E-commerce has become a prosperous industry which generated more than $262 billion in sales last year. It is estimated by 2017 that E-commerce will grow to “to $440 billion in sales for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8%” (Forbes, 2013). With this much growth, it beckons entrepreneurs to grab a piece of the pie. As legal activity in Ecommerce increases, the activity of counterfeiting is bound to rise as well. The issue of intellectual piracy is becoming an increasing problem, an issue that must be addressed federally in line with Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution.
Intellectual Property (IP)
Intellectual property is any creation of the mind, be it tangible or intangible. It is to be protected by federal statutory laws, such as patents, copyright, and trademarks, as set forth in the Constitution. Article 1 Section 8 describes the power granted to Congress in order to protect the wellbeing of the United States and its citizens. In this article it states Congress has the right “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” (Cornell University Law School, 2014).
The legal protection offered to intellectual property can either be a patent, copyright or trademark enforced by federal law for a given period. A copyright protects literature and artistic works. A patent is granted to the originator of an invention and gives them the right to decide how the creation shall be used. A trademark is a sign, emblem, signature, or mark used to distinguish a company’s goods or services from one company to the next. Though businesses are granted legal protection in these manners, they will always have the issue of piracy to contend with, and the need for the federal government to intervene against these activities.
Congress has a liability and a duty to protect the intellectual property of companies and individuals who have taken the legal steps to safeguard their works and findings. They cannot be dissuaded by the pressures of those “who do not believe that someone else’s’ intellectual property rights should be a barrier to their ability to make money” (Hanna, 2013). During the 2012-2013 National Football League (NFL) season, the NFL in cooperation with the U.S. government “seized a record $13.6 million worth of counterfeit NFL merchandise” (Hanna, 2013). The counterfeiting of merchandise is not limited to the NFL, major brands like Nike, Oakley, Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few, have all fallen victim to this malicious crime. Policymakers, in conjunction with internet service providers (ISP), and manufacturers must work together in an effort to develop reasonable cost effective solutions to combat intellectual piracy.
Piracy of intellectual property is far from a victimless crime. It affects not only the manufacturers and consumer, but also the number of jobs created by the legal selling of merchandise. Congress has a duty, which has been set forth in the Constitution, to protect the intellectual property of companies and individuals alike, even after trademarks, patents, and copyrights have been issued. It will take combine effort from our government, ISPs, and manufactures to combat the stealing of intellectual property while continuing to promote online freedom.
Cornell University Law School. (2014). U.S. Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei Forbes. (2013, October 02). Ecommerce Is Growing Nicely While Mcommerce Is On A Tear. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2013/10/02/ecommerce-is-growing-nicely-while-mcommerce-is-on-a-tear Hanna, C. (2013, March 07). Washington must get serious about protecting intellectual property. Retrieved from