Unit 3 Intellectual property

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • have practised recognizing sound and unsound conclusions
  • know the different types of inductive reasoning
  • understand the core terminology related to intellectual property (IP)
  • have participated in some of the central debates regarding IP

Activity 1: Starter quiz

Work alone. Analyze the dilemma that you teacher will introduce in class. Identify the issues involved. Decide your stance on the issues. Identify supporting reasons for your stance. Evaluate the strength of the evidence. Use precise terminology.

Which is more important: the privacy of the individual or the security of the nation?

Assessment criteria
  1. Organisation
  2. Evidence-based
  3. Precision of terminology

Activity 2: Intellectual property

Watch this video (10min 9 sec) which introduces intellectual property.

Activity 3: Intellectual property

Read these definitions of IP terminology. Researchers and organisations may provide different definitions and the specific terms may vary by legal juristriction.

  1. Intellectual Property (IP): Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, artistic works, and symbols, which are protected by legal rights, allowing creators to control and benefit from their creations.
  2. Patents: Patents are legal protections granted to inventors, giving them exclusive rights to their inventions for a specified period, typically 20 years in both the United States and Japan, during which they can prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention.
  3. Copyright: Copyright is a legal protection for original literary, artistic, and creative works, granting authors and creators exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display their work for a specific duration, often the author's lifetime plus 70 years in the United States (altough in Japan it is lifetime plus 50 years).
  4. Trademark: Trademarks are distinctive symbols, names, or logos used in commerce to identify and distinguish goods or services. Trademarks are legally protected to prevent others from using similar marks in a way that could create confusion.
  5. Trade Secret: A trade secret is confidential and proprietary business information, such as manufacturing processes or customer lists, that provides a competitive advantage. Trade secrets are protected by law, and their unauthorized disclosure or use is prohibited.
  6. Industrial Design Rights: Industrial design rights protect the visual design and aesthetics of objects, including the shape, color, and surface ornamentation. These rights prevent others from copying or imitating the design without permission.
  7. Public Domain: Works in the public domain are not protected by intellectual property rights and are freely accessible and usable by the public. They can include expired copyrights, government works, and works intentionally placed in the public domain.
  8. Fair Use: Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder. It is typically applied for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.
  9. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else's ideas, words, or work as one's own without proper attribution or permission. It is considered unethical and a breach of academic and professional integrity. In the UoA, this may result in failing a course or failing all courses in a semester.

Activity 4: Issues related to intellectual property

Work in pairs and discuss your answers to the questions listed below.

  1. The Economic Impact of Intellectual Property Rights
    • How do patents and copyrights incentivize creativity and innovation?
    • Do intellectual property rights grant monopolistic powers that can stifle competition and innovation?
    • How does intellectual property impact sectors like pharmaceuticals, technology, and entertainment?
  2. The Ethical Implications of Patenting Life Forms
    • Is it ethical to patent a gene or a life form?
    • Who should have access to patented biological materials?
    • How does patenting in the biotech field impact developing countries?
  3. Open Source vs. Proprietary Software
    • Does open-source software promote more rapid innovation than proprietary software?
    • How does the open-source model align with or clash against the concept of intellectual property?
    • What are the ethical considerations in withholding or sharing software code?
  4. Cultural Appropriation and Intellectual Property
    • How do intellectual property rights impact indigenous cultures and their traditional knowledge?
    • Is it ethical for corporations to patent or copyright cultural expressions?
    • How does cultural appropriation intersect with legal frameworks like trademarks and copyrights?

Activity 5: Student-chosen debate

Work in pairs or threes. Base your dialogue on the conversation flow diagram below.

cued dialogue

Activity 6: Preparatory debate

Debate the topic given below.

The debate between fair use and copyright infringement is particularly salient in university settings, where teachers, students, and researchers routinely interact with copyrighted material for educational and scholarly purposes. While fair use provisions aim to allow the limited use of such material, the boundaries are often blurred and contentious. Educators may distribute copyrighted articles or book chapters for class discussion, researchers may quote extensively from copyrighted works in academic papers, and students may incorporate copyrighted music or images into presentations. While these actions are generally intended to fall under fair use, they can sometimes be challenged as copyright infringement, especially when the material is used in a way that could potentially harm the market value of the copyrighted work or when the use is extensive enough to exceed what is considered "reasonable" under fair use guidelines. This tension raises critical questions about how to balance the need for academic freedom and the dissemination of knowledge with the rights of copyright holders to control and monetize their intellectual property. TheCopyrigh Act of Japan is more restrictive than those in the United States and the United Kingdom, so you may notice that professors here are less likely to distribute copyright material.

Activity 7: Seminar discussion 2 Preparation

Your tutor will explain the procedure, assign groups and presentation topics.

Set topic: Is intellectual property protection beneficial or detrimental to society?

The presentation topics are listed below.

  1. Economic impact of IP rights
  2. Implications of patenting life forms, e.g. genes
  3. Open source vs. Proprietary software
  4. Cultural appropriation and IP

The assessment criteria are:

  1. Argumentation
  2. Content
  3. Interaction
  4. Terminology

Should you have any questions, please ask your tutor directly.

Activity 8: Reasoning

Read. Think. Talk

The following valid propositional forms are arguments that deductive reasoning. Arguments that use inductive reasoning generalize from a single instance, a cluster of instances or a very large sample of instances.

Modus Ponens

                P → Q
                ∴ Q

Modus Tollens

                P → Q
                ∴ ¬P

Hypothetical Syllogism

                P → Q
                Q → R
                ∴ P → R

Disjunctive Syllogism

                P ∨ Q
                ∴ Q

Constructive Dilemma

                P ∨ Q
                P → R
                Q → S
                ∴ R ∨ S


Can you define these terms:

  1. intellectual property
  2. patents
  3. copyright
  4. trademark
  5. trade secret
  6. industrial design rights
  7. public domain
  8. fair use
  9. plagiarism

If you do not, make sure that you do before your next class.

Running count: 32 of 61 concepts covered so far.