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Intellectual property rights: You can't have it both ways

When it comes to intellectual property rights, there seems to be a double standard. You can't have it both ways.

Have you ever, I mean ever, copied software, a CD, a DVD, or a video tape without permission or paying? How about downloading music, video, pictures, or art?

If you answered yes, congratulations, you're just like everybody else.

On the other hand, you probably also think U.S. screenwriters are being screwed by the studios. And that China and other countries shouldn't be illegally copying and selling material copyrighted in the U.S.

That, my friend, is called a double standard.

Something else to consider:

Did you read this post about Trend Micro suing Barracuda Networks for patent infringement. Do you agree with the blogger? Do you think companies like Qualcomm, Rambus, or Trend Micro are patent trolls that unjustly enrich their shareholders at the expense of consumers?

If you answered yes, did you know that companies like IBM and Texas Instruments derive significant revenue from patent licensing? And how do you think Microsoft earns a living? Do you think the company's $14 billion in annual profits are derived from selling plastic, cardboard, and paper?

And how do you feel about companies in China and other countries incorporating U.S. patented technology into their products without compensating the inventors? Ask virtually any U.S. technology company if its technology--its intellectual property--has been stolen and sold for profit overseas. The aggregate lost profits are staggering.

If that bugs you, that's also a double standard.

Sure, there are patent trolls--companies that aggregate patents and sue potential violators--but Qualcomm, Rambus, Trend Micro, IBM, Texas Instruments, and Microsoft are not them.

By definition, a patent, a copyright, or a trademark--intellectual property--entitles the owner to reasonable compensation for its use by others. It's the law. If you don't agree, you can always challenge it in court; that's what our legal system is for.

We are a nation of laws. Without them, I doubt we would have the quality of life we have. And without intellectual property rights, I doubt we'd have technology-enriched lives. It's not a perfect system, but it works pretty well. You either buy into that or you don't. You can't have it both ways.