Clyde D. Stoltenberg
Wichita State University
The term "intellectual property" itself embodies the tension that underlies the concept as it has evolved, largely in the West. "Intellectual" suggests the mind's thought and creativity. "Property" embodies a fundamental legal concept of something that can be owned, controlled, and/or traded or exchanged through contract. Protection of intellectual property is designed to further innovation by granting economic incentives to authors, creators, and inventors. Thus, it is fundamentally tied to an economy that is market-driven.
However, maintaining the appropriate balance between creator protection and public access to knowledge in an "information society", with its rapidly evolving technology, is a tricky proposition. As one commentator has put it, "when ownership of intellectual property is challenged, it is not questioned on the grounds that intellectual property should be a public good, but rather to what degree it can be property" (Halbert, 1999). This is the tension that informs managers dealing with intellectual property. This essay will begin addressing the topic, first, by describing the categories of intellectual property. Second, the history and evolution of the categories of intellectual property will be summarized. Informed by this discussion, the chapter will conclude by addressing some of the more significant current intellectual property issues relevant to contemporary management ...