A question which many owners of intellectual property and their rights have recently had to face concerns open access initiatives. Generally speaking, intellectual property rights are a net positive for business owners. They provide a great deal of protection over certain products and help to generate a great deal of profit. However, business owners might occasionally prefer to increase the level of public accessibility to their products for any of various reasons. Thus, in such situations, a proper balance between intellectual property rights and open access must be found.
Open access refers to the distribution of educational or research material online at no cost to the user. Those who own the material in question typically retain the copyright and control the distribution of these works. Some software is also made available in the same way; however, such software is referred to as “open source” rather than “open access”.
Although open access may appear to come at a financial burden to a business owner, it is possible that this short-term cost will lead to long-term profit. Open access initiatives tend to foster creativity. Therefore, if a business recruits people who bring additional knowledge and creativity with them due to an open access initiative, the business can make use of the expertise which it indirectly cultivated itself, bringing about an increased ability to create and market its products or services.
Open access also balances the market’s playing field to help SMEs and their owners. When these SMEs provide open access initiatives, they can more easily collaborate on business projects or form partnerships with other SMEs. This in turn will allow them to combine their skills, knowledge, and experience, helping them to remain competitive even in the face of pressure exerted by large corporations.
Open Access and Intellectual Property
One factor to consider regarding the interplay of open access and intellectual property is the type of information involved. If this information is a trade secret or if the opening of access to this information would constitute a conflict of interest or violation of business ethics, intellectual property rights must be used and exercised. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are also related to moral and property rights. If open access would threaten the owner’s right to claim ownership of the product or information or the owner’s right to reproduce the product or information, allowing open access is also unadvisable.
The Balance Between Open Access and Intellectual Property Rights
Business owners who own intellectual property rights must therefore find the ideal balance between open access and intellectual property rights. The measures which should be taken depend on the situation at hand. Of course, in the majority of situations, those who own intellectual property should make use of their rights. Doing so prevents anyone from committing infringements which would harm the business’s operations, ensuring that the business will be able to conduct its activities in the most advantageous and profitable manner possible.
Nevertheless, business owners who have full confidence in their pursuit of long-term profit might want to make use of open access initiatives. When carried out properly, these initiatives can end up leaving the business far better off than it otherwise would have been. In addition, certain types of information should remain open because permitting public access to such information is in the best interest of society as a whole.
We would again like to reiterate that in general, if you own intellectual property, it would be in your best interest to defend it. Doing so is your right and responsibility as the owner of intellectual property. However, by understanding when to do so and when are the rare occasions on which you should opt for open access, you will mark yourself out as not only a savvy entrepreneur, but also a true visionary and a dutiful, upstanding citizen at the same time.
This article is brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia