Protecting creativity during crisis: Law Society of Ireland and IMRO highlight the value of legal protection of intellectual property ahead of World IP Day 2020

World Intellectual Property Day 2020 will be marked on Sunday 26 April in Ireland and globally. IMRO Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the Law Society of Ireland Dr Mark Hyland highlights the importance of legally protecting creativity and innovation at all times, but particularly now during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Hyland noted that, “In Ireland and across the globe, the music and arts sectors are providing a vital ray of hope in the crisis. A good example of this is last weekend’s One World: Together at Home concert organised by the Global Citizen movement and the World Health Organization (WHO). The show focused on entertainment and messages of solidarity during these challenging times. The concert applauded frontline healthcare workers around the world and proceeds generated by the event went to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO.” 

“Despite this heart-warming event, there is no doubt but that the music and creative industries are being badly hit by the lockdown.”

Dr Hyland explains, “Without the ability to perform in public, record in studios, take part in music and arts festivals, or hold exhibitions, musicians and artists generally have suffered a major financial blow.  It is vital that the IP in their works be recognised and protected, now more than ever.”

He added, “The current precarious situation for musicians and artists also makes the speedy implementation of the new Copyright Directive by our government all the more important. This Directive addresses the “value gap”, whereby rightsholders are receiving less remuneration despite increased usage of their works, particularly online, in recent years.”

Importance of IP rights

The term “intellectual property” (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are the legal rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. The main IPRs are patents, trademarks, copyright and designs. These important rights protect such things as music, literary works, software, inventions, distinctive words or symbols and, the visual design of objects. IPRs usually give the creator exclusive rights over the use of their creations for a certain period of time.

“World IP Day provides us with an opportunity to recognise and highlight the importance of IPRs and the key role they play in encouraging innovation and creativity throughout the world in the twenty-first century,” Dr Hyland said.

Contribution to the economy

IMRO-commissioned research shows that the music industry alone contributes more than €700 million annually to the Irish economy and employs approximately 13,000 people nationwide. 

“More generally, according to a 2019 joint report by the EU Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office, IP-intensive industries contribute a very significant 65% to Ireland’s GDP.  This is the largest contribution among the 27 EU Member States.”

“For a small, open, knowledge-based economy like Ireland, IP and the protection of IP are key elements of our economic success,” according to Dr Hyland.

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