Business Ethics Lesson: Intellectual Property


Apparently, there's some confusion surrounding the proper and ethical use of our intellectual property laws. Some basics...

  1. If you attempt to patent rubber balls, knowing full well that you didn't invent rubber balls and that countless companies produce rubber balls and have been doing so for quite some time, that's wrong.
  2. If you attempt to confuse the patent office by submitting a patent for an "amusement device with self-contained kinetic energy conversion and transfer mechanism" when you're really trying to patent rubber balls, that's wrong.
  3. If you manage to successfully achieve #1 or #2, that's wrong. And if your strategy for business success involves waiting until another company incorporates a red rubber ball into a device that will be purchased by every American household, surfacing like a German U-boat at the appropriate time, and financing a Paris Hilton-esque lifestyle via exorbitant "licensing fees" - that's wrong.
  4. If you have a patent on red rubber balls and you claim that red rubber cubes are also your intellectual property because red rubber cubes couldn't have existed without red rubber balls, that's wrong.
  5. If you sell blue rubber cubes, and you give boatloads of money to the company described in #4 on the Q.T. in order to annhilate red rubber cubes from the face of the planet so you can sell more blue rubber cubes, that's not just wrong - it's low.
  6. If you expect to be able to sit on your ass all day in front of the television, watching SportsCenter and eating Cheerios while the patent office makes your money for you, that's not just wrong - it makes the rest of us think you have entitlement issues.

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement.