Intellectual property rights (IPR) apply to non-tangible or non-material things and inventions, like a song composition, a poem, a news or blog article, a food or drug molecule, and so on. Everyone who has invented such non-tangible product or service has natural IPR on their invention.
Most people do not mind that their invention, like a song or poem or blog article, will be copied and used by other people, it's fine with them. For me for instance, if some people will forward some of my blog articles here, it's fine of course, especially if they will cite this blog as the source of the paper. But if they won't and they will say that they themselves have "thought" of such ideas and data, then there is nothing that I can do. Not much harm done to me, so I will not look for a court or police force who will run after whoever arrogated ownership of my article/s.
A few people, institutions, corporations, governments, etc. however, will insist that their invention should be properly protected and use by other people and parties of such inventions should have proper recognition and should pay the necessary fee whenever it applies. Those people and institutions would go through such hassle and seek costly enforcement if the cost of their invention is very high. Thus, legal ownership of IPRs like patent, copyright and trademark was invented.
In the case of medicines and IPR on drug molecules, it is an emotional and political issue because it involves health, personal or public health. Many sectors and groups, even including government bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), have taken the soft side that since there is public health involved, the IPR like patent on some very powerful and revolutionary disease-killer but expensive drugs should be relaxed, even be confiscated whenever necessary.
Personally, I have taken the position that the above philosophy is wrong. Private property is private property; it is not common or collectivized or government property. If it is ok for the inventor that his/their invention is to be forcibly shared via government regulation and law, so be it. The inventor may even be happy that it was done. But if the inventor will insist that his very costly, time-consuming and high risk invention should be protected in order to allow him to recoup his huge spending, huge amount of time spent, then the law and governments should protect it. Otherwise, there will be zero incentive for such inventor to produce another useful but costly invention.
I have written a number of blog articles here on IPR and health. I have compiled them into "Essays on IPR and health" and labelled them as Part 1, Part 2, up to Part 6, then posted the compilation in the Minimal Government Thinkers website.
Several months ago, I just googled "IPR and health" to see other articles in the web on the subject. To my surprise, 1 or 2 of my papers were on the top 10 articles or page 1 of google search!
Replicating the exercise, I searched "IPR and health" on the web, and not only in google, but also in bing (Microsoft's search engine) and yahoo. And here are the results as of today.
My paper Essays on IPR and Hhealth Part 3 is in #5 place, thanks! But the source is not the MG website but www.docstoc.com, which gives the direct link to the MG website. I made that paper in February 12, 2009, 9 pages long.
Next test is to type "IPR and health" in the most popular search engine in the world, google. The result is even more impressive. Click on this and the next 2 images to see their larger pictures.
#3 is my paper Essays on IPR and Health, Part 6 which I compiled last June 19, 2009, 16 pages long.
%4 is my other paper, Selected Essays on IPR and Health which I wrote nearly 3 years ago in June 28, 2008, 12 pages long. So it does not matter if your paper is already old so long as the subject is directly relevant to the topic that web researchers look for.
Last test is yahoo. #3 is again, my Essays on IPR and Health, Part 3 but posted in www.docstoc.com, which will link the paper to the original source at MG website.
#5 is my Essays on IPR and Health, Part 5 which I produced last May 29, 2009, 9 pages long. But the reference page is also the docstoc.com.
Like the good web presence of my articles here on the subject "drug price control" that I wrote here yesterday, I am happy with the above results. And still no beer or wine in my table, only a cup of black coffee to sip. :-)