Temporary Monopolies and Conflicts Associated with Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology


Inventors can get a temporary monopoly to use their innovations, which gives them a period of time to seek monetary benefits.

A country’s innovations play a major role in determining its economic health. The economy of a country that can capture or appropriate the economic benefits from a wide variety of innovations is considered a healthy one – one which proves as a source of inspiration and competition to other economies. Governments encourage inventions and help inventors by providing intellectual property rights so that they can continue innovating, thereby contributing to the development and economic growth. Science and technology especially is a field, in which inventors can get great backing from the government. Inventors stand to benefit from knowing the importance of intellectual property rights in science and technology.

IPR in science and technology and benefits of temporary monopoly

Anyone who invents or creates something gets the exclusive right to benefit from their invention. For instance, a musician or an author can seek copyrights for their creations, stopping others from using their musical notes or books for monetary benefits.

In the field of science and technology, inventors can get a temporary monopoly to use their innovations. This temporary monopoly allows the inventor to seek monetary benefits from their invention for a specific period of time while preventing the rapid duplication or imitation that could potentially cut into an inventor’s profits or returns and also decrease their incentive to invent or even improvise upon their inventions.

Why are temporary IPRs granted for S&T inventions?

As discussed earlier, economies flourish when inventions are constantly improved, but it is not always necessary that the original inventor can provide the improvisation to the original invention.

When a permanent IPR is granted (and imitation is restricted), there is a threat that prevents the further development or improvement of the innovation – especially when the invention can make a huge difference to the economy. It can also raise the costs of newer technologies and restrict its availability, which limits further progress and prevents others from creating new innovations and improvements, building upon the original invention cumulatively. This is especially true if new technologies can enhance productivity, especially when used in economic activities. Further economic progress is restricted if the original invention is permanently protected. This restriction may prove to be a hindrance to the development of an economy.

The conflict at the heart of IPRs in the field of science and technology

In case of intellectual property and technology, IPRs fundamentally exemplify what is known as a ‘policy conflict’ between the intentions of providing incentives to innovate technologically and the intention to encourage the rapid circulation of new technology and accumulating technological know-how. The competing aims also represent competing economic interests from both, research and development (R&D) intensive and non-intensive firms on one level and developed and developing countries on another level. As such, each government attempts to create a balance between the objectives that are competing and deemed appropriate for national, social and political contexts and providing innovators with the rightful dues or benefits for their inventions.

The importance of intellectual property rights in science and technology is more nuanced when compared to other inventions, which is why governments only grant a temporary monopoly to inventors. This allows the original inventor to gain certain exclusive benefits for a specific period of time, while uninterrupted innovation can continue on the general level.


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