Intellectual Property theft

May 9, 2017 Business , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Hazel Speed

Some of us know what it can be like to be ‘ripped off’ concerning Intellectual Property theft, and though it is still no more than blatant stealing, (theft and fraud), unless one has deep pockets, there is little hope of justice.

Even then, things are not straight forward, as most people not in the creative industries think the theft of a handbag is more obviously theft than the loss of IP.

Take the ongoing issue of the classic hit song ‘Hotel California’ by the famous group ‘The Eagles’.

Apparently, a Mexican Hotel is utilising that name and allegedly, at certain periods of time, has been inferring an association with the song and/or group, selling merchandise.

In this case, however, there are complex issues going back to the 1950s as the report mentions the hotel was called Hotel California before the song had been composed (in historical terms), then abandoned the name only to return to it later.

As far as the group is concerned, this, they are saying, has naturally impacted on their hit song, reputation and possible loss of associated earnings via the Hotel’s (alleged) illegal merchandising.

The Law in the area of IP (Intellectual Property) is also segmented into the more obvious legal breaches or encroachments, and those so complex that they are often not even understood, nor fairly assessed, even by a Judge if it is not a case content he or she have come across before. Worrying in itself. Then legal technicalities as to presentation of legal documents or contracts that might overlook a crucial sentence at the time of construction, according more to protocol than even content itself, can lose victims a case.

The metaphorical equivalent could be someone confirming a person to be the undoubted victim, but then adding what a pity it was that on the day they signed the contract they were wearing the wrong coloured tie. As the saying goes, ‘the Law can sometimes be an ass’ and some people of the ‘straight and narrow’ thereby learn it is in their interest to be like the guilty, and turn bad themselves. I have often heard that injustice breeds revenge.

I know of two incidents in recent years where illegal usage of IP still persists, and the guilty party have a website link close to the people they have stolen from, and they continue using the victim’s project name.

The second example, yet another situation I was told about, was where a famous organisation made millions from a legal breach, so unless the victim has even more millions, there is no opportunity to sue for theft. Even if a victim is the wealthy party in an IP dispute, there would be no chance for justice in some cases, as apart from money, there are corporations who may also have Government backing due to what that company produce or advise a Government on. The whole thing then could become political and damage control would supersede any chance of a court hearing.

Then further, if different countries are involved in a deal which could turn bad, the world of international IP becomes relevant. Different countries have their own laws and legal systems, therefore, lawyers are rarely qualified to represent a person in multiple countries, so a victim has to find and then hire various lawyers (imagine the costs involved in such a scenario).

In one way, if someone steals IP it is a back-handed compliment that the thief believes the victim has huge earning potential.

Inventions require worldwide yearly patenting – yet another rich man’s realm if the reader of this article has ever looked up the cost. Further, patenting has to be lodged in respect of every country and thereafter maintained.

There are lawyers skilled at drawing up patent registration documents, as if an inventor or designer misses out one loophole in detail, another usurper (and I believe viewing access of patent registrations is free), can register their own modified patent, and rip off an original inventor.

It is enough to deter anyone in the creative industry, or thinking of writing, drawing, painting, composing, or coming up with inventive ideas or products.

I am not sure if it is still relevant in 2017 but years ago if someone was employed by a company of any kind, unless they had a legal agreement to protect their own (employee’s) skills, then anything their worker would design or produce in the company’s work time (whether on behalf of that company or for their own private projects), automatically became owned by that company.

I recall that one of my own projects, about a decade ago, had a website with fabulous IP owned photographs and copyright next to them. Fortunately, I saw the funny side when I came across a website which featured one of these images and someone was advising people to use it, as it was great, and also copyright free. Oh yeah?

I knew if anyone did in fact prosper with the image, that I could then sue them and/or any third party. I also knew that any reputable third party company would not touch creative work without undeniable proof of ownership. So I merely kept a copy of the link I had discovered, together with full details of the posting. I have since long ended that project.

These days, of course, modern technology enables a watching eye on the internet for IP encroachments.

Hotel California – the song, was such a massive hit, that it is amazing to me that anyone would ride on the group’s coat tails to allegedly rip them off, so I fully understand why they must protect their IP interests, as if a Court finds in their favour, then it confirms (that court’s finding at least), a crime was indeed committed utilising the group’s IP.

People earn their living via different skills and types of work. Think of yourself, or someone you may know who might have worked for years, promoting a particular skill, or IP, then someone else views an opportunity to copy the same, or infer a link so they can benefit financially. We would all be annoyed by that – and such examples remain theft.

In ordinary, everyday or general terms, nobody encroaches on any aspects of celebrity, usually because of the massive repercussions if they did. Though this may also be a two-edged sword – as the one with big money inevitably wins whether they are the victim or the culprit.

Rest assured though, word spreads behind the scenes against culprits, and I always remember the saying ‘God doesn’t pay his debts with money’. Which is His way of saying that no good comes from blood money.










Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

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