professionals must view it as a vital record and take a value-based approach to the collection, organization, and preservation of the information resources.

In particular, the approach to the maintenance of intellectual property documentation requires, above all, defined structure and clarity. During the creation and application phases of the process granting an intellectual property monopoly, the RIM professional can augment the process by helping staff to identify all the required documentation, creating clear and comprehensive classifications to organize the material, assuring the proper preservation of the documentation (especially those components that are digital), and providing appropriate vital-record protection.


Patent law protects inventions that are original and not obvious by granting a monopoly to the inventor for a stated period of time (e.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Get Smart! about Intellectual Property


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?