Intellectual Property: Property of Objects, Property of Ideas

The issue of intellectual ownership (also analyzed from the peculiar point of view of a theoretical categorization of the objects belonging to this domain) is raised from the exceptional technological development and the transformations of the global market, occurred in the last twenty years. More specifically, we can observe today a widespread tendency to extend the traditional model of patents protection beyond his originary boundaries. This move can be viewed as an attempt at establishing old and familiar rules within new areas of human intellectual production (information technologies, new media, etc.).

The copyright, e.g., is the main instrument for the protection of intellectual property. Traditionally, it has been used for the protection of immaterial assets, and, also in this case, we have seen, in the last years, a systematic reinforcement of the rules defending property, also in absence (i.e. the software’s case) of remarkable announcements of relevant information (patents), or in absence (typically in the case of large databases) of an original production of the informations that has been collected. The expansion of markets, the development of industrial production in the so-called “emerging countries”and the consequent increase of competition, has forced many companies to adopt more aggressive strategies of protection of intellectual property.

The worldwide organization for the commerce has accepted this policy in the new rules on the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights. Indeed, if at a national level, it seems to be difficult to find a good balance between the aspects just mentioned, in the context of international markets there are evident economic problems. For example, the sharp asymmetry in the field of technical production, between industrial countries and countries in the way of development. The question of rules on a global scale about knowledge and ownership requires, thus, a new definition apt to construct a new balance between different needs.