When comparing intellectual property and physical property, we have to keep in mind that while intellectual property is a creation of the mind, such as inventions and literary works, and physical property is more tangible like an object, they are both properties that we can own. There’s no reason to provide less protection for intellectual properties just because we cannot physically own it. In fact, intellectual property should be afforded equal if not more protection than physical property from how valuable ideas and innovations are.
One protection that we have in place for intellectual property is patents. They are definitely necessary to have for society because we need a way to incentivize and reward people for their innovative ideas. If we did not have them in place, others could steal people’s ideas, which could hurt the person who came up with the idea and discourage people from coming up with new ideas. So in that sense, patents are beneficial for providing protection towards innovation, but there are still issues that need to be dealt with the patent system. One such issue is the existence of patent trolls, who abuse the patent system by targeting companies that in the patent trolls’ perspective are violating one or more of their many ambiguous patents. In order to deal with the disruption the patent trolls are causing, patents should be very specific in the invention that it is protecting, meaning that it should not overlap with inventions that have already been made and be very explicit in the details that make the idea warrant the patent. Furthermore, to prevent the patent trolls from collecting several patents to threaten vulnerable companies, having some kind of regulation that ensures that any buyers of patents must have a legitimate reason for acquiring one should be met.
Although we have a few intellectual property laws in place in society already, such as copyrights, people find ways to game the system through illegal means, like pirating. Of course, pirating copyrighted material is unethical, but if a consumer already purchased a copy of one but lost the copy somehow, then perhaps it would be justified to re-download the material rather than having to rebuy it again. In most cases, however, we should avoid having to pirate copyrighted works. Even if users want to “sample” or “test” copyrighted material, it does not justify pirating because it is difficult to determine whether the user is actually just trying out the material or intends to use the full version. In fact, we should stay away from pirating as it not only hurts the company producing the copyrighted material but also injures innovation since companies would be less inclined to produce quality products if users are not bringing in revenue for their copyrighted materials.
Currently, the laws that we have in place for intellectual property is sufficient to maintain innovation, but there are loopholes within the system that still need to be fixed. With stricter regulation on intellectual property, individuals and companies that we depend on to deliver useful products and services can thrive with better regulation and further improve the quality of innovation for society.