July 26, 2015
Intellectual property is a modern concept with ancient roots. After all, the Bible itself proclaims that there is nothing new under the sun. Centuries later, people still struggle with this notion, trying to understand the fine line between inspired creation and a stolen idea. Although this balancing act has ethical components, it also has a legal definition with business implications.
The idea of intellectual property grew alongside other legal concepts such as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade dress. These legal definitions were developed to protect intellectual property with applications to artistic works, inventions, and business development. Under these growing intellectual property laws, it was now possible for musicians to protect the integrity of music and for inventors to keep others from stealing their discoveries. Businesses could create logos and slogans without fear of the ideas being co-opted by the competition.
However, intellectual property laws are not without detractors. The turn against hardline intellectual property laws has become more dramatic with the rise of the Internet. With the Internet, intellectual property is more easily disseminated, making it harder to define and control. In this context, some people believe that all information should essentially be free and resent efforts to minimize the free trade of ideas online.
How to go about evaluating intellectual property
While intellectual property is defined as a legal concept, it can be evaluated as a business one. The evaluation of intellectual property generally has two main components: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative evaluation is largely based on financial concerns. Every intellectual property should be examined for its cost and its potential profits. When looking at the intellectual property, the cost of developing the asset should be weighed against how much money it can make. The intellectual property should also be compared to other similar properties for a market based quantitative evaluation of its worth.
For the qualitative evaluation, the intellectual property should be assessed in terms of the nature of the property and how it has to be developed. Relevant questions should look at the legal definitions of the property and the amount of development the property needs in order to be successful. In this way, every asset should be assessed differently, according to its unique nature. The careful evaluation must be completed by a skilled analyst in order to have accurate applications. In the case of web or app evaluation a skilled web analyst must conduct the assessment.
Intellectual property evaluation for websites & apps
The growing understanding of intellectual property has increasing implications for online businesses and application development. While websites and online developments cannot be patented, they are eligible for copyrights and some trademark protection. When evaluating online assets, the website or app must be able to prove itself as inherently unique. It also must be proven that similar websites or apps would significantly impede the ownership rights of the creator. Moreover, exclusive rights are rarely granted to functional online characteristics such as hyperlinks since this would put too many restrictions on the greater online marketplace.
Overall, intellectual properties should be evaluated for their inherent characteristics and their marketplace applications. In this manner, the legal discourse should inform the business decisions related to intellectual properties.
Image Credit: Flickr/Jess Loughborough
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