The United States has one of the most robust and protective intellectual property law systems in the world. Everything from songs to recipes can be protected by patents and trademarks. Not every country has these same protections, especially when it comes to international trade. In some countries, such as India, intellectual property laws are ignored for the sake of short term economic gain. Based on these kinds of economic interactions, I don’t believe that intellectual property ownership is protected by copyright laws, especially in terms of international use of copyrighted material.
According to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, India is one of the European Union’s largest trading partners. Despite this, India has engaged in what Holger Krahmer calls “a shortsighted crusade against intellectual-property rights” (Krahmer). Krahmer explained that New Delhi has been allowing Indian companies to violate intellectual property owners’ rights and make the generic versions of those protected products. One of the biggest problems with this is that “intellectual property is the cornerstone of innovation. It creates incentives essential for productive risk-taking” (Krahmer). When intellectual property is not protected, the production of new and innovative inventions and arts stops.
While the United States does have a host of intellectual property protections in place, these things would not stand up to the actions of people and businesses in other countries. A person’s patents and trademarks may be protected in the United States, but no promises can be made overseas. The logic for ignoring copyright laws is not entirely unfounded. In theory, it would allow for governments to simply take ideas that they like and market them at a price that could make them a massive profit. However, this system doesn’t come without its disadvantages. By ignoring copyright protections, India begins to do all of the following:
“[It] stifles domestic innovation. Local entrepreneurs…shy away from taking new risks. …the government can just swoop in. …Likewise, violating intellectual property scares off foreign investors, who will just relocate their money to legal environments more conducive to returns.”(Krahmer).
This lack of respect for copyright laws can clearly be seen as a serious detriment to an economic environment.
Krahmer said he believe India needs to stop aiming for the short term gain of ignoring intellectual property in order to ensure a more long term satisfaction and a more stable economy. Were it to conform to intellectual property protection standards seen around the world, India would have a much easier time encouraging innovation and creativity among its citizens and trading with other countries.
Intellectual property is a tricky thing to protect. It can be nearly impossible to say who of two people came up with a very similar idea first, and therefore, who owns the idea. From there, it can even be harder to distinguish the difference between a fair use of somebody else’s intellectual property, the creation of a similar idea or concept that isn’t technically the same or even how far a person’s rights extend. The United States may have a myriad of intellectual property laws, much like several countries in the European Union and around the world, but that does not necessarily mean these things are protected.
While intellectually property protection laws are nice to have in writing, if they are not followed ubiquitously, they are worth almost nothing. The way India was treating intellectual property protection laws was unfair and highly detrimental both to their economy and their relationships with other nations. It simply proves the fact that though copyright laws exist to protect intellectual property, they may not be nearly as powerful as we need them to be or as we think they are.