History and Evolution of Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property may sound like a modern-world invention, but it has actually been around since the development of civilization. Many sources pin the origins of Intellectual Property rights to the year 1421 when the world’s first modern patent was awarded to an Italian inventor. However, according to Former Lord Justice of Appeal Robin Jacob, the history of Intellectual Property law can be traced back to as early as 600 BCE. This article explores the documented string of events that eventually led to our modern understanding of Intellectual Property laws, and elevates the conversation to answer a more pertinent question: So what?

Expert Insight: Many people shy away from studying history in general, believing that it is just tedious memorization of events based on evidence. While partly true that historians are essentially walking historical records, a significant portion of the practice involves many social applications, sociological methods, and anthropological theories.

Recognition, But Not Quite Possession: 600 BCE

The earliest records relating to Intellectual Property dates back to the 6th century BCE, from Sybaris in Ancient Greece. It supposedly granted a yearlong exclusivity for bakers to make their culinary invention. In a manner of speaking, the rise of Intellectual Property originated from the rising of bread.

Granting exclusive rights is a culture our modern society was born into. However, knowing that it has existed for millennia tells us of our valuation of individual talents. Although the ancient Greeks still considered their inventions as gifts from the gods, recognizing the human part of the innovation process proves that we are very similar to our distant ancestors.

Expert Insight: In the absence of written texts from prehistory, we can learn social values through artifacts. For instance, remains of animals bearing early forms of branding indicate that early humans attributed produce quality with the method of growing. This idea of adding a separate value on the maker – and, in extension, on how they care for their animals – starkly emulate the modern trademark and patent virtues.

Backstep Into the Dark Ages

However, the resemblance of our values to ancient views would pause for a long time with the rise of the Roman Empire. Religion came to the fore, and so the individualistic view on creatorship took a backstep and remained there since. At around 480 CE, Emperor Zeno overthrew the whole concept of sole proprietorship on artistic and agricultural produce. The Church gained absolute control over the entire Empire.

Nevertheless, through the centuries, religious influence over society waned as humanism reemerged through ancient texts. This movement, which in many ways is traceable to Aristotelian and Platonic worldviews paved the way for the Enlightenment. During this period of human appreciation, the first genuinely recognizable iteration of Intellectual Property appeared.

Let There Be Light

As we collectively emerged from traditionalism during the Renaissance, our appreciation of scientific and technological developments overtook the prevailing dogma. With the influx of revolutionary models of thinking came radical advancements in the field of engineering.

Expert Insight: There was a more significant premium placed on innovations with industrial applications. This is evidenced by the first patent with legal protection granted in 1421 to an Italian inventor. The 1421 license also closely resembles our current patent protections.

However, equal recognition towards works of art would receive legal protection much later during the European Reformation. While publishing guilds were already present before the Reformation, licensing of the written word was an often lopsided agreement.

In 1623, the Statute of Monopolies emboldened select groups of individuals to control their industry. Thus, publishers owned most of the rights associated with authored works. And with the author assuming the losing position, amendments were placed to arrive at the modern version of written word license: the copyright.

It was the year 1710 when the Statute of Anne empowered writers with renewable 14-year protection for their original works.

Polarizing Intellectual Property

Free thinking gave our society the agency to return ownership of inventions to inventors. But it also opened doors for other schools of thought, and often with cascading ideological implications. For instance, as we learned to value individual talents, we also saw how these talents are made through, and for, society. Whereas previous beliefs invalidate ownership by virtue of religious faith, newer ideologies either:

call to consign the rights to the general public, thereby removing profit from the inventor; or
advocate for private ownership of an invention.
While equally valid in their own right, these polarized approaches to Intellectual Property are to become the pillars of modern debates. The latter eventually evolved into legislation, while the former defined alternative social ideation.

From History to Current Reality

During the early 1800s, the idea of global protection of Intellectual Property rights floated among legislative bodies. And it was in the year 1883 that the Paris Convention brought clarity and cooperation among international jurisdictions. Three years later, the 1886 Berne Convention extended the same protection to written expressions. Within half a decade, trademarks were also granted international protection through the Madrid Protocol.

Resulting offices from the conventions later merged into a central governing body, the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property. This then became a United Nation office we now know as the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The transformation of Intellectual Property from Divine providence to valuable human talent took complicated detours and pitstops. However, the history of Intellectual Property reveals an imprint of how we evolved as a society. It tells us of our past values, of our collective thought, and of our remarkable capacity to strike a balance among individuality, society, and spirituality.

Although the roads we passed were pockmarked with glaring mistakes and surrounded by dark alleys, the fact that we do recognize the imperfections and reinvented today’s Intellectual Property tells another thing about us: we can change.

From History to Herstory

And we do change. As we diverge from misinformed beliefs we inherited from our old world, our growth accelerates on all fronts. Modern philosophies enable us to see past the borders and beyond colors. The movement is to take down the great walls dividing us as a society.

Being a bastion for innovation, the Intellectual Property industry also aims to bridge the gaps between sectors of society. World Intellectual Property Day in 2018 addressed the disparity between men and women in the field. This led to world organizations consolidating empowerment efforts for women in the field of innovation and development. Within a few years, the involvement of women increased by over 53%.

After all, the law protects equally. Hence, this move toward equality. Learning the history of Intellectual Property law highlights the value we place on innovations. And this value can be transformed into economic value.

Business Presenting – How To Make A Great First Impression

In presentations, as in life, you only have one chance to make a first impression. This is why the titles of your presentations are crucial.

In this short article, let’s examine how to title your presentation to immediately attract your audience.

What’s in a presentation title?

If you look at most business presentations, strategy messages, and sales pitches, you’ll notice one thing. Deadly boring titles.

If you were giving an award for the most boring, the dullest, and the most tedious titles, you’d have to have a lot of ribbons to hand out!

Sadly, many professionals title their presentations without thinking of catchy words, emotional spark or what the audience is really seeking.

This gives rise to titles such as:

Enterprise Sales Enablement Solutions

Research Findings For Field Utilization From The ACME Study

Strategic Initiatives In Alignment to The Corporate Vision for 2020

What’s your response to these titles?

Yawn.

If presentation and conference titles were looking for extra work, they might double as a cure for insomnia. Think I’m kidding? Try reading the titles in your industry’s conference brochure and staying awake!

Well, you’re not alone in falling asleep while skimming the titles.

Here’s what your clients and prospects are thinking as they preview the titles: “I’m getting sleepy and bored before I ever sit down. Maybe I do need to skip out and grab a latte.”

And as luck would have it, they may not come back from the coffee shop in time for your talk! Instead of risking the dreaded fate of presenting to an empty auditorium, get out your red pen and do some editing.

Be ruthless. Aim for dynamic headlines to describe your talk.

Here are a few pointers for titling your talk, pitch or report:

Tip 1. No Passive Language

Use verbs! Speak in active terms.

Tip 2. No Long Words

If your title is easy and catchy, you should be able to say the name of your presentation without sounding as if you have marbles in your mouth.

Tip 3. No Corporate Jargon

You are giving a dynamic presentation, aren’t you? Signal this to your audience. Avoid using words that only belong in the corporate bylaws or annual report. Avoid sounding like you never get out of the office park.

If you aren’t sure whether your title passes this 3-point test, do not check with an office mate. He or she may not be able to spot the lack of luster in your title. Instead, check with a 6-year old. If your young friend understands, can repeat the title and can say it without effort, then you deserve a gold star!

Hint: most likely you will sit in a meeting or presentation this week. Notice how the title of the presentation or talk affects you. Now you know the rules. Play a little game to challenge your inner-editor. See how you can rename these presentations to ignite interest and spark excitement.

Once you get used to renaming other people’s presentations, it’s a whole lot easier to edit your own. Funny thing, eh?

Write powerful titles to make a great first impression and cut through the clutter. Use the right words and pictures to connect with what matters most for your audience.

Where Do You Live – Past, Present, Or Future?

What does your past have in common with Jimmy Hoffa? They are both dead!

I have a dear friend who is agonizing over a decision he made several weeks ago. He had to fire someone. It was a good decision, and one that was actually necessary to preserve his own integrity in his business. The person was being paid a high salary, and with that comes responsibility for leadership and willingness to learn new things (especially since it was a position in information technology.) But this person refused to learn anything new. He wanted to show up every day and do the same things he always did. He also had to be spoon-fed assignments. While he was supposed to be my friend’s backup, he showed no leadership potential nor desire to develop it. And, he was using company time to do his side job.

So why is my friend suffering over this? He is a good person, and he thinks he hurt the person he fired. The truth is, he did this guy a favor by giving him a wake-up call. But my real point is this:

What possible benefit do we get from reliving the past? None! After we accept any lesson we needed to learn, it is time to move on. Driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror is dangerous!

That being said, we need a healthy balance between:

Visualizing our future
Living in the present, to take action
In “Think And Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill’s Self Confidence Formula challenges you to spend 30 minutes daily thinking about the person you want to become. But he also says to transform that picture into reality through practical service and to spend 10 minutes daily to develop the factors named in his “The Law of Success” book. One of the principles he teaches is that you need definite plans and you need to put them into action. But without the visualization of where you are trying to go, “any road will do.”

I personally believe some of us spend too much time in the past because we are afraid to move forward. We think if we keep going over what already happened, the success formula for the future will become evident. But it doesn’t work that way. We need to decide where we want to go, and let the Universe show the way.

Setting forth bold intentions and burning the bridges of escape, as Mr. Hill teaches, is very scary! And yet he also teaches us that temporary defeat is to be expected and accepted. There is no reason to fear temporary defeat, as long as it is temporary. The point is to persist and never give up on that burning desire you create in your mind.

Spend just enough time in the future to know what it looks like, and reflect on it daily. But don’t spend all day visualizing! Once the picture is clear each day, live in the present and use all of your senses to get the messages the Universe sends you about the correct actions to take.

And remember, as Mr. Hill teaches, “Through the principle of auto-suggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of realizing it.”