Could America’s obsession with intellectual property be getting out of hand?
Congress has extended copyright protection for existing and old works as well as future works . . . which looks more like giveaways to major corporations than anything else. You know, like Disney, whose lawyers dread the day Mickey Mouse ever hits the public domain.
Now that patents have been taken out on “business procedures” and even strings of DNA, it seems that almost anything is up for grabs.
The easiest intellectual property to defend is the trademark, since unique identifiers are so important for both commerce and law. But even here there’s a lot of weirdness going on.
Take the recent lawsuit by In-N-Out Burgers against Grab-N-Go Burgers. The west coast outfit thinks the east coast outfit has, well, stolen its look. The Huffington Post calls it “copyright infringement,” but, in the first report I read, “the suit alleges that Grab-N-Go’s name and color schemes mirror In-N-Out’s signature style,” which sounds more like trademark. But the suit also mentions menu similarities.
Well, the names are similar, and the logos do resemble each other. But they seem quite distinct, and I would have thought common sense would judge Grab-N-Go as merely emulating In-N-Out, not infringing on rights. Businesses copy each other all the time. That’s capitalism.
It’s even Aristotelian. Keyword: mimesis.
Even innovation is never ex nihilo creation. It’s copying plus modification.
It’s why I call this commentary “Common Sense” and not “Xbligigroobi Blubqui.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.