The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection for Innovators
Intellectual property protection is one of the most important ways that society can help foster innovation. And yet, many people do not understand even the broad strokes of IP laws. This is a shame because understanding how these laws work can help us all better understand how we can create better technology, solve problems more efficiently, and generally make life better for everyone. Here, I’ll take a closer look at various intellectual property protections and explain why I believe strongly that they are key in the innovation process.
Types of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property refers to ideas and concepts, standing in contrast to other types of property that are more tangible, like real estate. Though it’s long been held by most societies that tangible property should not be stolen, protections around intellectual property did not arise until more recently.
There are a variety of types of intellectual property recognized in the U.S. Two that are often seen in common parlance are copyrights and trademarks. The former refers to the protection of “original works of authorship.” For instance, you can copyright a book, movie, painting, or choreographed dance. It’s important to note, however, that you can’t copyright the idea of such a work, only its execution.
Trademarks protect designs and phrases that are typically used by businesses to distinguish their products from those of other companies. This can include logos, slogans, and even trade secrets (such as the recipe for a food product).
Though the above types of intellectual property are important and we’ve used them ourselves at LifeWave, there’s another type of protection that’s most near and dear to my heart — the humble patent. A patent is like a copyright for an invention. More specifically, U.S. patent law defines a patent as protecting “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof.” That’s a mouthful, but I bet you get the picture.
Patents are important because they allow inventors to protect their idea for something that they want to bring into the world. Perhaps they want to innovate the way a certain process is carried out. Perhaps they want to create add-ons for an existing device. Or, as was the case for me when I filed patents for my phototherapy patches, perhaps an inventor has a way to utilize a known scientific principle in a new and unique way.
Why Patents Matter
As an inventor, I clearly have a soft spot for patents; I’ve been awarded over 100 in my life globally. But patents really are such an important part of the modern economy that I think they deserve closer inspection by everyone. Specifically, I think it’s important to consider what exactly patents can do for the modern inventor, since this can also provide a better perspective on the economy as a whole.
One key aspect of patents that help fuel the economy is how they recognize and reward inventors. When an inventor files a successful patent and uses it to affect the market, they’re bringing the power of legal protections to their work in changing the world. They’re also showing other inventors that there is, in fact, a benefit to the exploratory work of innovation. Not every invention will lead somewhere, of course, but protecting inventions through patents allows inventors to keep working with the comfort that they may someday earn a living from their efforts.
Impact on Society
As you can see, the awarding of a patent does so much more than affect the inventor who received the patent. Yes, it can provide motivation for other inventors to continue in their pursuits, but it can also move whole industries if the patent is impactful enough.
Something like 70 of the global patents I’ve been awarded have been in the field of regenerative science — a field in which I’ve concentrated much of my life’s efforts. With the patenting and production of my phototherapy patches, I formed LifeWave. The company has since grown into a leader in the health and wellness industry. We’ve been named to Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies three times, and we’ve now expanded to offer our products in more than 80 countries worldwide. Most importantly, however, is that we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people to proactively take charge of their health.
History can sometimes seem inevitable in hindsight, but I promise that that is not the case. Our reality is often created by driven individuals, and the degree to which I can take credit for LifeWave’s success comes from the motivation and assurance that I received from intellectual property protections. With the knowledge that my innovations are now patent protected, with even more patents pending, I and my entire R&D team can focus on the work, as we continually focus on breakthrough products to help people everywhere improve their quality of life.